Let’s interrupt our usual programming of decadent and creamy treats to talk about breakfast, shall we? You know, that "most important meal" of the day, the one that also defines our lifestyle, mood, habits. Even the last edition of Saveur, almost entirely devoted to breakfast made it to my mailbox right when I had breakfast oatmeal squares in the oven…sign.
Over the past years, I have been catching myself saying I love breakfast but what I should really say is "I’d love to have breakfast". I hardly have time or appetite in the morning for more than a cup of coffee and a few spoonfuls of yogurt. Everyday I tell clients about the benefits of a balanced breakfast and yet this is a classic case of "do as I say and not as I do". Bad me.
It has not always been the case. As a typical French child, my mom would fix hot chocolate, toast and jam, maybe a yogurt, before heading to school. Sometimes toast was a croissant or a slice of brioche (toasted with some honey, please!). More or less of the above combination made its way onto my plate as I grew up. Before I stopped running as much as I used to due to knee issues (my fault: run 5 miles each morning then go work at the restaurant for 10-12 hours, 6 days a week…6 years later, you can imagine the x-rays!!), I would fix myself a good breakfast. Then I started going to bed later and later each day and waking up earlier and earlier and my appetite, time or desire for breakfast went down the drain.
I started to look into other cultures for inspiration and different fares and still nothing. I wanted to be a breakfast eater!! I finally realized that I can’t eat a lot in the morning so breakfast would have to comprise a lot of essential vitamins and nutrients in a two to three bite something. Breakfast squares became an obvious and manageable choice for me. I can prepare them in 10 minutes the night before and grab a couple on my way out the door in the morning.
The dough is so forgiving and basic that you can change, substitute and replace at will. Today they were oatmeal, tomorrow they will be quinoa flakes. Almonds sometimes turn into pistachios, honey turns into agave syrup. I sometimes add a pinch of cinnamon or a spoonful of flax seeds. Today it was a pinch of edible lavender buds. If I know the morning is going to drag into a late lunch, I’ll have some with dried fruits for extra energy. You get the idea….the possibilities are quite endless and though it may not be the perfect breakfast, it is still better than what I would usually have: one big cup of coffee. Baby steps….
I have a curious mind and like you, I love to read about food so please tell me: "What do you eat for breakfast?"
Breakfast Oatmeal Squares:
Makes 9, 3-inch squares
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oats
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1 tsp edible lavender buds
1/4 cup yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, almonds and lavender and set aside. In a smaller bowl whisk together the egg, yogurt, honey and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir together with a large spoon or your hands until the dough comes together.
Pat the dough into a squares directly on the parchment paper, cut through with a sharp knife into 9 pieces and bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake or you will end up with rocks under your teeth. Let cool and break the squares apart. Feel free to use a scoop and make drop cookies instead.
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