Friday, March 1, 2013
Almond Date Breakfast Bars
I have a very long list of "should do" things. Things I think adults must be doing, that I'm maybe sort of also supposed to be doing. I frequently get the crazy idea that I will one day be able to do all of these should-do things, making silent resolutions to myself - Listen to podcasts! Understand my taxes! Do push-ups! Not buy more shoes! Eat ridiculous amounts of spinach!
These resolutions, such as they are, don't ever seem to hold, though. And yet, the fantasy that I will one day become this magical should-do person, who eats a balanced breakfast every morning, takes a spin class, does yoga while listening to thought-provoking podcasts, makes tortellini from scratch, has and actually uses a day-planner remains. If I was such a magical freak of a person, I'd probably be making money from Instagramming my breakfast, host my own book club, backpack through Europe and then write a best-selling book about it.
But I am not such a person. The last time I did yoga I invented my own mantra that went something like "Ow ow ow NO". I would rather sit at home eating tortilla chips and gain ten pounds than take a spin class (what is the POINT - THERE IS NO HILL TO CLIMB, THE JOURNEY IS POINTLESS). I subscribed to two podcasts months ago and now I have over 100 un-listened-to episodes on my phone. I write to-do lists on my hand.
But sometimes, I get should-do shit done. Like snacks. Because the magical motivated successful people of the world always have tasty, healthy, portable snacks on hand. They probably wrap them in parchment paper and tie them in bows of twine too, but we won't go that far. (They are snacks, after all, not Martha Stewart props.)
There is something to be said for the convenience of having a bag of breakfast bars in your freezer, though. For those days when you slept in (in spite of the five times your alarm went off) and breakfast happens while you walk to work, or for a mid-morning pick-me-up after your first (or second) cup of coffee wears off. Or, for those times you go on a spontaneous road trip and you don't want to spend all your money on crappy muffins to keep yourself fuelled along the way.
These bars, from the always reliable and amazing Smitten Kitchen, are such snacks. They are delicious, delightfully fuss-free, and are packed with enough good things to make them admirable breakfast material. And making them might just make you feel a bit more motivated...maybe even magical.
Almond Date Breakfast Bars
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perlman
1 cup Chopped Dried Pitted Dates
1 1/4 cups Rolled Oats
3 tbsp Whole Wheat or Spelt Flour
1/3 cup Wheat Germ
3/4 cup Whole Almonds
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Almond Butter
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Maple Syrup or Honey
Zest of 1 Orange (a small one)
1/4 tsp Almond Extract (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-by-8 inch pan with parchment paper, using enough so that it hangs over the sides.
2. Spread almonds out on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes, or until they start to smell nutty and are slightly deeper in colour. Remove and let cool until they're easy to handle, then chop.
3. Stir together the chopped dates, oats, flour, wheat germ, chopped almonds, salt, and cinnamon.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond butter, maple syrup, orange zest, and almond extract (if using) until smooth.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the oat mixture and stir together until everything is well combined. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan, using a spatula to press it down and flatten it.
6. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the top is faintly golden brown. Let cool completely before cutting. Warning, they may be a bit crumbly! A serrated knife is best for cutting these breakfast bars into pieces. Store in a glass jar at room temperature for up to a week, or in a sealed container/bag in the freezer for up to 2 months (if they last that long!).