Are you someone who follows routines?
In some parts of my life, I have developed a system for doing things and rarely do I deviate from my approach. Take writing newspaper articles for example. I email my sources, record my interviews and take notes for back-up, highlight the most important quotes, and structure my story around these quotes. It's a methodical structure that produces solid results every time. But there are some tasks that I have not gotten used to, such as waking up before school every morning. I stumble out of bed at least 10 minutes after my alarm goes off, throw on my uniform, and sprint down the stairs. No matter how hard I try to maintain a schedule, going to school will always be an unpredictable scramble out the door.
This past week, however, I broke a routine that I have stuck to religiously: breakfast. Weekday breakfasts consist of three options: eggs, bagels, and granola. I craved a change- something tasty and special, but healthy enough that I would feel energized after my first meal of the day.
Leave it to Deb Perelman to devise the perfect recipe to relieve my breakfast slump. These almond-date bars are nutty from the almonds and oats, and naturally sweetened with honey and chewy, plump dates. Their golden brown edges and slightly crumbly texture are features only attainable in wholesome, homemade treats. If that wasn't enough to convince you, these little gems happen to be 100% vegan. It was only after I enjoyed my first bar that I discovered this fact.
So, what are you waiting for? It's not so bad to break routines once in a while.
Recipe courtesy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
1 cup chopped dried pitted dates
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3 tblsp barley or whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup wheat germ*
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1/4 tsp almond extract
Yields 16 2-inch square bars
*I did not have wheat germ on hand, so I substituted wheat bran instead.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square ban in one direction with parchment paper, allowing the paper to hang off the sides a bit. Do the same in the opposite direction. This parchment "sling" makes it easy to remove the bars from the pan later on.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the dates, oats, flour, wheat germ/bran, almonds, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the almond butter, olive oil, honey, orange zest, and almond extract until smooth. Pour these wet ingredients over the dry mixture, and stir them together until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
3. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan, pressing it firmly to the bottom, edges, and corners to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. Bake the bars for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the tops have a bit of color too. They will feel soft when you touch them, but will set up once completely cool.
4. Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Once they're cool, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. If they seem crumbly, chill them in the fridge for an additional 30 minutes, then cut them cold.