Sunday, April 22, 2012

Breakfast on the Go: Blueberry-Maple Steel Cut Oat Bars

The past couple months I was invited to spend some time talking with mom groups and sharing our ideas on getting our families fed in a healthy way even as they race by us to the next meeting, school day, activity or well, anything but sitting down to a meal with us.

While most of us do strive for an occasional sighting of all family members around the dinner table, breakfast seems to be the meal most likely to be skipped all together.

We're a big fan of steel cut oatmeal around this household. In fact, we rarely buy cold cereal or instant hot cereal. But, even with the slow cooker overnight method (recipe in our book), I'm still faced with having to find ten minutes in a busy morning to sit and eat a bowl. On the most time-challenged days, I have had to just reach in the fridge and grab the first portable food I could find — last night's pasta dish, one of the kid's cheese sticks, the last few spoonfuls of cottage cheese. Guilty.

I decided maybe it was time to try and make my favorite breakfast more portable, or at least edible in traffic without getting oatmeal down my front while trying to manage the steering wheel, stick shift and spoon all at once.

First, don't expect cake here. It's oatmeal in a bar. It's more like a power bar that's not made with ingredients you cannot pronounce. It's lightly sweet and lower in fat than a muffin, with an added nutritional benefit of Omega-3s and protein from chia seed and almond butter, along with the steel cut whole grain goodness. So healthy, and yet tastes good.

Blueberry-Maple Steel Cut Oat Bars
2 cups milk or almond milk
1 and 1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup maple syrup (can substitute brown sugar)
1/2 cup almond butter or peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Soak the oats in the milk or almond milk overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While you are assembling the ingredients, add the chia seed to the milk and oat mixture.

Add the remaining ingredients to the oats, milk and chia seed. Press into a 9x9 baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 15 more minutes. Allow to cool and cut into squares. Store, covered, in the fridge. Ready to eat on the run!