A nice breakfast bar is a special treat for anybody, but for parents traveling with toddlers, especially.
It’s no secret that I like a sweet treat every
now and thenday. But in a week with a 6+ hour plane ride to get through with a toddler on our collective lap, I needed something to do a little bit more than only offer a sugar high.
Before we left for California, I riffed on Deb’s brilliant recipe for date breakfast bars and felt very smug when I walked by the counter of brown bananas and strawberry-flavored yogurt on offer at JFK. With a homemade breakfast bar in my pocket, there’s nothing that can get in my way.
I like to think of these treats as providing a little bit of brain food in addition to the sweet. They’re eminently packable and perfect for tucking away for a hangry moment (or ten). Even better: they’re super cheap and easy to make using almost entirely unpackaged goods.
(I used a bit of hazelnut meal in addition to the whole wheat flour that Deb calls for, and I omitted the cloves that Deb uses, just cause I didn’t feel like breaking out my mortar and pestle. Spice as you like, I say.)
Date Breakfast Bars
Here’s what you need:
For the filling:
1 1/2 cups of pitted dates
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (i just zested the whole orange and didn’t measure a thing)
For the crumbs:
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (or a combination of coconut oil and butter, per Deb)
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (I swapped in hazelnut meal for the last two tablespoons!)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon course sea salt
1/2 teaspoon or so cinnamon
fresh nutmeg, grated to taste
Here’s what to do:
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease bottom of an 8×8-inch pan with butter.
In a small saucepan, combine dates, water and orange zest over low heat. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Set aside while you make the crumbs.
Mix together the sugars and oil. Add oats, flour, spices, baking soda and salt and stir to combine into a course crumbles.
Press half of the oat mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan. Dollop the date mixture over it and spread the mixture smoothly over the crumbs. (Deb reminds us not to worry if the crumbs move around a little underneath. I worried a bit and then got over it.) Sprinkle remaining crumbs over the layer of dates and press lightly to cover.
Bake bars for 25 minutes, or until the edges are light brown. Cool in pan and cut into squares. I kept ours in the fridge overnight and then dipped into them at room temperature for the duration of our flight. (Sorry ’bout the crumblies, JetBlue.)
I baked my bars in a circular cast iron skillet, which allows for the very obvious benefit of being able to gobble all the edges that don’t make the cut. If you prefer not to nibble while you pack, use the square pan that Deb recommends instead.
Date bars, all wrapped up and ready for traveling. (I used one of the Bee’s Wrap sandwich wraps to pack ours for the flight. Not for sandwiches only!)
Favorite travel snack? Go!