You know those people who always have amazing snacks? My sister-in-law is queen of staking out and stocking all the fun stuff and I’m totally not one of those people. I’ve never been a snacker and when I do want something extra, it’s Sour Patch Kids or frozen yogurt. So when I go shopping, I don’t buy snacks. Chips and salsa for my husband; dried fruit and nuts for me is as far as I go.
Which leaves my daughter in the dust. I tried the strictly yogurt and hummus and veggies route with her snacks, but that’s a nightmare when you’re on the go and I shouldn't pawn off my boring snack habits when I'm supposed to be exposing her to all the exotic foods of the world. Plus, I’m usually starving when it’s her snack time and I need to either eat while moving, eat while carrying something or eat while driving. You know, like everyone else in the States.
I love granola, granola bars, etc. and my daughter loves the pre-packaged toddler versions. The problem is the insane amount of sweetener in store bought versions. I can barely stand it, so I figure it’s too much for her, too (I’m speaking for her because she would obviously never protest the highly sweetened version). And if I'm going so far as to include quinoa, chia seeds and flax meal into her snack, I might as well take it all the way and not add any sugar. And by the way, I only make these bars when I have leftover quinoa because I'm not about to make a fresh pot just for this. You'll soon discover I'm all about using up what's around.
QUINOA GRANOLA BARS
yields ~16 small bars
These bars are not very sweet. If you want them to be sweeter, use all dates (up to a full cup) and/or add 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey, brown sugar or agave to the mix…whatever’s in your pantry. Mix it in the with the coconut oil mixture and you’re good to go. Add an extra healthy pinch of salt to balance out the sweetness in that case though.
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup dried dates
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup nut butter or sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
pinch sea salt
1 cup cooked quinoa (I used red, but any quinoa will do)
1 cup oats, toasted (optional)
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 350º.
Place dried apricots and dates in a bowl.
Pour 1/2 cup hot water over the fruit and cover. Set aside ~30 min until softened.
Spray and line an 8x8 inch square pan with two pieces of parchment with overhanging sides. This makes it easier to get the bars out once they’re baked.
Once the apricots and dates are softened, place in a blender or mini food processor with the liquid and process until smooth. Add a tiny bit of extra water if needed.
Add nut or seed butter, coconut oil and vanilla and mix to combine. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine quinoa, oats, chia seeds, flax, coconut, sunflower seeds and salt.
Add the apricot and date mixture to the dry ingredients and fold in until well combined and there are no dry spots.
Plop the mixture into the prepared pan and using the back of a spatula or dampened hands, pat until it is evenly spread.
Bake for 28-30 minutes at 350º until the edges are nicely browned and the top gets some color. Bake a little darker if you want the bars to be a bit harder.
Cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the bars are completely cooled, cut into desired sized bars. Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temp for a few days or in the fridge for a week. Bars can be frozen for a month or so as long as they are well wrapped and sealed.