By Jessica Roy Most people think the life of a chef means nightly glamorous five-course meals at home. In reality, as a business owner, the chef part comes as the second half of my job amid all of the hustle and bustle of making operations run smoothly.
That means that I'm pretty much constantly on the go, and really eat whatever I can grab that is portable. In this day in age, we are all busy and on the run. So while cooking might actually be a luxury activity for some, everyone's gotta eat. I try to eat as healthy as possible when I can, so I need snacks that will be nutritious, delicious and easily mobile.
These Pumpkin Oatmeal Crunch Bars are a great energy boosting snack or mini meal, depending on how large you make them, packed with flavor and some healthy essentials. Since they're made with pumpkin puree, whole grain oats, and a sprinkling of seeds and nuts, you can check off the vegetable, grain and omega 3 boxes in your nutrition list simultaneously.
The texture of these bars is slightly bread-like and dense, almost like a 'Blondie', except not dessert sweet. As the recipe is written, they are on the healthy side, but should you want to make a version that is right at home on the dessert table, you can make the following swaps: 1 cuwp pumpkin pie mix for the pumpkin puree, 1 cup AP flour for 1 cup oat flour, increase sugar to 2/3 cup, add chocolate chips, and of course use butter instead of coconut oil. Also, I used a combination of almonds, pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, but the choice is yours.
Chef's note: To make your own oat flour for this recipe, simply pulse 1 1/4 cup whole grain oats in a food processor until finely ground to yield 1 cup oat flour.
Pumpkin Oatmeal Crunch Snack Bars
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 Tbs. coconut oil
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups oat flour
1 cup whole oats
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts and seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, and brown sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla extract, and mix well.
With the mixer on low speed, fold the oat flour, baking powder, salt and spices into the mixture. Once incorporated, add the whole oats, raisins, nuts and seeds and continue to mix until fully combined.
Spray an 8x8 inch (or similar size) baking dish with pan spray, or rub with coconut oil. Press the dough into the baking dish in an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.
Allow the whole dish to cool completely before cutting into bars to serve.
Jessica Roy is a specialty chef and caterer, food writer and chef instructor, and owner of Shiso Kitchen in Somerville, where she teaches classes. Follow her at http://blogs.lowellsun.com/yourpersonalchef.