Friday, 27 July 2012

Breakfast bars: the quick, on-the-go morning solution

I quickly tired of a bowl of breakfast oatmeal when I started my allergy diet.  Not to mention you have to get up at the crack of rooster to create such a bowl and allow it to cool to eating.  I value my sleep too much in the early mornings before work.  I can't remember how I stumbled onto Smitten Kitchen's recipe (http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/02/thick-chewy-granola-bars/), probably on one of those never ending recipe searches I tend to perform when I'm feeling overwhelmed or bored with food.  After some alterations when my homeopath adjusted my diet further, I have ended up with two bars that I make once a week and alternate eating so I never have to eat the same bar every day.  I can't keep these recipes to myself, as they help me stay on track with my diet and keep me full until the morning break at work (a feat in itself!)

1.  Tropical Oat Bars 

I am always looking for ways to infuse my day with the taste of the tropics, as I continue to feed into my obsession with Hawai'i, my favourite place on earth.
vegan (dairy and egg free), wheat free, sugar-less (watch out for your dried fruit!), peanut and tree nut free (watch for cross contamination with the seeds though, and get them from specially marked brands if allergy is life threatening). 

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten is an issue for you, make sure you get gluten free!)
1/3    cup  oat flour (yes, oat flour.  Bob's Red Mill has one, or I hear oats can be ground into this)
2/3    cup  coconut sugar (aka-palm sugar)
1/2     tsp  salt
1 1/2 cups mix of unsweetened coconut, chia seeds and sunflower seeds
1 1/2 cups mix of chopped dried apricots, dried mango and dried pineapple

1 tsp          vanilla extract
6 tbsp        melted coconut oil
4 tbsp        honey (if your homeopath doesn't like that, you could always try black cherry concentrate)
1-3 tbsp    water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8" pan with parchment.  Mix all the dry ingredients in the first section together in a bowl.  In another bowl, mix the liquid ingredients together.  Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined.  It's not going to hold together the way dough would, but should be moistened.  Pour into your prepared pan and spread lightly to level and evenly fill the pan.  Do not press in too much, it seems to make it dry and rock solid, perhaps because the oats have nowhere to go as they cook?  My uneducated guess.  Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.  I like to bake it just until I get a little browning on the edge.  Cool in the pan until it can go in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight (I make my bars the night before they're going to be needed).  Cut only after cooling in the fridge, as this sets the bars so well and makes clean cuts with fewer crumbs.  Whenever I'm too impatient I ignore this fact and make a sloppy mess but oooooit's still good!  Makes eight decent sized bars, any smaller and it may not satiate a healthy morning appetite.  Anything larger might be too much in one sitting, though I have been known to indulge on occasion...teehee...

Who can go wrong with tropically inspired ingredients?  If you aren't allergic to nuts, I suppose you could always try macadamia nuts too instead/in combination with the seeds.

Mmm finished product.  It's like dessert to me, appealing to my sweet tooth tendencies.

2.  Rye Bars

Testing positive for wheat and not for rye proved to be advantageous.  Rye isn't as limiting as it sounds and doesn't always need to be associated with those hard, dry crackers or those dense, strong tasting breads.  
vegan (dairy and egg free), wheat free, sugar-less (watch your dried fruit again) though still plenty sweet and containing calories from maple syrup and butter, peanut and tree nut free (again watch your seeds).

1 2/3 cups crushed pure rye crackers (light or dark)
1/3 cup      rye flour 
1/2 tsp       salt
1/2 tsp       cinnamon
1 1/2 cups combination of pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, and flax seeds/meal
1 1/2 cups combination of raisins, dried currants and dried cranberries and/or cherries

1 tsp          vanilla
6 tbsp        vegetable oil (sometimes I use grapeseed oil) or melted margarine (read the ingredients!)
1/4 cup      maple butter (whipped pure maple syrup)
1/4 cup      pure maple syrup

Just like in the Tropical Oat Bars, you preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8x8" square pan with parchments.  You also mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the liquid in another.  I'm sometimes more of an estimator of the liquid ingredients and add a little more maple syrup if I feel like it needs a bit more.  It usually doesn't though, I just love the taste of maple and can be quite liberal with it.  Mix wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined.  Pour into the pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Doneness doesn't show with browning at the edges, as the bars themselves are brown in nature.  Don't be shy to take them out and allow them to fully cool in the pan, it continues to cook a wee bit in the hot pan.  Cool completely to room temperature before cutting.  You can otherwise cool completely in the fridge and cut into eight bars.  Don't forget to enjoy!  These are surprisingly delicious and many of my non-allergic friends and co-workers have enjoyed their taste and texture.

The dry ingredients already look delicious!

Yummers, the finished product, kinda crunchy, kinda spongy, and oh-so delicious!
  


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