Tahini + Honey Super Seed Granola Bars
Sometimes things sneak up on us.
The first week back to work.
No one likes things creeping around the corner and jumping up in one’s face, but it seems that is often the way things come at us. We then proceed to get angry and flustered and say “but I wasn’t prepared!”
How can we ever be truly prepared?
It’s funny, in this life as a freelancing artist, how there are these periods of downtime from projects and concrete work- the in-betweens. Time to train, gather, rest, recuperate, research. This is the allotted time for preparation. However when those big looming things finally leap out at us from the seemingly distant shadows ahead, somehow it never feels like we did enough.
Maybe the key is not just to prepare the tools and resources that we will need for whatever events or projects lay on the horizon, but to simultaneously cultivate a sense of openness- a willingness to accept surprise and be ready to improvise with whatever is thrown our way.
Mary Oliver wrote,
“We can know a lot. And still, no doubt, there are rash and wonderful ideas brewing somewhere; there are many surprises yet to come.”
This is to say that even during those down times of preparation- all of the reading, gathering knowledge, physical training (in my case as a dancer)- there are going to be surprises anyway. They might be wonderful, they might be terrifying. All of these things will, without a doubt, keep creeping up on us. Believe me, I know this from current experience.
Now that is it October, a date that was looming far in the future has suddenly jumped right smack in front of me. I don’t feel at all ready for this dance performance I have coming up at the end of the month, despite the fact that this particular project has been in the works since last March. The date has revealed itself, mocking my attempts at preparation and challenging my faith in myself as a choreographer and dancer. I have firmly decided to not let it get to me and accept that a performance is an equal mixture of rehearsal and spontaneity. I just have to breathe and stay open to every detail of the process, both the planned and unplanned. I have to use what work has been done and stay fluid in the face of surprises. Wish me luck (or merde, in the tradition of dance performances) and stay tuned for updates.
Maybe the truth of this matter is that we never feel 100% ready for anything, but isn’t that the beauty of it? We learn how to trust that when the moment comes, a magical mixture of previous preparation, plus some help from the universe and support from those loving people in your life, are all going to get you beautifully through whatever sneaks your way.
A simple thing that we can also do to keep ourselves prepared for anything is to fuel our bodies with food that makes it energized, satisfied, and content so that it doesn’t crack under pressure. We bend and bounce back- similar to the bend of these chewy granola bars (hah). I think there is a small part of me depending on these bars to get me through the next couple weeks and while I know that’s a lot to ask of a humble granola bar, these super-powered ones are up to the task.
Chewy, sweet granola bars have been staple snacks for most of my life, eaten in between rehearsals for plays, breaks during summer camp, and during after school dance classes. I wanted to recreate the same texture in a homemade no-bake bar, but with updated flavors and ingredients. Tahini and honey, being one of my favorite combinations, was a no-brainer, but the crunchy seeds are really what gives this recipe a healthy punch.
Filled with protein and body-balancing nutrients, sesame, flax and chia are like a magic seedy cocktail for the good of our bodies. I also used a little bit of an ingredient I discovered randomly in a giant burlap sack in one of my favorite markets here in Tangier- the mysterious little nigella seed (also sometimes known as black cumin- pictured above before ground up). While the flavor can be strong and slightly bitter, it is amazing for immunity and general well-being (google it- I’m no expert, but I have used it to cure colds before). If you can get your hands on them, either in health-food markets or online, I highly recommend adding a little spoonful for an extra boost in these bars.
The lovely thing about this recipe is that it is flexible- you can swap out any of the seeds for whatever you have on hand, throw in different spices if you want to change up the flavor, and add extra honey if you like things a little sweeter. This just happens to be my favorite combination, but feel to get creative. Whip up a batch and keep them on hand to help you stay prepared for whatever surprises leap into your path.
Tahini + Honey Super Seed Granola Bars
Makes about 10-12 bars, gluten-free
2 cups (200g) gluten-free rolled oats
3 tbsp chia seeds
4 tbsp sesame seeds
4 tbsp flax seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground nigella seed (optional)
1/2 cup tahini (should be quite runny)
1/4 cup honey (or more to taste)
2 tbsp coconut oil
Preheat your oven to 400ºF (205ºC) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss together the oats, chia, sesame seeds and flax seeds. Lay out evenly on the baking tray and toast in the oven for just 5 minutes or so, until very lightly browned and fragrant. While waiting for them to toast, line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In the same large bowl, whisk together the tahini, honey and coconut oil. Add the toasted seeds and oats, cinnamon, cloves, salt and nigella seeds (if using). Combine with a spatula, making sure everything is evenly distributed and the mixture is sticky all the way through. Dump the mixture into your prepared 8x8 pan and press out firmly with the spatula, getting the granola all the way to the corners into an even, flat layer. Stick in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour. Remove and slice into 10 or 12 pieces (depending on the size you want). Keep chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to snack away!