These vegan and gluten-free almond butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies bars are not your neat ‘n’ tidy, delicately-crisp chocolate chip cookies. Oh no, they are not.
These are your gooey, chocolatey, messy, eat ’em up almond butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bars. They’ve got the crowd appeal, texture, and taste of a wildly decadent cookie bar, yet they’re packin’ fiber and whole grains like nobody’s business. They’re also free of refined sugar, gluten, and oil. And they’ve got chocolate chips tucked away in just about every nook and cranny.
I’m happy to finally be sharing this recipe on the blog after hoarding it for a few weeks thinking I might be able to make room for it in the cookbook. But truth be told, I need to stick to a max of 115 recipes (+ a handful of homemade staples) since each one will be accompanied by a full-page photo, and I have 250-300 pages to do my thing. However, every time I have the lineup of recipes whittled down to 115, I doubt myself and come up with additional recipes to add. Because it can always be better, right?
Note: If you’re just here for the cookies, you’re awesome and scroll on past the below paragraphs to the recipe. If you’re here for cookies and some thoughts on punching perfectionism in the face, you’re awesome and keep on reading.
Over the last few months, the pressure of the printed page has summoned the perfectionist side of my personality on a regular basis. And despite the overused cliché of citing perfectionism as a desirable “weakness” in interviews (I admit I’ve been guilty of this in the past), I’m citing it here as a major, pain-in-my-side flaw in terms of the cookbook writing/creative process and life in general.
Sure, it’s a useful quirk when editing or doing more tedious grammatical work, but overall I would love to kick it to the curb permanently or send it on some sort of self-improvement retreat where it would be exposed to oodles of imperfection, thereby reducing its aversion to it. Why? Because it gets in the way, questioning my every move and squashing both intuition and creativity beneath its naysayer (yet probably perfect) feet. Back. It. Up, Perfectionism. And quit stepping on my creativity, because you’re nothing but self-doubt//fear dressed up in a socially-acceptable outfit.
Many of us fight this battle with perfectionism, so it must serve a purpose, right? Well then, what is its purpose?
I used to perceive it as a time-intensive filtering method through which all of my efforts must pass in order to yield a successful outcome. Now I consider it to be an overbearing, helicopter parent that has nothing better to do with its time than hover overhead and unnecessarily point out of all the potential fears, unknowns, flaws, and “what ifs” I didn’t even know I had. Still not feeling very purposeful, is it?
What would happen if our well-intentioned thoughts, dreams, and aspirations made it out into the world before being silenced by the part of us that doubts the value of what we have to offer? It’s absolutely possible that our efforts could result in “failure” as measured by conventional standards, but we’re missing the point if we believe that the bulk of our joy resides in the outcome of our efforts rather than the process of moving through them.
At its core, I think perfectionism is a misguided protective strategy we lean on to control the outcome of our efforts because choosing to do nothing feels better than putting forth our best effort and being vulnerable to the possibility of failure. But in its effort to control the outcome, it filters out all the good stuff too. Pretty crappy filter if you ask me.
I’ve learned the best thing I can do when I’m experiencing the “Are you sure this is perfect? Surely you can do better.” thoughts is to trust the guidance of my intuition rather than succumbing to the fears of my ego. I’m learning to believe in the power of my best effort rather than being bound by the fears of unattainable expectations. And it’s freeing.
And with freedom, there are cookies. Not because they’re perfect, but because they’re awesome enough.
Almond Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (Vegan, GF)
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup natural almond butter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups oat flour
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8-inch square pan with parchment paper (double-check your pan size, because 9x9-inch won’t work for this recipe).
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the coconut sugar, almond butter, and vanilla on high for 1 minute using a stand or hand mixer with paddle attachment.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the oat flour, rolled oats, baking powder, and sea salt. Place the bowl next to the mixer.
- With the mixer off, add the oat flour mixture. Then, pour the almond milk over the oat mixture and begin beating on low and increase speed to medium. Beat for 15 seconds or until just incorporated. Do not over-mix. The dough should pull together into large, moist mounds as it moves around the mixing bowl. Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.
- Transfer the dough to the lined pan and use your fingers to press evenly into the bottom. It will seem like there isn’t enough dough, but keep pressing it outward until it’s nearly touching the sides of the pan. If desired, dot the top of the cookie dough with another tablespoon or two of chocolate chips.
- Bake for 22 to 26 minutes or until the edges are golden and crackled and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean with a bit of moist crumb at the tip. (note: if you want slightly drier, well-set bars, bake for 25 to 30 minutes). Don’t over-bake.
- Let cool completely in pan. Then, grasp the edges of the parchment to gently remove the bar from the pan. Slice into 12 bars.
- You can store the bars in the pan at room temperature (loosely covered with foil) or in the refrigerator. I love the dense, fudge-like texture they take on when chilled, so I usually opt for to store them in the refrigerator.