Forget the fact that these are probably gluten free, dairy free, vegan and all that other stuff because they taste good. And they’re good for you. And they take maybe five minutes to throw together and then 30 minutes to bake. Plus there’s plenty of room for interpretation on how little (as few as four ingredients) or how many (see the end of the post for some of my combination ideas) ingredients you use.

I got this recipe from The Kitchn’s “Healthy Snack: 4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars” who got it from a friend here. The idea is all you really need is two bananas, two cups of rolled oats, a quarter cup of dried dates and some nuts. True to form I improvised.

After finally succeeding in preventing my husband from eating the really ripe bananas– he only likes them when they get brown spots and kept eating them before I could make this!– I got everything together. My local store didn’t have dried dates so I used prunes instead and also used some dried orange cranberries. I used flax seeds, vanilla, and a little salt, too. But before I get to the recipe…

This is so simple. Mush up the two bananas really well, add a little salt and vanilla if you are using them.

Then add your oats, flax seed if you’re using it, my nuts are sliced almonds because that’s what was in the freezer, the prunes (or dates), and some cranberries. The cranberries really make these for me because their tartness cuts the sweetness of the bananas.

Stir the mixture and put it in a 9×9 baking dish greased with butter or olive oil. I just lined my dish with foil and used my olive oil misto spray thing.

Bake at 350-degrees for 30 minutes or until the edges turn brown. Let cool then slice.
Easy peasy. I baked these for exactly 30 minutes but might let them go a tad longer next time for more toasting action. This is a great basic recipe that would be super simple to alter but I definitely like the flax seeds which add a nice toasted flavor but are otherwise hardly noticeable. Did I mention these are even healthy!?

Alanna’s Healthy Oat Bars

2 very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon of vanilla (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 cups of rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped prunes
1/4 cup orange flavored cranberries
1/4 cup chopped nuts (like almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Mash the bananas until almost liquid and mix in vanilla and salt if using. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Turn into buttered or oiled 9 x 9 baking dish. Bake at 350-degrees for 30 minutes or until the edges turn brown. Cool and then cut.

Obviously you can omit the cranberries completely (but keep dates or prunes in there) or use raisins, dried cherries or another fruit instead. You could even add some citrus zest to cut the sweetness. Some of the alternatives I thought of that you can try with this basic recipe:

  • Omit cranberries but add a spoonful of peanut butter and mini chocolate chips or coco nibs for a peanut butter, banana and chocolate bar. You could use peanuts instead of or in addition to the nuts.
  • Make a tropical version by using dried mango or pineapple and coconut instead of cranberries and macadamia nuts or pistachios as the nut.
  • Use dried apples and walnuts then spice with cinnamon and nutmeg for an cinnamon, apple and walnut version.
  • Omit one banana and add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices and pecans for the nuts for a pumpkin oat bar.

What are some other flavor combination that you think sound good?