Monday, April 28, 2014

Chocolate Quinoa nut bars are the way to go!

       Hi! Oh Look, I have a few minutes. I should probably post something so that all 12 of you don't forget about me. As usual, I racked my brain and realised that I actually made something that's kind of cool and others just might want to know about it. ( I know, that's called blogging, but if you haven't noticed I've kind of hit a slow patch in that department. I blame school.)

        Anyway, back to what I wanted to post about. For the past year or so I've been supplementing my diet with the Kirkland brand Fruit and Nut bars(only found at Costco). They are what I would use to make me feel like I'm eating something naughty while I'm actually getting nutty goodness. (I also am addicted to the MMMMine! Coconut covered Cashews that they only seem to bust out during Christmas time, but that's a whole other tantrum.) Anyway, so I love those things. I have seen them at the store for years, so of course once I become reliant on them as food staple, they are nowhere to be seen.  And yes, they have the Fruit n' Nut granola, but it's not the same. It just isn't the same!!! So, being me, I decided to go on the hunt for something that I could make that would fulfill my dietary requirements. What I found was Quinoa granola bars (the original recipe is here). At first glance, they are your typical, trendy granola bar but they are surprisingly good... well after I tweaked them.

     The first thing to go... the oatmeal. The problem I have with 95% of all the granola bars out there is that they have oatmeal or some sort of filler, like puffed rice etc. in them. And I can only speak for myself, but oatmeal really doesn't do it for me. So, in my opinion, it's extra, unnecessary carbs. And when you just ran 5 miles to ensure that you can fit into your size (insert the smaller size that you were a few months ago) jeans, you know how detrimental extra carbs can be. So that was the first thing to go!
The second thing to go...the dried Cherries. They went, not because of the extra carbs but, well, I just don't like cherries.
     Now that those two things have been omitted, we can get on to things I added!!

Chocolate Quinoa nut bars

This is what you are going to need.
-1/2 cup Quinoa (the original calls for a whole cup, but it gets to be too crumbly...You take a bite and Quinoa is everywhere!)
-1 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened (I use the kind they use for macaroons)
-1 cup cashew pieces
-1 cup slivered Almonds (feel free to crush these up a little bit with your hands)
-1 cup dried Cranberries (I dislike cherries but find cranberries perfectly acceptable...)
-1/2 cup flax seeds
-1 cup crushed pecans
-1 cup peanuts
-1/2-1 cup sunflower seeds

Chocolate Syrup
-1/4 cup Honey
-1/4 Rice syrup (Or any sugar free syrup of your choosing, I like Maltitol)
-1/4 coconut oil
-1/3 cup Nutella (or any form of chocolate hazelnut spread)

-Some Sea Salt for sprinkling

So here's how you make them....
-Preheat the Oven to 350 F.
-In the mean time. In a ,dry, medium frying pan, toast the Quinoa for a few minutes

- Then add the coconut (it takes less time to toast)

-Don't walk away, keep stirring until it looks like this.

-Once it's all nice and toasted, remove it from the heat and let it cool until you have assembled the other ingredients.

-Next...Combine all of your nuts and seeds, adding the Quinoa/coconut last.
-The next part is kind of tricky. In a small-medium sauce pan, combine the Honey, Rice syrup (or maltitol), Coconut oil, and Nutella. 
-Cook over medium heat, stir occasionally and let it come to a boil. Continue until boiling until it comes together and thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon (this doesn't work so well if you use the same spoon you used to dole out the coconut oil..just saying) 

-Once the chocolate syrup concoction is ready, very carefully pour it over the nut mixture and stir, stir, stir. It may look like there isn't enough syrup, but there is...just keep stirring. Down to the bottom of the bowl and then back up. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until it looks like this...
-Line a 9X13 pan with either aluminum foil, parchment paper, or wax paper (it's your choice). Once lined, spray with either cooking spray or lightly butter it. While you're at it, spray your hands, too. 
-Then pour out the mixture and flatten it into the pan with your hands.  
-Sprinkle the top with the Sea Salt.
-Now, Bake it  anywhere between 10 -25 minutes. **The longer you bake it, the harder the bar will be.** But keep in mind, you can alway underbake something and bake it a little longer, but once it's over baked you can't go back (but then again sometimes with this sort of thing, if you live in a humid climate, they could soften up after a day or two). So experiment with what time works well for you and your environment.

-After it's done baking, let it cool, completely (I let mine cool overnight). Then cut it into your desired shape.
-Enjoy, but enjoy responsibly, they are addictive... and they have a lot of fiber... you have been warned.