I’ve been starting to feel caught in a looping time warp, or at the very least like a broken record, given post after post of oat-brimming energy/breakfast bars. When our friend Brendan challenged me with a nut, soy, dairy, oat and wheat free energy bar, however, I couldn’t resist. Plus, the fact that I could not include my staple oats presented an opportunity to break free from the redundancy I was creating, however enjoyable. When I found out that the challenge was for our mutual friend Owen, who is an incredible athlete not to mention an all-around great guy, the challenge became even more fun, and I probably perseverated on it to what most people would consider a surprising degree. Owen wasn’t actually avoiding all those ingredients, it turned out, just oats, soy, and onions. The latter didn’t constitute a hurdle in the slightest, obviously, but the oats were perplexing.I decided to use quinoa, and the idea that the bars should be chocolatey stubbornly stuck in my psyche.Adding to the sense of indulgence, I broke two of my (sort of) rules: one, I used bananas again; two, I paid an alarming amount for organic coconut oil. I think you’ll agree, though, that despite the frugal and sustainable goals of this blog, these ingredients have just got to be easily forgiven, especially the bananas. After all, bananas are a fantastic food source, especially for athletes. I just want to buy fewer of them, and have converted to organic. As for the coconut oil, you’ve probably noticed it’s all the rage in healthy fat sources, and I guess I’ve been steadily eying that bandwagon. Health benefits attributed to it include stress relief, cholesterol aid, weight loss, enhanced immunity, digestion and metabolism, hair and skin care, bone strength, and more. Much of the hype pinpoints the presence of lauric, capric, and caprylic acids, as well as antimicrobial, antioxidant, and other properties as the reason behind the power. Whatever the nutrients, I also couldn’t help but feel like fragrant coconut oil would add a welcome, binding touch. My jar wasn’t too terribly expensive, about $7 on sale, and I only used one tablespoon, allowing for many more experiments, and the chance to finally try some of the wonderful cookie recipes on 101 Cookbooks with the specified oil. : ) I included date puree and mashed bananas, as well as rice flour (could be wheat), flaxseed meal, honey, and ground almonds. I thought about adding a powder protein source, but decided against it, though this could be easily included without greatly affecting the bars.
Straight from the oven, the bars tasted great, like a meltingly soft cookie (I included 1/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips). The real test was whether they’d still taste good after being cooled. I was going to defer to Owen for the verdict before posting, but since after waiting a couple of hours before trying another bite, I still liked them, I decided I wouldn’t apply that pressure in case for him they’re a flop, which would be fair enough! Also, after the fact of making these, I did one more online search and found a couple of other quinoa bars. One is incredibly like, so much so that I have to link it here; and, it also looks truly yummy. This one uses a hemp protein powder and is on a terrific resource site for vegetarian athletes, No Meat Athlete.
Chocolatey Quinoa Energy Bars
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Rinse the dry quinoa in cold water. Drain and add to a saucepan of 1 cup boiling water. Cover, and reduce heat to simmer for about 12 minutes. Let cool.
3. While quinoa is cooking, soak dates in hot water for 10 minutes. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooked quinoa, dates,mashed banana, honey, and coconut oil. Process until fairly smooth.
4. Add flaxseed meal, flour,cocoa powder, ground almonds (if using), and salt and process to combine.
5. Stir in chocolate chips, if using. Spread evenly into a prepared 8 X 8 inch baking dish.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm. Slice into bars (see below for suggestions) and let cool. Store in an airtight container.
Drum roll…one more time, here’s the Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Clif bar nutritional info once again, for reference and as a general guideline: 260 calories; 6 g fat; 1.5 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 11 g protein; 42 g carbohydrates; 5 g fiber; 200 mg sodium
Chocolatey Quinoa bars (based on 9 servings, without chocolate chips, with 1/4 cup ground almonds): approximately 182 calories; 4.8 g fat; 1.5 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 3.8 g protein; 33.7 g carbohydrates; 2.9 g fiber; 65.9 mg sodium
*Based on 8 servings, with 1/4 cup ground almonds: approximately 204.7 calories; 5.4 g fat; 1.7 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 4.3 g protein; 38 g carbohydrates; 3.6 g fiber; 74.1 mg sodium
*Based on 9 servings, without chocolate chips or almonds): approximately 166.7 calories; 3.5 g fat; 1.4 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 3.3 g protein; 33.2 g carbohydrates; 2.9 g fiber; 65.9 mg sodium
*Based on 12 servings, without chocolate chips or almonds): 125.1 calories; 2.6 g fat; 1.1 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.4 g protein; 24.9 g carbohydrates; 2.2 g fiber; 49.4 mg sodium
*Increasing to 1/2 tsp salt yields approximately 130.5 mg sodium per bar given 9 bars per pan and to 146.8 per bar given 8 bars per pan; increasing to 3/4 tsp yields approximately 195mg sodium per bar in a 9 bar pan