Dear Jeanne: I love these cookies, but I'd love the fat to be reduced! Can you help?

— Freda, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Dear Freda: These bars are really great, and I have made them with fresh cranberries, but if you want to substitute canned sauce for the first three ingredients, you can do it all year round — there is only a one-calorie difference. You also could use another pure-fruit spread if you like.

OATMEAL CRANBERRY BARS

1 1/4 cups margarine, divided use

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar, divided use

3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats, divided use

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 can (16 ounces) whole-berry cranberry sauce

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

In a large bowl, cream 1 cup of the margarine and 1 cup of the brown sugar. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the oats and the flour. Press the mixture into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Spread with the cranberry sauce. Melt the remaining margarine, and stir in the pecans and remaining brown sugar and oats. Sprinkle over the cranberry sauce. Bake at 375 F for 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes 36 bars.

LOW-FAT OATMEAL CRANBERRY BARS

1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries

1 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, divided use

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup applesauce

1/3 cup pecans, toasted

1. In a small saucepan, place the cranberries, water and sugar over medium-high heat. Dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the liquid is thickened. Set aside to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar. Take 1 cup of the oats and blend in a blender or in a food processor until you have flour; add to the butter and sugar. Add the rest of the oats and the flour, honey and applesauce. Combine until mixed and crumbly.

4. Take 3 1/2 cups of this mixture and press it firmly into the prepared pan. Spread with the cooled cranberry sauce. Add the pecans to the remaining oat mixture, combine and sprinkle over the top of the cranberries.

5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Makes 36 bars.

Each bar contains approximately: Original Recipe: 164 calories; 8 gm fat; 17 mg cholesterol; 71 mg sodium; 22 gm carbohydrates; 2 gm protein; 1 gm fiber. Revised Recipe: 100 calories; 3 gm fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 22 mg sodium; 17 gm carbohydrates; 2 gm protein; 2 gm fiber.

Jeanne Jones is the author of 33 cookbooks, most recently "Cooking From the Cupboard" (Rodale Press). For more information, you can go to her website, jeannejones.com.

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