Sometimes it pays to be prepared. When you wake up and look out the window and see kingfisher blue skies, there’s no point mucking about. Sure, you could bemoan another night of splintered sleep, shuffle into the kitchen, nurse a mug of Earl Grey and try to feed a small person a bowl of bircher muesli or banana and yoghurt (or blueberries. At the moment, pretty much all Will wants to eat is salmon and blueberries. He’s like a 60 year old woman, pre facelift on the Perricone diet).
Or you could go. Getting out is good for morale. Shorts on. Sneakers on. Lob a book into the cot to distract the wakeful one while you haul the stroller into the back of the car. Quick costume change for him and grab a few things from the fridge.
Breakfast is much nicer when there’s a beach as a backdrop. The coastal walk from Queenscliff, past North Steyne, Manly and around to Shelly Beach has become a regular feature on my Instagram. It’s just too darn photogenic. It’s something Will and I do at least twice each week. There are plenty of spots for coffee along the way (Hemingway’s and Showbox are our two staples, but the new Boathouse Kiosk stand at Shelly Beach is also a handy stop off point). But a portable breakfast is key (Will’s cafe threshold is about 20 minutes these days).
These Apricot and Almond Quinoa bars are a keeper. They’re reminiscent of apricot muesli bars you’d find in your lunchbox at morning tea, back when you wore knee high socks to school, except these are also packed with protein from quinoa and eggs. There’s a lovely interplay of floral sweetness between the maple syrup and the dried apricots and the almonds add a little crunch (though hazelnuts or macadamias would also be swell). They slice easily, are portable and are a breakfast on the go option that both Will and I can share – though I’ve also been known to tuck into half of one when I’m flagging a little at 4 pm. They also got the stamp of approval from a breastfeeding new mum.
Feel free to use these as a base template, omit the dried fruit for more nuts and seeds, try dried cherries or chopped dates or prunes. They keep well in the fridge for a week, all ready cued for when the weather is kind and you just need to up and go.
Apricot and Almond Quinoa Bars
Makes 12 Muesli bar sized bars. They will keep in the fridge for a week. They also freeze well between sheets of baking paper. If you need to make these nut free (for school snacks etc), you can easily swap out the almonds for pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
1 x baking tray, the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Baking paper to line.
50 g butter, melted (can also substitute coconut oil)
75 g of maple syrup (or rice malt syrup or honey, though the maple gives a nice floral sweetness)
1 cup/90 g rolled oats (though if intolerant to oats, substitute with rolled quinoa)
1 1/4 cups/250 g of cooked quinoa (I use the quick cook in the microwave technique for mine- instructions below)
75 g dried apricots
50 g blanched almonds, chopped
Pinch of salt
Here’s how we roll
1) Preheat oven to 150C/300F and cook your quinoa in the microwave, or on the stove top, if you haven’t already. (I use the quick cook method in the microwave, 2/3 cup rinsed well, then combined with 1 1/4 cup of water, in a large tupperware with a lid cooked on high for 10 minutes, then leave to stand for 5). Alternatively, rinse, then combine in a saucepan with 1 1/2 times its volume in liquid, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed. Allow to cool slightly, then measure the cooked quantity for the recipe.
2) Combine the butter and syrup in a saucepan and heat gently to melt the butter. Once melted allow to simmer for a minute, then remove from heat.
3) While the butter is melting, chop the almonds and apricots into small pieces.
4) Combine the luke warm butter and syrup with the eggs and whisk to combine.
5) Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine.
6) Grease and line a baking dish approximately the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Press the mixture into the dish, ensuring that the surface is even.
7) Bake for 30 minutes, until the surface is golden and firm to touch. Allow to cool and then slice into 12 bars.