Who doesn’t love a “Two-for-One?” A two-for-one dessert or treat is when you get to savor a satisfying, comforting sweet treat, like cookies, cake, pie, cobbler or candy AND reap the disease-fighting, immune-boosting benefits of nutrient-rich ingredients like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products. I’d say that’s spending your Treat or Dessert Calories Wisely!
Oatmeal Raisin & Date Bars are one of my go-to choices for the fastest and easiest nutrient-rich treats. Oats and white whole-wheat flour provide 100% whole-grain nutrients. Raisins and dates combined create a sweet, antioxidant boost. (Look for pre-chopped dates in packages or containers right next to the raisins.)
Recently I tweaked this recipe to contain a little less saturated fat; it used to call for two sticks of butter. Switching one of those sticks with an equal amount of canola doesn’t reduce the total fat, but it does reduce the saturated fat content. My next tweak will be to reduce that oil amount even further; I have a sneaking suspicion the bars will still be moist and chewy. I’ll keep you posted!
Oh, and like many of my decadent desserts or treats, these bars can easily be mixed, baked, then cut into squares and frozen in big zippered bags. When it’s time for a snack or dessert, just grab one or two, microwave and enjoy!
Whole Grain Oatmeal Raisin & Date Bars
½ cup butter (1 stick), slightly softened
½ cup canola oil
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups white whole-wheat flour (prefer King Arthur brand)*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats (uncooked)
2/3 cup raisins
1 package (8 ounces) chopped dates
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 10x15x1-inch jelly roll baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter, oil and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt and mix thoroughly. Add oats, raisins and dates and mix until blended. Spread or pat batter in pan and bake 22 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Bars may appear slightly sticky in center with toothpick and they will appear a tad “puffed”. They’ll deflate once cooled. Be sure not to overcook, as bars harden slightly as they cool. Cool on wire rack; cut into bars and store in tightly covered container. Bars can be frozen. Simply wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and place all bars in zippered freezer bag.
Makes about 24 bars (4 x 6 cut)
Enjoy with a glass of 1% low fat milk for a calcium, vitamin D and protein boost!
*Use ¾ cup all-purpose and ¾ cup regular whole wheat flour if you can’t find the White Whole Wheat flour.