Apricot Quinoa Bars – Grain, Dairy, and Egg free!

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I have been wanting to make some granola-type bars so that I can have a snack during the day, though I don’t really care for the recipes that I have tried so far. I have a gigantic bag of dried apricots from Costco that have been begging to be used, and I have a new-found love for quinoa (as mentioned before). Out of the darkness bloomed this beauty of a recipe, providing natural sugars, protein, fiber, and amino acids. 

Apricot Quinoa Bars
Makes 9 bars

1 C mixed nuts and seeds
1 C cooked quinoa
2 C dried apricots
splash vanilla extract
splash almond extract
2-4 Tbs honey (adjust sweetness to taste. I used about 2 Tbs)
2 pinches of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Begin by coarsely chopping nut and seed mixture in a food processor. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand – I used remnants from my dried bulk collection, which included almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and shredded coconut. 

Add apricots to food processor and pulse until apricots are chopped into small pieces and mixed well with the nuts. Add extracts and salt, then quinoa. I took a portion of the mixture out before adding the quinoa to make sure I didn’t put too much in the processor, and then mixed that it by hand. Pulse mixture until quinoa is evenly mixed in. Feel free to play around with the dried fruit used – you could use figs, dates, or a combination of a bunch of dried fruits. 

Prepare a 9 x 9 pan with parchment paper drapped over both sides (this step makes it SO easy to lift from the pan in one piece). Dump mixture into pan and press down firmly. My bars were pretty thin – less than an inch. If you’d like them thicker, you could place them in a smaller pan. This will change the length of time needed in the oven, and perhaps the temperature used. 

Cook in preheated oven for 30 minutes or edges are golden and top is no longer sticky to the light touch. Let cool for 10 minutes, then lift from pan and cut into 9 bars (or more if you desire). 

NOTE: My bars are firm but fairly soft. If you’d like a crunchier bar, you could put the bars back into the oven after cutting, spread on a cookie sheet. Alternatively, you could lower the temperature and cook them for longer.