Category Archives: Breakfast

Healthy Granola Bars

Frisbee tournaments are my favorite part about summer weather in Boston. The heat and humidity–not so much! But one thing I’ve discovered this year is that they’re a great opportunity to debut some experimental “power” foods that will get us through the 8-hour long days of running (and pantsing each other, of course).

Homemade Healthy Granola Bars

There are a few traditional sideline foods–pickles, PBR, Cheez-Its, Pretzels, candy, the occasional Butterfinger bar to give to a player who drops a disc on a really key play…hehehe. I usually prefer to bring food with more protein, though, because the all-carbs thing makes me crash by the early afternoon. Mike invented some “energy bites” which I’ll probably make again soon and post, but last weekend I decided to try my hand at granola bars.

I don’t usually LOVE granola bars, but they are a great way to deliver a mix of nutrients with some great texture and taste. These came out really crunchy–very similar to the Nature Valley brand granola bars–but they softened (and improved, I think) after sitting in the sun in the Ziploc bag for a little while. They definitely helped power me through the day in small bits, though, and they’re made of (mostly) super-healthy, wholesome ingredients. No fake stuff here!

Healthy Cranberry Almond Granola Bars
Adapted from Epicurious’ recipe for Raisin and Cardamom Granola Bars.

4 cups instant oats, toasted first for about 10 minutes
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1.5 cups toasted raw almonds, chopped roughly
1 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp butter (3/4 stick)
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line your granola sheet (I used half of an 11×17 pan with thick bars as a result) with aluminum foil that hangs over the edges by at least an inch. Butter the foil. If your oats and almonds need to be toasted, do that first (oats for 10 minutes, almonds for about 6-8, or until they smell like popcorn).

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cranberries, almonds, and cinnamon. Over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey. Once the butter melts, remove from heat and add vanilla. Combine all ingredients and stir until well coated. If it doesn’t stick together yet, add more honey and continue stirring.

Pour the granola mixture onto the foil. With another piece of aluminum foil, press down the granola so that it sticks together in an even layer. Remove that piece of foil and set it aside. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then press down again with the foil. CAREFUL–it will be hot! I used a towel around my hand when pressing down with the foil.

After completely cool, lift from pan using foil overhang. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.

Banana Oatmeal Bake with Whipped Cream

I signed up for Twitter a couple of weeks ago. I can’t say that it’s been life-changing, given my current Facebook addiction, but it DID make me aware of National Whipped Cream Day on January 5th.

A few months ago I made whipped cream by hand during a dinner party at Becca and Kiki’s darling abode, but it was comical: the whisk was maybe 2 or 3 inches long and I had an entire pint of heavy cream. Eventually we did get it whipped and we dipped fresh peaches in it and ate the whole bowl. Wonderful.

Since I had spent the morning of Jan. 5th baking this banana oatmeal conglomeration and noticed the NWCD announcement while it was in the oven, I just decided to top it off with the fluffy stuff from the can….and ohhhh my goddd….it was divine. The bake alone is sufficient breakfast food–warm, hearty, simple, nutritious, and can be made in batches–but when you add the whipped cream it is over the top, wonderful, beautiful, subtle deliciousness.

Banana Oatmeal Bake

It’s one of those dishes that doesn’t LOOK too special, but I’ve had it both mornings since then and I’m looking forward to my last serving tomorrow bright and early 😀

I used a recipe from Kath Eats Real Food. I think I would add cinnamon next time to spice it up a bit. Otherwise it is an easy dish that can be multiplied if you have several mouths to feed!

Banana Oatmeal Bake
Adapted from Kath Eats Real Food’s recipe for Baked Banana Oatmeal. Her photos are helpful, too!

3 bananas
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt (I rubbed the salt between my fingers to make it a little finer as I added it)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
Whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper (bottom and sides), or lightly grease.

Slice 2 of the bananas into equal-sized slices. Cover the bottom of the lined or greased baking dish with half of the slices.

Combine the oats, baking soda, and salt. Mash the remaining banana. (I found it helpful to peel then microwave the banana for about 30 seconds before trying to mash it). Add the egg, milk, and vanilla to the mashed banana and whisk together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined. Pour this batter into the dish over the slices. Lay the rest of the banana slices on the top in an even layer.

Bake for 26 minutes. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the bake, then broil for 3-4 minutes to melt the brown sugar (caramelizing it, essentially).

If you used parchment paper you can lift the whole thing out and cut it up; otherwise divide the bake into four servings and go. Add some whipped cream if you want to send it out of this world.