Saturday, 18 September 2010

Breakfast bars - easy, flexible, healthy, tasty....

...and not just for breakfast! I love these, and make lots of different variations depending what's in the cupboard. They are great for taking along on walks and for re/fuelling before or after exercise. They're about 200 cals each if you make 16 and are relatively low in refined sugar and fat.

  • 2oz/60g butter, at room temperature (or less, or even none)
  • 2oz/60g light brown sugar (or less, depending on fruit/juice used)
  • 6oz/180g porridge oats (regular work better than jumbo)
  • 6oz/180g Grape Nuts cereal
  • 8-12oz/240-360g dried fruit, nuts and seeds*
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 8oz/240ml fluid (cold black or herbal/fruit tea, milk, fruit juice). May need a little more when mixing but start with this much.
  • 1 good teaspoon mixed spice or other spice
*I've used pretty much anything here! Big fat sultanas, dates, apricots, figs, mango, cranberries, cherries (dried or even glace), candied peel and preserved ginger; pumpkin, sunflower, poppy and linseeds; flaked almonds, chopped walnuts, pecans or any other nuts; chocolate chips (just a few!). Just not all at once...

Try matching the fruit and nuts and spices to the fluid used. Cranberries and sour cherries (soaked in red grape juice or red fruit tea) and mango (orange juice) all go well with dark chocolate chips, and there's always classic date and walnut (apple juice or tea). You might want to reduce the amount of sugar if you are using sweet fruit and soaking it in sweet juice like orange or apple.


Ahead of time if possible (1hr or more - overnight is ideal), place any dried fruit to soak in the fluid, to plump it up.

Grease a baking dish approx 9" by 9" (or use silicone without greasing). Oven to 180C.

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add the eggs and the fruit with its soaking fluid. Mix, pause to let the fluid soak into the oats/grape nuts, then if needed add more fluid until a moist and spreadable mixture is obtained. Add the butter (if using) in little dots, a few at at time, and mix well.

Put into the pan, spreading into an even layer, and bake for about 25-30 minutes until firm and springy in the centre. Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes and then on a rack. I cut a 9" x 9" panful into 16 squares and find it cuts more easily when cool.

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