I’ve always been pretty good at making up my own rules.
When my grandparents babysat me, I convinced them that we always ate cookies before dinner. It helped prep the stomach for the nutrients to come. When it rained, I never wore shoes. What’s the point? My feet were going to get wet anyways. And in college, I pretty much majored in the art of rule making. They called it Creative Writing.
From early on, I gave myself license to do what I wanted. Which, turns out, is a very important life skill. Because the truth is, most of the time, things don’t often go quite like you’ve planned. That’s not to say that things won’t eventually work out. They always work out. But just when you think you’ve built a straight and narrow path from point A to point B, something’s bound to gently nudge you off the road and force you to re-imagine your route to that final destination.
Which, yesterday, was a pan of granola bars.
I began my Thursday with the intention of creating a chewy, low sodium, salt-free granola bar that I could munch on for breakfast, during a bike ride, or while hiking in the hills.
I had grand plans for this granola bar. I was going to take oats, chopped dates, apricots, and cranberries and mix them with honey, brown sugar, and pomegranate molasses to make a treat that was full of sugary calories, but not too sweet to eat. I mixed, I melted, I baked, and I waited. These granola bars were going to be great.
And then, from the oven they came. A golden brown block of granola. That, much like my achey body on some mornings, refused to budge from its baking bed.
I knew that as soon as I tried to remove the granola, it was going to crumble and fall apart. Dreams of a perfectly rectangular piece of granola were shattered.
And as I stared at my brick of toasted fruit oats, I knew I had two choices: give up and crumble apart myself, or, come up with a new plan. Redefine the path from A to B. Reinvent the rules. And decide that this recipe was never meant to be for granola bars. This was for making granola bites.
If you live with a chronic illness or any kind of health limitations, this is the same choice you are faced with everyday. You wake up each morning with your grand plans and then, something – whether it is a doctor appointment, the need to find a low sodium snack in a salty world, or the fact that your joints just won’t move like you want them to – will cause those plans to get derailed.
But like my granola, you have a choice. You can either view the disruptions as impermeable road blocks. Or you can simply go build a ladder out of wood or marshmallows (remember, you make the rules) and climb right over them.
Sure, there are plenty of times I’m faced with moments where I can’t do things like I want to. But it doesn’t mean I can’t come up with a different solution that gets me to the same end goal.
So go ahead, find control in making up your own rules and in making some granola this weekend. Feel free to not follow my directions. Maybe your version will even successfully come out of the pan.
Happy weekend. Chow on.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
- 1/2 cup diced powdered dates
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup of orange juice and zest from entire orange
Preheat oven to 350 dg F.
Place your oats in a baking pan and toast in the oven until they turn lightly golden and begin to smell oaty, 10-12 minutes. Take out of the oven and place in a large mixing bowl.
While your oats toast, chop your dried apricots and dates, either with a knife or a quick pulse in the food processor. Add them and the cranberries to the mixing bowl with the oats.
Lower oven to 300 dg F and cover an 8×12 inch baking pan with parchment paper (or grease well with unsalted butter).
Then, in a small pot, melt the butter and allow it to brown and smell nutty, 5 minutes. Add the sugar, honey, molasses, orange juice and zest, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes and then pour immediately into your mixing bowl. Stir the contents until well combined and pour onto your parchment covered baking pan.
Place pan into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. The granola will be a darker brown when it is done and it will still be soft when you take it out. Allow to cool and harden at least 1 hour before cutting. Whether it comes out in squares or chunks, it will be delicious.