Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's 6:30 am. Do you know where your breakfast is?

I've done something very...very... stupid. Last month I got myself a gym subscription (smart)...and I paid for the entire year in advance (very dumb). Sure, I got the 20% discount. They even waived my signing fee. But now, I inevitably find myself waking up every morning at 6:30 am and promptly engaging in a mental battle of epic proportions. Get out of bed and face the brutal early morning Chicago cold, or lay in bed for another hour cursing myself for wasting money? Decisions, decisions.

Luckily, I've stumbled upon a solution that helps make that daily battle just ever so slightly more resolvable. Did I say solution? I meant recipe...

After a few bouts of wild-eyed experimentation (which may or may not have resulted in pots of burnt seeds, trays of soggy oats, and pans with dried cranberries cemented to the bottom) I've finally developed the bar I've been waiting for. It's not too sweet, it's got both protein and fat, and it's just the right amount of food to eat before a painfully early work out. I do hate to brag, but my oh my aren't they tasty as well!

Adriana's Cranberry Coconut Granola Bars
makes 12 bars

1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup raw honey
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup chopped raw almonds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2 large eggs

Step 1:
Preheat your oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9in x 9in baking dish and set aside.

Step 2: In a large skillet over medium-low heat, stir together coconut milk and honey until melted and fully mixed together. Add oats and continue stirring until they are evenly coated. Continue cooking oats, stirring frequently to prevent burning, for another 5 minutes or until they begin to smell...more oaty? Anyhow, I think you'll know it when you smell it.

Step 3: Add all remaining ingredients except eggs and stir contents of pan until evenly mixed. Remove pan from heat and let sit for 5 minutes or so until the pan itself is no longer too hot to touch. Meanwhile lightly beat eggs in separate bowl. When the pan has cooled, pour beaten eggs into the mixture and stir until evenly coated. It's important that your pan cool before adding the eggs lest they cook before getting mixed in. I promise you, no one wants scrambled eggs in their granola bars.

Step 4: Dump mixture into the greased pan and use a spatula or your hands (my personal favorite cooking tool) to press the mixture into the mold. Press down as firmly as possible so that you get a nice, dense bar. This will keep it from crumbling and falling apart when it's cut into individual bars. Put pan in the oven and bake at 225 for roughly an hour. This amount of cooking will give you somewhat chewy bars. If you prefer crunchier granola bars, I would recommend removing them after an hour and cutting them apart before continuing to bake them for another 15 minutes.

Step 5: Remove from oven and carefully cut into bars or squares with a sharp knife. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before wrapping them up individually and placing one near your gym clothes and keys.

Nutrition Note
One of these bars has 130 calories, 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and countless grams of tasty.

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Adriana Willsie and Kylie Springman ©2009