Oh September, have you been rough.

Our days may be short, but life has made them hopelessly long.  Evenings are spent with little time to do anything but the mundane and necessary – walk the dog, make our dinner, clean up the resulting mess, and fall into bed.  We will wake only to lather, rinse and repeat once again in the morning.

I’m aware that it will ease up once October ends – schedules of the belt will loosen and we will once again find a moment to breathe.  Until then, I have fallen out of love with you, September.  You with your false-hope-promises and teases of cooler weather.  You with your rushed weekends and long nights spent alone.  You with your ever changing moods and unpredictable antics.

These breakfast bars are a true godsend when you find yourself too scattered and too busy to take care of yourself properly.  When you can’t manage a bowl of cereal let alone yoghurt, oatmeal, or any other morning nibble, these bars will be waiting for you.  They are easy enough to throw together on a frazzled Sunday evening and will keep you going all week long.

They can be adapted any number of ways – with the addition of different nuts or dried fruit.  It’s true that I rarely make them the exact same way twice, if only because I bore easily and these work with practically ‘anything’ you may want to throw into the mix.  I like to think of them as healthier than the store bought type, if only because they are not processed.  There is also no butter in the recipe, which I have found in many other variations.  They are chewy, not-too-sweet morning saviours that will get you through to afternoon lunch – your half time to breathe.

Breakfast Bars
Adapted from Nigella Lawsons Nigella Express

1 14-fl-oz can condensed milk

2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame)

1 cup natural unsalted peanuts

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and oil a 9- x 13-inch baking pan or just use a disposable aluminum foil one.

2. Warm the condensed milk in a large pan.

3. Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients together and add the warmed condensed milk, using a rubber spatula to fold and distribute.

4. Spread the mixture into the oiled or foil pan and press down with a spatula or, better still, your hands (wearing those disposable latex CSI gloves to stop you from sticking) to make the surface even.

5. Bake for 1 hour, remove, and after about 15 minutes, cut into four across and four down, to make 16 chunky bars. Let cool completely.  Makes 16 bars.

*  I sometimes use dried apricots or cherries in place of the cranberries.
** I have taken to using dry roasted peanuts for a slight edge.