Get Ready for the Holidays: How a Treat Early in the Day Might Help

Cookies for breakfast?  Not my idea but a couple of tasters said these dark chocolate, fig and oat bars make a perfect morning food.

Photo By Lorelle Del Matto

Photo By Lorelle Del Matto

Why not?  They’ve made with whole grain oats, a classic breakfast food, nutrient-rich figs and dark chocolate, an ingredient with a definite “health halo.”

Some argue that having a sweet treat early in the day can squelch cravings later.  In 2012, the media picked up on a research study done at Tel Aviv University and published in the journal Steroids showing that eating dessert at breakfast as part of a low-calorie diet plan helped dieters lose weight.  In the study, the dessert was part of a protein-enriched, high-carbohydrate breakfast. The theory behind the success is that a breakfast including a balance of quality protein and carbohydrates helps with satiety, keeping one full, and a dessert helps manage cravings.  Chocolate is reported to be one of the most craved foods so including it early in the day may be helpful.

If you like this approach, my suggestion is to have a cookie along with a high protein food such as a cup of Greek yogurt or a couple of eggs and some fresh berries or another fruit.

Making time for breakfast is one way to ensure you have the energy to deal with the stress of holiday preparations and family gatherings.  This recipe, California Fig and Rich Chocolate Oat Squares, was published in the Valley Fig Grower’s Fig Focus Newsletter, November 2016.

Link another two of my favorite chocolate desserts, Double Chocolate Almond Cookies  and Chocolate Baby Cakes with Red Wine Glaze and read about dark chocolate and health.

California Fig and Rich Chocolate Oat Squares

Serves 20.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup packed golden brown sugar

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup Blue Ribbon® Orchard Choice® or Sun-Maid® California Figs, stemmed and finely chopped

4 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 85% cocoa), chopped

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line bottom of a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Lightly oil pan or mist pan with nonstick spray.


  1. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Whisk to blend.


  1. In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter, granulated and brown sugar on medium speed until mixture is creamy, about 5 minutes. On low speed, beat in oil. Beat in egg and vanilla; blend well. Slowly beat in dry ingredients.  With spatula, fold in figs, chocolate and oats.


  1. Spread mixture in prepared pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack. Cut into 20 squares.

Nutritional Analysis:  One cookie square has 160 calories, 7.5 grams of fat (3 grams saturated fat), 2 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbohydrate, 2.5 grams of dietary fiber and 101 grams of sodium.


Treat Yourself: Eating Dessert at Breakfast Can Aid Weight Loss, by Alexandra Sifferlin, June 25, 2012.

Nutrition: Dessert at Breakfast May Help Dieters by Nicholas Bakalarfeb. February 20, 2012.

© Lorelle S Del Matto 2016


lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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