Savory Morning

My friend Jin moved to Chicago for college as a teenager.  She never left, and we met at our current teaching assignment 8 or so years ago.  We share a love of cooking and have explored new recipes in a variety of formats (cooking club, progressive dinners, sharing the farmer CSA) for some time now.  Since she usually goes back to her home state for Christmas, she often stays in the city for Thanksgiving.  Meghan and I fight to host her with our families, and I’ve won for the last 2 years.

Jin and I also share a love of wine, so she makes use of our guest room every Thanksgiving so we can consume as much as we want.  Last year, she made a delightful biscuits and gravy for next day breakfast, but this year I came across a recipe for an unusual homemade granola bar.




  • 1 c. rolled oats, toasted
  • 1/2 c. crisp rice cereal
  • 1/2 c. Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried vegetable bits
  • 1/3 c. smoked almonds, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (swap in cumin, chili powder, or garlic powder for paprika)
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened nut butter


  1. LIne 8-inch by 8-inch metal pan with foil; grease foil. Combine rolled oats, crisp rice cereal, Parmesan, freeze-dried vegetable bits, smoked almonds, chia seeds, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Stir in egg whites and unsweetened nut butter. Press firmly into pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Remove from pan; cut into 8 bars. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
I didn’t have any freeze-dried vegetable bits in the house (and have no interest in finding any– what IS that?), and instead of the “crisp rice cereal” I used a Kashi puffed rice (7 Multigrain Puffs) that I bought to make another kind of granola for Client.  Because of the savory smoky slant here I decided to substitute some dried cherries (1/2 cup) in place of the veggie bits to balance it out with a pop of fruit.  I had the idea from the dried apricots included in a Moroccan chicken dish I’ve made before. I didn’t have smoked almonds but figured the smoked paprika would be plenty of flavor.  In case almonds in the mix weren’t enough, I used almond butter (another Costco find that I prefer over peanut butter–if you can get past the annoying separating that it does between uses).
Verdict:  These came together quickly, especially with Jin there to help with the mis en place.  I keep refrigerated egg whites on hand for Client, which we used instead of the eggs, making it even faster.  We loved the in-your-face flavor of the Parmesan, but my husband found it very off-putting for breakfast.  If you aren’t a savory breakfast lover, you could probably cut the Parm down to 1/3 of a cup to mellow it out and save a few calories.  I’m excited to make these again and experiment with different add-ins: maybe changing the savory spcies to coconut and cinnamon and putting in some chocolate chips and cocoa nibs.  Stay tuned!

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