Vegan's Chronicles + [Vegan]

Breakfast in a bar

With all the rain for the past two months, I'll admit that I haven't been so good with the exercising... The constant rain and mugginess kind of zapped any motivation to be outside, and then once I skipped a couple runs, it became that much easier to just keep skipping them... .

However, now that the rainy season has finally passed, I'm trying to get back on the wagon and get moving again. So I went on a run this morning! It wasn't even that long, but I noticed I'm a lot slower than I used to be, which is a bit of a bummer, but I'm not getting too bent out of shape about it. As long as I can still move my legs, I'm grateful. In fact, on one of my running loops, I pass by a hospital, and there's always a handful of patients outside sitting in wheelchairs, and as I run past them, I can't help but feel gratitude for my health, strength, and mobility.

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Anyhoos, to fuel my run this morning, I made some breakfast bars with nothing but healthy stuff, like old fashioned rolled oats, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, ground flax seeds, and a special ingredient: cacao nibs! I found cacao nibs on this Korean online baking store, where I order a lot of other baking ingredients. Ofcourse, for those in Korea, you can also get cacao nibs from iHerb. I really like the crunchiness of them, and even the slightly bitter chocolate flavor. They're ideal for making healthy energy bars and adding to oatmeal because they stay crunchy when mixed with hot ingredients like the hot rice syrup and toasted almonds, and ofcourse, they satisfy that chocolate craving without the added fat or sugar.

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Oatmeal Breakfast bars
makes 4 large bars

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
2 Tbs cacao nibs
2 Tbs ground flax seeds
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 Tbs black strap molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

In a non-stick pan over medium heat, lightly toast the almonds and rolled oats, separately. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the cranberries, cacao nibs, and ground flax seeds. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and in the same non-stick pan, pour the brown rice syrup, molasses, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix with a spatula until the syrup becomes thin and bubbly. Pour the dry ingredients into the pan and mix until everything is well-incorporated. Dump everything into a baking pan (I use a bread pan) and spread evenly, flattening the top with a spatula. Let cool for about 30 minutes before turning out onto a cutting board and chopping into bars.

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And perhaps the best thing is that you could easily turn one of these crunchy bars into a delicious, creamy, hot breakfast by just throwing the bar into a pot of some water or soy milk (about 1 1/4 cup total), and then bringing it to a boil for about 5 minutes.

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Since the rolled oats I use are slightly broken, they cook up fast and become extra creamy and voluminous, and the ground flax meal helps to make it all a little thicker too. These bars are like those mini compressed hand towel tablets that expand when added to water. Magic. :)

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Tada~~ A warm bowl of good-for-you oatmeal. The bars themselves are actually not that sweet, so I added a little extra sweetener when turning it into oatmeal, but in general, the brown rice syrup and molasses provide a mild sweetness, which is then complemented by the tangy dried cranberries. Ofcourse, you could throw in any fresh fruits you have, such as banana slices or apple chunks for a little extra sweetness. :) I also love the crunch of the cacao nibs and toasted almonds. It's got a little bit of everything!

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Here they are, individually packaged for portion control...

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Available on the Alien's Day Out Bake Shop!