Commuter breakfast

On weekdays, I pretty much eat some combination of the same three items for breakfast. I have carefully selected these three items with one requirement in mind — can I easily grab this item on my way out the door and eat it in the car on my drive to work?

My three standard breakfasts are:

  1. String cheese and granola bar
  2. Granola bar and banana
  3. String cheese and banana

Occasionally, if I have a hard boiled egg on hand, I will substitute it for one of the items, and on those days, I eat the egg while standing in the kitchen and then grab one item to take along in the car.

This has been my standard breakfast for several years. I was purchasing granola bars at a rate of about a box a week. Usually, I ordered them from, but that’s another post sometime.

When I started paying more attention to the ingredients in my food, I decided to try making my own granola bars. I turned to my favorite source for “real food” recipes, Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food.  She had a recipe for granola bars that I tried and like and have been using for a few months now.

The first time I made her recipe, I “mostly” followed it. (That’s kind of how I am with cooking.) I did substitute about a half cup of mini chocolate chips for some of the nuts. They were good tasting granola bars and held together pretty well. I find unsweetened coconut on Amazon. If you think you don’t like coconut, try the unsweetened and you may change your mind.

On my second try, I decided to go even healthier and just follow the recipe as is, meaning no chocolate chips. The bars were still delicious, but didn’t hold together too well. I ended up having small bags of granola chunks instead. They worked, but not quite as portable.

Recently, I substituted steel cut oats for about half of the oatmeal, as was Lisa’s suggestion for making granola bars. They held together better, but are not as chewy as I would like them. I think my next batch will have a bit more honey and go back to the standard oatmeal. I am also pretty regularly using some mini chocolate chips in them too.

I’m also looking forward to trying a few new ideas. For example, I bought some currants to use in a salad recipe and I plan to put a few of them into an upcoming batch for a different flavor twist.

Here is her recipe, which I am fan of:

Granola Bars

Yield: 1 jelly roll pan of granola bars

  • 3 1/2 cups rolled oats (if you want bars use steel cut oats so it will stick together better)
  • 1 cup raw sliced almonds
  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces (or walnuts or pecans)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Also need – parchment paper


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the dry oats, almonds, cashews, coconut, seeds and spices together in a large mixing bowl.

Heat the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the butter melts stir in the vanilla.

Pour the hot liquids over the dry ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until evenly coated.

Spread mixture onto prepared pan in one even layer. Bake for 75 minutes.

The granola will become crisp as it cools at which point you can break into pieces (if making bars) or break it up into small chunks by pounding it in a zip lock bag (if making cereal). Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.