Back to planet Earth, and the rightful realm of this blog. Today we address blueberries and energy bars, two great loves of the foodie blogosphere. The blueberry bandwagon is filled past capacity, prompted, I assume, by the sudden bursts of sunshine that are playing hard to get around here (Tuesday: "Hi, I'm Spring! Let's get to know each other." Wednesday: "I do like you, but I'm a busy girl." Friday: "Y'know what? We're going to have to take a rain check on that weekend date. Call me. We'll set something up for May.")
Since I'm a lemming when it comes to produce trends, I bought a bag of the
I made my usual bowl of 1/2 cup each oats, soy milk and water, and folded in a handful of frozen blueberries after I took them off the stove. I didn't want to cook them with the oatmeal, because that would give me one big, blue, mushy mess. I liked the result: very fruity and light-tasting, unlike my usual raisin or banana varieties.
Does anyone have any ideas for what to do with the rest? I've looked at recipe collections, but not even Eating Well pulled through. They only offered sauces and dessert bars. Lame.
Speaking of bars, the other half of the title references energy bars, which to most bloggers I read is the packaged snack of choice. Lara, Clif, Kind and other protein-fortified goodies make daily appearances as pre-workout or mid-afternoon noshes. Of course, not on The Amateur Nutritionist, because The Amateur Nutritionist is extremely tight-fisted (see first paragraph). In fact, I think I've made snarky comments before to the effect of "I'd rather stick some walnuts together with pureed dates myself." Well. This morning Kat, and Ellie Krieger by proxy, inspired me to do just that.
The link on Ellie's name goes to a recipe which, of course, I didn't follow. I didn't have all of the ingredients, and frankly don't like some of them (dates are too sweet, unsalted sunflower seeds are blah, and I can't eat powdered milk) but I took the base idea and made my own flavor-packed batch:
Cranberry Almond Bars
-1 cup old fashioned oats
-1/2 cup milled flax seed
-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup raw almonds
-1 cup original Craisins
-cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
-1/3 cup honey
I loaded all of the ingredients except the last three into the "Dry Container" of my Vitamix.
Pulsed for a minute or two...
...and completely obliterated the mix. Oops. The Vitamix might be a bit overpowered for this...next time I'll leave out half of the oats, nuts and dried fruit and mix them in by hand for texture.
I poured the powder into a mixing bowl and added the egg and honey. Note: spraying the measuring cup with Pam before pouring out the honey was genius on my part.
Since I omitted the dates and cut down to one egg, the mixture wasn't quite sticky enough. I added apple juice by the tablespoon until it clumped together. I used the spatula to press it into a 9x9 inch pan, because that's the only square kind I have, and baked the lot for 20 minutes at 350°. While they were still warm, I cut the mass into 9 bars.
By some miracle, I resisted tasting one until they had properly cooled.
Well, it wasn't much of a miracle. I wanted to run, and I didn't want to have a nutty fruity lump sitting in my stomach while I did. I set them in the fridge and sampled one after dinner with a cup of peppermint tea. Holy cow. The reviewers of Ellie's recipe had complained about blandness, but this was anything but. I think I can attribute that to the substitutions of cranberries and honey for the other fruits and maple syrup. It was very dense and slightly crunchy (I think I could have taken them out of the oven after 15 minutes, and might next time). I anticipate greatly reduced hunger between the hours of 3 and 5pm for the next week--they should do a much better job of holding me over than those measly Wheat Thins or the muffins/cookies I've brought in the past.
And when I tire of cranberries, there are many flavoring possibilities. I could use walnuts and dates with a little cocoa powder for a bar-form of Fudge Babies. Dried peaches and pecans would give them a summery Southern flair. For the plane ride to Tokyo, I could make a batch with dried mango, papaya and pineapple with flaked coconut folded in. It won't exactly be cheap, but it's probably a better deal than $1.49 for 1.6 ounces of the pedestaled Larabar.