Bert’s (and Ernie’s, too, I’ll bet) Best Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

Bert’s (and Ernie’s, too, I’ll bet) Best Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

When Harry was born, one of the more appropriate gifts we received was C Is for Cooking, a Sesame Street cookbook intended for parents and children to use together. Way back then, almost 2 1/2 years ago, it seemed impossible to imagine that Harry would ever be big enough to eat real food, never mind cook. But soon enough there he was in his high chair, learning to handle avocado, apple, smashed sweet potatoes, and the like. Skinny little fellow that he was (and still is), he never seemed to want to eat all that much. Our little action man had places to go, things to do. Didn’t take long for us to notice that he’d stay put—and eat more—if he had some distraction. Something like, say, a book filled with pictures of his Sesame Street pals. At first we’d let him hold the book while we shoveled in food, but eventually the book itself fell apart (harrumph! That shouldn’t happen, should it? even if it is all gummed-up by an infant). So we took out individual pages that he clearly preferred, slipped them into plastic sleeves, and let junior go nuts.

Fast-forward about a year, and I realized that not only is Harry now old enough to eat real-deal foods, he’s also old enough to “help” in the kitchen. A quick flip through the salvaged pages of this book led me to the recipe I’m sharing today. It’s easy, it’s healthy, it allows ample opportunity for junior to sous chef, and best of all it tastes much, much better than you’d expect something from a TV tie-in cookbook should. It also seems like the kind of recipe where you could swap out the fruit at will—I could see peaches working perfectly here, or cherries.

No surprise, I’ve tinkered with the recipe a bit, swapping out some of the butter for applesauce and adding some ground flax. A question for you, my readers: Does the heat of the oven negate the good effects you get from flax meal? I’ve seen conflicting things online about what heat does to essential fatty acids. Paging Harold McGee.

Bert’s Best Blueberry Oatmeal Bars
Adapted from C Is for Cooking
Makes 24 bars

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 cup flax meal
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter or marg (1/2 stick), softened
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 pint (2 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries [I’ve made it with both, and each time was deeelish. Once I only had 1 cup of fresh bbs, so I added 1/2 cup of dried and that was shockingly good.]

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil w/nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and flax meal.

In a large bowl w/an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and applesauce until fluffy. Beat in the oil, eggs, and vanilla. With a wooden spoon, mix in the flour mixture until blended. Stir in the oats and blueberries.

Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes [in my oven it was 38 mins]. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Lift by the foil from the pan and cut into 24 bar cookies.