Every baker should have an ace in the hole. For me, that never-failing treasure is my Drunk Blonde, a whiskey-soaked butterscotch blondie. Blondies can be pretty bland, but these guys pack a punch: you better eat your share before putting them out on a a platter, because people act like hawks around these things. There’s a whole lot to like about the Drunk Blonde, but what wins me over is the lack of leavening. So many blondies aren’t much more than glorified chocolate chip cookies, and have a fluffy, cakey texture. These bare-bones blondies, lacking any leavening at all, are gooey to the point of being almost fudge-like, with the alcohol adding an extra richness. I’ve made this recipe several times, and it’s impossible to mess up. Each result has been more delicious than the last.
Let’s face it: it’s hard to mess up blueberries. It’s even harder to mess up blueberries with a crumb coating. It’s no wonder this blueberry crumble bar is so good. I had made this recipe on a whim: there were blueberries in the house, along with the rest of the ingredients. I wasn’t particularly excited about it — it was just another thing to try out. My lack of enthusiasm was a mistake, however. These bars are crunchy, crumbly, buttery, and sweet. I halved the amount of sugar in the original recipe to let the sweetness and tartness of the blueberries shine (and so I could pretend this bar is healthier than it really is). It’s probably even tastier with all the sugar. I have a bad sweet tooth, after all.
First of all, you’ll have to pardon the bad photography of these scrumptious lemon bars — in my hurry to get them into my mouth, I didn’t much bother with taking a nice photo or two. Trust me when I say that these have the potential to look much more beautiful than they do.
Full disclosure: if I have to choose between a brownie or a lemon bar, I’m going to pick the brownie every time. But it’s summer, and today something heavy and chocolatey just didn’t sound right. While taking my dog outside this morning, I noticed our Meyer lemon tree had two lemons left. I knew instantly what baking I wanted to do.
This recipe is really easy; I barely glanced at the recipe as I threw it all together, because the steps are really that simple. The end result is much more than the sum of its parts: for something seemingly so basic, the flavor is robust, sweet, and only a little bit tart. Not to brag, but both my father and the guy I’m dating (okay, admittedly not the most objective audience) said they were the best lemon bars they’d ever eaten. Even the brownie lover in me has to admit: this was just the right dessert for such a hot summer day.
Speaking again as someone in recovery from anorexia, for me there are few worse bodily sensations than that of low blood sugar. If I haven’t eaten anything for a couple of hours, it’ll hit me out of nowhere: suddenly I’m shaking and lightheaded and famished. Naturally, my regular bouts of hypoglycemia were concerning not just to me, but to my dietitian as well. Since I eat off of a meal plan (it’s flexible and I choose what I eat, but the meal plan dictates how much of what macronutrients I need to consume throughout the day), my dietitian changed it to be protein heavy in order to stave off the hunger and blood sugar crashes.
Ever since starting my recovery, I’ve been a big fan of energy bars. Luna Bars, Clif Bars, Mojo Bars, you name it, I’ve eaten it and probably enjoyed it. I had experimented with making my own in the past, but without success, so since then I have leaned on the bar-making professionals for my high protein snacking needs. My dietitian, however, changed the game when she gave me this recipe.
These bars (also good eaten rolled up into balls) are sweet like a dessert but filled with ingredients that are effective at stabilizing one’s energy levels and blood sugar. I eat these both as a treat and as a tool for keeping my body feeling good throughout the day. While it should be obvious that they aren’t a diet food, I’d hope that the ingredients list makes it equally as obvious they are absolutely a health food, and should be enjoyed as such.
I spent two months at a treatment center for anorexia nervosa. A huge part of my treatment was exposure therapy, meaning meal upon meal upon meal. The daily routine was breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner-snack. At the height of it, my snacks were all averaging 500 calories, and the meals were even larger. Of course, I needed it. I was dangerously underweight and completely unwilling to feed myself.
In treatment, I had two choices: eat my meal plan, or drink Ensure Pluses. While many of my peers chose the caloric supplement drinks, the foodie in me balked at the idea of skipping actual food to slurp down some grainy, protein-heavy mystery concoction. If I was gonna gain weight, I was gonna gain weight on something that tasted good. After all, having subsisted off of sweet potatoes and mustard for so long, I did miss real food. A lot.
The cook would try to bake a treat every day so that those who were feeling extra daring could have something fresh and homemade to eat at snack time. There was no nutritional information for them, no calorie counts to guide us. We simply had to eat what the staff deemed was an appropriate amount. It was terrifying. I was nearly done with the program before I had built up the courage to eat one of her special-made snacks.
I had picked her caramel oat bars. They were gooey, salty, crunchy, and chewy, all in one. Even though they are simple, they pack a lot of punch. All that sweetness, topped off with a hearty dash of sea salt, makes them all too easy to devour. When it was time for me to advance out of the intensive level of treatment, I asked the cook for the recipe.
And in case it isn’t obvious, I’ll spell it out: it says a lot when an anorexic loves eating something.