Healthy apple crumble bars made vegan with dates and coconut oil. These snack or breakfast bars are a wonderful way to celebrate apple season, with a luxe apple date sauce, and rely on the sweetness of seasonal apples to remain low in added sugar – coconut sugar in this case.
I am obsessed with these. Yes I say that about a lot of the recipes that I post but I try not to share unless I really, truly love it. These are something I can see myself making for the rest of my life (seriously) and it seems like those recipes that I make constantly are the ones that end up being reader favourites. I’ve made these apple crumble bars a handful of times and I think I’ve finished each batch within a couple of days every time. They’re supposed to be for Graham to bring to work with him – he recently started working in Bremen so he leaves at 6:30 in the morning and doesn’t get home until 7:30 at night – but I’ve been keeping them for myself. Muahaha.
Did any of you get those little apple crumble granola bars when you were a kid? I have no idea what brand they are but they were small and wrapped in bright green packaging. They were my absolute favourite but I only got them every once in a while because my mom was sort of strict about eating healthy. We’d eat whole pints of ice cream with a spoon but we didn’t get fruit roll ups to bring to school, so you know, a bit mixed. I don’t imagine I’d be able to get through one of those sugar-laden granola bars now but these are a healthy version of a childhood favourite, and I think kids would really like them too. Healthy because whole grain oat flour, date-sweetened (a little coconut sugar in the crumble), and fruit which = one of your five a day. Unless you eat like my grandmother and then it’s more like one of your 37 a day. She will eat an entire crate of mangoes in one day (but she has no bathroom problems so maybe old people should eat more fruit?! Just pretend diabetes doesn’t exist for a minute).
PSA it’s currently apple season and you need to get your ass out there and pick some before it’s too late!
One thing about these is that the filling takes a bit of time to make BUT you can substitute apple butter, bought or homemade, and then you can have a batch made in a few minutes. The filling is just apples cooked with some dates and then pureed with cinnamon but it’s truly amazing, especially if you use local apples while they’re in season (i.e. August until November). The base and crumble topping are the same mix, made in the food processor. It’s made with oats and that means that it’s 1. a perfectly acceptable breakfast and 2. gluten-free. The first time I made these I kept sneaking the crumble while the filling cooled and ended up with a lot less on the bars, hah. There’s no pre-baking or any of that nonsense and this is a truly quick and easy recipe. You can also make extra filling and freeze some or keep it in the fridge as it’s essentially thick apple sauce, and perfect for topping porridge.
I have a window sill crowded with apples and a lot more on the trees so prepare yourselves for more apple recipes in the foreseeable future. If you have something you’d really love to see then let me know! Cake, bread, savoury? ALL OF THEM?! Hopefully all of them because that’s what you’re getting.
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Apple Crumble Bars
Base and Crumble Topping
- 2 cups / 220 grams rolled oats ground into a coarse flour
- 1/4 cup / 30 grams coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup / 60 grams soft dates*
- 1/4 cup / 70 grams solid coconut oil room temperature
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch nutmeg**
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk if needed
- 3 medium / 500 grams apples***
- 1/4 cup / 60 grams dates****
- 1 tablespoon water or apple juice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Base and Crumble Topping
Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F and line a 20cm square baking tin with parchment paper.
In your food processor, grind the oats into flour. Add the coconut sugar, dates, coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix on high speed until a slightly crumbly dough forms. You should be able to press it between your fingers have it hold its shape. If it's too dry, add the milk and mix again. Don't add more than a tablespoon - if it seems like it's not quite coming together, mix it for longer and it will.
Using your hands, press about two-thirds of the dough (220 grams*) into the prepared baking tin and reserve the rest (160 grams) for the crumble topping. Try to make it as even as possible, as it will be quite thin. Spread the apple filling over the base and then top with the remaining crumble mixture.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the tin before removing and slicing. I suggest placing the tin in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 30 minutes before slicing to keep the bars neat. Store the bars in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Core and dice the apples (don't peel them) and place them, along with the dates and water, into a small saucepan. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until soft. Stir in the cinnamon and cool slightly before blending until smooth.
• I did indeed weigh the dough for you. If you're a baking perfectionist, I've got you covered.
• If the apple filling is still warm when you're blending it, make sure you have the vent open (on a food processor at least) to keep it from getting really hot.
• As I mentioned above, you can substitute pre-made apple butter for the filling instead of making it from scratch (not apple sauce, it'll be too thin) and save a good bit of time.
* If your dates are dry, soak them in hot water for half an hour first.
** I always like to use fresh nutmeg. It's more cost effective, lasts longer, and tastes much better.
*** Try to use a tart apple without a very high moisture content. I used boskopf apples. **** For the filling the dates can be quite hard and dry because you're cooking them in any case.