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I made this recipe for oatmeal bars, following the instructions with just a couple changes. Although they turned out well, I would like to reduce the sugar content while still preserving the texture of the bars. They are currently somewhat dense and a bit crumbly but still hold together, and I'd like them to either stay that way or be lighter and less crumbly. What changes could I make to achieve this?

Here is specifically what I did:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (Jif)
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp each of baking soda, salt, cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins cooked in 5 tbsp water, including water
  • 4 tbsp whole milk plus enough more to make the dough hold together

Mixed everything together and baked in a greased 9x13 glass pan in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is both a 'recipe request' and a request for nutritional guidance. – Cos Callis Jul 31 '17 at 18:37
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    @CosCallis we certainly do help people "fix" recipes that they have. That's not the same thing as a recipe request. I think that this question can be improved by removing the statement "I would like to make them healthier" and simply focus on "how can I increase the protein and reduce the sugar". – Catija Jul 31 '17 at 19:04
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    @CosCallis Not necessarily. The problem with "healthy" questions is that we don't know what they want - what they consider "healthy" to mean. We're happy to address questions that have specific goals. We can easily make recommendations to increase protein content and reduce sugar. :) Some guidance is available here. – Catija Jul 31 '17 at 19:16
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    Thank you for the feedback! I edited the question to be a bit more specific about what I want to achieve and to be less of a recipe request and less opinion based. – Kendra Jul 31 '17 at 20:11
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    Kendra, you inadverently chose a topic which is quite contentious on this site - we hate it when our answer threads degrade into a war of subjective opinions, and "healthy" is one of these words which nobody can really define, much less use it to make objective judgements. So we react a bit harsh to it, while still trying to save the question by editing, instead of closing it outright. Most new users are understanably miffed when this happens, since they don't know the background. Thank you for being so gracious now that it happened to you! Yours is quite a nice first post. – rumtscho Jul 31 '17 at 21:32
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You could try putting some medjool dates in a food processor then grinding them down into a powder! Lots of vegan and paleo recipes use dates instead of sugar as a healthier and less sweet option.

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Ok, so just attacking the sugar content and texture I would suggest replacing the 3/4 cup white sugar with

  • 1/4 cup white sugar,
  • 1/4 brown sugar, the molasses will help your texture (think 'chocolate chip cookie')
  • and 1 tablespoon honey (along with this you should probably reduce the milk by 1 tablespoon)

A sugar free peanut butter will also help (but may be at the sacrifice of texture, YMMV)

Another good substitution would be craisins for the raisins.

(since I know you also want to boost the protein, you might add in some dark chocolate chips or cocoa powder)

  • What would you think about replacing some of the flour with peanut butter powder? That would boost the protein but I'm not sure what it would do for the texture. – Catija Jul 31 '17 at 20:45
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    Thats why I went to just the sugar free peanut butter ... the peanut butter is likely a major contributor to the texture as is....but this recipe is likely to come out a little 'sticky', so dusting with a combination of peanut butter powder and cocoa might make them more manageable. – Cos Callis Jul 31 '17 at 20:47
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You can cut the sugar to 1/2 cup, given that raisins included in the recipe.

To make the bars lighter, try adding 3/4 cup butter or coconut oil and 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

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    You know you can edit your existing answer, right? There's no reason to make a new one to add more information. (You can also delete your old answers, and you should do that in this situation.) – Sneftel Aug 29 at 10:10
  • I don't follow the reasoning. The sugar plays an important role in the texture. How do the raisins help the oats to stick together? – Peter Taylor Sep 2 at 6:44
  • I routinely & successfully cut sugar in recipes for cookies and cakes without affecting the texture. In this recipe, the peanut butter holds the bars together, not the sugar. The writer wants to cut the sugar; in my opinion, the flavor of the bars won't suffer with less sugar because the raisins add sweetness. – Christine K Sep 7 at 4:08
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I routinely reduce sugar in cake and cookie recipes without any discernible difference in the final product.

I have a similar recipe that I make with 1/2 cup of sugar. My family loves them.

  • The question is about oatmeal bars, and the OP specifically asks about making them less crumblly. You answer addresses neither of those. – Jan Doggen Jul 29 at 7:18
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Try adding 3/4 cup of butter or coconut oil.

  • Thanks for the answer, @Christine K. However, it's best to provide more information. Why add butter or coconut oil? How does this help reduce the sugar? When adding butter or coconut oil, should something be removed? This detail will help the site greatly. Without it, your response might be removed because it does not have enough detail. – moscafj Aug 25 at 21:52
  • Okay, thanks for the guidance! I have added a more complete response. – Christine K Aug 28 at 22:01

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