~ These Peanut Butter Bars are filled with extra-special texture and flavor from oats and coconut, all crowned with a glorious chocolate layer. And, since they’re a no-bake bar cookie, they’re ridiculously easy. Pssst … and they’re even a little healthier too, so you’ll actually feel terrific watching your loved ones gobble them up! ~
This Recipe Is: • Make Ahead • Vegetarian • Gluten Free •
How do you prepare for the holidays?
Decorate the tree? Light the menorah? Crazy shopping? Millions and millions of Christmas cookies? Mmmmm … Christmas cookies …
I used to bake one kind of cookie each year to take to our family gatherings. That was my version of making Christmas cookies.
I didn’t need to make a whole bunch of different kinds. My mom took care of that.
It all started probably 20 years ago. My mom and her dear friend, Ruth, used to get together the day after Thanksgiving and bake Christmas cookies. And not just a couple different kinds of cookies while they sipped tea and caught up on daily life.
No, these two ladies baked all day. Until everything from their hair to their shoes was covered in flour dust and the counters were sticky from splattered batter. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you they baked about 150 dozen cookies in a day. That’s 1,800 cookies, my friends. 1,800 cookies.
They called themselves “The Cookie Angels” and even put together little homemade cookbooks with favorite recipes for all their friends. These little cookbooks, photocopied on brightly colored paper, have become some of my most treasured possessions. Having my mom’s tried-and-true recipes all neatly typed up and in one spot. Priceless.
When my mom passed away three years ago, I suddenly realized that if I didn’t make Christmas cookies, all of my mom’s favorites wouldn’t be shared that year. Unacceptable.
So I pushed my sleeves up and said a prayer.
And the cookies were all awesome. Every last crumb.
Ok, so it took me a couple days. And I only made about 60 dozen. But still.
This will be the fourth year that I tie my hair up for a flurry of cinnamon and sugar. Melted chocolate smeared all over my counters.
A favorite of mine is the bar cookie. Yeah, they aren’t as cute as perfectly shaped cut-out cookies that have been painstakingly decorated with multi-colored icing and garnished with sparkling sugar. But really, bar cookies are sooo easy, taste awesome, and are done in a flash. Add in the no-bake goodness of this recipe – and it’s done in a half flash. (Is that a real measurement of time? Yes, yes it is.)
Oh, right. Totally forgot to mention that these little morsels of delight are healthy. You’ll never know it, though. They taste so good. So good.
When I was testing this recipe, I took a tray in for the teachers at my daughter’s school. I happened to see a teacher walking down the hall, eating one, and I
chased after him and started asking for feedback casually asked what he thought. He told me he loved it and wanted to go back and get another. Then I told him it was healthy. He didn’t believe me.
A couple other PTO moms were also at the school, and they quickly made their way to the teacher’s lounge and divided one bar so they could each have a taste.
I was asked for the recipe. I was also asked if they could just come live at my house and eat my test batches.
Yeah … Healthy. Delicious. And perfection on your cookie tray – whether this is your one-and-only cookie for the year or one of your 150 dozen, this will shine!
- 3 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
- 3 cups shredded/flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
- 1 1/2 cups natural, creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil (optional)
- Combine oats, coconut, and flaxseed meal in a large bowl.
- Add peanut butter, honey, and vanilla, stirring to combine.
- Using wax paper, press the mixture into a 9x13" jellyroll pan.
- Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil (if using) in the microwave for about 3 minutes at 50% power, stirring after each minute (see note).
- Pour the chocolate over oat mixture. Using a spreader or tilting the pan, spread chocolate evenly.
- Refrigerate or freeze until chocolate is set.
- Cut into squares.
- Store in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate firm until serving.
Optional coconut oil: Coconut oil helps the chocolate to spread more easily. If omitting oil, you will need to use a spreader or spatula to spread the chocolate over the oat mixture, as it will not flow easily enough on its own.
Melting chocolate: Microwave times and cooking powers vary. Chocolate scorches easily, so check often while microwaving, especially near the end of cooking time.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 48 servings Serving Size: 1 bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 139Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 55mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 10gProtein: 3g
Nutrition calculation does not include optional coconut oil. Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may additionally vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.