Packing the right food makes a good trip even better. Peanut butter breakfast bars provide delicious fuel for travel.
What are the necessary elements for a really good girl’s weekend? First and foremost, the right traveling companion. Then, enough protein to keep everyone happy. From there, everything else will fall into place.
When Christie and I set out for a recent long weekend on San Juan Island, we packed the trunk of the car with every item we could conceivably want for the next four days. There are a few advantages to a road trip over airplane travel, and this bounty of luggage—multiple pairs of shoes, snacks, blow-dryers, toenail polish, full-sized bottles of toiletries and liquids aplenty is surely one of them.
We sang along to John Denver as we drove through a perfect Pacific Northwest morning—cool and bright, with a breeze pushing clouds above us.
The Anacortes Ferry takes about an hour to get to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. That’s just enough time to claim a window seat, eavesdrop on an excited boy and his father (“Dad! Dad! I think we’re moving now!” “Dad, are you awake?”), marvel at the water and clouds and sky and seabirds, snap a few pictures and venture out onto the wind-whipped deck.
And enough time for a late morning snack. Christie’s peanut butter bars are truly ideal travel food. Whether flying, driving, or sailing, these compact protein-packed bars fit the bill. They are dense, flavorful, and not too dry—just right.
We nibbled our way through a few while gazing out the windows of the ferry at the million shades of blue in water and sky. Sailboats scudded by, and we passed little islands—some no more than pine tree-covered lumps barely emerging from the water. Soon, we were driving off the ferry in Friday Harbor, ready to explore the quaint seaside downtown, find some lunch, and get settled into our rooms at a little jewel box of an inn just outside town.
I love a simple breakfast that I can eat in the comfort of my hotel along with a fresh hot cup of coffee before starting my day. And we had some wonderful days, started off right with peanut butter breakfast bars.
We had time to rest, and read in hammocks, to nap and dream. Time to consider carefully the all-important questions: “Where should we go for dinner? Are you getting hungry yet?”
There was a day of sea kayaking. While Christie steered from the back, I practiced the art of letting go in the front, and realized once again, as I must do over and over, that I do not always have to be in control. Sometimes it is a relief to just let go of the trajectory and paddle faithfully in an imperfect, clumsy unison with a friend, trusting that we will go where we need to go. We skimmed over wavelets and beds of kelp, so close to the silvery water, pushed by the currents and blown by the salty wind.
And there was a day of desultory sight-seeing that started in the tiny village of Roche Harbor, wending back into Friday Harbor for lunch and bookstore browsing, and culminating in an afternoon of wine-tasting at the San Juan Vineyards, where we made our way slowly through the entire tasting list of reds and whites while sitting on a sun-drenched patio overlooking over golden fields and talking about nothing and everything in the universe.
The right company and the right fuel. And la dolce far niente.
Christie’s Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars
- 3 cups oatmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup soy protein powder
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 2/3 cup peanut butter
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 egg whites (reserve yolks for another use)
- 2 oz applesauce
- ½ cup chopped fruit such as prunes, apricots, or raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oatmeal, flour, protein powder and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Stir together peanut butter, butter, brown sugar and egg whites. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Press into a 9×13 pan and bake 20 minutes. Cut into 12 bars. Let cool 10 minutes before placing in an air-tight storage container.
- From the start: I double the recipe for 24 bars. They are a great grab-and-go breakfast.
- Butter: I soften the butter for 30 sec in the microwave on high in a glass dish. It will be less time if you aren’t doubling the recipe.
- Brown Sugar: You can pack the brown sugar but I think they are fine with less sugar so I just measure and only press a little, gently, to make the measures tidy (or if doubling you can firmly pack just 1 cup.)
- Mixing: This is a pretty thick mix so I like to use my KitchenAid stand mixer.
- Baking Pan: I bake the doubled recipe in a 17×11 jellyroll pan (or a half sheet pan).
- Bake Time: In the jellyroll pan I bake it for 19 minutes
- Keeping Moisture In: Air-tight storage is key. I let the warm bars sit in the container with the lid askew for about 30 min before closing the lid tight. There will be some moisture on the inside but by the next day the moisture is in the bars and not on the container.
- Storage: These bars will keep in a dark cabinet for several weeks. They also freeze well.