Back when I was younger I remember pulling out cookbooks from the collection stored in a top cupboard in the kitchen. Inside, between an assortment of loose leaf paper recipes and those passed down from generations, housed cookbooks new and old. There were old standards and the occasional newer release. And as I grew so too did the collection, amidst magazine cut-outs and hand-me-downs. As I made my way into my teens I found my own interest in cookbooks rising, picking up my first one around that time. And it hasn’t stopped.
With each passing season I eagerly await the new releases hitting my front door. And this autumn had a few particular titles that I was anxiously awaiting. One such release high on my list was “The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods” brought to us by Sara and Hugh Forte. This book is filled with striking photography and mouth-watering recipes, focusing on wholesome meals and seasonal foods. It’s a welcome addition to my collection and has quickly become a favourite.
When I first picked up this book and browsed through it, I was struck by how many healthy, wonderful recipes there were. Sadly, there are a good share of books that sit vacant in my cupboard. Others I cook from once and put away. There are only a handful that I cook from time and time again, this being one such book. When it arrived I spent at least an hour flipping through it, marking off recipes and making notes. And I kept going back to it. There were so many recipes that stuck out to me, namely the Ranchero Breakfast Tostadas, Tangled Carrot & Broccoli Sprout Salad, Mushroom and Brown Rice Veggie Burgers and their Granola (Pumpkin Pecan Granola and Granola Protein Bars).
Ah, that fantastic granola.
We have been really busy with photography sessions, mainly weddings. And we know how hectic those days are, most starting early in the morning and lasting for fourteen-odd hours, right up until the party slows down. We figured out early that we hit a wall hours before dinner is served. Sometime between the ceremony and reception we start to lose fuel, so we started packing away snacks to give us an energy boost and keep us going until the reception. Only that fuel changed depending on our planning and what we had around. Until last weekend.
The night before our most recent wedding shoot I spent some time in the kitchen making the granola protein bars. I wrapped up a few and made sure it was packed with our photography gear for the morning. And sure enough, right in the middle of the day, we were fading and reached for these bars. And I didn’t stop at one. It was the perfect medicine, giving us the required boost with protein and flavour that lasted hours.
We collapsed that night in pure exhaustion. Our muscles sore and tired and our bodies finished. The next morning we woke late with no plans, the usual events for the day following such a long shoot. Our bodies were still feeling the effects of the day before so I made my way back to the kitchen. We still had a good amount of granola left so I began breaking it down into clumps and turned it into a key component of this parfait, one filled with heartiness and seasonal goods. Caramel and black pepper spy apples, granola and honey greek yogurt. It helped pick our energy up for another day.
In the weeks since this book arrived I have cooked from it countless other times, more so than any other book we have here. It is stained and marked with pages bent, the truest sign that of how good a cookbook really is. And how important it is to our health and well-being.
If you aspire to eat healthfully without sacrificing flavour, you’ll want this book. Yesterday. For a long time to come.
The Sprouted Kitchen is out now, make sure to pick up a copy of your own.
Granola Protein Bars
(adapted slightly from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook)
- 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup chopped pistachios
- 1/2 cup agave syrup
- 1 tbsp. water
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1/2 cup dates, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the oats and pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until just toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Turn down the heat to 300F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the agave syrup, water, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Add the toasted oats and pistachios and protein powder and stir until it is all coated. Stir in the apricots and dates.
- Line an 8″ by 8″ baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides for an easy removal. Dump the granola mixture in the centre. Using a large spoon, press down the mixture compactly, being sure to push it all the way into the corners. Bake until the top is slightly toasted, about 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Pull them out by the parchment edges and cut 8 equal bars.
- If you want to eat them later, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap. (they should keep for about a week)