Tuesday, September 7

Recipe: 100% Whole Grain Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Cookie Bars

Whole Grain Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars 1
A soft and chewy cross between a cookie and an energy or trail bar.

When I was a kid growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, the new school year always started on the day after Labor Day. And every year on Labor Day, a bunch of families in our neighborhood would have an all day, one last hurrah, potluck picnic at the beach. So for us kids, back to school meant a short first week and a really bad sunburn.

At least we weren't hungover, which, thinking back, is probably what some of the parents were. I could never figure out why we didn't have those picnics on Saturday or Sunday instead.

No matter what your physical condition, back to school means packed lunches and afternoon snacks, and these scrumptious whole grain, mixed by hand treats fit the bill for both. A fairly healthy cross between an energy or trail bar and a cookie, they should also please both parents and kids.

There's sugar in them, but less than in most cookie recipes. The flour is white whole wheat, a 'lighter' 100% whole grain flour that's great for baking, and there are 4 whopping cups of old-fashioned oats packed into the pan.

Extra sweetness comes naturally from organic raisins, which are one of the best organic values around. Reasonably priced organic flours and oats can be found in the bulk bins of natural food stores. I stock up and freeze organic butter from Trader Joe's or when it goes on sale at Whole Foods.

Whole Grain Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars 2

These bars stand up to packing and traveling, and they won't melt in the heat. Having trouble getting back into that early morning school rush groove? Add a glass of milk and you've got a grab-and-go breakfast that nutritionally beats a donut or a bowl of sugary cereal by at least a couple of grade points.

Next time I make these I'm going to try substituting honey for part of the sugar. You could also toss in a cup of chopped nuts for extra protein (you might want to reduce the amount of raisins), or experiment with other dried fruits, like cranberries. I bet some unsweetened coconut mixed in would be nice, too.

They aren't much to look at, but they always get rave reviews. They also require less kitchen time than baking several trays of cookies. All in all, I'd give them an A+. Now if only all homework were this easy.

Whole Grain Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars 3

100% Whole Grain Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Cookie Bars
Makes one 9"x13" pan of 24 bars - Inspired by Martha Stewart
When I arrived home in mid July after my week long snake bite stay at the hospital, my urge to declutter everything around me was stronger than ever, probably because I was suddenly spending all of my time indoors.

But since I couldn't get around without a walker, dealing with the physical mess wasn't an option. So I turned to my computer and went on a massive inbox clearing campaign instead. I never realized how many newsletters and notices I deleted without reading as soon as they arrived.

I unsubscribed like crazy, getting rid of everything but the important stuff, like the Martha Stewart Cookie of the Day. This recipe was inspired by one that arrived a while back in my inbox.

I mix these up in a large stainless steel bowl which I place directly over a low flame on a gas stovetop burner to melt the butter. This is a very thick batter; depending on your oats and flour (all brands vary), you may need to add a little more milk.

You can simply grease the baking pan instead of lining it with unbleached parchment paper (which is wonderful stuff), but being able to lift the entire contents out of the pan makes cutting up the bars much easier—and keeps you from scratching up your pan.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference. Real farm eggs taste—and look—amazing. Freshly grated nutmeg is an inexpensive gourmet pleasure; whole nutmeg stays good for years, and nutmeg graters are so cute.

1½ cups (3 sticks/12 ounces) organic butter, melted
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
2 large farm fresh eggs
1/4 cup organic milk (you might need a little more)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (use a scant 1/2 teaspoon if freshly grated)
2 cups organic white whole wheat flour
4 cups organic old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)
2½ cups organic raisins

1. Heat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9"x13" baking pan (I love my Chicago Metallic commercial pans). Line the bottom with unbleached parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on the two long sides.

2. In a really big bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar (I use a large rubber spatula). Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. Add the white whole wheat flour, oats, and raisins and stir to combine, adding a little more milk if the batter is too thick to stir. Sometimes I use my hands to help mix in the raisins.

4. Pat the batter into the prepared pan, and bake until the edges are starting to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 25 to 30 minutes.

5. Let cool completely in the pan. Using the parchment paper overhang, carefully lift the entire pan of bars onto a work surface; cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container for two or three days or freeze.

Sweet tooth not quite satisfied? You might also enjoy these recipes:
Cookies and Bars

Muffins and Scones
Cranberry Christmas Scones (tasty any time of year)
100% Whole Grain Bran Muffins (super popular, four flavors)

Cakes, Tarts, and More

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

© FarmgirlFare.com, the all done with homework for good foodie farm blog where it's so nice to wake up on the day after Labor Day and not have to worry about a sunburn, a hangover, or being late for class—just being late with the treat bucket.


  1. As a teacher, I need an afternoon snack just as much as the kids do, and these sound perfect!

  2. Those look delicious! (and I'm not normally an oatmeal-rasin kinda girl)

  3. My husband, who loves oatmeal cookies, wants me to bake these right quick !~!

  4. My dad eat oatmeal since he got Cholesterol, I think I have to try it...

    visit my blog to I have newest post on it


    please tell your opinion about it


  5. Thank you for all your wonderful recipes--I'll be trying this one this weekend. I'm always looking for somewhat healthy breakfast options for three boys (two little and one not so little) who aren't big breakfast eaters! Thanks again!

  6. I love your recipes. I have a question. Where to you have a Whole Foods near you to get organic butter?

  7. Hi Everybody,
    Thanks for the comments!

    These make a great snack. I keep grabbing one, telling myself I'll only eat half, and then suddenly wondering where it all went. ; )

    I knew we could get you to cross over!

    LOL, my original intro for this post was all about how much men LOVE oatmeal raisin cookies!

    This is a great way to get your oats. : )

    Lorna Jean,
    I'm so glad you're enjoying my recipes. I hope you'll come back and let us know what the boys thought of this one. I'm notoriously bad about eating breakfast - I just get up and start going, then realize several hours later I haven't eaten yet. I'm also bad about just grabbing the most convenient thing for breakfast, even if it's a hunk of chocolate cake. Having these on hand has definitely helped!

    Pretty much, yeah. ; )

    Great to hear you're enjoying my recipes, too. As for Whole Foods, unfortunately the closest one is about 200 miles away. But we make periodic treks to the city to buy supplies, and I always stop by. A lot of their prices on bulk and everyday pantry staples are really good, and their sales can be great.

    A few months ago they had my favorite brand of butter, Organic Valley, on sale for $2.50 a pound, and I think I ended up buying 20 pounds. It lasts for a long time in the freezer, so it's a great 'stock up' item. Now that (I can't believe I'm going to say this) the holiday season is fast approaching, you'll probably be able to find organic butter - and other baking staples - on sale.

  8. I made them, substituting almonds and dried cranberries. They turned out great!

  9. These look so tasty good! I have been wanting to try making a snack-appropriate cookie, and these look perfect. Can't wait to try it out! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Hi :-)
    Loved the recipe!
    These cookies look tasty and quite healthy.I also loved the fact that
    they won't melt ,so they are great add for picnics.
    Thanks for this post and for your lovely blog !


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love hearing about your experiences with my recipes. Comments on older posts are always welcome!

Please note that I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours appears.

I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your e-visits to our farm!