breakfast bars


Last Thursday morning I bit into my morning breakfast bar (the protein bars I’ve been buying for a quick morning meal, because I am such a terrible breakfast eater) and something tasted faintly like plastic and a bit of gasoline.  I threw it in the trash and on Friday I went out and bought the ingredients to make these.  And I don’t know that I will ever ever go back.

My breakfast habits have bothered me for awhile.  Out of the three meals I eat a day, breakfast is the only one where I largely still rely fully on convenience foods (okay, not counting the peanut butter I eat for lunch every day).  Most days I eat breakfast standing up while I’m making my lunch for the day before work, which isn’t exactly conducive to scrambling eggs or even waiting for some toast.  And even if I had the time, I would much rather have scrambled eggs for dinner than breakfast.  They just don’t usually sound appetizing to me first thing in the morning.  So, I’ve carried around a bit of guilt about my breakfast eating.  I want to eat something homemade, but most of the granola bars I’ve made or seen recipes for have just a ridiculous amount of butter and/or vegetable oil that they can hardly be healthy.

Which is where the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came in and saved the day for me, with breakfast bars full of grains and made with olive oil.  I switched things around a bit, using peanut butter instead of almond butter, swapping the dried fruit for a bit of chocolate, and adding some egg whites to make them hold together with a bit more moisture.

And I have been obsessed.  I’ve made these twice now, and each time they’ve been cooling in my kitchen I’ve been sneaking bites every few minutes.  I’ve been waking up in the morning excited to get out of bed because these are downstairs waiting for me, which, if you knew how much I like to lay in bed (seriously, I set my alarm for about 30 minutes before I actually have to get up because I have to start my morning by just sitting in my bed), that is saying something.  And honestly, on Sunday night, when we were just scrounging around the kitchen for a bit of supper, I kind of wanted to make these my dinner.

I’ve been harboring breakfast induced guilt for years now, unable to find foods that filled me up enough, unwilling to actually cook first thing in the morning.  But these have perhaps solved my problem for all of time.

Breakfast Bars
adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Wait Time: 1 hour

Makes 1 square 8 inch pan (about sixteen 2 inch bars)*

1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
1/4 to 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips**
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg white***
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line  an 8 inch square baking pan (with a 2 inch rim) with parchment paper.  Allow excess parchment paper to hang over the side, to make it easy to remove the bars from the pan later.
2. In a large bowl combine the oats, flour, wheat germ, almonds, chocolate chips, and salt.  Stir together.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg white until it is light and frothy.  Add the peanut butter, olive oil, honey, and vanilla and whisk together.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
5. Spread the batter out evenly in the prepared pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until brown around the edges.
6. Cool completely before cutting, about 1 hour.  After about 20 minutes, remove them from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack on the counter.  Cut into squares to serve.

*I found this to be enough breakfast for about 4 to 5 days.  I’m making the recipe in double batches now.
**Your preference here as far as amount of chocolate goes.
***I added the egg white because I wanted the bars to be a little more moist, but if you’d like them a little dryer (although slightly less likely to hold together), the bars are just as good without it.

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