These healthy flapjacks are free from refined sugar and are perfect for kids. They make great picnic or lunchbox fillers, or a healthy dessert for small people.
What are flapjacks?
Wikipedia goes into some detail about the difference between a flapjack, a cereal bar and a granola bar in various places in the world.
Now in some parts of the United States a flapjack refers to a pancake. This is not that kind of flapjack.
All you need really need to know is that a flapjack – as we know it here in the UK – is an oat based bar. They’re usually square, sometimes rectangular, and contain dried fruits. Flapjacks should be chewy.
Flapjacks look deceptively healthy but they’re not really a healthy snack option. Yes oats are good for you but your average flapjack is made with bucketloads of butter, sugar and golden syrup. Tastes fantastic but not necessarily a healthy snack – especially for children.
How do you make healthy flapjacks?
I wanted to recreate a chewy flapjack for my kids that had a lot less sugar in it than a traditional recipe. In the process I tried many different variations on this recipe. This healthy flapjacks recipe is the best I’ve come up with.
It’s a very flexible flapjack recipe. I’ve used apple, dried fruit and a little maple syrup or honey to sweeten it – and that’s it for sugar.
Remember that babies under one shouldn’t have honey. Honey can contain a toxin which leads to a disease called infant botulism – so use maple syrup if you have a baby. You can use whichever dried fruit you prefer and sub orange juice and zest for the lemon if you fancy a different flavour.
Now I’m typing this I’m thinking about lime zest – now that would make a wonderful tropical flapjack. However, I digress.
How to get healthier flapjacks to stick together
Without the oodles of butter and golden syrup it is trickier to get the ingredients to hold together.
However, the key to getting healthier flapjacks to stick together properly, and remain chewy, is to pulse them slightly in a food processor or high speed blender.
I’ve tried making these healthy flapjacks without processing them but they don’t stick together well enough – think granola rather than flapjack. Not a success at any rate.
The dried fruit you use also makes a difference. Dates – particularly sticky medjool dates – work best. I’ve used raisins here however, to keep the costs down. If you think your fruit is a little dry you can soak it in hot water for 10 minutes before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
You will also need to mix the dry ingredients really well with the melted oil or butter and press down firmly into the tin before baking.
My kids love these healthy flapjacks and I love that they’re getting an energy-filled snack without too much added sugar.
These are perfect for taking along as an after-school snack and they’re nut free so perfect for popping in a lunchbox too.
They’re chewy but soft enough for baby teeth to manage so these flapjacks would be ideal for baby led weaning too.
If you’re looking for vegan flapjacks simply use dairy free spread or oil and use maple syrup in place of honey.
The dad to the two little Rs likes these even more than they do, meaning that they always disappear in a flash in our house.
Other healthy bakes that you might like
How to make healthy flapjacks for kids:
Healthy flapjacks for kids
- 200 g oats
- 150 g dates, raisins or other chopped dried fruit* eg apricots
- 40 g desiccated coconut or seeds eg sunflower, pumpkin seeds
- zest of a lemon
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 apple grated (peeling is optional)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey remember no honey for under ones
- 100 g butter, dairy free spread, sunflower oil or coconut oil Or you can use a mix of the two eg 60g butter and 40g sunflower oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C(fan)/200°C/gas mark 6. Grease a 20cm square cake tin and line with baking paper.
Place 200g oats, 150g chopped dates or raisins, 40g desiccated coconut, juice of half a lemon, zest of a whole lemon and one grated apple into a food processor or high powered blender. Pulse until broken down and well combined. Set aside.
Place 1 tbsp of honey or maple syrup with 100g of butter or oil into a medium saucepan and heat gently until melted.
Scrape the oat and raisin mixture into the saucepan and stir well. Make sure that all the dry mixture is completely coated in the oil or butter mixture.
Pour into the prepared tin and use a rubber spatula to press into the tin. Make sure that you press down really well as this will help the flapjacks hold together. To be really sure they're pressed down well you could lay a sheet of baking paper over the top and use the side of a glass or small rolling pin to press down the mixture.
Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 20 minutes until starting to turn brown.
Remove from the oven and cut into slices in the tin using a sharp knife. Leave to cool completely in the tin then cut again before removing from the tin.
*If your fruit is very dry soak in boiling water for 10 minutes before draining and proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
Thanks to my friend Sarah for giving me the idea for these in the first place, and sharing her recipe (which I’ve slightly altered).