Sacramento Digs Gardening logo
Sacramento Digs Gardening Article
Your resource for Sacramento-area gardening news, tips and events

Articles Recipe Index Keyword Index Calendar Twitter Facebook Instagram About Us Contact Us

Bake healthy apple bars for breakfast or dessert

Recipe: Seasonal treat is vegan, can be gluten-free

Apple crumble bar on plate
Apple crumble bars are delicious with breakfast
coffee, butĀ also would make a nice dessert.
(Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Baking season, like fall planting season, is among my favorites. There are so many wonderful ingredients in fall -- pears, pumpkins, persimmons -- but apple is the king.

I find, however, that too many apple recipes are so loaded with butter and sugar that you can barely taste the apples. So I've been reading through dozens of recipes to adapt to a healthy apple treat. The oneĀ  here is pretty close. It's vegan and can be made gluten-free by using almond flour instead of whole wheat. If you already have oat flour -- which is just ground-up rolled oats -- by all means use that instead of making the 1-3/4 cups ground oats in the blender.

These apple crumble bars have just enough sweetness to be part of breakfast, but they would be delicious for dessert under a scoop of ice cream or a puff of whipped cream.

Three apples
From left to right, a Mutsu apple, Smitten apple and a Jonagold.
Combining varieties delivers a nice balance of flavors.
I used a combination of apples for a balance of tart and sweet: a Mutsu and a Jonagold from the farmers market and a new-to-me branded apple, Smitten, that I found at the supermarket. (Smitten, which resembles a Gala, was developed in New Zealand but is now grown in Washington state.) They are all fairly firm, and don't turn to mush when baked. But use your favorite varieties; this recipe will work with any combination. Leave them unpeeled unless you're using a Granny Smith -- that skin is just too tough.

Apple crumble bars

Serves 9-12


For crust and topping:

2-1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, divided

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour or almond flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup apple butter or applesauce

1/4 cup coconut oil (melt if it's solid)

1/4 cup real maple syrup

3 tablespoons almond butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

3 medium unpeeled apples, preferably a mix of varieties, cored and sliced thin (1/16th inch)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder

2 tablespoons apple butter or real maple syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon

For glaze (optional):

1 tablespoon coconut oil (liquid)

1 tablespoon real maple syrup

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (to taste)

Rolled oats in food processor
Quickly turn rolled oats into oat flour in a food processor
or blender.


Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Measure out 1-3/4 cups of the rolled oats and put them in a food processor or blender. Whir until the oats have a consistent flour texture, but not too fine.

In a large bowl, whisk together the ground oats, the remaining 1/2 cup rolled oats, the whole wheat or almond flour, the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In smaller bowl or glass measuring cup, stir together the apple butter or applesauce with the coconut oil, maple syrup, almond butter and vanilla until blended. Using your hands or a spatula, combine the wet mixture with the dry ingredients until the dough starts to stick together.

Remove about 2/3 cup of the crumble dough and set aside. Dump the rest of the dough into the prepared pan and flatten it out, pressing very firmly, especially in the corners. Use the moistened bottom of a glass or a wet spatula if you have to.

Place the apple slices in the same large bowl used for the crumble. Cut the longer slices in half if desired. Sprinkle on the lemon juice, then the cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Blend in the apple butter or maple syrup and the cinnamon.

Arrange the apple slices over the crust in the pan as evenly as possible. Crumble the reserved dough evenly over the apples, breaking it up into small pieces as you go.

Baked apple crumble bars
Let the bars cool before adding glaze or cutting them.
Bake the crumble bars for 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the apples are tender. (Check with the tip of a knife.)

Remove from oven and cool completely. The glaze is optional but adds a nice bit of shine to the top: Stir together the liquid coconut oil and the maple syrup until completely combined, then add the cinnamon to taste. Drizzle over the cooled crumble. Cut and serve as desired: plain, with berries, ice cream or whipped cream.


0 comments have been posted.

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


Taste Spring! E-cookbook


Find our spring recipes here!

Newsletter Subscription

Sacramento Digs Gardening to your inbox.

Thanks to our sponsor!

Be Water Smart

Local News

Ad for California Local

Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

Contact Us

Send us a gardening question, a post suggestion or information about an upcoming event.