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Managing the moving parts of life is a complex balancing act. It doesn’t seem to matter if you work 9-5, have a freelancers schedule, are a student, or are running after young children; challenges abound. Focusing on problem solving one challenge at a time has been a way for me to come up with solutions, however small they may be.

Mike and I have very different work schedules. Coming up with meals that fit both of our schedules is something that we’re constantly struggling with. Breakfast, that seemingly simple and easy meal, is surprisingly challenging. Several days a week Mike has to leave so early in the morning; too early for the sun to have yet risen, and much too early to eat at home. I’ve been working on breakfast foods that he can take with him and either eat in the car, or eat right when he gets to work. They need to be quick, portable, and not require heating or cooling. Variation is important too! A man gets bored of the same thing every day (or so I’ve been told). Some good options include toast with peanut butter, yogurt with fruit and nuts, and these hearty oat squares. They’re something of a cross between a granola bar and baked oatmeal. They’re really filling too – one square keeps him satisfied until lunchtime!

I tried oat squares once before using an entirely different method. Those were tasty, warm, and perfect for when you have time to cook a full breakfast and enjoy a more leisurely meal. This version is a grab as you run out the door option. They are also great as an afternoon snack, crumbled over vanilla ice cream, or as a post-exercise pick me up. This recipe is high in protein, fiber and whole grains. It is also dairy-free and easily modified to be gluten-free. It is not, however, flavor free. The initial inspiration to modify my earlier oat squares came from Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows.

Oat Breakfast Bars
makes 12 squares

Dry ingredients
2 c. old fashioned oats
1/4 c. buckwheat flour
1/4 c. millet flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. brown sugar, well packed
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. wheat bran (leave out the wheat bran to make these gluten free)
3 Tbsp. chia seeds
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. raisins

Wet ingredients
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 apple
1/2 c. soy milk (dairy milk or other non-dairy option will work)
1/2 c. honey
3 Tbsp. crunchy peanut butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Line 8×8 square baking pan in parchment paper
3. In food processor, blender, or mortar & pestle, finely chop walnuts.
4. Combine all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Stir well.
put dry ingredients in a bowl5. Cut and core apple. In food processor or blender puree apple.
6. In separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients (peanut butter, vanilla, milk, honey, pureed apple). Use a whisk or fork to stir well. Make sure the peanut butter and honey are dissolved into the mixture.
7. Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients.
pour in wet ingredients8. Stir well so everything is incorporated. The liquid should be fully absorbed and there should be no dry patches.
9. Pour into prepared pan, pressing into corners and smoothing down evenly.
oat squares in the pan10. Bake for 35 min, until golden.
11. Remove from oven and let cool. The edges of the parchment paper make it easy to pull out of the pan.
12. Slice into 12 bars.

These keep in a tupperware for at least a week. They’re also good toasted and shmeared with jam.

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