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Oat + Seed Strength Bars with Maple + Chocolate

Oat + Seed Strength Bars with Maple + Chocolate

There is science behind these bars. Maple syrup as sweetener is nature's very own nutritive element. The oats and seeds are high in protein and slow release of energy, not to forget the good fats. Goji berries for more anti-oxidant protection. And, then there is the inevitable chocolate. Let's face it; chocolate makes everything good for you! 

Every diminutive bar packs the energy needed for a long day, a good workout or something to just keep you going while you hammer out yet another report on the current state of affairs at work. Every bit of that energy you need to run behind your toddler, deal with teenage troubles, listen empathetically to your significant other or friend, all while still trying to decompress from your own day. 

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Chomping on Granola Bars and thinking Economy....

Granola Bars with peeled orange

Hope everyone is having a good week! Mine started fine but then I came down with a bout of cold and congestion {pout}. I did take the flu vaccine, so I guess I am skirting the land of fever but cold is meanly laughing at me, saying I can't escape it's clammy tentacles no matter how many antibodies are coursing through me.. {sniff}

So, while I sniffle away my mind begins to wander. Recently, I have been pondering a lot about the perplexing state of affairs, literally and economically. Let's take stock, shall we. US is currently running at a 9.2% unemployment rate with no logical reasoning for it to trend down as companies are fundamentally not adding incremental value and hence have no real reason to hire, neither is the market justifying any addition.

Granola Bars 3 top view

The nemesis of the US economy is it's extreme consumerism which, ironically is the only vehicle for fuelling a recovery and said economy. This is indeed a vicious circle which has a marked tendency to black holing. Compare the stats; US household savings rate is barely at 6% while India and China easily manage North of 30%.

Who is to blame? Access to cheap credit, lax credentials, greedy money spinners or monetary measures? Even as credit is tightening and there is atleast more talk of regulation and oversight, the savings rate has not gone up, neither has spending declined as attested by recent numbers!

Granola Bars with Orange

And why? Consider this.. Inflation is at 1.5% and interest on savings peaks at 1.25%. So, really my money next year is worth less than today. So, simple economics guides that I should spend it before it depreciates! Which is correct, and perhaps, what is really happening and what is fueling the euphoria of the stock markets.

Equity markets are trading at 2006 levels. To draw the contrast, 2006 was the year of bit fat bonus checks and rosy outlook. It was the last year of unblemished bullishness before the debacle and carnage of Wall Street. So, why are we there again, already? Atleast 2006 had the housing bubble to artificially prop up everyone's spirits! Where is the buoyancy coming from now? Are we building castles out of thin air now?

granola bars 1

It is indeed food for thought and perhaps time for caution and bold measures. When are we going to wake up and sniff the reality? It is going to be a hard landing. Brace up! Perhaps, it is time for the Fed to hike rates and, contrary to long standing market beliefs, enable a softer landing by tightening the belt. It would not be dampening, but, indeed will actually right size expectations!

Saffron, Apricot, Cranberry and Pistachio Granola Bars

1-1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup, toasted apricot kernels, chopped
1/4 cup, toasted pistachios, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1/2 tsp saffron
1 tsp salt
3 T butter
3 T honey
2 T maple syrup

Warm the butter, honey and maple syrup over low heat, until the butter has melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and drop in the saffron. Let steep for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the rest of the ingredients. Slowly drizzle in the warm liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Gently toss the ingredients together until evenly sticky.

Transfer to a lightly oil cake pan, lined with parchment paper and press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake at 350F for 20 to 30 minutes, until the oats start browning. Remove and cool on rack. When cooled to room temperature, slice into bars. Store in an airtight box.

Cranberry Squares - Rich and Comforting

Cranberry bars in plate

Seeing how popular this recipe has been, I have sent it to Foodista for the cookbook contest. Please help me get published by voting for the recipe. Please click the image below to vote.

Ah! This is really my comeback post. I am back people!! For good and more fun....:)

You know that lethargy that overcomes you when you come back from a vacation. I had been pampered much too much in December; no cleaning, washing ... no chores.. not even cooking or baking. I snapped my fingers and food appeared, whatever my heart desired, lovingly prepared by mum or mum-in-law. All I needed to do was clean my plate and ask for more and I did very regally, I must say ;-))! (I also gained some regal girth :O)

Well, anyway, I just got over that hump. That is not to say, I haven't been doing anything; just been doing the basic everyday necessities. Finally, I decided I needed to kick myself back into regular mode (which, includes getting myself into shape!).

Cranberry bar - single serve

My opportunity came when I invited a friend to tea. I love tea btw. I used to a be big coffee drinker, to the point of it being an obsession. Ask Mr. FSK, he has many stories about that addiction. Well, no more. I love tea, black or milk chai. And, I love meeting up for that evening cup of relaxing time, much chatting and sharing. :)

And I thought of Jennifer's Sugar High Friday. So in keeping with the theme of the month, Sweet Comforts (SHF #61), hosted by Kate of A Merrier World, I chose Cranberry Squares to accompany tea.

serve me one

I used cranberries that I had frozen from Thanksgiving when I had bought too big a bag of them. Thawed, they were perfect. Somehow, they got riper and sweeter in the freezer. They were as tart as they usually tend to be. Anyway, they were perfect for these bars. The bars themselves are rich in a buttery kind of way and biting into one just makes you forget all your worries, close your eyes and let yourself be washed away in a sea of yummmm.... :)

It's the kind of thing that you give to someone just to make them smile or bring some sun shine in their lives. I shared some with my neighbour here; she is old and lives alone and she always gives us something or the other when we see her. I just thought of her and so took some over and had a little chat. Felt good :)

Cranberry square gift

Cranberry Squares (Fruit Squares)
(adapted from CD Kitchen)

** Note: I used a 8 inch square pan, so my squares turned out a bit thick. You could easily spread this on a 9x13 inch pan **

1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp almond extract
2 cup fresh cranberries or blueberries or other berries
1/2 cup chopped, toasted cashew nuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the pan you are using.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggsuntil creamy and smooth. Whisk in the melted butter and almond extract. Add flour and fold until incorporated. Fold in cranberries and nuts (if using) carefully so as not to break the fruit and color the whole batter red.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely (takes about an hour really!). Cut squares and serve.

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK