Healthy Pumpkin Bars

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I can still remember my first drive up to East Lansing, Michigan. My parents were taking me to Michigan State University for a college tour, and I was a bit apprehensive. All I knew about MSU was that they had a great hospitality business school, and everyone who went there seemed to be a football or basketball fanatic. And since I’ve never been a real sports enthusiast, I wasn’t quite sure if Michigan State could ever feel like home to me. But sure enough, I started my freshman year at Michigan State, and quickly fell in love with the beautiful campus and the camaraderie of the student body and alumni. And a few years later, I fell in love with a boy who loved Michigan State Football. Fast forward 8 years, and believe it or not, one of my favorite weekends of the year is our annual MSU Football tailgate. All of our college friends get together for at least one home game a year, to celebrate our alma mater. And although I still wouldn’t consider myself a football fanatic, I do love putting together a stellar tailgate. Thanks to our “head ring leader,” Arielle, we typically have a pretty impressive set up. Everyone brings a different dish to share, and we end up with everything from bagels, to sliders, to assorted cookies and salty snacks. This year I tried to provide a healthier breakfast option that was still delicious and seasonal. And I knew I could find a delicious and healthy recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Ambitious Kitchen. This recipe results in decadant tasting pumpkin bars, that are healthy enough for a nutritious breakfast. Plus they feature pumpkin, making it the perfect fall treat.

Ingredients: Makes 16 bars. Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on top
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8×11 or 9 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Make oat flour: Place oatmeal into blender or food processor and blend for 1-2 minutes until oatmeal resembles flour.
  3. Measure out just 2 1/2 cups of the oat flour and place in a medium bowl. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices; set aside.
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla extract, oil, and applesauce for 1-2 minutes until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Slowly add in oat flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips on top. Bake for 25 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Once finished baking, cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Cut into 16 slices.
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