Flapjacks Turned Energy/Breakfast Bars II: Apricot Almond
With October's arrival, it's begun to feel like autumn is finally beginning to edge into the foothills as well as the mountains. Crisp, nippy mornings, blazing gold aspens, and a faint but distinct hint of woodsmoke and pine floating its way into the occasional breeze. This past Sunday, we were handed reminders of both autumn's transience and regal vibrance, waking shortly after 4 am for a "fun half marathon trail race" in Lakewood, the Bear Chase (thanks again for the find, Jen!). The races (10K, 1/2 marathon, 50K, 50 mile distances) took place on a beautiful combination of rolling single track, trail, and a miniscule bit of road, and the half marathon loops and upward included 3+ river crossings! For a seasoned trail runner, these short obstacles were probably merely puddles, but from more of a roadie/wide trail-and-dirt road perspective, they were quite the surprise, shin deep, lined with slippery rocks, and chilly! Serious kudos to the ultra-runners who participated; their course consisted of three laps, and therefore nine crossings. It has to be said, though, while a part of me would rather like to complain about the inconvenience and resulting soggy, heavy sock effect, I did enjoy them. The course was challenging at just the right level, and we were treated to stunning scenery, including layers of mist rising over the lake as the sun blossomed. One of the best parts of doing a trail race for our long run was, it's all about the experience. Not unlike snowshoe running, you can't really let time matter. You're going to work hard no matter what, but it doesn't make sense to be hard on yourself whatever the results, as long as you toughed it out the best you could. My hamstrings were screaming when we got home, but I had a sort of restless energy propelling me to do "stuff" for awhile before fatigue actually set in. Perfect time for round two of the English flapjacks morphed into breakfast and/or energy bars experimenting! This time, I was set on apricots and almonds, and the warm pumpkin color the apricots would lend. I also wanted to include millet, which gives such a lovely bonus crunch and a good dose of nutrition in small amounts, real bang for the buck. The date puree from the previous experiment worked so well, I figured apricot would, too. I used primarily quick oats again, but added 1/2 cup rolled outs this time. Quick oats are made by flattening pre-cut groats; they have the same nutritional value, but they're cut differently, so they cook faster, taking about 5 minutes max. Personally, I don't much care for the way quick oats taste as oatmeal. To me, the texture is a bit on the thin and pasty side. I prefer the chewy robustness of steel cut oats, or the heartier creaminess of well cooked rolled oats. However, in a recipe like these flapjacks, the fine quick oats work at providing a nice consistency. That said, you can get away with using either all quick or rolled oats in this recipe equally well.
I'm really enjoying these bars, which are moist and dense with a bit of both crisp and chewiness. I knew I would like them when I couldn't resist giving the mixing bowl a little lick and thought the batter was tasty on its own. Once again, if you're looking for an energy bar, the protein is about half or less of what a standard sport bar will provide, but then again, protein during training is seeming far less significant as long as you're replenishing adequately afterward. Also, these bars pack in some solid nutrients, including vitamins A and C, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, calcium, and more, while being eggless, dairy-free, and wheat and soy free. Be sure to look for gluten free oats if that is important to you.
Here's the recipe I used, followed by the nutrition info (approximate, plugging into recipe calculator) as well as some suggested alterations!
Apricot Almond Breakfast/Energy Bar
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup almonds
- 1/4 cup toasted millet
- 2 cups quick (not instant) oats
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon raw or turbinado sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
2. Soak apricots in hot water for approximately 20 minutes, then process with 1/2 cup orange juice until (fairly) smooth. Add almonds and continue processing until almonds are ground.
3. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, then pour into a prepared 8-inch square baking pan. The mixture should be about 1 inch+ thick.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, until edges look firm and top is slightly golden. Cut into squares, then leave to cool before removing.
Here's the Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Clif bar nutritional info once again, for reference: 260 calories; 6 g fat; 1.5 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 11 g protein; 42 g carbohydrates;5 g fiber; 200 mg sodium
Apricot Almond Breakfast/Energy Bar (based on 9 servings, 1/3 cup almonds, 1/2 tsp salt): 203 calories; 4.4 g fat; .5 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 4.7 g protein; 41.9 g carbohydrates; 4.5 g fiber; 132.1 mg sodium
*Increasing to 3/4 tsp salt yields approximately 196.7 mg sodium per bar; cutting out salt altogether reduces sodium to 2.9 mg
*Moving up to 1/2 cup honey yields approximately 222.5 calories and 47.2 g carbohydrate per bar; note, the apricots add enough sweetness, you could also afford to reduce honey further for fewer calories, too!
*Using 1/4 cup almonds reduces calories (9 servings) to 190.6 per bar, fat to 3.8 g, and carbohydrate to 40.3 g
*Slicing into 12 servings versus 9 reduces calories to 166.9, fat to 3.3, and carbohydrate to 35.4 per bar