Back to the Routine August 10, 2018 Every August, we can sense summer beginning to slip away as the days get shorter and the mornings become cooler. Our family is always a little sad to leave behind the lax, spontaneous days of summer, but I think we all benefit from finding our rhythm again. This time of year also brings the return of school for the kids, which encourages our entire family to pursue a similar fresh start. For us, that includes establishing a routine in the mornings so that we can put our best foot forward as we all head out the door every day. This transition into a new and set routine can often have a rocky start. Whether you have kids, or you’re heading back to school yourself, or it’s simply a typical morning before work, it takes thoughtful planning to make things go smoother. That’s why I’m always looking for ways I can prepare our family the night before, making for mornings that don’t feel rushed or hectic. We try our best at this, and sometimes we fail, but when we can make it happen, I’ve found that it really affects not only the way we connect with one another, but also our perspectives about the day ahead. For us, a fast-paced morning starts with an easy breakfast—and that’s where these granola bars come in. Chip loves a big breakfast, and so do I, but we can’t always go all out and that’s okay. I like this recipe because it’s quick to prepare the night before and also simple to grab and go. Plus, they are good. Not even Chip can say no to these! DRIED CHERRY, CHOCOLATE CHIP, COCONUT AND ALMOND GRANOLA BAR RECIPE ingredients 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal 1 cup sliced almonds 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed 3 tablespoons unsalted butter ⅔ cup of honey ¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 1 ½ cup dried cherries ⅓ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips instructions Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray. Place the oats, sliced almonds and coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted. Once toasted, pour mixture into a large bowl to cool. While the oats are toasting, add the honey, butter, brown sugar, vanilla bean with seeds and salt to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. When the butter mixture is ready, remove it from the heat and pour into separate bowl to cool. Let cool 10 – 15 minutes. Pour over the oat mixture and stir to combine well, then stir in the dried cherries. Pour half of mixture into parchment lined dish and press down with back of rubber spatula. Sprinkle half of the chocolate chips and pour remaining mixture over the top and lightly press down with your hands. Top with remaining chocolate chips. (Make sure mixture is cool to the touch before adding chocolate chips.) Chill the dish for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Lift the bars from the pan using the edges of the parchment and place them on a cutting board. Cut into desired shapes and serve immediately. Store in fridge up to 5 days. Recipe Note – If you plan on putting the granola bars in your bag in the morning to eat later that day, I recommend cutting them into slices after they are fully refrigerated and storing them in the freezer. This way, they will naturally thaw out throughout the day. Store up to 2 weeks in the freezer. Print this recipe here! Another easy way to simplify mornings is using organizational pieces, like locker baskets, as a landing place for all of the odds and ends you need to remember to grab on your way out the door. Even just pre-packing your bag or backpack the night before could save you a few minutes—and those few minutes can make all the difference in the middle of a hectic morning. Even if you’re not headed back to school, a new notebook or set of pencils can feel like a fresh start to a new season. Besides, who doesn’t love a brand new notebook? If you make this granola bar recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram @joannagaines or comment below. I’d love to know what you think! Shop this story!