Yes, it’s Monday. Good Morning, Readers!
My Monday started with a race to make the 3:58am train interrupted by a policeman pulling me over for no light on my license plate. Well, then. Thank you very much. I just did not notice that that little bulb burnt out. I’ll get right on that.
But first, another cup of coffee. And then another. I confess, along with not paying attention to little details like license plate lights, I am also not much of a breakfast-eater. I know; that’s not good for you. Or me. If I can linger over coffee and then very slowly work my way towards breakfast – brunch, rather – then yes; breakfast sounds good. But first thing in the morning? Just coffee and cream and another sad confession, sweetener. And unfortunately, a lot of cream and sweetener.
But eventually, after a walk and a morning biscuit, someone intently requests:
I often have Greek yogurt and like to combine nonfat plain with nonfat vanilla; that way it’s a little sweet but not overly so. I keep frozen strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in the freezer, but love it best when I can get fresh berries at the market.
I usually top it with a nutty granola, but am happy when I trouble myself to make these crunchy, mostly good-for-you granola bars. And then when I do, I always wonder why I don’t make them more often. They’re adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe – she, whose recipes can always be trusted to work – with just a few changes by me, and then probably a few more changes by you.
- 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
- 2 Tablespoons toasted flax seed
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 teaspoons. vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup dates, chopped (I recommend Medjool dates - sweet and chewy)
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, then line it with parchment paper.
Combine the oatmeal, almonds and coconut on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until lightly browned. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the wheat germ and flax seed.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Combine the butter, honey and brown sugar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook and stir for one minute. Stir in the vanilla carefully (it tends to foam up).
Pour the honey mixture over the oatmeal mixture and stir quickly with wooden spoon to coat the oatmeal mixture completely. Add the dried fruit and mix in well.
Pour the mixture into the parchment-lined pan. Lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. (Wet your fingers to make this easier, so everything doesn't stick to you or use waxed paper to pat it down).
Bake for 25 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool before cutting into squares.
You can store these at room temperature in an airtight container or freeze them. At room temperature, they actually get softer, even here on the desert - instead of drying out. If you freeze them, they stay crispier. So it's a matter of preference.
I have left out the butter in these and used agave instead of honey, when making these for a vegan friend, and they were very good. A little sweeter, I think, with the agave. You could probably leave out the brown sugar if you use agave.