Last week I started back at the gym again. I was a pretty regular gym rat prior to our little nugget working out right up until he was born. Five days a week I did strength, cardio or yoga. Plus Dave and I were pretty active with biking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities. But a winter baby--born during the worst winter in recent history (do the people complaining about the lovely summer heat forget our 7 feet of snow?)--plus the lack of time, energy and shear access to get to the gym has meant I've neglected my former workouts. I workout to be healthy and this body was built by baby and cookies, so getting back into some sort of active lifestyle needed to take on a new priority level in my life. So the other day I found myself on day two of my new workout routine, on the elliptical and really pushing hard. It felt great and I surprised myself by not being nearly as out of shape as expected. And then I remembered I wanted to make brownies or some sort of bar for work the next day. Browsing Pinterest on my phone, the irony hit me right away that while I was working to shed the pounds from baby (and yes, far too many cookies and other sweets since then), I was also researching a new way to enjoy sugar and chocolate. But really these bars have oatmeal so that means they're healthy, right (right?!?). Soft, chewy, gooey bars mimic a perfect oatmeal cookie all full of nutty goodness but made more awesome with an overabundance (is there really such a thing?) of chocolate chips. Plus, hello simple. I got these done in about a half hour, after work, start to finish, including washing the dishes while they baked.
I had pinned this recipe from Buns in My Oven and was an easy pick as I scrolled through my options. Simple ingredients and having everything on hand definitely edged it to my top pick. Plus, since the butter was melted, no waiting for it to soften or kicking myself that I forgot to pull the butter from the fridge earlier. I used my stand mixer, but if you use a regular bowl and a spatula or spoon, maybe you can do a few less curls at the gym, no? You could do all kinds of mix-ins here--raisins, cranberries, coconut, white chocolate chips, nuts or whatever your fancy. But the chocolate--oh the chocolate. Totally worth a little extra time in the gym.
Oatmeal Cookie Bars
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
In the bowl of a stand mixer or another large bowl, whisk together oats, brown sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.
Add in butter, eggs and vanilla and either mix with the paddle attachment or stir with a spoon or spatula until incorporated.
Stir in chocolate chips to distribute throughout.
Spread batter to an even layer in a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until set with a golden top and tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack before cutting into bars.
Makes 24 bars.
The Cookie Princess
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