Are you bored with your breakfast and snack choices? These apple crunch bars are the perfect way to change things up a bit while still delivering great nutrition and deliciousness. A base and topping of oats, pistachios, brown sugar, and whole wheat flour surround a cozy apple-cinnamon filling for a healthy treat that tastes like a cross between an apple granola bar and a bite of apple crisp.
I posted a recipe for cranberry almond bars about a year ago, and these apple crunch bars are similar to those, except for the obvious change in filling, and this time I used pistachios in the topping instead of almonds. The filling is a version of my basic homemade applesauce recipe, and the base and topping are loosely adapted from a recipe I found in Real Simple magazine in September of 2015.
I love these apple crunch bars! The apple-cinnamon combination is always so cozy and comforting, especially when the apples are bubbling away in a pot on the stove. And the crunch mixture is so tasty, so full of salty-sweet flavor from the pistachios and brown sugar, with such a crunchy, crumbly texture that mixes so well with a fruit filling. They really are a great breakfast choice, snack, or even a guilt-free dessert, if that’s what you are looking for.
In a few days (I can’t believe it is coming up so quickly!) my family will be celebrating Thanksgiving. It is the time of year when we consciously think about what we are thankful for, about gratitude. I recently checked out a book from the library about the spirituality of gratitude, because it is something I want to cultivate more deeply in my life. It is easy to be grateful when things are going well, and more challenging to feel gratitude when things don’t go our way, or when we are struggling. I am enjoying (though it is sometimes really hard!) going further into this practice.
I was raking leaves yesterday afternoon, and our dog kept sitting right in the middle of the tarp I was using to drag the leaves to the back of our property. Then when I finally got him off of the tarp, he would run alongside me as I was dragging it and either step on it or grab it with his mouth and start tugging. He didn’t want me to get anything accomplished! He wanted those leaves to fly and scatter with the wind. I love that about our dog. I hope you all have a great weekend! Antonia @ Zoale and Petra @ Food Eat Love are co-hosting Angie’s Fiesta Friday this week, and I look forward to sharing this recipe over there.
Apple Crunch Bars
For the filling:
- 3 medium sized apples, diced
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup of water
For the base and topping:
- 1 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
- 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
- 1 cup of pistachios, shelled (raw almonds or walnuts may be substituted, if desired)
- 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt (optional)
- 8 tablespoons (or 1/2 cup or 1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar, packed
For the filling:
Wash, peel, and dice the apples. Place them in a small or medium pot, along with the vanilla, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low for about 20 minutes, or until the apples are tender. Let the filling cool slightly, then mash it with a potato masher so it becomes somewhat smooth. Let it cool while a bit more and the filling will thicken a bit as it cools.
For the base and topping:
While the apples are simmering, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 inch square baking dish with two crisscrossed pieces of parchment paper, leaving an overhang of paper on all sides, pressing the paper down inside the dish.
In a blender or food processor, pulse or puree the oats, whole wheat flour, pistachios, baking powder, and salt until finely ground. Transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir in the brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter and continue to work it in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs about the size of a pea, and everything is well combined.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the crunch mixture for the topping. Press the remaining crunch mixture into the baking dish, using a straight-sided glass or measuring cup to pack it down evenly.
Spread the apple filling over the bottom crust, distributing it evenly. Scatter the reserved 1/2 cup crunch mixture evenly over the top. Bake until golden, and set in the middle about 35 to 45 minutes.
When it is done, let it cool completely (the cooler it is, the better the bars will hold their shape–I can’t always wait till it’s totally cooled!). Then, holding the overhanging parchment paper, lift the crunch out and transfer it to a cutting board and cut with a sharp knife into twelve bars. Enjoy!