Today was a frustrating day, to say the least. I was able squeeze in a quick, but very effective Kettlebell workout in the afternoon, drank my Vega protein shake afterwards in class, but was suddenly starving when class was over around 5. I mean, speed-walk-back-to-my-dorm, grab-another-snack so I can pause to tide me over while I make dinner hungry! As I walked back, the first smell that hit me was stir-fry from the dining halls, so I easily knew what I wanted to make. But what snack??! I didn’t just want fruit, something not to sweet.. opened the fridge… and BAM.
These delicious bars staring back at me.
I’m trying out some savory bars, and several months ago, I tried these Mediterranean Yogurt & Oat Bars. The the Cherry & Pistachio bar was definitely my favorite! (I also tried the Tomato Basil and Apricot Pistachio. I liked the apricot, but the tomato basil was just okay. I liked that it was savory, but I hate pesto. And it tastes like pesto. So, if you like pesto, go for it!).
I do love their bars and concept, and while they’ll do in a pinch, again, I try to stay away from added sugars, and they were a bit too sweet for me. So they’ve been on my agenda to make for several months – and oh my gosh – these are probably the best bars I’ve made so far!
They hold up great, are portable, have a firm & chewy texture, but still have a crunch, and are great tasting! There aren’t any added sugar, so they’re not too sweet, but they aren’t savory- perfectly tart & sweet for me.
I came up with the recipe over Spring Break on a whim, and they worked out so well!
I’ve been trying to use more sprouted flours, or soaked flours, in my baking. Sprouting, or soaking flours, decreases the phytic acid, and increases the bioavailability of nutrients. Basically, it makes the nutrients in these grains easier for your body to absorb and utilize. And by using sprouted flours, you don’t have to worry about making a new recipe by soaking flours, playing with liquid content, etc., etc. Nourished Kitchen is my go to for advice on this topic.
For the yogurt topping, I used siggi’s yogurt; strained, then mixed with vanilla. These bars are not sweetened at all- but they are LOADED with dried cherries and held together by some fruit butter. You could easily add some honey, maple syrup, or agave to the mix, if you really wish. You could also use vanilla or another flavored siggi’s if you wish. And although I do love siggi’s, there is also a vegan option with non dairy yogurt. up to you to try.
These also use dried tart cherries, which have many benefits and are loaaded with antioxidants. I started incorporating more cherries (purposefully) in my diet a few years ago when I heard they were a good source of melatonin and could aid in sleep regulation. When they went out of season, I heard about dried tart cherries and went on a search to find them. Just know that there is a difference in tart, sweet, bing, (etc.) cherries, including their sugar content, and their antioxidant levels, so try to find tart/dark cherries.
You start by making the flax egg and soaking the cherries, mixing the dry flours,
Add in the wet,
Fold in some lightly toasted pistachios, and bake!
Then you let it cool & add on the yogurt coating,
Then bake again!
- 1 c Rolled Oats
- 1/2 c sprouted spring wheat flour (or other sprouted flour, or whole grain flour)
- 1/4c (~1 scoop) plain plant protein powder (I used Garden of Life Raw)
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 c dried tart cherries- unsweetened (I buy mine from WF or TJs)
- 6 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tbsp fruit butter or dried fruit paste*
- 2 tbsp. milled flax seeds
- 1/2c soymilk
- 6 tbsp. raw pistachios
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (i use Bourbon vanilla from TJs)
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- pinch sea salt
- 1 container (3/4c) plain siggi’s*
- 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract (i use Bourbon vanilla from TJs) OR 1.5 tsp powdered vanilla bean
- Overnight: Set the yogurt out to strain. Over a small deep bowl, lay two coffee filters OR a cheese cloth OR a small tea strainer (pictured) and empty the yogurt onto it, ensuring the filter does not touch the bottom (you could use a rubber band/hair tie around the top, if needed). Let it sit out over night (8-12 hours), and then put it in the fridge the next morning until you are ready to use. Don't let it sit for more than 24 hours (it will be too dry), but it needs to drain for at least 8.
- Soak the cherries: lightly warm the soymilk (on the stove top, or the microwave, 30 seconds at medium power) in a small bowl. Take it off the heat, add the cherries, vanilla, and fruit butter. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Make the flax egg: mix 2 tbsp. milled flax seeds with 5 tbsp. water
- Preheat oven to 300*
- For raw pistachios, sprinkle them with salt to taste, put them in the toaster oven at 200* for 5 minutes, shake, and put them back in for up to a total of 10 minutes, making sure they don’t burn. Take them out and let them cool.
- Combine the dry ingredients (oats, flour, protein (or sub another flour), baking powder, spices, salt) in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
- To the dry ingredients, add the flax egg, applesauce, and milk/cherry mixture. Stir to completely combine. Fold in the pistachios.
- Cover a dark aluminum with parchment paper, and dump the batter on. Spread it out using a fork or spoon into a rectangle to make 8 bars (or your desired shape & amount). Bake for 30 minutes, turning once in between.
- While the bars are baking, mix your strained yogurt with vanilla.
- Once the bars are done, take them out and reduce the temp to 200*. Let the bars cook for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. If the parchment is still wet, change it, so the bars don't get soggy.
- Spread the bars evenly with the yogurt, and put them back in for 30 minutes at 200*, then leave them in the oven for another 30 minutes (with the oven off), then let them cool COMPLETELY on the counter.
- Leave them at room temp for a few days, then store them in an airtight glass container in the fridge, and they will last for a few weeks.
- You can use flavored siggi's if you'd like it a little sweeter, vanilla or any flavor you'd like. you could also add a bit of sweetener of choice- some concentrated fruit juice or applesauce before draining it, or a sweetener like honey after draining it. i add a bit of cinnamon after draining. not enough to taste the cinnamon, but just to get a hint of sweet.
- fruit paste/butter: apple butter, homemade date paste, fig paste or prune puree. fig jam/butter, etc. i use a combination of these. if it's a thicker jam consistency and sweeter you may just need 1-1.5 tbsp. my apple butter was very thin so then i needed a full 2 tbsp.
- **VEGAN option: use your favorite non dairy yogurt. I like hemp yogurt the best ingredient and taste wise. I would recommend plain or vanilla, and since (in my opinion) the unsweetened ones are not palatable, or use that and added extra vanilla. Strain it a day extra (that is, a night, a day, another night, and then refrigerate the morning you’re ready to use)
Let me know if you try them! They seem a bit labor intensive, but if you prep the yogurt and get all you’re ingredients out ahead of time, it goes really smooth. It takes some time, but it is so worth it, anad you can make a bigger batch to keep in the fridge.
Any new dried fruits or nuts that you’ve recently discovered you love? my dad tried mulberries for the 3rd time last weekend and had an EPIPHANY or something! He didn’t remember trying them before and loved them, so we had to order a whole bag just for him! haha.
Favorite homemade bar or snack?