Besides that I adore it staying light much later, I regret it hasn't felt incredibly summery over here. We have done a few picnics by the beach, my shoulders are tanned and I'm eating my weight in fruit, but I can't say I have felt this season. I think it's easier to see summer with kids or a school schedule, as these three months are marked by a break in routine. Now it's nearly Labor Day, the holiday that reminds us summer is fading, I just now feel called to be more present in this time. Maybe I'm not in school and my work demands carry on just as they did in the spring and winter past, but I want to be here. It's likely not just summer I'm needing to witness, I think it's the curse of the (primarily) self-employed that there is always something to do, which takes away from rest and presence. There is so much wonderfulness to take in if we'll stop and pay attention. I wish I'd stop and pay attention. Luckily September and October are my favorite months around here. Time to suit up and jump in.
I keep tinkering with granola bar recipes to find just the right texture. Typically, I use brown rice syrup in granola-type bars, but wanted to try the maple route this round. I will say that the rice syrup creates a stickier bar, making everything hold together more easily. The maple is great, but expect the bars to be more loose and fragile. I added a few more dates and peanut butter in the written recipe than the photos reflect so they stay together a bit better. I toast the oats for a little extra favor, but otherwise these guys are no-bake, so they yield a chewier bar, not the crispy shattering sort. You can play around with the nut or seed butter, maybe a different dried fruit besides dates, but it's nice to have a tasty snack for your beach bag or lunch box.
PEANUT BUTTER GRANOLA BARS // Makes 12 in an 11x7 pan
An adaptation from Minimalist Baker
I used a 7x11inch dish. Try to use something close, they will be thinner bars in a 9x13 or super thick in an 8x8.
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 2 cups crisp rice cereal
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 2 Tbsp. chia, buckwheat, flax seeds or a mix of these (I used this blend)
- 2 cups pitted dates (about 14 large Medjool dates)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup or brown rice syrup
- 1 cup natural peanut butter (or nut or seed butter of choice)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- pinch of sea salt
- 4 oz. dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 350'. Toast the oats on a baking sheet for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the crisp rice, almonds, seeds, cooled oats and stir to mix. Chop up the dates well to make a chunky paste (this could be done in the food processor but I hate cleaning it for one small task). If your dates seem dry, add a splash of warm water to get them tacky. Think toothpaste sort of texture.
Warm the maple, peanut butter, cinnamon, salt and stir to mix. Pour the PB mix and dates over the dry ingredients and mix everything together, breaking up the date clumps with your hands to disperse. Just get your hands dirty, you need a big sticky heap.
Line a 7x11inch pan with parchment paper. Press the mixture down in an even layer, using the bottom of something flat to push the mixture down tightly as possible.
In a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth. Drizzle the chocolate (or spread it evenly) on top of the bars. Chill in the fridge for one hour before cutting. Keep covered in the fridge for optimum freshness or wrap them individually and store in the freezer.
The bars will keep for about 5 days in the fridge.