Healthy banana nut flapjacks (oat bars) with optional hazelnut toffee crunch

Nutty banana oat flapjacksWhen I first came to England, I didn’t understand what a flapjack was. I thought of it as a down-home-American word for a pancake. Even once I understood what a flapjack was in England, I didn’t get for a long time what all the fuss was about (the English LOVE their flapjacks). As far as I can tell, the classic British flapjack is essentially a very sweet and buttery granola bar without all the good stuff associated with granola bars, other than oats. Little by little, however, I have come to see the potential of the British flapjack. Oat bars are almost a blank canvas, to which you can add any number of ingredients and still bake up a tasty treat. After considerable experimentation, I’ve come up with a version that’s really quite healthy.

My flapjacks are much lower in sugar and fat than the classic flapjack. They’re gluten-free and dairy-free – in fact, vegan. For added nutrition, I add a lot of nuts. Lots of banana keeps my flapjacks moist and sweet. For a quick and easy everyday snack, that’s where I stop. However, for a more decadent treat or to serve to guests, I like to add chocolate drizzle and hazelnut toffee crunch.

Close-up banana oat flapjackHealthy banana nut flapjacks (gluten-free, vegan)

  • 3 cups (270 grams) gluten-free porridge oats
  • 3 smallish ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons melted dairy-free vegetable shortening or coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed (coconut sugar would probably be healthier but I haven’t tried it)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or another low-FODMAP nut or seed)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (or another low-FODMAP nut or seed)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (or another low-FODMAP nut or seed)
  1. Preheat oven to at 175 C/ 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except hazelnut toffee crunch ingredients. Mix well.Raw flapjack mix in a bowl
  3. Dump everything into a square baking pan (I think mine is 9×9) lined with non-stick baking paper. With moist hands, press everything firmly into the pan until it’s flat.
  4. Bake until top is golden brown, about 25 minutes.Baked flapjack pan
  5. Optionally top with hazelnut toffee crunch and chocolate drizzle. Ooh, yeah!Flapjacks topped with hazelnut toffee drizzle

Hazelnut toffee crunch

The quantities given below make enough hazelnut toffee crunch to top two pans of flapjacks generously, maybe three less generously. Next time I’ll halve the quantity because brittles like this tend to soften over time, but because the pictures were taken with the quantities given, that’s what I’m providing here.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole hazelnuts
  • 40 g dairy-free dark chocolate (this is enough to drizzle generously on one pan)
  1. Prepare a cookie sheet by simply placing a piece of non-stick baking paper on it.
  2. Put the sugar in a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Don’t add water or anything else!Sugar in non-stick frying pan
  3. When the sugar starts to melt, shake it around and, once more of it gets melted, alternate shaking and swirling to ensure all the sugar gets melted and caramelized. Avoid using a spoon if you can help yourself. This process needs to be monitored constantly – no multitasking!Carmelizing sugar
  4. One the sugar is a nice golden brown colour, add the hazelnuts. Swirl around until the hazelnuts are thoroughly coated in the melted sugar.Hazelnuts in pan
  5. Pour the sugar-hazelnut mixture onto the non-stick baking paper. Set aside until  cool and hard — you should be able to peel off the baking paper and wave it around if you feel so inclined.Hazelnut brittleHazelnut brittle held up against light
  6. Roughly break up the piece of hazelnut brittle.Broken pieces of hazelnut brittle
  7. Pulse in food processor until you get small pieces of nuts and toffee.Hazelnut toffee crunch
  8. Sprinkle generously on cool pan of flapjacks and drizzle with melted chocolate.
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