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Life is a funny, busy, heartbreaking, joyful thing.  As I write this, I am sitting on the couch for the first time in a very long time.  Pablo is laying on the back of the couch, peering down over my shoulder and sighing sleepily.  He's felt it, too.  This month, this long May month, has been out of routine.  It's been out of my comfort zone.  There haven't been nearly enough nights spent eating ice cream and watching Netflix together (the preferred evening pastime in the Braley household). 

And yet, now here we are. With only a few weeks left of school and in between loads of laundry, we have found a moment to rest. And, as I slow down long enough to think a complete thought or two, I realize it's been a while since I have stopped to take stock of things. It turns out I'm more tired than I thought. And out of all the ways busyness takes a toll on the body and mind, I think the worst is its ability to make you drop what you love most so that you can accomplish more, more, and more. 

And the thing I have dropped is writing to all of you.  I need to get back to taking pleasure in the methodical measuring of ingredients.  I need to return to the creation of dinner being the main event, not just an annoyance which must be squeezed in and cleaned up so we can get somewhere on time. 
In the midst of this busy May, though, I have made one fabulous discovery.  Breakfast bark. It is hearty enough to keep you full all morning long, and just sweet enough to make a wonderful after-work snack. It is easy to make, ripe with good-for-you ingredients, and in my eyes, entirely guilt free. Plus, it's way cheaper than a Larabar and, dare I say...way yummier? 

If you want a perfect rectangle, you'll need to look elsewhere.  There's a reason I call this bark. It's because it is toasty and crumbly and misshapen.  If any pieces fall apart, just scoop them into a mason jar and you have the loveliest granola you can imagine. 
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Breakfast is important.  If you are like me this month, you need to slow down and collect your thoughts.  You need to remember to savor flavors and savor moments.  I hope that we can both find our way to that gentle pace.  But, until we get there, we will have breakfast bark sitting in our refrigerators, ready for us to grab as we fly out the door. 

Love well and eat well,

Deidre
Recipe for Better-than-Larabar Breakfast Bark
(Inspired by Thug Kitchen's "To-Go Breakfast Bars") 


Ingredients:
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup uncooked white quinoa
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups mixed nuts and seeds (I use sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sliced almonds)
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (I use dried Craisins and/or yellow raisins)
  • A generous pinch of salt
  • A shake of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (or any other nut butter)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • A splash of vanilla

What to do: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper. 
  2. Toast oats, quinoa, and flax seed in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, just long enough to make a toasty smell. Stir frequently.
  3. Put oat mixture in a large bowl.  Add coconut, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, salt, and cinnamon and mix well. 
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the maple syrup, almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla and stir over medium heat until everything is melted. 
  5. Then, pour mixture over the dry mix and stir until everything is well-coated.
  6. Press mixture tightly onto cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, then put sheet into fridge to cool for cutting. Cut bars however you like! 
 


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