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Apricot Almond Oat Bars

I love baked things that are good for me. In the world of sweet treats that's practically an oxymoron. Pulling these oat bars from the oven is like getting away with something badass. It's like laughing in the face of all the rules, being all 'what ev, rules,' as though that comes completely naturally to me, and trying to ignore the voice inside that's whispering, "Eat them ALL."
Okay, perhaps I'm over thinking this.
These tasty bars start with wholesome butter. Butter is BACK, baby! In fact, the healthy eating people are back-tracking on low fat guidelines altogether. Good enough for me. To the butter, I cream in some honey and vanilla. Then to bring it all together, I stir in some ground almonds, rolled oats and a little salt. And just to make them even more tasty and gorgeous, some chopped dried apricots get stirred in at the end before the whole mess gets pressed into a baking dish to go in the oven.
Easy and delicious, I love these for breakfasts on the go, packed lunches and pre-run snacks.
Get the recipe below and go ahead - break the rules...

Apricot Almond Oat Bars
Makes about 1 dozen bars

3/4 cup (175 mL) butter at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 mL) liquid honey
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) rolled oats
1 cup (250 mL) ground almonds
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
2/3 cup (150 mL) chopped dried apricots

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease a 9-inch (2.5 L) square baking dish and line with a strip of parchment paper, allowing extra to hang over the edges (this will help you lift the bars out later).

Using a stand mixer or electric beater, cream the butter and honey until smooth (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla (the mixture will look curdled now, which is fine). In a separate medium bowl, mix the oats, ground almonds and salt. Add to the wet mixture and mix just until evenly blended. Stir in the apricots.

Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish, packing down firmly. Bake in the centre of the oven for 28-30 minutes until medium golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool completely in the baking dish. Once cool, lift from the dish using the parchment paper. Cut into squares.

NOTE: For perfectly shaped bars, refrigerate the cooled block of bars for one hour before cutting. Otherwise, enjoy the crumbly, buttery bars as they are.

Do you have a favourite healthy baked treat?