Sunday, April 3, 2011


Frankly one of the hardest things about the day for me is making breakfast. Everyone says that if you want to loose weight, or just plain be healthy, the best thing you can do for yourself is eat breakfast. I've also heard that the best thing you can do in order to loose weight is to add fiber to your diet. So, I'm attempting to do both on a daily basis. Realistically, a bowl of Cheerios sounds pretty good for me but it doesn't really cover the fiber part of the deal. Even the whole grain ones don't do it.

For a few months now I've been working on a small number of really easy, really portable, fairly healthy, breakfasts that I can make or assemble ahead of time, pick up and run out the door with in the mornings when I'm still blurry eyed, then eat at my desk. That means no bowls of cereal because the boss tends to not appreciate the milk dribbling down my chin while I'm trying to work. Armed with these few criteria, I have been trying out things and have come up with a short list of "go to" breakfast meals that I will share because I'll bet I'm not alone in this particular quandry.

One of my favorite email newsletters comes weekly from Eating Well magazine. I used to subscribe to the magazine until I gave up all subscriptions in an attempt to save myself some money. Their email version is packed with great, healthy eating ideas and recipes and I've found some to add to my regular cooking portfolio.

This breakfast bar came to me via the newsletter a few months ago and I've really fallen in love with it. It's easy to make, delicious to eat, portable and nutritious. BINGO! The perfect breakfast. I change this up just a bit by modifying the dried fruits, and today I added a few chocolate pieces for a little added sweetness. At about 25o calories per bar I can add a glass of lowfat chocolate milk to this and have my breakfast.

One of the best things this recipe did was to introduce me to a new product: Almond Butter. I'd never had this before and it's really very good. I also change up the type of honey from time to time. I've become very fond of buckwheat honey for it's strong, almost molasses flavor and aroma. It give this bar a bit more ooomph than plain clover honey.  Or, of course, you can substitute a good, mild molasses.  I also sometimes substitute peanut butter for some of the almond butter.

I've also been caught substituting some of the dried fruit with a small amount of mini-Reese's pieces or M&M's or mini-chocolate chips and even a bit of sweetened coconut.  The only trick to substitution is to keep the amount limited to 1 cup total.

You make these a lot like Rice Krispie treats. Add the melted ingredients to the dry and mix very well. Make sure you compact these VERY tightly into the pan or they fall apart when you take them out to cut.

Makes 8 bars - enough to last two weeks if you eat one every other day.

In a large bowl, mix the following:
1 cup unsweetened whole-grain puffed cereal (they recommend Kashi's 7 Whole Grain Puffs)
1 cup mixed dried fruits (currants, raisins, dried cranberries, dates, dried apricots, whatever you like)

Spread the following into an even layer in the bottom of a medium size saucepan and toast over a medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, making sure to shake or stir them so they do not burn. They're done with the oats and almonds are lightly browned:

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 Tbls. flaxseeds
1 Tbls. sesame seeds (I skip these and use pepitas instead)

Remove from the pan into the bowl with the cereal and dried fruits in. Wipe out the pan to use in the next step.

In the saucepan, mix the following and melt over medium heat:

1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup honey or molasses
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

When the sugar is melted, set the pan aside while you prepare the dry ingredients into the larger bowl.
Add in the melted items and stir THOROUGHLY.
Pack tightly into the pan and put in the refrigerator until well chilled, overnight is good.
Remove the mixture from the pan and cut into 8 bars. Store sealed tightly in a plastic bag for up to two weeks.  Each bar is about 250 calories

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