Breakfast time in my family's home is a hectic mix of half-hearted starts to the day, spelling tests, social media work and cleaning, all done over fried eggs and avocados, cinnamon rolls, toast and tea. Some days we're out the door before breakfast, off to appointments, and we try to grab a smoothie or a muffin at the local deli. Despite the hectic pace of our morning (lack of) routine, I prefer a softer, easier pace - food is ordered, dishes are clean, breakfast is in hand, which is why I favor homemade breakfast bars - made the night before, and served up in the morning with tea and milk.
Stocking My Pantry (and slowing down)
Between work, writing, promoting my new cookbook The Nourished Kitchen, homeschool and charitable work, I find myself swamped. Utterly, utterly swamped. One of the ways I take the time to slow down is to streamline my grocery shopping. This means that for meats, milk, eggs, vegetables and herbs, I lean heavily on routine deliveries from small farms close to me. For bulk goods, dry goods, as well as personal care items, I lean heavily on purchasing online through programs like VitaCost which will ship all sorts of goodies: natural foods and pantry items, natural cleaning supplies, supplements and natural cosmetics to your door for free (when you meet a $50 minimum order). Better yet, I set most of our items to a monthly subscription which offers a better discount and they arrive every month - I don't even have to think about it. You can check out VitaCost's program here.
This way, there's fewer last minute (time-consuming) trips to the grocery store, and there's always the items I need lurking in my pantry to make quick dinners, and these breakfast bars which are slightly sweet, faintly chewy and iced with dried apricots and plums. And they're near perfect when we're out of eggs, as the base of the bar is made from flour (any grain-based flour should do), shredded coconut (available here), coconut oil (available here) and coconut nectar (available here).
Dried Plum, Apricot and Coconut Breakfast Bars
Lightly sweetened with coconut nectar, an amber-colored natural sweetener with a texture and viscosity similar to honey, these breakfast bars are best made with night before or on weekends in preparation for the coming week when a need for quick breakfasts and snacks will doubtlessly appear. I tend to favor the emphasis on healthy fats for breakfast, as their concentrated energy helps to provide satiation throughout the day, and coconut oil coupled with shredded coconut provides that element to these simple bars. Frosting them with stewed dried fruit helps to elevate their sweetness just a touch while also provide trace minerals.
Plum and Apricot Breakfast Bars
- Heat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish.
- Place the apricots and plums in a small saucepan, cover with water by about 1 inch and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer until plumped and softened, about 10 minutes. Drain the dried fruit, and place it into a food processor. Add the cinnamon to the food processor, and process until the dried fruit forms a smooth paste. Scrape it into a bowl, cover it, and let it rest at room temperature while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Stir the flour and shredded coconut together in a large mixing bowl with the salt. Work in the coconut oil and vanilla extract until the flours resemble cornmeal. Beat in the coconut nectar. The batter will become firm and sticky. Press it into the prepared baking dish with your fingers, and bake it for 20 to 25 minutes or until it reaches a caramel brown on top and stands firm to the touch.
- Set the baking dish on a cooling rack. Spread the dried fruit paste over the breakfast bar base while it is still hot, then sprinkle it with shredded coconut. Allow to cool completely, then cut into 2-inch squares.