Healthy (Kinda) Jam Shortbread Bars

Healthier Shortbread Fig Jam Crumble Bars

Update: since I’ve first posted this recipe, I’ve further cut down on the fat, subbed AP flour one-to-one for whole-wheat, and used granulated birch sugar instead of brown sugar.

You know the ‘How to have a bikini body’ meme right? I’m positive we shouldn’t stress so much about our physical appearances (at least lot less than the media would suggest anyway), but I also don’t want to be a hypocrite.

I do watch what I eat and work out regularly, not so much as to fit any mould but to respect my body by treating it right. At the same time I also allow myself the occasional indulgence which I think is necessary for balance in life, and those treats are the things I like to post about.

Today’s recipe is an in-between in the sense that it’s most definitely a dessert, but it’s way less bad for you and that beach bod of yours than the average sweet. That’s what I call a win-win! Read on for my healthier take on the classic jam shortbread bars.

Shortbread is one part white sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour. Here I have:

  • substituted 2/3 of the flour with oats, nuts and protein powder
  • swapped the butter for margarine and used less than 40% of the initial amount
  • cut white sugar completely
  • the jam was a naturally sweet, no-sugar-added (diabetic) fig spread

And believe it or not after all this messing around, it’s still amazing! Let’s see why altering the original recipe is good for you:

White flour is heavily processed, the most nutritional aspects of the grain like fiber, vitamins and minerals are stripped away. The downsides to it are an overall lack of nutrients, highly refined carbs and also the gluten if you have sensitivities.

Oats on the other hand are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. They are packed with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and are high in fiber and protein compared to other grains. Nearly all of the carbs in oats come from complex starches, which you digest slowly. Also, they are naturally gluten-free.

Nuts were walnuts in my case, but the recipe would work with almonds, pecans, hazelnuts or pistachios as well, so knock yourself out! They are nutritional powerhouses: complete packages of protein, heart-healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

I’ve been drinking protein shakes post-workout and just lately started replacing some of the flour with protein powder in baked goods. My favorite whey protein is gluten, lactose and also sugar-free, plus the vanilla flavor complements most sweets well. Work with a 1:3 conversion (that is 1/3 cup of protein powder for every 1 cup of flour).

Figs are a great source of fibre and they are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well. They contain prebiotics, which help support the good bacteria in your gut. Moreover, their potassium content helps regulate the amount of sugar which is absorbed into your body. The natural sugar content of figs also allows you to cut further down on the amount of sweetener used in recipes. I made this with a sugar-free, thick plum preserve as well, if you want a more fall-ish taste.

On to the old debate: butter or margarine, as fats and calories in them are about the same. The cold hard truth is, the healthiest option would be to skip both. The problem with butter lies in saturated fat and cholesterol, while the main concern with margarine is trans fats, the result of hydrogenation. Experts suggest consuming monounsaturated fats whenever possible (olive oil uncooked or vegetable oil for cooking). When baking, use a hard stick of trans-fat-free margarine in place of butter but whichever you select, limit your overall consumption.

What I also love about this healthier take is the texture; how crunchy-crumbly it is thanks to the oats and nuts. Frankly, there’s still fructose (fruit sugar) and a fair amount of fat in these bars, but they are incomparable to the average jam shortbread square in nutritional value. If you want a guilt-free dessert, it won’t get any better than this!

And as with everything else, portion size is key!

Healthy Fig Crumble Bars

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Healthier, crunchy-crumbly squares filled with a yummy sugar-free fig spread.


1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, fine

½ cup walnuts

1 cup whole-wheat flour

½ cup vanilla protein powder

1/4 cup granulated birch sugar (or other sugar alternative)

150 g (10 tbsp) cold margarine, cut to cubes

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp baking powder

1 ½ cup diabetic fig preserves


  1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F), line a 22 by 22 cm (9×9”) baking dish with aluminium foil, covering the sides as well.
  2. In a food processor, pulse nuts until chopped but not too fine.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, mix oats, nuts, flour, protein powder, sugar, salt and baking powder for a few seconds until combined.
  4. Add margarine cubes one by one and mix until a coarse crumb of the size of peas forms and margarine is evenly distributed.
  5. With the back of a spoon, push 2/3 of the crumb mixture in bottom of tray. Bake until golden, about 20 min.
  6. Remove from the oven, spread preserves evenly on crust. Crumble remaining streusel on top.
  7. Transfer back to oven and bake until topping is golden, about 30 min.
  8. Remove from oven, let cool before slicing. Enjoy!

Healthier Shortbread Fig Jam Crumble Bars

Healthier Shortbread Fig Jam Crumble Bars

Healthier Shortbread Fig Jam Crumble Bars



*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship, commissions or gifts.*

Friday Finds

Winter is the time for comfort, good food, for warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and a talk beside the fire: it is a time for home.

Edith Sitwell

Lonely tree (‘Planinsko polje XXVIX’ photo by Gorazd Kranjc):

lonely tree in snow

Make this the year:

danielle doby quote

Frozen lake (photo by Marja K.):

frozen boat

Fox in the snow (photo via imgfave):

snowy fox

Fig, Vanilla Bean + Gin Cocktail (by Sarah of The Homemade Haus):

fig vanilla gin cocktail

Happy weekend!


Goat Cheese & Food Souvenirs

October seems to have been about our Eastern neighbor for me: I’ve been to Romania’s Transylvania region twice this month. First the Negreni Fair with family and also last week, this time on a business trip. Luckily the work was finished with time to spare and we got to do some shopping.

Touristing at it’s best, isn’t it? 🙂 Don’t think roaming the length and breadth of malls or hunting for funny shot glasses though, I’m more interested in experiencing new flavors than blowing hard currency on horrible tees or mugs.

And turns out I’m not the only one: my colleagues were just as eager to try and buy local food as I am so we visited La Colline goat cheese factory (on the DN1 road just outside Turda, towards Cluj Napoca). They have a showroom where you can buy their products for wholesale price.

I like bringing home edible souvenirs from my travels because I believe there’s no better way to experience a new place than by taste: through the distinct regional aromas typical only to that specific area of the world.

Well, chèvre might be a basic for some, but it is a gourmet delight for me. And while nutrition is definitely not the first thing on my mind when I want to indulge in something special, I’ve learnt that compared to cow’s milk products goat dairy is lower in fats, calories and cholesterol, provides more calcium and is easier to digest.

As they say, pleasure is good for health and for the occasional treat, spreading creamy, tangy, rich goat cheese on hot toast is without doubt a very pleasurable thing.

Using local whole milk and traditional French manufacturing techniques (France is the Nr. 1 producer of goat cheeses), La Colline makes all natural, premium fresh and aged goat milk products without any artificial preservatives or additives.

They sell goat milk, yogurt, kefir, semi-mature white cheese in different flavors, spreadable cream cheeses and Camembert-type white mould cheeses. I bought three flavors of the log-like bûche: Classic, Herbes de Provence and Truffle.

la colline chevre

Great for countless dishes both savory and sweet, goat cheese also goes very well with dry red wine and several fruits. It is best at room temperature, so make sure to take out from the fridge and unpack at least half an hour prior to serving.

The Fiance was game as always, the only thing he complains about the goat cheese adventure is he had to wait until I took some photos. (The poor thing!) We started with tasting each off the spoon that turned us into devotees right than and there.

Resisting the urge to binge eat the rest, I made crostinis. The word crostini stands for “little toast” in Italian, and simply it is toasted bread with various toppings. This can be a perfect pre-dinner appetizer and I wouldn’t even call it a recipe because it’s that easy.

goat cheese crostinis

Started off by toasting thick slices of a rustic baguette to make the crunchy, warm base, than spread the cheese and topped it off with Deluxe (Lidl’s premium product range) Fig Spread and a hint of balsamic sauce. This little jar of chutney sat in my pantry for some time now waiting patiently to be utilized and the moment finally came. Oh boy was it worth it! A match made in food heaven. So much flavor! And the texture!

goat cheese crostini with fig chutney

I’m telling you, no fridge magnet will ever have such an effect. And just so you know, we ate all the props too!



*Disclaimer: I’ve visited, and used services offered by business establishments mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such entities represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

Friday Finds

By all these lovely tokens September days are here, with summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.

Helen Hunt Jackson

Welcoming a new season with these pretty images:

Drying hydrangeas by Kristen of Ella Claire:

drying hydrangeas in basket


chase grace

Sunset in rose gold (photo by Richard Powell):

outer hebrides sunset

Vintage candleholders from a beach venue (photographed by Feather & Stone):

vintage candleholders

Fig and prosciutto pizza by Rachel of Spache the Spatula:

fig prosciutto pizza

Happy weekend!


Friday Finds

Whoever said summer should get a speeding ticket certainly had a point, don’t you think? Below, five refuse-to-accept-summer-is-over-soon images:

Peonies at a Paris market (art print available at Etsy from Georgianna Lane):

white peonies

For a happy life:

live simply, love generously, learn constantly

Serenity (found on Tumblr):

sea with gentle waves

This old chair repainted by Liz from Love Grows Wild:

painted antique chair

These juicy figs (photo by Aran Goyoaga):


Happy weekend!