I’m back with these nut-free strawberry vanilla crumble bars!
First of all, happy belated Canada day (and 4th of July)!
I’m aware that it’s been only two weeks since my last post, but it feels like forever. I blame it on everything that has been going on since I last shared a recipe.
- I finished my dietetic internship.
- I started my career as a registered dietitian (candidate) at the hospital.
- We moved in our new apartment.
I think that was enough to keep me busy over the last few weeks! You may have seen some pictures of our new apartment on Instagram stories. I shared a few behind the scenes during our move and I recently shared some after pictures. We finished unpacking everything almost 2 weeks ago – I love cleaning and organizing, so everything was done in two days. However, we just finished hanging the paintings and pictures last weekend. We still have a few empty walls as our new place doesn’t have as many windows as our other apartments. This means we have large walls and not enough pictures to fill them. I did buy a chalkboard for our kitchen. It fills up some empty space and it’s handy. I’m excited to use it to write to-do lists and ingredients we need at the store. I just love making lists, is that weird?
Anyways, we’re done unpacking, organizing and decorating, so I finally feel relaxed enough to cook and work on the blog. It also helps that I stocked up the fridge after having it half empty for a month. These strawberry vanilla crumble bars were one of the first things I made after being settled in. I wanted something sweet to make up for the fact that I hadn’t had any dessert or sweet snack in 2-3 weeks. I also wanted to use summer produce. While looking through some of my cookbooks, I came across the strawberry oat crumble bars in the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook. I made them once for Shaun, but they contain sugar, so I knew I wanted to try a sugar-free version that I could enjoy myself. I’ve always loved crumble bars! So this is what I came up with and I’m very pleased with the results.
About these bars. If you make them, ensure that there’s someone else in the house to share them with. If not, you may turn around to find that you ate half of it yourself. Seriously, they’re so addictive. Shaun and I finished the whole thing in two days, every time I made them. This means we both had two and a half bars each on those days… When I put it that way, it doesn’t sound too bad, but they’re fairly big bars. I may not get sugar cravings like I used to, but I’m still human. I still want to stuff my face with (healthy) desserts sometimes. The only difference is that I don’t feel like doing it every week and when I do, I don’t eat it until I feel sick. I think of it as having “normal” cravings. Does that make sense?
Enough about that. Now, let me explain how these crumble bars work. It’s fairly simple.
First, you can start by roasting your sunflower seeds. You could use roasted sunflower seeds and skip this step, but I like to use raw seeds and roast them myself. It only takes 10 minutes and while they’re roasting, you can make the chia seed jam. For the jam, you can use any berries you’d like. Strawberries are my favorite, but I think raspberries would be great as well. Even cherries – I’m definitely trying that one soon. So to make the chia jam, simply put the frozen strawberries (or other berries) in a small saucepan. Heat them over medium-high heat, covered for 8 minutes until soften. Then mash them with a potato masher or a fork and stir in the chia seeds, vanilla and salt. You then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes, the jam should thicken during cooking. After it’s done cooking, you remove it from the heat and let it cool. It should continue to thicken as it cools. If you want something sweeter, feel free to add a few tablespoons of maple syrup or honey to the jam.
While the jam is cooling, you can make the oat crumble. You just need to process all the crumble ingredients in a food processor until the mixture holds together when pressed. Finally, you press the mixture at the bottom of a dish, leaving a bit for topping. Add a layer of chia jam, then crumble the rest of the oat mixture on top. Bake it for 15 minutes and you’re done!
I hope you try it out. I can’t think of a better way to use all the fresh strawberries this season. Speaking of which, I need to remember to go pick some strawberries myself in the next few weeks. Nothing beats eating fresh fruits that you picked yourself. Am I right?!
Another closeup, because why not?
Nut-Free Strawberry Vanilla Crumble Bars
Strawberry Vanilla Chia Jam
- 3 cups frozen strawberries (or other berries)
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seed butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1-2 tablespoons water, as needed
- Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9x9 inch glass dish with margarine or butter. Set aside.
Make the Strawberry Vanilla Jam
- In a medium saucepan, add frozen strawberries. Cook covered for about 8 minutes over high-medium heat, until strawberries soften.
- Mash strawberries with a potato masher or fork. Stir in chia seeds, vanilla and salt. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool (it should continue to thicken when cooling).
Make the Oat Crumble
- Spread the sunflower seeds on a baking sheet. When the oven is preheated, roast the sunflower seeds for 10 minutes until lightly golden. When the sunflower seeds are done roasting, remove from the oven and increase to 350F.
- Place the roasted sunflower seeds and dates in a food processor. Process until crumbly. Add 2 cups of oats, melted margarine (or butter), sunflower seed butter, vanilla and salt. Add water and process until the mixture sticks together when pressed. Add the remaining 1 cup of oats and process for a few seconds until combined. You want the mixture to stick together, while still having texture.
- Press the oat mixture at the bottom of the greased dish, leaving 1.5 cups for topping. Spread the strawberry jam evenly on top of the bottom layer. Finally, crumble the remaining oat mixture on top.
- Bake for 15 minutes, uncovered at 350F. Let cool 1 hour before cutting. This helps the bars stick together.
If you try this recipe, make sure to tag your photo #unsweetenedcaroline on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Don’t forget to also tag me @unsweetened.caroline on Instagram so I can see your creations!