First fall recipe: Sweet Potato-Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Sweet Potato Oatmeal Bar recipe follow at end of post.Slice of Sweet Potato bar on plate drizzled with maple syrup

We are not officially in the season of fall- that will happen tomorrow. But, it has felt like fall for the past week.

With the cooling down of the weather (especially in the mornings and evenings) has come a need for soft cotton pajamas and holey knit cardigans. My morning coffee has become more ritualized as I wrap my fingers around the cup and enjoy its warmth – my hands, shocked into momentary chill after leaving their comforter burren, returning to warmth. I look at the sunflowers standing tall in their vase; a gift from my mother. Their cheery butter, yellow brings a wistful smile. They are the last vestiges of summer. I did not get to plant sunflowers nor dahlias in this new home and garden. But, in 2014…

I think of all the rituals I have created around fall since moving to Boston; each one attached to specific chosen family members.

Within my first year here giving in to the idea that, while homemade pie crust is heavenly, bought pie crust allows for a quicker apple pie made. Then, making apple pie, apple crumble, apple fritters, and baked apples with and for my good friend Addison and her community.

Donning jeans or track pants and warm rugby shirts or hooded sweatshirts on weekends. Packing the car for a long drive into Vermont or Connecticut, or a short one down into Southie, to watch Addison play. Later, being thankful that I had friends who played flag football in Roslindale so that I could continue the take-out coffee, sport-watching (okay, sideline yelling) that I’d grown accustomed to.

Apple picking. Really, it doesn’t get more fall than apple picking in New England. Joining with my former wife and our best friend-couple to pick a farm and go. Fumbling upon fall festivals with pumpkin donuts, apple fritters, and country music. Breaking rules by climbing trees and hoisting each other on shoulders to reach the “best one” on the higher bows. Taking lots of photos. Filling paper bags to brimming with local fruit- to be stored in our pantry and enjoyed for months later.

Baking and cooking. Making homemade broth and rich soups. Wishing I knew how to make a good stew. Creating nutty seeded breads while listening to country or the blues. Adapting muffin recipes to make them more or less healthy depending on my mood. Filling my home with rich smells of love and yeast and sugar before giving the goods away, one or two at a time, in plastic ziplock bags with notes signed off with “{heart}, Jo”

Snuggling up in bed to hide the chill and watching television show and/or film marathons (for the first time in my life) on Sunday afternoons with my bf. Leaving bed only for water and food. Resting. Jumping on the motorcycle to enjoy those sunny late afternoons. Watching golden yellow sunshine fall on turning leaves. Leaf peeping from the back of a bike. Quickly realizing how fast the evening chill comes on when you’re not protected by a car’s four walls at 45mph. Feeling the flush of cheeks as I step off the bike, exhilarated, rubbing my hands against my face for warmth.

There have been many fall traditions. Most in sharing food and the outdoors with good friends- chosen family. Some of those family are no longer with me. New family are.

Two days ago, I decided to bake my first fall breakfast: Sweet Potato Oatmeal Bars. They’re rich, dense, and filled with apples and nuts. They taste like fall. Warmed up and drizzled with maple syrup, they’re a delight. They’re also vegan.

They’re vegan because I have new family- a good friend who has come into my life in the past year. He is vegan. Now, he is living with me, my boyfriend, and his boyfriend. We are creating an intentional community. A home. A family. From Day 1, the smell of his burning nag champa wafting through the house felt like home. Our “hellos”, hugs, and #roomielove moments via text or in-person remind me that family is born and created. I want to share fall with them. For me, a large part of my self and my relationship with the fall (and then winter) months is cooking and baking. I share love through and with food- both the process of making it and the final product. And so I made breakfast bars.

Last night, two minutes after I turned off my bedside lamp to sleep, my friend and his boyfriend came home from a night out in community. With earplugs in, I did not hear them, but I felt the THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. of my shepherd wagging her tail against the bedframe. At her immediate joy upon their return, I smiled, sighed joyfully, and silently joined her in welcoming my new family home.

Sweet Potato Oatmeal BarsBowl of ingredients for sweet potato bars

  • 2 cups of oats
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato (approximately 1 med potato, steamed ahead of time)
  • 1 medium granny smith apple, diced into very small pieces
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
InstructionsSweet Potato mixture in skillet
  1. For best nutrient absorption, place oats and almond milk in a glass bowl and let sit in a warm place overnight. If you’re pressed for time you can also set your over to 170 degrees and warm mixture for five minutes in the oven before turning off the heat and allowing the mixture to sit in the cooling over for up to fifteen minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. After soaking, stir in all remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. Grease 10-inch cast iron skillet (I use a little cooking spray) and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. Enjoy 🙂
  6. Tips – If you use an 8×8 pan, the cooking time may be longer than stated above. They’re lovely served warm with drizzled maple syrup over the top.

Recipe adapted from Natural Fertility + Wellness


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