Though they still qualify as dessert, these are lower in fat than ordinary bar cookies, and packed with gluten-free oats for a healthy dose of fiber.
Makes 12 bars
Free of: gluten, and all top allergens
- 1 1/2 tbsp + 1 1/2 cups gluten-free quick or rolled oats, divided
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light canned coconut milk*
- 4 tbsp dairy-free margarine, divided
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp flaxseeds
- 2 tbsp cornstarch or tapioca starch
- 3/8 tsp baking soda (1/4 tsp above 3,000 ft.)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
- 2 tbsp applesauce
- 2/3 cup diced apple (about 1/2 medium apple, cored and peeled)
- Preheat your oven to 350 F, and grease and flour (any gluten-free flour) an 8×8-inch baking dish
- Grind 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oats in your spice grinder until they turn into flour
- In a small pot, whisk together the oat flour and the brown sugar, followed by the coconut milk. Place the pot over medium heat, and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the margarine.
- When the sauce begins to bubble, continue to cook it for 5 minutes, whisking often.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla, and let it cool for 10 minutes
- Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup of the oats and the flaxseeds in your spice grinder. Blend into flour
- Place the oat-flax mixture into a medium sized bowl, and stir in the remaining 1 cup of oats, cornstarch or tapioca starch, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of margarine, the applesauce, and 1/2 cup of the cooling caramel sauce. Stir to combine
- With slightly wet hands, press the sticky dough evenly into your prepared baking dish.
- Top the dough with the diced apple, and gently press pieces into the dough. Drizzle the top of the dough with 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cooked dough appears firm and slightly pulls away from the sides of the pan.
- Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into bars. They will still be a touch fragile, so be gentle when removing from the pan.
- Enjoy the bars as is, plate them and drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce, or frost them with the caramel icing recipe below.
*A Note on Coconut
Coconut is technically a fruit. While most allergists do not consider it a tree nut, if you are nut allergic, ask your doctor if coconut is safe for you.
Next Page: Caramel Icing
Place 1/4 cup of the leftover caramel sauce in a small dish.
Whisk in 6 tablespoons of sifted powdered sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of dairy-free margarine. Spread on the cooled bars before serving.
Non-Gluten-Free: If gluten isn’t an issue for you, you can substitute an equivalent amount of all-purpose flour in place of the ground oats in the caramel sauce (1 1/2 tablespoons), and also use it to replace 1/2 cup of the oats in the bar dough.
Alisa Fleming is a contributing editor to Allergic Living magazine and the author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein Free Living, and founder of Godairyfree.org .
More of Alisa’s Dairy-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes:
Vanilla-Chai Sandwich Cookies 
Strawberry Shortcake Waffles
Carrot Cupcakes with Dairy-Free Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting