Happy holidays everyone! To celebrate another delicious year over at Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, we tackled one of our toughest makeovers ever for Seven Layer Bars. These luscious holiday treats are typically made with 2 cups of chips — chocolate and butterscotch — sweetened condensed milk, nuts, lots of shredded coconut, and a crust of graham cracker crumbs with melted butter or margarine, so they’re typically high in fat, saturated fat, and calories. We slimmed ‘em down and boosted the nutrition with a bottom layer made of oats, garbanzo beans (AKA chick peas), wheat germ, just 2 tablespoons of butter, and 2 tablespoons of heart-healthy canola oil. In a million years, you would never know there were beans in the crust! We cut back on the chocolate chips and coconut and used dried cranberries for a holiday flare. We kept the sweetened condensed milk (though we switched to the low-fat version) because, well, they wouldn’t really be Seven Layer Bars without it.

Lightened-Up Seven Layer Bars
Makes 30 Servings

Our bars are perfect for cookie swaps (Janice brought them to her neighborhood cookie swap this week) and Santa will certainly appreciate them. One of our bars has 160 calories and 2.5 grams of saturated fat. Not bad for a sweet holiday dessert and a lot better than traditional Seven Layer Bars with 200 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat.

1½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
One 14-ounce can low-fat sweetened condensed milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Spread the oats evenly on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure even browning.  Remove and set aside. Place the walnuts on the same baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. (Keep a watchful eye on the nuts so they don’t burn!) Remove and set aside.

3. Place the toasted oats in the bowl of a food processor and process for 10 seconds.  Add the beans, wheat germ, butter, canola oil, and salt and pulse until well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, and smooth down evenly with your fingers or palms to form a bottom crust.

4. Top evenly with the chocolate chips, cranberries, walnuts, and coconut. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the layers.

5. Bake 22 to 25 minutes, or until the coconut is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and cut into thirty 1¾ x 2-inch bars. Best if stored in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 bar): 160 calories, 7g fat (2.5g saturated, 0.5g omega-3), 50mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 14g sugar, 3g protein

Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD and Liz Weiss, MS, RD are The Meal Makeover Moms, and together, they’re on a mission to help busy families eat better. For more recipes, check out their new cookbook, No Whine with Dinner. You can also read their blog, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen or listen to their weekly podcast, Cooking with the Moms.

2 Responses to Recipe of the Week: Lightened-Up Seven Layer Bars

  1. [...] of heart-healthy canola oil. In a million years, … … Go here to see the original: Recipe of the Week: Lightened-Up Seven Layer Bars ← Caramelized Onion and Spinach Strata With Tomato Relish | a [...]

  2. This is great – my mom has been whipping up the full fat version of these since we were kids. My metabolism isn’t what it used to be after turning 30, so I love that there’s a healthier option now!