September 15, 2014

Savory Breakfast Bars

Posted in: Mediterranean Diet

The convenience of breakfast in “bar” form has always appealed to me. I suppose it’s because so often I find myself eating the most-important-meal-of-the-day either halfway out the door or while sprinting down the street to catch a train. Breakfast bars are the perfect grab-and-go meal for someone who likes to test the limits of the snooze button. They are easy to eat one-handed, require no utensils and present a very low risk of spilling on your shirt resulting in an embarrassing stain.

While there are many brands of oat or granola bars out there, and quite a few really good ones too, home-making a breakfast bar seemed easy enough and interesting enough to be worth a try. One drawback to store-bought bars is that they tend to exist within a pretty narrow flavor spectrum. Nuts, honey, berries (particularly cranberries), and chocolate chips are all fairly ubiquitous, but only really address the “sweet” side of breakfast. My favorite breakfast foods have always been the more savory dishes; omelettes, cooked tomatoes, or breakfast sausage. I decided to try to represent some of these stronger, more savory flavors in these homemade bars.

Kalamata olives and tomatoes both have powerful flavor profiles and were able to come through without getting washed out by the mildness of the oats. Almonds were a good addition for texture and also for the protein that they contribute, which helps make this bar a more complete breakfast. Seasoned with oregano, cumin and a touch of chili flakes, the bars had a nice complexity of flavor. The taste was somewhat reminiscent of a cheese-less pizzeta or focaccia with the mingled tomatoes and oregano. The Kalamata olives and cumin also added a smoky, Mediterranean flavor that made the bar feel like much more of a full meal than its sweet counterparts. My favorite thing about these bars however, is that they can be made in advance and eaten whenever you need a quick bite on the go, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cups milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2  tsp chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line 8-inch square tin sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine oats, salt, herbs & spices and ground flax. Add milk and let stand to soak for 10 minutes or so. 
  3. In the meantime finely chop the sun dried tomatoes, olives and almonds. Add to oat mixture and stir well. 
  4. Pour mixture into prepared tin sheet and spread evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  5. Let cool on wire rack. Then cut into bars/squares. Store in airtight container. Keeps well in the fridge for 3 days.
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