Every Christmas my entire family goes over to my grandparents’ house for dinner, dessert, and present-opening.
Usually, we start with dinner (after we’ve each eaten a million and one appetizers, of course), which consists mainly of ham, carbs (ie. about 10 different potato dishes), and fruit salad. About 10 minutes before all the kids rush downstairs into the basement to open gifts, everyone tries as hard as possible to resist the two types of desserts set out: lemon bars and seven layer bars.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a seven layer bar, but it’s practically pure heaven. To my knowledge, they’re not actually seven layers: most people usually just make about 4 or 5 layer bars, but the name still stands. I’m actually pretty sure, the seven layers the title is referring to are the seven different levels of joy you experience when you bite into one of these bars.
They’re that good.
Since I usually only enjoy this bar once a year at my grandparents’ house, and it’s during the Christmas season (where everyone cheats every once in a while), I can definitely justify indulging in one or two of these babies. But it snowed this week, and even though I realize it’s March and the Christmas season doesn’t start until right after Halloween (at least, in grocery stores), I really wanted to experience a bit of wintery joy again.
Well… I mainly just wanted a seven layer bar, but we can pretend the motivation wasn’t purely food-related and just really missed the Christmas spirit.
Anyways, since it’s obviously not December 25th (aka. the only guilt-free day of the year, aside from Thanksgiving, that is) I decided to create a healthier version of these bars. Mainly, I just switched out the graham cracker crumbs and butter for healthier options, and replaced the condensed milk with something a lot less guilt-inducing and processed. The coconut flakes I used are unsweetened and I actually used 2 oz of bittersweet chocolate, so instead of the cringe-worthy sweetness these bars usually pack in, you can actually enjoy the flavors without getting a cavity.
Even though it’s not Christmas, I can still enjoy a heavenly seven layer bar guilt-free without relying on a holiday to justify it.
Secretly Healthy Seven Layer Bars
- 3/4 c oats
- 2 tbs melted coconut oil
- 1/3 c unsweetened reduced fat coconut flakes
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 3 tbs (about 32) dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 c plus 3 tbs chopped walnuts
- 1 tbs melted peanut butter
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 egg
- 1 tbs spelt four
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- 1 tbs milk of choice (I used almond milk)
- 1/4 c plus 2 tbs stevia
- 1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour melted coconut oil in the bottom of a 9″x9″ pan and tilt until it’s coated all the edges. Process oats and 1/4 c walnuts together in a food processor until chunky. Add 2 tbs stevia and process until it’s reached the consistency of flour. Pour into the pan and pat down until level and compressed. Chop up chocolate squares until they’ve reached a flaky consistency (some small chunks are okay) and layer over oats/walnuts. Scatter dark chocolate chips overtop. Drizzle melted chocolate across chocolate layers. In a small bowl, whisk egg, flour, baking powder, vanilla, brown sugar, milk, 1/4 c stevia, and salt. Cover the peanut butter layer with 2 tbs chopped walnuts. Pour the wet mixture over the other layers. Let rest for a minute to allow the wet mixture to fully soak into the other layers. Once no longer soupy on top, sprinkle with coconut flakes. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until coconut is toasty and edges are golden-brown. Let cool, cut, and enjoy!
Nutritional Information (from myfitnesspal.com)
(Yields 16 servings)