I never thought I would say this, but after spending a weekend “in the country” with Cate and her kids…I almost didn’t want to leave New Jersey.  I seriously considered pretending to get on the train but actually stowing myself into the back of her SUV when I went to get my bag out of the trunk.

Personally, I think I would have been a fun surprise to wake up to on Monday morning.  A little creepy…but in a fun way.  I swear it.

Picnik collage

Instead, I had to settle for taking a little bit of New Jersey back to NYC with me.

Tragically, Cate wouldn’t let me kidnap her children, beg as though I might. (See above.  Adorable.  They made my ovaries ache. Inconsolably.)

…so…I had to make do with apples.


Apples are kind of like children, right?  Except…they don’t scream when you won’t let them have brownies for breakfast.  Or ask you 500 questions in rapid succession while you’re trying to parallel park your car.

Or…hold your hand in the most adorable possible way while crossing the street (and…there go those ovaries again.  Ouch.)


And they can be cut as thinly as possible and then sandwiched in-between two layers of cinnamony delicious oatmeal cake.  So that…you kinda sorta get apple pie and cake in every bite.  And you can kinda sorta eat it for breakfast because, well…oatmeal + apples = breakfast food.


(Bet you can’t do that with your children.)

Also…the faster you eat those apples, the faster you’ll have an excuse to head back up to NJ for some more “apple picking”/torture-your-biological-clock time.

Win/win situation.


Maida Heatter is this week’s Gourmet Live Women Game Changers in Food icon.  And let me tell you, I had a hard time choosing which recipe of hers to make.

Having pounds upon pounds of apples on my table kind of sealed the deal though.  I brought these into lab meeting on Wednesday and they were a HUGE hit.  If you make any apple dessert this fall, I highly recommend that this is it.

For more Maida Heatter recipes, check out these blogs:
Val – More Than Burnt Toast
Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan – The Spice Garden
Claudia – A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather – girlichef
Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney
April – Abby Sweets
Katie – Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary – One Perfect Bite
Kathleen –Bake Away with Me
Viola – The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue – The View from Great Island
Barbara – Movable Feasts
Kathleen – Gonna Want Seconds
Amy – Beloved Green
Jeanette – Healthy Living
Linda – Ciao Chow Linda
Linda A – There and Back Again
Martha – Lines from Linderhof
Nancy – Picadillo


Johnny Appleseed Bars
Makes 1 9×13-inch baking pan, adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great American Desserts


  • 2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 to 5 firm cooking apples


  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper, making sure the edges extend over the edges of the pan for easy removal.  Place prepared pan in the freezer.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir in the oats and sugar.  In a separate small bowl, stir together the melted butter, eggs and vanilla.  Mix liquid mixture into the oat mixture.
  3. Press half of the dough into the prepared pan.  Set aside.
  4. Place the remaining dough between two 15-inch lengths of wax paper.  Roll out into a 9×13-inch rectangle.  Slide a flat cookie sheet under the dough and wax paper and transfer it to the freezer for a few minutes.
  5. Peel, quarter and core the apples.  Cut each quarter lengthwise into five or six slices.  Place the apple slices in rows, each slice slightly overlapping the last, on top of the bottom layer of dough.
  6. Remove the rolled-out rectangle from the freezer.  Peel off the top piece of paper and turn the dough over the apples.  Remove the remaining paper and press down on the edges of the dough to seal it.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan.  Lift cake out using the edges of the foil and cut into squares or bars.  Maida says that chilling makes the bars easier to cut and also that they freeze well!

I am submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Astrid from Paulchen’s Foodblog.

Review of Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Foods
Back in August, I was sent a copy of Brendan Brazier’s Thrive foods to review (which you can order on Amazon!)  Brendan is a professional Ironman triathlete who began to seriously analyze exactly what he was putting into his body when he realized just how much it was affecting his health and performance.  Essentially, he realized that the key to increasing his training capacity was not to train more, but to eat so that his body had the nutrients it needed to recover faster.  As a means of doing this, he created a nutrient-to-resource ratio to use a means of determining which foods are most nutrient dense while using the least natural resource expenditure in the food production process, and then basing his diet around those with the highest ratios.  Of course, such foods are typically plant based and things that we consider to be healthy – nuts, legumes, vegetables, fruits.
Being an endurance athlete myself, I think a lot about what I put into my body and how it will effect my performance.  I know that when I eat more sugar or more dessert, I feel sluggish and my muscles hurt more and are more prone to injury, yet when I fuel myself with nutrient-dense food I have more energy and my body just feels better.  While I am not willing to completely give up on things like pasta or or treats like these apple bars like Brendan is, I think there is definitely something to the message that he putting out there and that the recipes and ideas he puts forth in his book are worth incorporating into my life.
For more information about this and to receive a free PDF with info about Brendan’s book and three free recipes, check out his facebook page!  Also, thanks so much to Vega for sending me the book to review.  For more information about Vega products, check out their facebook page and follow them on twitter here!
Disclaimer: though I was sent this book for free, my thoughts and opinions on it are my own and I received no monetary compensation for this post.
You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
Share →

99 Responses to Maida Heatter’s Johnny Appleseed Bars…and a Review of Thrive Foods!

  1. What a fabulous dessert to post on the first day of fall! These look awesome. Yay for apples and autumn!

  2. I love apple season, especially ripe fromt he farm apples! So glad we get them in abundance here. 🙂

    I liked the notion of nutrient-denseness from Brendan’s book but my problem with his cookbook is that lack of a proper index! How am I supposed to find recipes in there??

  3. bellini says:

    I picked apples at the apple orchard the other day, so I am ready to move over to desserts rather than snacking.

  4. Very interesting recipe, it combines so many different recipes/styles into one

  5. Julie says:

    Sounds like you had a wonderful weekend! We all need those to revive us!

    These cookies look delicious. Perfect for apple season.

    I made the sweet potato, cabbage soup this week. Delicious, I will be posting. Thanks for a great recipe.

  6. Shannon says:

    I love apple desserts. If I see one on a menu I need to look no further to decide what I’m having. I plan on making a few this season (and picking up a bag or 4 at Whole Foods this week) so I think this will have to go on my list!

  7. Jeanette says:

    Wouldn’t a kid love these for breakfast! Your friend’s kids are adorable!

  8. OohLookBel says:

    Those photos are so lovely and autumnal. And that piece of appleseed bar with the soft apple poking out would be good at any time (like right now!).

  9. girlichef says:

    Win-Win…ha! I’m totally taking my kids apple picking SOON…and coming home to make a pan of this goodness. Love it! And thanks for the intro to Thrive Foods 😀

  10. Joanne says:

    I love this harvest time of year for just this reason – Those Johnny Appleseed bars, Wow!

  11. We are completely on the same page this week! These bars look fantastic and I will most definitely be making them with my leftover apples:-)

  12. Nicole, RD says:

    Those look delicious! I love the photos of the kids – so cute. I can’t wait to go apple-picking. It didn’t happen last weekend so next weekend is a MUST! And then I need to make these!

  13. Velva says:

    Spend a little time living off the grid, and creates all sorts of new feelings. Awesome time spent in New Jersey.

    The Johnny Appleseed cake looks delightful.


  14. Pam says:

    Oh man, those look so moist and good. Those kids are cuties!

  15. Cute kids! Bet if you made them some of those bars, they’d be stowing away in your kitchen!

  16. Ranjani says:

    ah, I hope I make it out for some apple picking this fall. This recipe looks great – I would call it breakfast too =)

  17. Danielle says:

    Sounds great – we have an apple tree so Im going to remember this recipe next time we have an abundance of apples.

  18. Oh! Perfect apple recipe for fast treats! I agree, too, excellent breakfast knosh! Coffee + apples + oatmeal + sugar = bliss.

  19. I feel your ovarian pain–mine are still aching from my two weeks with my little nephew. I’ll take the screaming and the slobber if it comes with the little hand resting on yours . . . and the little head leaning on your shoulder . . . and the little cackle when you make a funny face . . .

  20. ok, first of all, these look SO good. SO GOOD. Second, if you ever need to get your kid-fix, you’re more than welcome here in Utah! I’ve got 2 pretty cute kids…

  21. La Liz says:

    Your colleagues at the lab are lucky. I’ll make these for the Sunday football crowd. Apples = comfort. Thanks for a great recipe!

  22. Louanne says:

    Perfect for fall and easily adapted to gluten-free! Can’t wait to give these a try…

  23. Kathleen says:

    Joanne these bars look out of this world incredible!

  24. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, Looks delicious!! Blessings for a beautiful weekend, Catherine xo

  25. Mo 'Betta says:

    Even though it’s in the 80’s and humid, this post can almost make me feel a slight chill in the air and see the bright, changing leaves of Fall…and make me hungry! Looks delicious! And if you make it to NC, I have THREE kids you can borrow. Temporarily of course. And you have to make them eat some vegetables 😀

  26. That Girl says:

    It would have been a better story for all if you had hid in the SUV!

  27. Those close-ups of the apple bars are killer shots, they’re making me very very hungry.

  28. Those apple bars look great…I with you..not sure I could completely give up things like these bars..even though I’d probably be much better off 🙂

  29. Shannon says: these might need to be made this weekend… if i have time?

  30. YUM. And, watch what you say about NJ! 😉

  31. Geni says:

    Joanne, I almost fell out of my chair when I realized you used AP flour and BUTTER! No spelt, or wheat or barley my friend? These look fabulous as usual, but I almost didn’t know what to do with myself when I read the recipe. It’s as if the earth is off its axis.

  32. Barbara says:

    What a super choice, Joanne! Lovely fall flavors and the bars look fabulous.

  33. kankana says:

    Aww they are really adorable 🙂 Glad you had fun out there and that is one delicious treat you made with the apples.

  34. Karen says:

    The kids are adorable! I’m so making some of these bars!

  35. These just scream out “AUTUMN” to me. Just added them to my “Must Try” list!
    Cheers! – Donna

  36. Katie says:

    Oh, these bars look just delightful and so seasonal. I love the name too! I might have to make these for my students when we read the legend!

  37. The close up pics of these appleseed bars are making me groggy, I’m hypnotized… trantic hahah i’m so dramarama but yeah it’s uber great looking, plus the adorable kids make me think I’m actually dreaming of my own kids (who are of course all in college now!)
    Great “harvest” post for the first day of autumn.

  38. Kathy says:

    These bars look so delicious! Great pick!

  39. Pam says:

    Little ones do kick those ovaries into overdrive sometimes…until they throw a screaming fit – then the ovaries dry up and shrivel.

    These apple bars would make me & my sweet little ones very happy. Nicely done girl.

  40. Lizzy says:

    These look like the best apple bars EVER!!! I am printing off the recipe to try…and I’ll try to stop drooling over your photos 🙂

    PS…what adorable children!!!

  41. rushed all the way down to the ingredients to see if I have them all.
    MUST MAKE. Enough of me putting off the apple making, I need to smell apples baking in the oven stat.
    How could I kick this up? Caramel? Cook in cast iron? Hmmm. I want some deep fried apple fritters. Have you had those? Man.

  42. I have the biggest box of homegrown apples. Organic. Freshly picked. I am SO stealing, er, copying this recipe. It has ALL of the components I love. I’m not as big a fan as apple pie as much husband is. But these bars… wow! So, um, I sat next to an adorable 3-month old baby. This miniature toes killed me. Maybe my pre-Grandma genes are kicking in. First, my son needs to fall in-loving. Gaming online 24/7 doesn’t quite increase those odds, tough. I’ll have to wait…

  43. Okay:
    1. those kids are adorable, but not as cute as my kid (they never are). 🙂 Kids are awesome.

    2. those apple bars look AMAZING! And apples and oats are definitely breakfast. I will admit that a few weeks ago I used a bunch of free apples from my boss’s orchard to make apple crisp (apples and oatmeal!) and ate it every day for breakfast for awhile.

    3. Thanks for the Thrive review. I’d been meaning to read that book. I find myself reading a lot of vegan books and primal/paleo books. So if I look or sound confused, you know why. But at least I know that veggies, fruits, nuts = good!

  44. I have never heard of johnny appleseed bars before, but looking at the ingredients list has me hungry! Yum! I’m excited to go pick some apples! Great recipe!

  45. Veronica says:

    My ovaries feel your ovaries’ pain. They have been screaming at me lately! But as far as consolation prizes go, these apple bars look almost as good! 🙂

  46. I’m wishing I had another pan full of these now. 🙂

  47. Johanna GGG says:

    now you make me sad that apples are on the way out here – I have really enjoyed baking with apples this year and that recipe with such a gorgeous pioneering name really appeals – as do the kids but you are right that you can’t slice them up thinly and bake them unless you are a witch living in a house made of gingerbread

  48. Candace says:

    I’m not the greatest apple fan; but the man that I love definitely is. He would be super pleased, yet again, if I surprised him with another yummy recipe that I got from you….particularly this one. They look delicious, Joanne!

  49. Elizabeth says:

    Apple, brown sugar, and oatmeal is a lethal combination. Next time you come to Boston, my favorite cafe and bake shop in Cambridge makes a fabulous apple bar.

  50. Hannah says:

    Perfect! These apple bars would be excellent as a Rosh Hashana dessert. The date is approaching fast, and I was having trouble coming up with something apple-y and delicious. Joanne to the rescue! 🙂

  51. Mary says:

    Holy smokes, Joanne! I am so stinking envious of those bars. Yes, I know I could make my own, but right now, as I run out the door in a few minutes, I would pay some serious money to try one of them. They look wonderful! I adore apple desserts and the thinner slices the better. Add in some oatmeal and you have a major winner. I can hardly wait to try this one!

  52. Sanjeeta kk says:

    How do you get such innovative ideas to use fruits…the bars look absolutely delicious!

  53. Alisa says:

    I think you picked the right recipe, those look delicious Joanne!

  54. The bars look really tasty. You can’t go wrong with cake and pie all in one. I really like Brendan’s products. I’m actually excited to find out more about his cookbook. I think it would be right up my alley(as the saying goes).

  55. Amy says:

    Ha. What Pam said ^^^ Trevor had a field trip to an apple orchard last week. We came home with apples, cider, taffy, and beef jerky. And a MILLION questions about apples. I think they only thing that would have shut him up was an apple pie or these bars.

  56. Those apple bars look heavenly!

  57. apple desserts are my favorite….I will add these to the list!

  58. Esi says:

    I want one of those bars…now!

  59. myFudo says:

    This is superb! When you’re tired with the usual classic apple pie recipes…Innovation is key!

  60. A combination of healthy ingredients, this is packed with nutrients and yummy!

  61. sally says:

    I love that it is apple season! These bars look fantastic!

  62. newlywed says:

    Lol, my ovaries hurt a lot for the same reason. These bars look incredible!

  63. theorangebee says:

    I’ve a counter full of apples today – think I’ll try this. It does look like the perfect breakfast food or midnight snack. Glad I stumbled upon your blog. I’ll also make my second round of homemade apple sauce because it’s a tasty breakfast food too! Stop by and see my recipe for it at The Orange Bee.

  64. Lea Ann says:

    These bars look fabulous Joanne. I know how you feel, we just returned from a cabin up in the mountains, I told my husband I wasn’t leaving and they’d have to gas me out.

  65. Your photos are making me crave sweets again but I have to be good for a little while. These look so delicious I’m saving the recipe. Adorable kids 🙂 Apples have ovaries too, don’t they?

  66. Saving this! It looks like it’ll be a fun way to play with our usual apple bars.

  67. This looks absolutely delightful perfect for fall.

  68. Anonymous says:

    Just made these. So good! Only have one question, though. Is there supposed to be two types of sugar-brown and regular? I just used the brown and it was delicious, but not overly sweet-which makes it better for breakfast or with ice cream 🙂

  69. These bars look awesome! I’m in total apple mode right now, so this is perfect. Yum!

  70. Gloria says:

    Joanne these bars look amazing and the kids are sooo cute!! gloria

  71. Oh totally breakfast. Great start to the morning. Or even a start to breakfast 🙂 on lunch….or dinner really. They look awesome!

  72. I have a hard time resisting any kind of apple dessert and these look so crumbly perfect I could eat the whole plate. 😉

  73. Kelly says:

    I’d say you made out quite splendidly with your apples (though those little nippers are pretty cute), take care of those ovaries! 🙂

  74. Reeni says:

    These are absolutely irresistible! I love how the apples are sandwiched in the middle rather than mixed in.

  75. Yasmeen says:

    I adore these, Joanne. They’re bars, obviously, but sort of look as if they have the soft, chewy texture of a muffin too. Cuuuuuute kids. There go my maternal instincts again…

  76. theUngourmet says:

    I’ve been craving some apple-y goodness lately. These bars looks amazing!

    Have a great week!


  77. Miriam says:

    Those apple bars are awesome!! Sorry about the aching ovaries. :), [email protected]Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  78. I just made some Maida Heatter muffins! Love this, so full of flavor and the crunch of apples!

  79. Von says:

    I’m pretty sure kidnapping children doesn’t require parental permission 😛 There’s always next time!! Sounds like a lovely weekend though 😉
    These apple bars look incredibly delicious! I just want to have a bite- especially of the crispy top!!

  80. So the bars didn’t come from the book, right? Gosh they look good!

    What kind of endurance athlete are you? I’m just now getting into running after a long break due to injury…I think a triathlon would be fun!

  81. those kids are adorable- simply adorable! Wow and the bars. My son who loves his apples but freak over this. He thanks you in advance:)

  82. Lora says:

    gorgeous bars. Perfect use of one of fall’s best treasures. Fresh picked apples.

  83. Anonymous says:

    I’m attempting this recipe, but I’m confused about the sugar. You only list brown sugar in the recipe, and say to add the oats and sugar together. But in the next step, you wrote to add the sugar and butter, etc. Is there some sugar missing in the recipe?

  84. Joanne says:

    Anonymous – I’m so sorry about the typo! Mix the brown sugar in with the oats…that’s the only sugar the recipe calls for! Let me know how they turn out if you forge ahead!

  85. Anonymous says:

    oh good, that’s what i did. these are AMAZING!! not to sweet, just perfect. the only thing i had an issue with was the wax paper, rolling pin and putting that part on top- part. i don’t think i left it in the freezer long enough, because it wouldn’t come off of the wax paper, it came off in clumps. so i just dabbed it on top of the apples, made another half batch of the topping, and spread it all over with a rubber spatula, evenly. my 4 year old just got home from school and said, “i hope you’re not giving this away, because it’s too good to share”.

  86. grace says:

    maida’s everywhere! and rightly so–she makes good food. great recipe–i’ve always been a fan of mr appleseed, even if there’s a high probability that he’s fictitious. 🙂

  87. Tiffany says:

    This looks good! The kids in my area are learning about Johnny Appleseed.

  88. I’m adding these bars to my to-make list this fall. Hopefully apple picking is going to happen this weekend. It’s such a fun fall tradition! 🙂
    PS – I received this book a few years ago and remember enjoying it. I need to dust it off again and see if I can encorporate some of his suggestions into my life. It’s been a free-for-all in my house (with little regard to what our bodies really want/need) and it shows.

  89. Anonymous says:

    So I’ve made these 3 times in 3 days because they go that fast!(I’m the one who posted a day or two ago about the sugar question). I wanted to add that I’ve found the last part (the wax paper with the dough in the middle) is unnecessary. What I’ve done is just spread the dough with a rubber flat spatula over the apples and it works perfectly and eliminates the wax paper part, which didn’t work well for me. Also, I do 1 and a half of the dough recipe, because I’ve found that the little added bit of thickness is really good. This stuff is a keeper, it’s amazing. Also, not to change it up too much, but today I added 1/3 C. of home made apple sauce to the dough just because I had it, and it was AMAZING!

  90. Natalie says:

    think i could use old-fashioned oats in these? i WANT asap!! 🙂

  91. esther says:

    I need these right now. Those droopy apple slices are killing me! YOM.

  92. esther says:

    I need these right now. Those droopy apple slices are killing me! YOM.

  93. esther says:

    I need these right now. Those droopy apple slices are killing me! YOM.

  94. esther says:

    I need these right now. Those droopy apple slices are killing me! YOM.

  95. I love how these are kind of like pie but way easier than pie!

  96. Dith says:

    Just made these last night… sooo yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.