Two years ago I wasn’t eating breakfast every morning. My excuse was that I didn’t have time, but it was symptomatic of a larger problem: I wasn’t taking care of myself in general. Why wasn’t I making the time to eat? Why wasn’t I taking the time to exercise? Basically, why was I not nourishing my body? I made a lot of changes which I have kept to this day, like drinking at least two liters of water a day and exercising five times a week – but the biggest change? A commitment to have breakfast every single morning. At first it was difficult – it meant shopping differently, it meant getting up a bit earlier, but I have come to find great joy in my morning routine.
I go through phases – smoothies, muesli recipes, granola, and yogurt for weekdays and frittatas and pancakes for the weekend. But sometimes, the inspiration runs dry. Enter Megan Gordon’s new book Whole Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons, a book filled with dozens of beautiful and exciting breakfast recipes. From Saucy Tomato Poached Eggs with Kale and Wheat Berries to the Greens and Grains Scramble (both of which I’ve made – and loved!), to Zucchini Farro Cakes with Herbed Goat Cheese and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes to the Hasty Pudding with Golden Raisins and Pepitas (that I cannot wait to make). Through her recipes, Megan helps you to see the all-important grains in a new light. Farro in a frittata? Millet in a souffle? I had never thought of that.
I was most drawn to these Trail Guide Nut and Seed Bars because, whenever possible, I like a breakfast that can be made ahead and put in my bag so there’s never any excuse. But I also love the ingredient list–tons of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, almond butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, all of which I love. Don’t be put off by the lengthy ingredient list. With the exception of the pepitas, I had everything on hand to make this recipe, and it came together really quickly. As Megan points out in the recipe, you can play around with the formula based on what you’ve got or what you like. For example, I used dried cherries instead of apricots and twice as many almonds because I didn’t have cashews. The hardest part was waiting the two hours for the bars to cool before slicing and enjoying!
On Saturday I sent Andy off skiing with one of these bars, and when he came back he said, “That bar was delicious – I love that it was soft and chewy, not hard and crunchy. And it kept me going for hours!” I’ve been having them in the morning too with a cup of coffee and half a banana. In addition to tasting delicious, the bar keeps me full for hours. These, along with many of the recipes in Megan’s beautiful book, will be in constant rotation in our house.
- 1 tablespoon butter, for greasing the pan
- 3 ⁄4 cup / 180 ml brown rice syrup or honey
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 ⁄4 cup / 180 ml safflower or canola oil
- 3 ⁄4 cup / 180 ml almond butter, homemade or store-bought
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups / 300 g rolled oats
- 3 ⁄4 cup / 95 g raw pepitas
- 1 ⁄4 cup / 30 g raw sunflower seeds
- 1 cup / 80 g sliced raw almonds
- 1 ⁄2 cup / 60 g raw cashews, chopped
- 1 ⁄2 cup / 50 g pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1 ⁄4 cup / 30 g raw sesame seeds
- 3 ⁄4 cup / 45 g wheat bran or oat bran
- 1 ⁄2 cup / 60 g dried cranberries
- 1 ⁄2 cup / 70 g chopped dried apricots
- 11 ⁄4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Mix the brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and oil in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat, add the almond butter and vanilla, and whisk to combine. Set aside while you prepare the dry ingredients.
- In a very large bowl, mix together the oats, pepitas, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, pecans, sesame seeds, bran, dried cranberries, apricots, salt, and cinnamon. Pour the warm syrup mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well; I use my hands at this point to make sure everything is fully incorporated. Press the mixture into the prepared pan using the back of a rubber spatula. Bake the bars until the edges are just turning golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes (the bars will still feel a bit soft at this point). Let cool completely in the pan before slicing, about 2 hours.
- Once cool, cut into squares. Wrap the bars in plastic wrap for on-the-go snacking or store, covered, at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.