I know for folks who aren't used to being "that girl" (or guy) who brings the "healthy stuff" for tailgating, taking that first step can seem daunting. I mean really... who wants to be the buzz-kill at the game showing up with the wilted veggie tray and fat-free ranch dip?
If you didn't immediately whip up a batch of last week's Smoky Sweet Potato Dip, shame on you... but I understand. You need a gentle step forward.
How about dessert? Or for those early morning games, something a little sweet to balance out your bloody mary :)
These Caramel Apple-Pecan Bars
are an ideal choice for the reluctant healthy tailgater. They're a cross between a coffee cake & a bar cookie... two phrases that make me smile, especially when shared in a sentence.
First up, they're sweet... which by itself means they're likely going to be a fan favorite. But they're made with dried apples + 100% whole wheat flour (hello healthy fiber) and topped with pecans (yummy, healthy nut).
I also used Greek-style yogurt in place of some of the butter in the original recipe to trim a little bit of the overall saturated fat as well. I got the idea from my friends over at Cabot Creamery, who recently developed this handy substitution chart for their Greek-style yogurt. I love it because you can use Greek-style yogurt in place of higher fat ingredients; same taste & texture, fewer calories and more protein. [As most of you know, Cabot is a client of mine... they didn't ask me to share this with you, but I couldn't resist. I think it's too darn cool.]
Anyway, back to the bars. Let's be clear on one thing, these aren't short on sugar. And sugar is sugar. It tastes great. But it's nothing but empty calories. Having a 100% whole wheat fruit filled bar cookie doesn't necessarily mean you can eat the whole pan. But I can promise it's a better choice than that box of store-brought brownies your friend picked up at Kroger on her way to the game. I say those are the real buzz kill :)
Caramel Apple-Pecan Bars
Adapted from MyRecipes.com
Ingredients (12 bars)
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek-style yogurt (I used Cabot)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur Flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups sliced, dried apples, chopped
- 1/2 cup pecans halves, chopped
- 1/4 cup homemade Caramel Sauce or store-bought caramel
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8- x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Cream butter and Greek-style yogurt in a large mixing bowl; gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating well. Add eggs, and beat well. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a small mixing bowl; gradually add to creamed mixture, stirring well. Stir in apples.
Spoon mixture into prepared dish. Top with pecans. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center of bars comes out clean. Let cool. Drizzle with caramel and cut into bars.
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