Vegan chocolate chip cookie bars

Friday, May 28, 2010

I have something that I think is pretty important to talk to you about: dessert. More specifically, the fact that some of the foods that we eat feed our soul in addition to our bodies. When I started this blog, I put it this way:

One of my mantras for daily living is, “something is always better than nothing.” Get Natured isn't about perfection. It is about the simple pursuit of happiness. Sometimes that means watching the sunrise on a morning run. Sometimes it means forgoing my “to do” list in favor of sharing freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with my favorite person. Health and happiness are both physical and mental. I believe in feeding both.

I am a firm believer that none of our favorite foods should ever be completely off-limits. In my case, a life without chocolate or baked goods is not for me. Even us "health food nuts" have moments where we nearly trip on our own feet trying to get to the kitchen to preheat the oven after seeing recipes like these fresh-baked squares of sinful goodness on the internet.

So how do I handle this? Sometimes a bowl of fresh berries will do the trick. Sometimes not. For those times when only fresh-baked will do, I try my best to modify the recipe to make it lower in fat and sugar. These bars sound A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, but even my soul doesn't need that much butter and sugar. Here is my "health-nut-ified" version of the recipe:

My "health-nut-ified" cookie bars:
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground oats (grind 1/2 cup oats in a blender or food processor)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
1 Tbsp ground flax or chia seeds
1/2 cup semi-sweet (vegan) chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chocolate chips, and nuts in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together flax or chia seeds and non-dairy milk. Let sit for 5 minutes then whisk again. Add the canola oil, applesauce, maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla and stir well.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir gently until combined. Don't over-mix!
  4. Line an 8 X 8 pan with parchment (or spray with non-stick spray) and gently press the batter evenly into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. If you are using parchment, lift the bars out of the pan by the edges of the paper and place on a cooling rack (this will help to prevent them from drying out).
Note: Because of the lower fat and sugar content, the texture of these bars is more muffin-like than I imagine the original recipe results to be.

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