Monday, December 6, 2010

Breakfast Intervention

Breakfast is a daily requirement for me.

I simply cannot start my day without it. After an early-AM workout, I desperately need some protein-packed, stick-to-your-bones goodness to hold me over until lunch.

However, breakfast isn't easy for everyone. My buddy Katie--a high school teacher--starts work in the 7 o' clock hour, faced with chaotic hallways, last-minute paper-grading, and groggy-eyed teens. Breakfast, she admits, is the last thing on her mind at that hour.

She needs a Breakfast Intervention.

And who better to solve a breakfast conundrum than Miss Ina Garten herself? I got the idea to make homemade granola bars from Ina's cookbook, Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. I added some tweaks and touches to make it my own (and to avoid an extra trip to the grocery store), and the result was a sweet, slightly soft breakfast bar.

My only disappointment was that these bars weren't crunchy, which I'll admit I was hoping for. Any suggestions in the crispy granola bar department?

This recipe would make a great holiday gift for the person-on-the-go in your life--a busy mom, a constant traveler, a work-out nut, or an over-stressed college student. Individually package each bar and create your own personalized labels. Place the wrapped bars in a basket or clear canister jar (or ship them off in a shoebox like I did!).

And although these guys do contain some sugar n' butter, I'm still a firm believer that food made fresh in your kitchen has a leg up on the pre-packaged stuff at the store. Move over Quaker Granola Bars, the homemade granola bar train just pulled up. And she's not leaving anytime soon.

Homemade Granola Bars
(recipe adapted from this one by Ina Garten)

The wonderful thing about granola is that you can add and omit ingredients to suit your fancy. Experiment with your own favorite nuts, dried fruits, sweeteners, etc. There is no wrong answer on this test! As noted above, these granola bars turned out soft and slightly crumbly for me. If you have suggestions for making a firmer, crispier bar, please let me know!

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried blueberries or cranberries


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oats, nuts, and coconut on a baking sheet and toast for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

2) In a small saucepan, heat the butter, honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil for about one minute and remove from heat. Pour butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir to coat. Add in apricots and dried blueberries.

3) Coat a 7 x 11 (or 8 x 12) inch pan with baking spray. Moisten hands slightly and press granola mixture into the pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown around edges. Allow to cool for about 3 hours before cutting into bars.


  1. This looks like a great granola bar recipe. I've made granola but never my own granola bars. I think it would be fun. I might try this sometime soon. Thanks.

  2. I need a good stick with me breakfast every morning too. I never work out in the morning but it's a long, long time to lunch time. Homemade granola bars are always a go-to in my house :)

  3. every morning, even when I get up before 6 am i still end up having breakfast the last one in the house. just can't find the time to eat while getting my husband ready for work, feeding our daughter and get the cats out. seems like I need an intervention myself too and your granola bars mush be the answer.
    thanks for sharing,
    hope you're having a wonderful week

  4. Leave it to Ina to come up with a crazy-tasty-looking granola bar :) Pistachios = YUM!

  5. I'm the same way--if I don't eat breakfast, I am a cranky mess! These would be great to give as gifts to busy holiday ladies! :-)

  6. YUM! I'm definitely a breakfast person. First think on my mind when I wake up. Love the recipe. Can't wait to try it out

  7. I bought a little canister this year that I will use as a cookie jar for my parents... I plan on refilling it every month with a new cookie :)
    Since my dad is currently trying to lose weight, I'm thinking of actually putting homemade granola bars as the first month's "cookie." I think it's definitely a great holiday gift idea!
    PS - I'm hosting a giveaway for a healthy cookbook. Check it out if you're interested! :)

  8. I'm with you, if I don't eat breakfast, I have an awful morning at work haha These granola bars look great! I only have tried homemade granola bars once and they turned out awful haha maybe I'll give this recipe a try!

  9. I LOVE Ina Garten's granola bar recipe. And what a great idea to add pistachios, I would of never of thought of adding them to granola bars! :) I wish I had a recipe for a crunchy granola bar for you.

  10. mmmm I've always wanted to make my own granola bars, but I've been too lazy :)

    I thought maybe adding nuts would make it crunchier, but the recipe already includes some. Maybe use some puffed cereal and seeds?

  11. I think you read my mind.. I'm like you, I need breakfast but this morning I was in a mad rush and so wanted to just grab a granola bar! I am totally making these as soon as I get all the ingredients!

  12. just found your blog and i loved reading your about me page + these granola bars = yum!! i agree - theyre so perfect for breakfast + snacks!! and i think its even better to make them yourself than buy the packaged ones... love the addition of coconut!

  13. I love all of the fruit and nuts in these- what a great way to start your morning!

  14. OMG. I'm beyond addicted to breakfast. Maybe because it defines my day and gives me a few precious moments to myself when I'm fully awake, before I go off to do battle with rush hour.

    I've always wanted to try doing a breakfast bar, but I've been afraid that I might be left hungry. I suppose the obvious solution would be to pair it with some fruit and then pack healthy snacks for starvation-emergencies.

  15. I'm often too lazy to make breakfast in the morning (but not coffee!). Making a batch of these would be the way to go! Not sure how to get crisp bars as I've never even made granola. You probably mean something like the Nature Valley ones, I'm assuming? Maybe the butter keeps them on the softer side.

  16. HA, it's not even a possibility for me not to have breakfast in the morning. Even when I only have ten minutes to shower, get dressed, put on makeup and get out the door, I have to have something substantial!

    Those look great. I love coconut in bars! They look a lot like the ones they sell at Whole Foods, which I'm obsessed with!