I’m always worried that my husband is not going to eat enough whenever he is traveling or at work for what is shaping up to be a really long day. There’s a little bit of a Jewish/Italian mother in me from that perspective. I’ve mentioned before that Eric is one of those people who can go all day without eating because he “just forgot.”
(Cue sound of record scratching.)
Huh? As someone who pretty much plans my day, if not my life, around where my next meal will be enjoyed, the notion of “just forgetting” to eat is about as foreign to me as paying extra for ice in my Coke Zero. Oh sure, I’ve skipped plenty of meals. I’ve gone days without eating until late at night. But this is never, ever due to forgetfulness. It’s due to inconvenience. My stomach simply won’t let me forget, and it becomes quite hard for me to function when my blood sugar drops. For the most part, I'm worthless.
During the work week, I try to pack Eric a lunch to take with him and put in his office refrigerator, so even if he is on back-to-back calls from 7:30-6:30, he still is able to eat. When he travels, I’ll usually do the same, or we’ll pick up one of those great pre-made meals from Trader Joe’s, which are easy for him to slip into his carry-on. This week, Eric had a late afternoon Sunday flight, for which we had purchased one of the aforementioned T.J.’s salads and a smoothie.
I had to leave the house before Eric did on Sunday, so I took every precaution to make sure that he didn’t forget his dinner and, consequently, “forget to eat” on the long flight. Since the salad was fresh, I didn’t want to leave it at room temperature for long, so I took a black Sharpie and wrote a note in large letters: DON’T FORGET YOUR SALAD AND SMOOTHIE!!, which I placed over his wallet.
I ran back upstairs:
“Hey, don’t forget your food!”
“O.K. I won’t.”
(Sigh) “Yes. I’ll remember.”
I texted him an hour later: “Remember your food! Love you!”
Feeling certain that all was good to go, I went about my day. Two hours later, I looked at my iPhone. Whaddayaknow? I had an e-mail from Eric. Do I even need to tell you what it said?:
“Hey. I forgot my lunch.”
Here’s the thing about Eric. He’s brilliant. One of the most brilliant people I know. But his memory is horrible, especially when he has a lot on his mind. I could have hung blinking Vegas-style signs in the kitchen. I could have spray-painted “GOT FOOD?” on his car. I could have had a 16-piece orchestra playing the “Don’t Forget Your Dinner Swing” as he walked out the door. He would have still forgotten his food.
Next time, I’ll just make him some of these filling Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars, which aren’t so temperature sensitive. I can wrap them up and place them in his bag beforehand, so he will definitely have them handy.
That is, unless he forgets his bag.
Here are a few extra tips for making these healthy home-made hunger-satisfying treats:
- After the granola bars are cut, they can be stored at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for 3-4 days.
- In addition to (or instead of) adding dried fruit to the bars, you could add something like chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or mini M&M’s.
- Cut the bars into smaller squares for a great pre-workout snack. You could even spread a thin layer or strawberry or raspberry jelly on top of the square to REALLY get that peanut butter and jelly taste! or mini M&M’s.
- Cut the bars into smaller squares for a great pre-workout snack. You could even spread a thin layer or strawberry or raspberry jelly on top of the square to REALLY get that peanut butter and jelly taste!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars
Makes 12-16 bars
3 ½ cups rolled oats, divided
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts, divided
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, divided
¼ cup flaxseeds
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cup coarsely chopped dried strawberries, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, or plums (or a mixture)
Preheat the oven to 300F degrees. Spray a 9X13-inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper so that there is a 1-inch overhang on both sides. Spray the parchment.
Place 1 cup of the oats, ½ cup peanuts, and ½ cup of the coconut in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse the mixture several times until it is coarsely chopped.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining oats, peanuts, coconut, and the flaxseeds. Add the mixture from the food processor and stir to blend.
Place the butter and honey in a medium sauce pan set over medium low heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Add the peanut butter and brown sugar, stirring until the mixture is smooth and the brown sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and vanilla.
Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture in the bowl, and stir with a rubber spatula or large spoon until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chopped fruit.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan, pressing down with a lightly oiled or buttered spatula to evenly compress. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
Allow the pan to cool and rest for at least 2 hours before cutting into bars. Trim the edges of the rectangle, and divide it in half lengthwise using a very sharp knife. Cut each half crosswise into bars and either serve immediately or wrap to pack into lunches!