Dessert gets a healthy makeover

Peanut butter is used in a multitude of recipes, from savory dishes to desserts. Peanuts are a strong source of protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats, and they’re also rich in potassium and B vitamins. Even though they can be high in calories, peanuts are nutrient-dense, so they can make great additions to most diets.

When peanuts are included in desserts, people may want to find healthy adaptations so that it’s possible to indulge without all of the guilt. Consider this lightened-up version of “Peanut Butter Bars” from “Taste of Home Healthy Cooking Cookbook” (RDA Enthusiast Brands, LLC) by the Taste of Home Kitchens.

Peanut Butter Bars

Makes 3 dozen

13/4 cups reduced-fat creamy peanut butter, divided

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups quick-cooking oats

1 teaspoon baking soda


41/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup fat-free milk

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream 1 cup peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the applesauce and vanilla. Combine the flour, oats and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well (batter will be thick.)

Spread into a 15 x 10 x1-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 18 to 22 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes; spread with the remaining peanut butter. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat frosting ingredients until light and fluffy. Spread over the peanut butter layer. Cut into bars.

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