Salt and Stone: Silver linings -- Raspberry Oat Bars

raspberry oat bars

Raspberry Oat Bars can be made with whatever jam you have on hand.

The ratio of treats baked in the last six weeks is probably quadruple to the rest of the year. I’m not complaining by any means; it’s been fun to involve the kids in baking projects and I’ve never been one to say no to a baked good.

This week’s recipe is a delicious raspberry oat bar. They fall into that gray category of being kinda-sorta healthy, meaning not a lot of sugar or white flour, while still managing to taste wonderfully decadent and yummy.

In these weird times where emotions are high and kids are bored and there’s only so much Netflix you can consume in a day, a little baked treat might be just the ticket to fighting off boredom and easing the stress of the 24-hour news cycle.

So much about daily life has changed in the last few weeks. School is done for the year. Going to the grocery store requires a 12-step process to glove and mask and disinfect, draining my emotional reserves. What started out as a fun “break” now sometimes feels a little like the walls are closing in on everyone.

And yet, after the breakdowns and the messes and the acceptance that no matter how much we (me) fight and complain and feel sorry for ourselves, this is the new normal. And the silver linings to this new normal are everywhere I look, when I actually make a point of looking around.

I connect with my friends and family more than before. We eat dinner together every night. I have a much bigger part in my children’s education. There’s time every day to read, to go for long walks, to drink coffee on the couch. My restlessness is slowly fading, rearing up when I least expect it, but easing more and more.

And now as we anticipate some restrictions lifting in the next month or so, I’m curious to see what will stay and what will fade away from this wild experiment.

Back to the oat bars: This recipe is so easy to throw together. They are naturally vegan, sweetened with honey instead of sugar and so delicious. I chose raspberry jam because that’s my favorite, but any flavor will work just fine. Use what you have on hand. If you’re up for an extra step, I have a blueberry chia jam recipe posted on my blog that would be lovely in this recipe.

• Andrea McCoy writes the column Kitchen Captivated for Yakima Magazine and at The Salt and Stone, a home cooking blog. The Salt and Stone is a nod not just to the essence of cooking, but also to the Yakima Valley. Read more at www.thesaltandstone.com.

Raspberry Oat Bars

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

pinch of salt

1 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 square baking pan with parchment paper (or spray lightly with cooking spray).

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, almond flour, coconut oil, honey, peanut butter, vanilla, almond extract and pinch of salt. Use a wooden spoon or clean hands to combine the ingredients until the mixture is crumbly and clumpy.

Press three quarters of the mixture into the 8x8 pan, making an even layer. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Spread the jam evenly over the oats. Crumble the rest of the oat mixture over the jam and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the jam is bubbling slightly on the edges and the top is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Lift bars out of the pan and cut into small squares.

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