Today I almost burnt the fingerprints off of two of my fingers, attempted a run in the park (shin splints, ugh) but these bars also happened and it was real sunny so I guess that kind of evens things out!
For these bars you can totally use store-bought pre-puffed quinoa but it’s actually quite fun doing it yourself! Please keep in mind that I also find peeling almonds and chickpeas fun so this might not apply to you. But you should definitely give it a go, it’s very similar to making your own popcorn. The date caramel that’s in these bars is something that I make quite often (usually not as thick as it turns out in this recipe) because it’s just SO good. Lick the spoon, lick the bowl kind of good. Because these treats are naturally sweetened with the dates and vanilla they’re not overly sweet and they have a deep nutty taste from the almond butter, pistachios and quinoa. SO good. And pistachios just make everything look really pretty.
I mentioned a couple of posts back that I am really loving Rich Roll’s Podcast at the moment. I’m an avid podcast listener and this is the one I’ve been listening to the most lately (although, big shout out to TED Radio Hour, One Part Podcast, with the brilliant Jessica Murnane, and Girlboss Radio with Sophia Amoruso).
I listened to this episode from Rich Roll where he was interviewing Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn (the guys behind Cowspiracy, if you haven’t watched this documentary then please do it!) about their newest venture; What The Health. It was quite a crazy listen, at times frightening to hear but I think it’s great that this information is being heard.
Puffed Quinoa, Pistachio & Dark Chocolate Bars
- 1/2 cup quinoa (if using pre-puffed then go for 3/4 cup)
- 1/3 cup pistachios, roughly chopped/crushed (plus a little extra if you want to top the bars with them too)
- 2 tbsp cacao nibs (plus a little extra for topping if you wish)
- 7 medjool dates (if your dates aren’t soft and sticky then soak them for a minute or two in some warm water)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp maca powder
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- pinch of pink salt
- 100g dark chocolate (approx. a standard big bar)
- If you are puffing your own quinoa I would recommend soaking it for a bit first, approx. 30 minutes. Doing this and then thoroughly rinsing (until all the foam disappears) will get rid of the saponin which gives it a bitter taste. Once your quinoa has been soaked and rinsed place it out as evenly as possible on a lined baking tray. Put it in the oven on a low heat (100C) to dry it. This can take a while so keep checking to make sure it isn’t burning and you could leave the door of the oven slightly open. When checking, break up any clumps that form.
- In a pan that has a lid, melt a little coconut oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Let it warm up on a medium heat. Drop a little quinoa in to test if it is hot enough (it should sizzle and pop and little). Once the pan is hot enough add your quinoa and cover with the lid. Keep the pan moving over the heat whilst the quinoa pops. It doesn’t expand much but it does a little and it should go more golden in colour.
- Once your quinoa is puffed, remove it from the hot pan immediately and place in a mixing bowl. Add the pistachios and cacao nibs and mix well.
- In a food processor combine the dates, vanilla, maca, almond butter and salt until a sticky, unified, thick paste forms.
- Add the date mixture to the mixing bowl with the quinoa and mix until everything is incorporated.
- You can use a lined tray bake tin, a cake tin, cupcake cases or whatever you fancy (I made a 4inch by 4inch square to cut into 8 bars using a tray bake tin). Press the mixture into your base firmly until it is even and tightly packed. Place in the fridge and let chill for approx. 30 minutes.
- Once your base has chilled in the fridge, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a small amount of water on a medium heat, stirring until it is silky smooth. You can drizzle the chocolate over or completely cover it (I completely covered mine), sprinkle the extra pistachios and cacao nibs.
- Place in the fridge and chill for at least an hour.
*Puffed quinoa is versatile!! Add it to granola, top salads with it, mix it into coconut yoghurt, sprinkle on top of smoothies. Add it anywhere you’d like a little crunch.