Nutty Quinoa Granola Bars

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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!

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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.

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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

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When the oat/quinoa mixture is completely cool, toss it in with the other dry ingredients and set aside.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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