There are some weeks where nothing seems to be going right. I find myself stuck in a creative block. I have no idea what to cook, I can’t figure out how to style or shoot my dish, or I don’t know what words to fill this blank page with. I begin to doubt myself, wonder if the creative flow will ever come back. And then I start complaining about little insignificant things, like not having enough space in my kitchen, not having enough nice props to work with, or struggling with poor light coming through my window. In those moments, every single thing I’m attempting seems to be working against me and I’m totally counter-productive.
I wake up one morning with the best intentions in the world, but then the day goes by and I end up way back to square one. It’s like I’m moving in the wrong direction, or facing a strong current and getting exhausted. These past few days have been just that for me. Nothing has been working the way I had planned.
I read something last night that said something along the lines of: “But what plan? There is no plan. Life is not a plan to follow. Life is an adventure and experience that makes us grow and evolve.” I tend to forget that too often and this week was the reminder I needed to soak that all back in. Accept what is, be gentle on myself and enjoy the journey, whatever it may look like at this very moment.
Whenever I feel a bit down, I know that sweets will find their way to my heart. So I baked these bars and they were the little comfort I needed to get to a better, more gentle place.
These little squares are slightly sweetened, with fresh flavours from the lemon zest, and of course these delicious in-season strawberries. They’re perfectly crumbly, with a nice bite and some juiciness from the fruit. An unpretentious little dessert (or breakfast?!) that hopefully will too, brighten your day up a little.
Notes on the recipe: I used pistachios but I’m sure these bars would be delicious with other nuts such as almonds or pecans. Make sure you cool the squares completely before slicing them, otherwise they may crumble a bit. I placed the pan in the fridge to speed up the chilling process and it worked well.
Strawberry Pistachio Oat Bars (Vegan + GF)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water
- 1 cup rolled oats certified gluten-free if necessary
- 1 1/2 cup oat flour you can make your own by grinding oats in your food processor
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup raw unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
- 2 cups diced strawberries
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon zest
Make the crust
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the chia seeds and water and set aside to thicken while you prepare the rest of the mixture.
In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, oat flour, almond flour, baking powder, ground cardamom and sea salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract and chia gel mixture. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredient and mix to combine. The mixture should be moist and slightly sticky. If it's too dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. If it's too soft add one or two tablespoons of oat flour.
Prepare the filling
In a bowl, combine the diced strawberries, maple syrup, vanilla extract and lemon zest.
Assemble and bake
Take about two thirds of the crust mixture and press it firmly with your hands into the prepared baking pan. Spread the strawberry filling evenly over the crust. Drop the remaining oat mixture in small chunks on top of the filling, covering as much as possible. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and press down slightly with your hands.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is slightly golden. Let cool completely before slicing into squares. Enjoy!
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”