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Toffee Zucchini Oat Squares 01

© David James Di Pardo – 2014

Going through my camera these past few days I’ve come across numerous recipes that have yet to make their way onto the blog. This is the first of many to pop up in the next few weeks. Concocted a few weeks back, after a grueling 2 hour workout at the gym and a major calorie depletion, I was in desperate need of some sort of sweet treat. Sugar and carbs tend to be my biggest splurges on weekends to refuel my body after intense workouts.

 
However, to easy my conscience, lately I’ve been adding some healthier alternatives  like zucchini and oats. They help subdue some of the guilt, hey, whatever it takes right? Thus, these Toffee Zucchini Oat Squares were born. Loaded with finer, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates, these make great snacks to “refuel” you body and help recover so you can get on to the next workout.
Toffee Zucchini Oat Squares 04

© David James Di Pardo – 2014

The squares are a cross between a oatmeal cookie and blonde. Slight dense, chewy, lightly sweetened, and just the right amount of chocolate to satisfy a craving without hating yourself for it afterwards. Despite their chewy nature, they remain light and moist making it way to easy to eat more than one. In fact a third of the tray disappeared during picture talking. I had to restrain myself from inhaling the remains while catching up on season 2 of Arrow. Toffee Zucchini Oat Squares and 6 hours of Stephen Amell, now that’s a lot of sugar 😉
 
For a softer blond like texture keeps these at room temperature in an airtight container. However, if like me, you prefer these on the firmer and chewier side, store in the fridge.
 

Toffee Zucchini Oat Squares

Makes 9 squares

 

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, divided
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds, mixed with 3 tablespoons room temperature water
  • 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces in weight) finely grated, and squeezed of excess liquid
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

Finely grate zucchini and place in a mesh strainer over a bowl or the sink. Use the back of a spoon/spatula/or clean hands to press the zucchini and remove and much liquid as possible. If you like, you can choose to reserve some of the liquid to mix with the flax seeds as opposed to using water. Lightly fluff strained zucchini with a fork and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the flax seeds with water, or 3 tablespoons of liquid drained from the zucchini, mix until starting to thicken and set aside.

Place half the rolled oats (3/4 cup) in a food processor or blender and process until it reaches a flour like consistency. A spice grinder can also be used if it has a large enough capacity. Place in a medium bowl with the remaining rolled oats, flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. (if using a food processor, the remaining dry ingredients can be added to the food process and pulsed once or twice to combine, hence one less bowl to wash.)

In a large mixing bowl, beat the coconut oil and sugar until combined and smooth. Add in the vanilla, and flax mixture and continue to mix until incorporated. Fold in the the grated zucchini.

Add in the dry ingredient and continue to mix until almost completely combined. There should still be a few clumps of the dry mixture visible. Add in the chocolate chips (reserving 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips) and continue to mix until the dry oat mixture has been completely incorporated and the chocolate chips and dispersed throughout.

Spoon the dough into the prepared pan and spread evenly, pressing down with the back of your spatula to even out the mixture. Sprinkle with the reserved chocolate chips and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

Let the pan cool for 10 minutes before lifting out the squares to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving. (Chilling the squares in the fridge for a couple of hours will also making slicing easier.)

Toffee Zucchini Oat Squares 05

© David James Di Pardo – 2014

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