If it weren’t for peanut butter, I might not have made it past 5 feet. As a notorious fussy eater, I engaged in a 15 year eating jag consuming a daily peanut butter-jam sandwich for lunch from toddlerhood until college. I found most other healthy foods revolting. My mother looks for audiences to share the stories which best illustrate my former fussy self, but only if I am also a member of the audience—like the time I made a spectacle of gagging on ham at a formal dinner or the time I scraped half-eaten stew back into the pot at our pastor’s home before anyone could stop me.
She must find it particularly galling that I later became not only an adventurous eater but also a nutrition and culinary educator who teaches parents how to raise healthy eaters. So I submit to her small revenge, and not a Mother’s Day passes when I don’t sincerely apologize for these childhood transgressions. She says she forgives but clearly she doesn’t forget.
Peanut butter spared me a lifetime of short jokes and step-stool fetching. Perhaps because of this, my love affair with this supreme legume continues. So when I began thinking of a DIY breakfast bar to avoid buying the exorbitantly priced “all-natural” ones at the supermarket, my thoughts turned to peanut butter. Jam made the short list too not only for the classic taste combination but also to clear my pantry of it’s jam surplus. (Jam making season is around the corner though in Wisconsin it doesn’t feel like it.)
This recipe is dead simple, contains wholesome and nutritious ingredients (mind you, I didn’t say low-calorie) including, of course, peanut butter–that protein-rich legume chock-full of heart healthy fats. So enjoy! You just saved 5 bucks as you passed the breakfast bar aisle at the supermarket, and now it’s… peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time.
This makes a tasty breakfast bar or mid-day snack. Each square is about 90 calories, the same as store-bought varieties but at a fraction of the cost and multiple times better. Soy butter makes a fine substitute for the peanut allergic.
4 T unsalted butter
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
¾ cup quick oats
¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ t kosher salt
1 t baking powder
¼ cup quick oats
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup 100% all natural peanut butter (no palm oil)
1 large egg
⅓ cup jam or jelly
Preheat the oven to 350◦F. Lightly grease an 8” x 8” pan.
In an up-right mixer or using a fork, mix the first 5 ingredients together (butter, sugar, oats, flour, salt).
Remove 1 cup (loosely packed) of the combined ingredients and set aside—this will be the crumble topping.
Now add the remaining 5 ingredients (baking powder, oats, flour, peanut butter, and egg) and thoroughly mix together.
Pat the dough into the 8 x8 pan.
Spread the jam evenly on top of the dough, careful not to touch the edge of the pan with the jam as it will burn.
Evenly sprinkle the reserve crumble topping over the jam.
Bake for about 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut into 20 even pieces.
Cooking with Kids: Simple baking projects like this can and should be entirely executed by the kids. Have them do the measuring and mixing. Take the time to teach them about fractions while you work.
Storing: Double or even triple the recipe, bake it, and store the surplus in the freezer. It doesn’t take much more time, and now you have a supply of wholesome breakfast bars to last the next couple of weeks.
From sweet to savory, quick bread recipes—those that use quick-rise leavening agents like baking soda instead of slow-rising yeast—abound. The most popular lean to the sweet side and contain some fruit or veggie along with other goodies like chopped nuts, chocolate chips or spices. Think zucchini or banana bread.
Because March can be a challenge for the Midwestern locavore, this quick bread recipe takes advantage of what fresh produce remains at the Milwaukee County Winter Farmers Market in these dwindling days of winter. Behold the miracle of the March carrot, which retains its sweet flavor and crisp texture five months after its harvest.
In my opinion, carrots, walnuts and maple create a perfect trifecta of flavor. And while whole wheat flour is used, the texture remains light and tender. (If you have reservations about using whole grains in a sweet treat, click here for motivation.) The whole food ingredients make this bread nutrient dense so serve it for a quick, healthy breakfast or an after-school snack. Beware, however, that it is still calorie dense so don’t eat the whole loaf as you may be tempted to do. (Or is it just me that finds the flavor of maple syrup irresistible?)
These make great muffins too; just reduce the bake time to about 15 minutes.
3 cups of all-purpose or pastry whole wheat flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
3 t baking powder
1 t *cinnamon--optional
1 cup oil
1 cup brown *sugar, packed
½ cup maple syrup
2 t vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrot
½ cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
½ cup maple syrup
1 t vanilla extract
Grease two loaf pans. Place parchment or waxed paper at the bottom for easiest release. Preheat oven to 350◦ F.
In a large bowl combine the “Dry Ingredients” using a whisk to make sure they are thoroughly combined.
Next, beat the “Wet Ingredients” together in a mixing bowl.
Add the dry to the wet ingredients and stir until combined—DO NOT OVER-STIR!
Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350◦ F for about an hour. Insert a skewer in the center to check that the interior is done before removing from the oven. The loaf is baked if the skewer comes out clean or with few crumbs.
Once baked, remove from oven and cool on a rack for 10-20 minutes. Next, remove bread from the pan and cool further on a rack.
Whisk the confectioner's sugar,maple and vanilla until completely smooth. Drizzle maple glaze over the warm bread. It will set once cooled.
*Cinnamon can sometimes over-power the subtle flavor of maple. For greater maple flavor, leave out the cinnamon altogether and drizzle or sprinkle maple syrup or maple sugar on top of the unbaked loafs. Once baked, follow with the maple glaze. **This recipe is very flexible, I have left out the sugar altogether and reduced it by half with still great, fluffy less-sweet muffins.
Because whole wheat flours include the germ, they contain oils. These oils can go rancid easily and cause a bitter, unpleasant flavor. According to the Whole Grains Council, whole grain flours kept in an air-tight containers should last for 3 months in the pantry and 6-12 months in the fridge or freezer.
Cooking with Kids:
Because baking requires little-to-no knife work, I always include the kids. It allows them greater autonomy and participation in the cooking process as I’m not hovering over them making sure they don’t cut their finger. We’ve baked together so often, that the girls know how to properly measure flours by spooning them into the dry measuring cups and leveling them. They know how to crack eggs. They can essentially do everything…except read, but we’re working on that. My goal in including them is to not only create healthier eaters but also contributing members of the family that can make me a quick bread sometime in the near future while I relax.