These Quinoa Oat Bars are deceptive. They appear to be super healthy, an all-round nutritious snack bar. That’s not to say they aren’t (well relatively speaking) however they’re much more than that. How so? You could just as happily snaffle one of these up for dessert with a dollop of creamy yoghurt or vanilla ice-cream, as you would chow into one for a post-workout snack or breakfast on the run. This ‘fancy schmancy’ muesli bar is luxuriously chewy with a subtle sweetness (be warned sugar fiends, this may not be the one for you). When toasted the quinoa, apart from instantly elevating the street cred of these bars (why, it even makes them sound virtuous and healthy), lends itself to a sublime nuttiness. Throw in a handful of a trio Christmas coloured goodies – pistachios, dried cranberries and white chocolate – and you’ve got a groovy thing going on.
The smell of the bars baking will have you staring at the oven timer, willing it to speed up. Patience now. No matter how tempting it may be, don’t jump the gun and try to cut the slice into bars as soon as they come out of the oven. Let’s just say I took one for the team and experimented (and totally not because I was itching to get my hands on one). The result? Lots of crumbs. There’s no harm eating the crumbs, but you can’t exactly serve them up to anyone else (though that may be a good thing if you want them all to yourself). It also makes for difficult transportation. So the lesson? Wait until the bars have cooled completely before cutting. If you’re really desperate just saw off a little of one of the ends. Go on, I’ll let you, just this once.
It goes without saying that they’re most definitely at the softer end of the muesli bar spectrum. These aren’t one to fling in your sports bag and hope for the best. You’ll definitely want to pop them in a small container if you want to find a whole specimen later on. A redeeming factor (to be honest I don’t see that there’s a serious problem with the softness – it beats cracking your teeth on a rock-hard bar) is that they freeze brilliantly. Pull one out when you get up, and by mid morning you’ve got yourself a nice healthy snack to power you through til lunch.
We’re not going to be too rigid about the mix-ins. The pistachio/dried cranberry/white chocolate combination works a treat, however you could also try dried apricot, almond and dark chocolate or raisin, walnut and chocolate. Experiment to your hearts content, just keep the amount of mix-ins to about 1.5 cups to prevent any structural hiccups!
Soft, Chewy Quinoa Oat Bars
Makes one 18×28 cm (7×11 inch) pan.
¼ cup quinoa
1 ½ cups rolled oats
¼ cup caster sugar
1/3 cup spelt flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup white chocolate chips or white chocolate, roughly chopped
¼ cup raw pistachios, roughly chopped
2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/3 cup nut butter (I used a mixture of almond and cashew)
1 tsp vanilla essence
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup honey
¼ cup unsweetened apple puree
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line an 18×28 cm (7×11 inch) baking pan with baking paper.
Place a small frying pan over a medium-low heat. When warm add the quinoa and toast for 2-3 minutes or until it smells nutty and begins to turn golden brown in colour. Remove pan from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
In a large bowl combine the rolled oats, sugar, spelt flour, salt, cinnamon, dried cranberries, white chocolate, pitstachios, coconut and chia seeds. Stir through the toasted quiona.
In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the nut butter, vanilla essence, melted butter, honey and apple puree until well combined and smooth.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined, ensuring that there are no pockets of dry ingredients remaining uncovered.
Spoon into the prepared baking pan and use a damp rubber spatula to smooth the surface, pressing down lightly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. If the centre is still a little soft, do not worry – it will firm up on cooling.
Set the baking pan on a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove the slice from the pan, using the edges of the baking paper as handles. Leave to cool completely on the wire rack before cutting into squares or bars.
Bars will keep in an airtight container for approximately 2 days. Alternatively, wrap tightly in a freezer bag/cling film and freeze.
Source: A Taste Without Waste original.