Today’s blog post comes from a dear friend and fellow world traveler, Leilah K. Throughout her journeys, she has learned some valuable life lessons in love and hospitality. I asked her to write a blog post because she has a depth of wisdom that surpasses her years, as well as a love for nourishing people, AND one of the most infectious laughs I’ve ever encountered. I can just hear her laughing as she recounts these stories now…
“I have learned a lot while traveling in different places. How to buy train tickets for a cross-country ride in India; how to ride on the back of a motorcycle through the Ugandan countryside without falling off; how to greet people in their own language; how to fend off the unwanted stares of men on the street (the key: make the most ridiculous face you can muster). But the most important thing I have learned from the people I have met abroad is hospitality.
In the slums of India, a family made space for my husband and me and our fellow travelers on the cement floor of their one-room “apartment”. Six people lived in this room smaller than our living room. It was a cement block, one of hundreds just like it, lined up in rows with dirty water flowing through the streets. Not only did they invite us in but they sent a child to get milk to make us some chai while we sat and talked. These people didn’t seem to care that they didn’t have much to give – they gave us all they could. They made space where they had it.
In Uganda, women offered a plastic chair or straw mat to sit and talk. They let us hold their babies and walk through their sunflower fields.
In Lebanon, there wasn’t a family member or friend who didn’t invite us in for dessert or coffee or a huge meal every time we ran into them on the narrow roads of the mountain village where my father grew up. A spread awaited us each time we walked into someone’s home.
And back at my childhood home in America, it was always my father and mother who invited people in, made sure everyone had enough to eat and, if needed, a place to sleep. They were always happy to make room at the table, make a little more food, or make up a bed for someone to spend the night.
It is people like these who make the world a better place, and, whether they know it or not, who teach others to do the same.
Lessons like these stay with me forever, coming to mind at various times, manifesting themselves in different ways. Lately, I have discovered a new and important way that I can offer hospitality to people I love that come into my home.
It seems like more and more people have dietary restrictions these days; whether they be physical aversions (lactose or gluten intolerance) or moral reluctance (veganism, vegetarianism) to certain foods, many people need to be more careful about what they put into their bodies. Many times, people face opposition when it comes to their dietary needs. Whether this is intentional or not (that is, whether others are simply unaware of these restrictions or they are simply not willing to accommodate them), it is still important to respect individuals’ needs.
Being gluten free myself and having a few friends who are vegan or can’t eat dairy, I have had to adjust they way I cook and bake a lot over the past couple of years. At times, it can be frustrating, but overall it has been fun to try out new recipes and discover new foods. It is especially rewarding when you have a friend over for tea and can serve them cookies they can actually eat! They really appreciate it. To me, this is a new way of loving people well. It is a new way I have found of showing hospitality to people who come into my home.
So here is a recipe for Peanut Butter & Honey Oat Bars that are both gluten-free & vegan (unless you don’t eat honey, then you could easily make them Peanut Butter Maple Syrup Oat Bars!) for you and whomever you are welcoming into your home to enjoy!”
Peanut Butter & Honey Oat Bars
- 2 cups oats (certified gluten-free if you are making them for someone who is gluten intolerant)
- ½ cup roasted peanuts (chopped)
- 2 Tbsp. flax seeds (ground or whole)
- ½ cup honey (or maple syrup)
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together oats, peanuts, flax seeds, and cinnamon.
- Over medium-heat, melt peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil in a pot.
- Once melted together and creamy, remove from heat. Add vanilla.
- Add the heated mixture to the oat mixture. Stir together until it is combined.
- Pour the mixture into the baking pan and press with the back of a spoor or spatula to flatten.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is just beginning to turn brown. Once you remove them from the oven, use the back of a spoon to press into the top of the bars to make sure the oats are pressed firmly together.
- Use the edges of the parchment paper to remove the oat bars from the pan. Let them cool. Cut into 12 pieces.
- Enjoy immediately with a strong cup of coffee or store in an airtight container for later.
Image credits: Leilah K. and PeaceMeals.