Developing a new granola bar recipe is a delight. I have been making the same recipe for quite some time now and wanted to branch out a little, expand my horizons in the granola bar world! In my opinion, there are far too many processed, sugar laden, chocolate coated choices at the grocery store and I believe it is much better to make your own using wholesome ingredients.
Not too long ago, I stumbled upon a granola bar recipe that used uncooked roasted quinoa and I was intrigued. Quinoa is a like a super hero in the foodie world as it is a complete protein, a good source of the B vitamins, and the iron and zinc content is unusually high for a plant food. The slightly nutty flavour and high fibre content make it quite appealing as well. I use cooked quinoa quite often but had never tried roasting the pseudograin and using it in it’s natural, uncooked form.
I have also been playing around with protein ball recipes using medjool dates as the main sweetener and binder. This got my creative juices following and made me wondering what a quinoa granola bar with medjool dates would be like? What are medjool dates you ask? Well, they are essentially the king of all dates. They have a very soft texture and a rich, almost caramel like taste, making them delicious plain and quite popular in raw and vegan recipes. Medjool dates are an excellent source of fibre and a good source of many minerals including magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese. So, you can see why the thought of combining these two nutrition powerhouses got me excited!
Okay, lets get started.
Combine 1 cup of large flake oats and ½ cup of uncooked quinoa (any colour you’d like) in a saucepan over medium heat. Roast the oats and quinoa, stirring consistently and until fragrant. When you hear a popping sound and the mixture appears slightly golden, you know it is done. Remove the pan from heat, transfer the oat/quinoa mixture to a plate and allow to cool completely. You may want to place the mixture in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
Next up, combine the following in a large bowl:
- 1 cup almonds, chopped
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ cup hemp hearts
- ¼ cup ground flaxseed
When the oat/quinoa mixture is completely cool, toss it in with the other dry ingredients and set aside.
Onto the dates! Place 15 medjool dates and 2 tablespoons of warm water into a food processor. Make sure you pit the dates first to avoid your granola bars being extra crunchy and hard on the teeth. Pulse the dates until a paste forms.
In a glass measuring cup, combine the following:
- ¾ cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
- ¼ cup almond butter
- ¼ cup honey
Heat the nut butters and honey in the microwave until it is a smooth, liquid consistency. Add the nut butter mixture to the dates in the food processor and pulse until combined. Add in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and pulse a few more rounds.
I have to mention, this mixture smells divine and tastes even better. I definitely would eat it by the spoonful, so make sure you steal a taste before adding in the dry ingredients.
Next step is to mix the date/nut butter mixture with the dry ingredients. Stir until well combined. You will find the mixture is quite sticky, but it makes for a soft, chewy textured granola bar. If you wish to make a slightly more indulgent bar, pick your favourite dark chocolate, chop it into chunks, and add it in right at the end. You want to prevent the chocolate from melting into a sticky, gooey mess!
Pour the mixture into a 9” by 9” square pan and use the back of a spatula or spoon to press it down evenly. Place the pan in the fridge for at least 4 to 5 hours, if not overnight. Once the nutty, quinoa mixture is set, remove from the pan and cut into bars or squares.
Next time you hit that 4pm sugar craving, reach for one of these healthy snacks instead. Believe me, you will feel like you are indulging in a sweet treat, when really you are fueling your body and mind for greatness!
So go ahead, dig in!