I love to bake during the holidays. It has been a passion of my as I’ve grown up that gets to be extra special during the holiday season. Not only because it is a time when everything you bake can be pumpkin spice themed without anyone questioning you, but for the fact that I get to bake for my friends and family bringing smiles to their faces. I’ve never been one to follow recipes and I guess that came about more frequently as I started to become passionate about nutrition. Being a dietetics student I love to find ways to substitute healthier ingredients that will leave you feeling better after a treat or allow someone who is diabetic to have a treat without concern of a blood sugar spike.
I love using coconut sugar instead of white or brown sugar for many reasons. Coconut sugar comes from a plant source and has not been refined, so there is fiber and other micronutrients that are bonuses to its sweetness. The fiber acts to slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, so overall coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index. Using whole wheat flour is another regular ingredient in my baking. I like to use a whole wheat flour because this complex carbohydrate will have similar effects as the coconut sugar, it will break down and be absorbed over a longer period of time, raising your blood sugar slowly, too. This will keep you full and satisfied for longer than a white flour or simple carbohydrate. For this reason, it is a great substitute flour to use when baking banana breads, oat bars, muffins, etc. that can be chosen as an on-the-go breakfast or mid-day snack.
Last week I had been dying to bake and after a busy week the first chance I got, I woke up and started baking… no plans, no recipe. Just me, a Spotify Autumn playlist, the oven warming up and a butternut squash, I was ready for a morning of recipe testing. I’ll spare you the details of a messy kitchen, but the results were perfection. Butternut Squash Oat bars. Not too sweet and not to heavy on the spices. Top it off with a nut butter or for dessert, warmed up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… I’d say it’s the perfect versatile Autumn recipe.
Butternut Squash Oat Bars
Roasting the butternut squash:
• 1 medium size butternut squash
• 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
• olive oil
• 1 cup Whole wheat flour
• ½ cup of quick oats
• ¼ teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon baking powder
• pinch of salt
• 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
• ½ tablespoon of pumpkin spice
• ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds
• ¼ cup of slivered almonds
• ¼ cup coconut sugar
• 1 chia egg (2 tablespoons of chia seeds + ½ cup water)
• 2 bananas
• ¼ cup of melted coconut oil
• ½ cup of peanut butter
• 1 small steamed and mashed sweet potato
• ½ cups of roasted butternut squash
• ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
• 1 cup of roasted butternut squash
• ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
• 1 packet of stevia
• 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice
Preheat the oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. Cut the butternut squash long ways in half and scoop out seeds. Line a baking sheet in aluminum foil and coat lightly in olive oil. Drizzle olive oil over the squash lightly too before adding spices. Evenly cover both halves of the squash with the cinnamon and pumpkin spice, then lay them face down onto the pan with the skin facing up. Roast for about 40 minutes until completely soft. While the squash is roasting prepare the wet and dry ingredients. In a small ramekin prepare the chia seed egg. In a separate large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients except for the coconut sugar. Peel and mash both bananas and add into a new bowl with the rest of the wet ingredients and coconut sugar. Once the squash is done roasting, remove from oven and scoop out a cup and a half to cool on the side for a 3-5 minutes and turn oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then add ½ a cup of the cooled squash to the wet ingredients. Once all wet ingredients are mixed smoothly, add to dry mixture and combine well. To prepare the mid-layer, mix all ingredients till combined well. Lightly spray an 8 ½ X 8 ½ deep baking dish with cooking oil or butter and add ¾ of the batter to the pan, then evenly cover batter with squash mixture. Cover top with the remaining batter to completely cover the squash mixture. Sprinkle extra pumpkin seeds and buckwheat groats over top(optional). Place baking pan in oven on middle rack for 35 minutes. Once the oat bars are done baking take out to let cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut into squares and enjoy!