This recipe comes to us from Dandelion and Quince: Exploring the Wide World of Unusual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs, a favorite from our shelves. It’s written by Michelle McKenzie of 18 Reasons, an awesome food justice organization that’s based in San Francisco. One of our testers noted that if the wheat bran in the original recipe was changed to oat bran, the recipe would be gluten free! So we tried it, and were glad to report that the original deliciousness was unchanged by that small substitution.
These bars are something between a granola bar and a cookie; they’ve got enough seeds, fruit, and nuts to provide some powerful nutrition, but enough sweetness to make them feel indulgent. They are delicious, as the title implies, as breakfast food, with enough protein and good fat to provide energy throughout the day. (The JT in the title refers to a hiking trip that the original author took in Joshua Tree National Park, where she hiked 10 miles on nothing but a breakfast of these bars, and went strong until dinner.)
These will keep for about 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature. It’s worth taking the trouble to bake them in 2 loaf pans rather than on a single cookie sheet; the loaf pans make a denser bar that sticks together better. Make sure to press them in as firmly as possible, for best slicing texture, and let them cool completely before handling them at all.
Preheat the oven to 365°F.
Gather and weigh the dried fruit, seeds and nuts. Here, we used equal amounts of a dried berry mix that included mulberries and raisins, as well as cranberries and golden berries, and sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. The golden berries swell up when cooked and we found it was best to chop them into raisin-sized bits before baking to prevent this. If you use larger nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, it’s good to break them up or crush them into smaller pieces, also.
In a large bowl, stir together the rolled oats, oat or wheat bran. Add ground flax seeds, maple sugar, sea salt, dried fruit, seeds, and nuts.
Set a small saucepan over medium heat and add the almond butter, coconut oil, and honey. Simmer for a minute or two, whisking until the ingredients are throughly emulsified.
Toss the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, making sure every morsel is coated. This is key to a solid, sliceable texture.
Line a pair of loaf pans with parchment paper. Divide the mixture evenly between the two loaf pans, pressing it firmly together, paying special attention to the corners.
Bake the bars for 30-40 minutes, or until they are golden brown around the edges.
Remove from the oven, and allow them to cool completely before unmolding.
Slice the loaf into bars or squares. Stored at room temperature, these bars keep for up to 5 days at room temperature.
Enjoy them at breakfast, or for dessert after a light meal. Or yes, on a hike through the desert, the sky wide overhead, and the whole day before you.
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