Have you noticed the recipes I post are often gluten-free? That's because two family members are particularly sensitive to it.
I came across this recipe for gluten-free breakfast bars on the website of Susan Jane White.
Her food story is really interesting. Her original plan in life was to become an academic but that all changed when she became quite ill, literally on death's door, when a university student at Oxford. No one could diagnose what ailed her.
Having no luck with conventional medicine, she eventually came to realize wheat, dairy and cane sugar might be her problem, and she was right. Thus began her return towards good health, eating and cooking without these foods, and a career as a cookbook author and food blogger. Read her story here. It's compelling!
These are called breakfast bars but we eat them at any time of the day. They're particularly great if you're on the go and want to sink your teeth into something satisfying and nutrient dense, something to sustain you until you sit down for a proper meal. Oats, almond flour, walnuts, dates, banana, and sunflower seeds make them especially nutritious and delicious.
Gluten-free breakfast bars
140 ml melted extra virgin coconut oil
80 ml good quality honey or maple syrup
2 handfuls of regular pitted dates (100g), chopped
1 banana, mashed
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
freshly grated nutmeg
a generous pinch of sea salt
Slightly more than 2 cups (200g) regular rolled oats and not jumbo oats (certified gluten-free if that's important to you)
Just under 1 cup (100g) of walnuts, roughly broken
1 cup (100g) ground almonds
Handful of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to no higher than 340 degrees fahrenheit or else the bars will crumble.
Line a pan no bigger than 8x10 with enough parchment so you can lift the bars out of the pan later.
Mix together oats, almond flour, walnuts, sunflower seeds, salt and spices.
Gently melt the coconut oil with honey for 2 minutes in a small pan over low heat. Chop the dates and add them to the oil and honey. Add the mashed banana. Once these ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add to your dry mixture, and combine well.
Scrape into your pan. Press down firmly with your fingers or spatula.
Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden. Let cool completely before slicing.
Above: If gluten-free really matters to you, be sure your oats say gluten-free on the package. Also, don't use the large rolled oats but the smaller ones. I've made the recipe using both types and, although they taste equally good, they hold together better using the smaller oats. If you only have the large oats, try blending them in the food processor for a minute. That did the trick for me.
Above: Nutmeg and cinnamon are a magical combination for these bars but you could spice them differently, too. Lemon or orange zest maybe? Dark chocolate chips? Ginger?
Above: Oats will turn bitter if you let them get too brown. Also important is to resist cutting until they have completely cooled down. Otherwise, you won't get a nice clean cut and they will be prone to crumble. So wait a bit.