Sunday, August 3, 2014

perfect breakfast bars

i had an internship this summer that started at 10 am. so, every morning i would have time to wake up, roll around in bed for a while and slowly make a bowl of oatmeal. now that my internship is over, i'm working more early shifts at the front desk of a gym, and i have to be there by 8 am. i barely have time to get dressed before driving into town, let alone make a fancy bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and figs and almond butter. in retrospect, i'm baffled that i managed to wake up at 6:30 for school every day in high school. my first period started at 7:25, which seems absurd to me now.

 that's where these bars come in. i like to think of them as grab-and-go oatmeal. they have all the basic ingredients - oatmeal, maple syrup, assorted nuts - but are much easier to eat in the car while simultaneously tying my shoes and driving. i used smitten kitchen's recipe, but changed a few things around. i used coconut oil instead of butter to make it vegan, and coconut sugar instead of traditional white sugar.

they are also endlessly customizable, which appeals to my need to have a fig-and-walnut bar RIGHT NOW or my desire to eat cherries and dark chocolate for breakfast.

as you can see in the above and below photos, i made mine with a combination of walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, dates, figs and dried cranberries. i also opted to use almond butter and coconut sugar.

the coconut sugar lends a really good caramel-y taste and the almond butter (justin's, again!) helps bind the whole bar together without adding too much sweetness.

the mixture before it was cooked was incredible. it tasted like the best oatmeal cookie dough i've ever eaten. it was pretty hard to stop eating it long enough to actually stick it in the oven.

anyway, long story short, these bars are great. they make a perfect breakfast smeared with almond butter and/or the aforementioned apricot fig chia jam. as you can see in the first picture, they are a little crumbly. (also, shoutout to my brother for acting as a hand model). i didn't really mind the crumbliness because i ate the parts that broke off as granola with cashew milk and it was incredible. but, it is something to be aware of.


inspired by smitten kitchen

1 2/3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut sugar (brown or white sugar would also work)
1/3 cup oats, processed in a blender or food processor until fine like flour
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts of your choice
1/3 cup almond butter or another nut butter (i bet this would be really good with coconut butter)
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

preheat oven to 350°f and line an 8x8x2 baking pan one way with parchment paper. lightly grease the parchment paper with coconut oil.

combine all of the dry ingredients + the almond butter in one bowl. in a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup/honey and water. add the two mixtures together until it is well-incorporated and evenly crumbly.

press the mixture into the prepared pan. using a mug or spatula, press the mixture down very firmly. this will help the bar stay together as it cooks and hopefully means there will be fewer crumbles when you cut into it.

bake for 30-40 minutes until they are brown around the edges and on top. when i made these, i took them out about 5 minutes early to press the dough into the pan again. this step is optional but i do think it helped the bars stay together.

it's okay if the bars seem a little undercooked in the middle when you take them out - they will become firm as they cool.

when the bars are done, place the pan on a cooling rack and wait for them to cool completely. then, use the parchment paper to lift them out of the pan. cut with a sharp serrated knife.

i wrapped each bar in waxed paper and stored them in the fridge. this worked really well for me to grab before work.

note: the fruit-and-nut combinations for this bar are basically endless. i stuck with whatever we had at home, but i think next time i make this i'm going to throw in some chocolate chips and maybe peanuts.

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