I don’t do snacks.
They just don’t work for me. Fifteen minutes after eating a snack, I’m hungrier than I was before I ate it, regardless of the nutritional value. I think I have a snack-specific tapeworm. Since it’s physically impossible for me to eat my way to satisfaction without sitting down to a full-blown square, I typically just resign myself to mild hunger in the hour or so leading up to my next meal (or eat a piece of fruit, if I’m starving and dying) and try to stick it out. Those diet plans that advise grazing on “mini-meals” every few hours? My worst nightmare. I would be the hangriest. It’s not that I end up eating less overall—I just prefer to feel decidedly full each time I do.
Unfortunately, I have a friend who’s constantly trying to peer pressure me into buying snacks. His name is Joe. Joe the Trader. You may have heard of him? He’s skilled at what he does, and he can be quite persuasive. If I trade with Joe, my snackless existence is frequently brought under siege.
See, I do this loony thing where I try to only shop the outer perimeter of the grocery store. With the exception of baking supplies and the odd canned good or condiment, I stick to the Real Food. The perishables. It requires a substantial degree of planning and tunnelvision, and it pays off at the checkout when I drop a measly $25 to feast on a week’s worth of energizing, home-cooked meals. More room in my cash and calorie budgets for foodie excursions, fancy cocktails, and that pesky baking habit, nawmsayin’? But Trader Joe’s has a way of convincing me that everything my life is missing lies between the trail mix and the pita chips. I walk in for Greek yogurt and chilled baby beets, and I walk out with chocolate-covered edamame (that’s a thing) and and three types of granola (this is a girl with a crunchy food aversion) that sit on my pantry shelf collecting dust.
I’m moving across the country in two weeks. It’s pantry clearing time. So I converted my unused snacks into new snacks! Logical, right? I still don’t know what to do with them, but at least I feel a vague, unfounded sense of accomplishment. And by further processing my own processed foods, I feel like something has to cancel out. That’s, like, math.
Or, like, science.
But I’m an English major, so what do I know?
Trader Joe’s Rehab Bars
The cereal used in the following recipe expired in November 2011. The box had not yet been opened. I took my chances. Like the Alldai Errdai Cookies, this is a very forgiving recipe that can be altered to suit your tastes and/or grocery shopping habits. Adapted from How Sweet It Is.
1 cup oats
1 cup Peanut Butter Puffins (or other puffed rice cereal)
1 cup crushed Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites (or regular pretzels)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
2/3 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon honey
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a 9 x 13 baking pan.
2. Combine oats, flour, cereal, pretzels, brown sugar, peanuts, and flaxseed in a large bowl. Mix to combine. Add peanut butter, mixing until a crumbly “dough” forms. It’s a workout. Embrace it.
3. Combine butter and vanilla. Add to dough mixture. Mix until combined.
4. Add honey. Mix until moistened. Moistened. Moist. Yeah, I said it.
5. Add (or “fold in,” for you sticklers) chocolate chips.
6. Press into pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until top is golden brown (watch them closely, though. Burnt marshmallows? I swoon. Burnt pretzels? I weep). Let cool completely before cutting. Sprinkle whatever crumbles to bits over yogurt. Or just shovel in fistfuls down your gullet. Your call.
Chocolate. Peanut butter. Pretzels. Portability. Okay, might have to rethink that “no snacks” policy.
At least now I can spring for a new box of cereal.