Carrot Bars-Vegan and Gluten-Free with no refined sugars

This weekend I was in a meal making frenzy. The weather is cool enough now to use our oven, so I was taking full advantage of that. Plus, I was trying to clean out our fridge without throwing anything away. I am a big repurposer, and I suppose that goes for my food as well. We have an apple tree in our backyard that has produced so many apples. My mom has been canning all last week, making pretty much anything with “apple” in the name: apple butter, apple pie-filling, applesauce, etc. She has so many jars made, that she wanted me to make something that used applesauce. Applesauce is a great replacement for sugar or butter in a recipe because it adds moistness and natural sweetness. I also wanted to use up a zucchini we had, which adds additional moistness, plus sneaking some veggies in!

So with zucchini and applesauce at hand, I decided to make a carrot bar recipe that I found. The recipe (found here) calls for sugar, which I decided to omit, as well as making some other minor alternations. The end product was very moist and was just the right amount of sweetness (all natural too might I add). These bars are perfect for breakfast, snack or just on-the-go!

Here are the some health benefits of the ingredients:

  • Zucchini-The fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium found in this vegetable is good for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Applesauce-A better alternative than butter or sugar, applesauce contains fiber and vitamin C.
  • Carrot-Full of fiber, vitamin C and A, Beta-Carotene, carrots improve eye and skin health, aid in digestion, and reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Cinnamon-Loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon can help protect against cancers and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Oats-Gaining nutritional benefits such as manganese, selenium, phosphorus, fiber, magnesium, and zinc, they are a healthier option than processed white flour, which removes these minerals.
  • Walnuts-Due to it’s special mix of vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants, studies have shown that walnuts may support brain health. Now there’s a smart idea.

So let’s get baking these good for you bars! Apologies for no pretty picture of the bars…that’s the downfall to baking at night, you don’t get the best pictures!

Carrot Bars

(makes 18 bars)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 cups sugar-free applesauce
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the shredded carrot, zucchini, applesauce, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Mix well.
  3. After the wet ingredients are mixed thoroughly, add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Spread the mixture in a 9×13 pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until baked thoroughly.
  5. Let cool for five minutes before slicing into 1 1/2″ x 3″ bars.

Note: Keep in a refrigerator to extend the shelf life of these moist babies! I kept them just on my counter wrapped in foil and within only a few days, they started to mold.

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