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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Breakfast Bars

When I get up in the morning, I tend to run into a few walls or trip over slippers, wondering what day it is. When I wake up enough, I peer into the mirror to see how much work I need to do for a public appearance. Then I run errands.

Sometimes I actually forget to eat breakfast. Not smart, since I am hypoglycemic and need to eat every three hours or so. Most often I am in a hurry to get out the door, so I look for something to grab on the way. It could be a yogurt smoothie (there's often a pitcher in the fridge) or I might make a quick peanut butter sandwich (no jelly; it drips). I always have Luna or similar bars on hand for such occasions but they get boring. And really, these taste better and have a nice, chewy texture. If you follow Weight Watchers points, these are about 4 each if you follow my lower-fat variation and cut 16 bars.

This is Nigella Lawson's recipe for Breakfast Bars, from her cookbook Nigella Express. My variations are in parentheses.

Breakfast Bars

1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk (I use fat-free)
2 1/2 cups rolled/old-fashioned oats(I use 4 cups and cut back on nuts/seeds etc.)
1 cup shredded coconut (good, but I skip it to cut calories and fat)
1 cup dried cranberries (I used a mix of dried cherries, blueberries and mango this time)
1 cup mixed seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower and sesame (I used 3/4 c. mixed pumpkin and sunflower)
1 cup natural unsalted peanuts (I used about 2/3 c. shelled pistachios)
(1/2 tsp. cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 250 and oil a 9x13 pan or use a disposable aluminum foil pan.

Warm the condensed milk in a large pan (large enough to eventually accommodate all ingredients. You can stir in cinnamon at this point or add it in next step).

Meanwhile, mix rest of ingredients together and add the warmed milk, using a rubber spatula to fold and distribute. (I just dump everything into the pan once the milk is warm and then stir thoroughly).

Spread mixture into oiled or foil pan and spread with the spatula, or wear disposable plastic gloves and press down with hands to make the surface even. (I just get my hands damp and press; works very well).

Bake for 1 hour. (I check at 50 minutes and pull them out if getting brown around edges). Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and cut into 16 chunky bars. Let cool completely (and wrap individually in plastic wrap or foil, freezing what you aren't likely to eat within a few days. Be sure to thaw before taking a bite).

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