My doctor’s appointment went well yesterday. After doing a physical exam (twisting and bending my back all around and also checking the back bones), the doc thinks that my bones and spinal discs are fine, but it is probably an aggravated sciatic nerve (given the location of the pain). Apparently this is fairly common and will just heal with time. While she can’t be 100% sure without an X-ray, she doesn’t like to do X-rays unless absolutely necessary and given that I am not in a ton of pain, she isn’t overly concerned. Apparently, sciatic nerves can be stubborn healers so if it doesn’t heal within another week or so, I’m going to look into seeing a physical therapist or chiropractor.
She gave me the go ahead for low impact exercise and I can start running when the pain is fully gone. It could be fine in 1 week, it could be 4 weeks, we really don’t know. I drove straight from my appointment to the gym and cranked out a refreshing 30 minutes on the elliptical. Love the elliptical! I left with happy sweat. Nothing like an injury to make you thankful for exercise again!
Breakfast was bright and cheery just like my mood…
I had some Vegan Overnight Oats in the fridge and instead of eating them straight from the bowl or in a parfait, I made a modified version of Kath’s Dough Boy smoothie. You simply add overnight oats (vegan or otherwise) into your smoothie to create a thicker and more doughy smoothie. It sounded like fun to me!
A Berry Doughy Smoothie
Adapted Kath’s Dough Boy smoothie.
Vegan Overnight Oats (modified version):
- 1.5 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/4 cup oats
- 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 1/2 tsp almond extract (I like to pair almond extract with strawberries, but otherwise I use vanilla and cinnamon)
Directions: Mix together in a bowl and place in fridge overnight or for a couple hours until doughy.
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (or more as needed to thin out)
- Vegan Overnight Oats (from above)
- 1 large frozen banana
- 4-5 frozen strawberries
- 1 tbsp Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter with Hemp, flax, chia (amazing!)
Directions: Blend the above ingredients together and pour smoothie into a bowl. Top with desired ingredients. I added a few tbsp of raw buckwheat, 1/2 berry oat bar, 1 kiwi, and some Dark Chocolate Almond Butter on top.
Look what finally arrived in the mail on Monday- The long awaited Raw Buckwheat groats. I have been dying to try these since seeing them all over Ashley’s blog.
Many people believe that Buckwheat is a cereal grain, but it is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel making them an option for people sensitive to wheat. The best part is you can eat them RAW without cooking them. I saw Ashley eat them raw on her blog and I kept thinking, ‘Isn’t she going to crack her tooth on one of those things!?’, but they really are softer than they look. Promise!
They have perfect amount of crunch to sprinkle on oatmeal, VOO parfaits, salads, Banana soft serve, etc. The flavour is also much, much better than the toasted buckwheat (kasha) that I tried a few weeks back.
If you are in Canada, check out this amazing E-store called Upaya Naturals. It’s a vegetarian and vegan’s paradise, especially if you live in a small town like me and cannot find specialty products.
I topped the smoothie with buckwheat, 1/2 berry oat bar (below), 1 kiwi, and some Dark Chocolate Almond Butter. I did miss the chewiness of the vegan overnight oats, so next time I’m going to blend 2/3 of the VOO and then stir in the rest to get the best of both worlds.
Good to the last spoonful.
Now about those Berry oat squares!
I have been ogling this recipe on Susan’s blog for a long time now and I finally remembered to make them. They have no refined flour, no white sugar, no added fat, no soy, and can be made gluten-free too. I enjoy them with breakfast crumbled over oats, as an afternoon snack, or a light treat after dinner. So versatile!
The wholesome flavours of the oats, maple, and berries really shine through and aren’t hidden by too much sweetener. They are rustic, yet elegant and simple. I like that. Unfortunately, so does Eric.
And we’re running out!
Berry Bliss Oat Squares
Vegan, soy-free, refined-sugar free, no added fat, and can be made gluten-free if you use GF oats.
Adapted from Susan.
Yield: 12 squares
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
- 1 ripe banana, chopped
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp warm water
- 3 cups regular oatmeal, divided
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp (6oz) unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a 8inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper. In a small bowl mix together cornstarch with warm water to form a paste. Make sure all clumps are gone. Set aside.
2. Berry Filling: In a small saucepan, combine the berries, banana, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil and stir well. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and the pre-mixed cornstarch. Whisk until all clumps are gone and set aside.
3. Base: Place 1.5 cups of oats into a food processor and process until a flour/fine powder forms. Add this processed flour, remaining 1.5 cup of oats, baking powder, and salt into large bowl. Stir. Now add in the wet ingredients (applesauce, maple syrup, water, vanilla) and mix well. Pour 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and push down firmly with fingers to smooth out. Grab the prepared berry filling and spread over the top of the oat base until smooth. Now crumble the remaining oat base mixture on top.
4. Bake for 30 mins. at 375F or until the top is slightly golden and firm. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into squares.
You are probably going to ask me if you can use frozen berries instead of fresh. I’m not sure to be honest. The original recipe didn’t mention anything about using frozen berries. My guess is that frozen berries would produce more water when cooking, so you would probably have to add more cornstarch to thicken it. In my experience, frozen berries tend to be less sweet than fresh, so you might want to add more sweetener too.
The main point is to make sure the berry topping tastes good to YOU before spreading it on top! If it doesn’t taste good, add a bit more sweetener and you will be fine.
It should have a thick jelly-like consistency:
The whole process was very easy!
I really wasn’t expecting much from these squares because they just seemed too good to be true…but I was really blown away!
They remind me a lot of these squares I have made in the past:
Healthy Strawberry Oat Squares Buttery Apple Streusel Oat Squares
The only thing I might change next time is trying to replace the cornstarch with chia seeds. For some reason cornstarch doesn’t seem to agree with my stomach too much. I wonder if chia seeds could act in the same thickening manner? It might be worth a shot.
I am really excited to let you know that I received this awesome award from Best Health Magazine in the Eat Well category!
I can’t thank you enough for your support and votes over the past month! Be sure to check out all of the fabulous contestants and winners here.
Enjoy your last day of March (PS- We woke up to a blanket of snow this morning! Guess it was an April Fool’s joke after all…)
Congrats on winning the blog award!
I don’t know if these will top the date bar recipe, but I am certainly willing to try :)
Congratulations on the win! You definitely deserve it – your site is awesome! :-)
Susan’s blueberry bars are one of my absolute FAVORITE recipes — and now I can’t wait to try to make them with strawberries. Thanks!
I am in complete AWWWHHH!!!! :D
Hi Angela, Congratulations for winning, I love your blog… and those look great! About the Cornstarch, I use a japanese substitute (that is actually very good for the stomach and is used in the macrobiotic diet to treat ulcers), it is called KUZU and is made of a plant root, amazing stuff, a bit on the expensive side, but you need less than half the amount of cornstarch to get the same gelling effect… let me know if you like it
I was also going to suggest Kuzu for thickening. I use it all the time. Learned about it from Alecia Silverstone’s book. It is a little expensive, but a little goes a long way. I’m going to try these bars tonight, thanks for sharing!
Congrats on your award and happy healing to your back!
sorry to hear about your sciatic pain. i’m sure you’re getting loads of recommendations, but i have to add mine as well if you don’t mind! i had sciatic pain associated w/ my first pregnancy. i saw two physical therapists over the course of a month who were just giving me strengthening exercises to do that weren’t helping at ALL. the second finally referred me to the clinic supervisor who specializes in strain/counterstrain and after TWO visits i was pain free. it was amazing!!! she never really acknowledged it was ‘sciatica’ but said i had some SI joint issues. it came back when my baby was a little over a year old, and again it only took two visits and i was pain free. good luck–i hope you find some relief!!
Thanks for the suggestion Helen!
Congratulations on Best Blog!!!! I love reading your blog and making your recipes!! As I said before your an inspiration! Keep up the great work!! Oh and keep those stories coming. By the way in 2 minutes my Berry Bliss Bars will be done! Yum! I can’t wait to try them!! Looking forward to putting it in my oatmeal tomorrow morning!
Oh, quick question. Do I refrigerate these bars or leave them on the counter?
I refrigerated them :)
Love this recipe. I tried using the chia seeds instead of the cornstarch and it worked perfectly. I used 2 tablespoons of Chia. Thanks for the great recipes!
thats great to know, thanks!
wow…lovely healthy recipes will definately be trying these out!
I recently discovered your website and LOVE it! I started a health kick a few weeks ago, and trying out your recipes is making it quite fun. I made these berry bliss bars on the weekend and I also made the walnut bolognese sauce – both were delicious. Can’t wait to try a few more – thanks!
Made these this weekend and they did not disappoint! My wife, who does not like bananas or oat flavor, loved them! Thanks a bunch!
Thanks for the feedback….glad they were enjoyed! :)
These sound fantastic. I can’t wait to try.You could use arrowroot powder or tapioca flour in place of the cornstarch, I’m not a fan of cornstarch either. I find tapioca flour makes a clear glossy sauce that looks really pretty as well. Thanks for an always interesting blog!!
I chose this recipe as I had all the ingredients on hand. Delicious! The parchment paper lining the baking pan made cleaning up a breeze, too. Thanks!
YUM!! I just made the Berry Bliss Oat Bars today and they were So good. Thank you for sharing!!
Hi dear! So I just made these (delish!) and substituted the cornstarch for ground up chia seed + water. I used the same proportions (2 tbsp ground chia and 2 tbsp warm water), then mixed it up and it was super thick. I had to stir the sauce a ton and there were still some chunks in it, so I would suggest just adding the ground up chia seeds and then the water separately into the sauce. They still came out great though!
Great photos, these look so good
I wonder if there’s a way to make a low-carb version, maybe I can just decrease the amount of oats I mix in, to reduce the carb count
I love blueberries and we have tons right now, so I should make these squares soon :-)
Love your site! Just had to put in my 2 cents on sciatic nerve pain. I battled it for over a decade before someone told me to just stretch my hip flexors more. Seriously. It can be that simple. When I’m having sciatic nerve pain I obsessively stretch my hip flexors (like 10 times a day minimum) and it goes away in a day or two. I keep them well stretched (think a few times a day or after long sitting sessions) to avoid flare ups. No major problems for the last few years! Of course getting a massage or two never hurts :)
Can I use agar agar instead of cornstarch?
Im not sure as I haven’t tried it before. Let me know how it goes if you do try it out! enjoy
Just found your site and I love it!! Made the delicious oat bars over the weekend and they were great. I used cranberries and apples for the filling instead because it’s what I had on hand. I will definitely be making these frequently. Thank you again and I can’t wait to try more of your recipes.
Do you need to refrigerate these or just store them in an airtight container?
I think I stored mine in the fridge due to the fruit spread. enjoy!
Hi Angela, they look amazing!! are they fairly healthy?
I used psillium powder to thicken the fruit. It worked great.
I initially was trying to make jam and i think it is a tad grainy for that purpose, so I used it in this recipe instead and I think it worked perfectly. The texture of the oats covers it up completely.
Hey, Bars look amazing! I’m trying to find a breakfast recipe that includes fresh berries and will keep for 4/5 days as I am going away (without a fridge)… Would this recipe keep or do you have any other suggestions? Love the blog!
this weekend, i made the berry bliss oat squares and they turned out great. i did use frozen berries (blackberries and whole strawberries) bumped up the cornstarch and they turned out great.
You can use Spanish arrow roots flour instead of corn starch
it is a good and natural thickener
I made these for fathers day because they looked like something that my whole family could enjoy- i defiantly plan on making them again but i think that i would use raspberries as well as some blueberries, i would like them to be more tart and a little less banana-y, let me know if you have any thoughts on how to get the right consistency well having them be less sweet. i also used half frozen half fresh blueberries and took out the maple syrup from the berries it turned out fine! i really liked them but in general just prefer more sour fruit desserts! thank you so much for the recipe, they really were a delight i would just change a few things and they would be perfect!!!
I made these last night and they are really good! I love how the banana compliments the berry flavor. I also like how they are vegan and refined sugar free. I would add less corn starch next time. Maybe 2 tb water and 1 tb corn starch. Thanks for this recipe!
These turned out SOOOOO good. I might add some coconut oil to the oat base mixture to help firm it up for more of a crunch. Very yummy and fun to make with kiddos. Colors are beauty. Thx.
I just made the oat bars they turned out fantastic! Just a few substitutions: I used blackberries because I only had frozen blueberries, I didn’t have applesauce so I used an extra banana, and I used chia seeds instead of cornstarch. I forgot to add the cinnamon in before I baked so I just sprinkled it on top. Maybe the pan I used was too big but I ran out of the oat mixture ( I couldn’t cover the whole top) so I just sprinkled some raw oats on top and it turned out fine. Pretty hard to mess up the recipe, I will definitely be making these again soon. Thank you!
Do you think that I could substitute agave for some or all of the maple syrup?
I made this recipe with a few tweaks. I had a problem with the amount of sugar in this recipe… 1/2 cup of maple syrup has a whopping 107 grams of sugar… 9 grams of sugar per bar, which doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but that’s only from the maple syrup. I wanted these to be less dessert-y and more of a breakfast grab’n’go item so i cut out the maple syrup entirely… still was totally delish. I used frozen mixed berries since they were on sale instead of fresh and it worked great. smearing peanut butter on these creates a snack reminiscent of a pb&j sandwich, delicious sustenance. cutting out the maple syrup and using frozen fruit cut the cost of this recipe down considerably also.
These bars look amazing! As a celiac, gf oats are new to me and I love them any way but oatmeal.(can’t get over the soggy texture) Also, not a fan of bananas. Are they necessary in the oat bars? Is there a sub that you’d recommend?
Also, xanthan gum can work for corn starch sub, but you’d just need 1/4 of measurement
have you tried clear jel? it’s derived from cornstarch, but I was wondering if it would still bother your stomach? Just a thought….. :)
These bars look sooo good! Do you think I could substitute frozen mixed berries for fresh ones? I have a ton of frozen berries in the freezer that I need to use up.
Hey Louisa! I haven’t tried it, but I know a couple people have used frozen berries with success. My guess is that frozen would produce a bit more water when cooking, so you might have to add more cornstarch to thicken it. In my experience, frozen berries tend to be less sweet than fresh, so you might want to add more sweetener too.
I’m in Canada and I was a long time customer of Upaya Naturals until recently. I placed an order that included raw cacao powder. But when I received my order, I noticed that the cacao powder was not raw at all, it didn’t say so on the packaging like it said and showed on their website.
I contacted both Upaya and Sunfood and found out their cacao powder has not been raw for quite a while, at least 2 years. Upaya had old information on their website. Customers, like me, were buying it because they thought it was raw. Upaya continued to keep this incorrect information up for at least a couple of weeks even after I informed them of this, knowing their customers might still be buying it thinking it was raw! They clearly did not care.
Sunfood food was excellent and emailed me a very detailed explanation of why they don’t call their cacao products raw any longer. I’d still buy Sunfood products but never again through Upaya. If they had an entire line of cacao products listed incorrectly, how many other products on their website are not what we think they are?
I asked them for a list of all the manufacturers of the other products I purchased, so that I could verify for myself that they were indeed raw. They refused to give it to me. I’d be very cautious from buying from them again!
If all of that wasn’t enough reason to quit shopping there, they also refused to give me a $15 refund for the cacao powder unless I agreed to be extremely inconvenienced by having to run my vehicle for 45 minutes and pay for the cost of gas it would have taken me to mail the cacao powder back. I explained to them more than once how difficult it would be for me to get to the post office. They didn’t care about that either. I’ve literally spent thousands of dollars there and they didn’t care to lose a customer over $15. My sister also a longtime customer has stopped shopping there!
For some reason, my base came out really wet so I added lots more oat flour and it seemed a little dense.