Is fiber an appropriate discussion topic at the holidays? Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars say yes.
Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars are little portable fruit crisps that you can tuck into your lunch box, but with double the glorious streusel topping. Two nutty layers of cinnamon almond-scented dough wrapped around a bright cranberry apricot filling, Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars are tasty mash up of a traditional buttery crumble bar and your favorite fruit cereal bar. Loaded with good-for-you ingredients, this twist on a yummy fruit crisp “to-go” may be my greatest contribution to society yet, ranking right up there with Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dip and Chicken Stir Fry with Thai Peanut Sauce.
Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars are boldly flavored and will kept both your taste buds and your tummy happy, courtesy of my secret ingredient: Grape Nuts. Time to talk fiber. Grape Nuts are loaded with fiber and happen to be one of my favorite cereals, but I know that not everyone appreciates their signature crunch. If you are among the Grape Nuts skeptics, stay with me here. Their texture is ideal for baking crumble bars. Nutty and crispy, Grape Nuts add a subtle crunch and complement the almond extract in the dough. Plus, you can remind yourself that your digestive system will appreciate the extra fiber as you reach for your third Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bar. Well played.
The cranberry-apricot layer is bright and zippy. I can never resist popping the first tart cranberry of the season right into my mouth, and I love the way that fresh sensation translates into these Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars. The tart cranberries, sweet apricot jam, nutrient-loaded dried apricots, and spicy fresh ginger combine to create a vivid fruity filling. For the crumble portion of the bars, you can leave your mixer in the cupboard. Simply stir together the Grape Nuts, oats, and flour with a wooden spoon, then drizzle with a quick mix of Greek yogurt, egg, and a touch of melted butter. Throw in cinnamon and almond extract too for an extra dimension of flavor. Press the dough and cranberry filling into the pan with your fingers, and you’re ready to bake.
If you’re hosting a holiday party, have family in town and want extra munchies on hand, or are simply seeking a healthier alternative that still feels like a splurge, Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars are an excellent choice. I’ve been eating Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and for breakfast with a dollop of Greek yogurt. No need to choose—Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars are so bright and lovely, I recommend finding as many excuses to eat them as possible.
With their brilliant color, classic cranberry flavor, and secret dose of whole grains, Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars are a scrumptious snack or festive holiday dessert. Who knew fiber could be so fun?
Wishing you all a safe, blessed Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to make your Thankfulness List, and know that you will be on mine. To my readers, thank you. Thank you for sticking with me, for every comment, pin, like, response to my silly Facebook questions, and email. It never fails to make my day to hear from those of you who’ve tried my recipes, survived grad school (directly or by marriage), or send a note to say, “I feel like we’d be friends in real life!” You know what? We already are. Thank you for being a part of The Law Student’s Wife! Love you all.
Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars
For the Filling:
- 3 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen, divided
- 1/4 cup apricot jam or jelly
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 6 dried apricots chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Crust:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Grape Nuts
- 1/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 large egg at room temperature, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
- Place rack in the center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Spray an 8x8 inch baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper so that the paper drapes out over two of the sides, then spray again.
- Prepare the Cranberry Filling: Combine 2 cups cranberries, apricot jam, sugar, and cornstarch in a non-reactive heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is very thick and the cranberries burst, 4 to 5 minutes. (It may take up to 10 minutes to get a thick result if you start with frozen fruit.) Stir in the remaining 1 cup cranberries, ginger, dried apricots, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside.
- For the crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, Grape Nuts, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda. In a small bowl, stir together the Greek yogurt, egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and almond. Pour over the flour mixture, stirring until moistened (the batter will be thick.) Drizzle melted butter over the top, then stir to incorporate. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, reserving 1/3 cup for the topping. The layer will seem very thin but will rise when baked.
- Spread cranberry mixture evenly over the dough layer in the pan, using your fingers to distribute it evenly. Break the reserved flour mixture over the top (some of the filling will show through.) Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let cool in pan for 1 hour, then remove bars from pan by lifting the parchment paper. Let cool completely before slicing.
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