Bird Seed (Quinoa) Energy Bars

Bird Seed (Quinoa) Energy Bars :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

Do your kids come running when you tell them that quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is on the menu? Yeah, mine either. But here’s why they should be eating it;

1.) Quinoa is super high in fiber. Fiber is filling, prevents overeating, and helps prevent constipation and diarrhea. It can also be protective against some cancers.

2.) Quinoa is a complete protein. Why is that important? Well, My kids don’t eat a lot of meat, so I worry about making sure they’re getting enough protein. 

3.) Quinoa is high in Lysine, Magnesium, Iron, and Manganese. Think, healthy teeth and bones, energy, and antioxidants!

4.) Quinoa is high in Riboflavin, better known as vitamin B2. Riboflavin is good for a healthy metabolism. It’s good for hair, skin, eyes, and liver. And it also helps the body change folate and vitamin B6 into more useful forms.

5.) Quinoa is heart-healthy and protects against diabetes.

So, any reason to add quinoa to my kids’ tummies (and my own!) is a good one.

My friend recently introduced me to the Super Healthy Kids blog. They’ve got SO many recipes and ideas on there. You should really go check them out and pin all the things!

I spent a few hours -ahem- little while lurking about their blog one day and found this; a recipe for Quinoa Coconut Granola Bars. The thing that caught me… you don’t cook the quinoa! What? But won’t it break your tooth? Surprisingly, no. You toast it so it’s all nutty and scrummy umptious as my daughter would say. So bear with me here, I promise, your kids will scarf it down.

Wash Your Quinoa :: Bird Seed (Quinoa) Energy Bars :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

First, rinse your quinoa. The original recipe skipped this step and went straight to the toasting. However, quinoa is coated with a  plant chemical called saponin. Saponins help protect the plant from being eaten; they don’t taste very good. So rinse your quinoa well. I always put mine in a bowl, add warm water to cover, let it sit for about 5 minutes, then pour it out into my mesh strainer that I’ve lined with cheesecloth, otherwise it falls through the mesh. I then run warm water through it for a minute or so just to be sure I’ve gotten all the bitter taste off. Be aware though, once quinoa is wet, it sticks to everything! Just pull out the cheesecloth and wring it out as much as possible before scraping the seeds into your bowl. Did you know quinoa is a seed? Sure is. Many people assume it’s a grain. Nope, seed. There’s a nice little trivia fact for you.  Oh, also, quinoa comes in lots of colors. Mine is red and a little white added in because I ran out of red. I like them both. Anywho… on to toasting.

Bird Seed (Quinoa) Energy Bars :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals
Add whatever other nuts or seeds you have on hand. I added sesame seeds for all of these reasons, chia seeds (we’ve talked about those benefits before), and pumpkin seeds because of all of this. Walnuts and almonds went into the mix too, along with the oats and shredded coconut. So many omega-3’s in these bars!

Bird Seed (Quinoa) Energy Bars :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

Spread it all out on a pan to toast for a little while. I don’t watch the clock when toasting nuts. I just keep my nose alert. And the original recipe didn’t say to, but I put all my dry ingredients on the pan to toast. Easier that way.

Bird Seed (Quinoa) Energy Bars :: Pen Pals and Cookin' GalsI chopped up the walnuts a bit because I know my kids, and they would have a hard time with whole nuts. Just roll with it and do whatever your family will like. The original recipe called for dried fruit too, but I know that would throw my kids off. They’d rather eat their dried fruit by itself. Snobs. 😉

Bird Seed (Quinoa) Energy Bars :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

Simmer the wet ingredients and then add them to the dry. Mix like crazy and then spread it in a greased (for me that’s misted, thanks Misto!) 9 X 13. I used coconut oil instead of canola. No canola in our house. Ick. Most canola oil is GMO. That’s pretty much the only reason why I don’t use it. Do your research and know what you are eating, is my only advice.

Bird Seed (Quinoa) Energy Bars :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

Here’s a tip; wet your hands. If you don’t, this sticks to you like fly paper. Go ahead and get  your hands wet and spreading this stuff in the pan and getting it flat is a breeze. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then LET THEM SIT! I can’t stress this enough. You have to let them sit for the full 2 hours. Forget them!

Bird Seed (Quinoa) Energy Bars :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

If you wait, you have these beautiful bars that slice relatively easily. They remind me a lot of a Clif Bar. I topped mine with drizzled chocolate (almond bark, no need for the oil that the original recipe calls for). I’m the queen of that stuff lately! Once that dries and hardens, they are super scrummy! That’s 4 year-old talk for flippin’ awesome!

Bird Seed (Quinoa) Energy Bars :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals
I hope you all enjoy these bars! We’re calling them Bird Seed Bars because, well, they look like bird seed. They would be great for taking on a car trip, bike trip, to church, camping; anywhere where you will be out of the house when the “Mahm! I’m hangry!” starts to happen. Little Miss 4 has already gobbled down 2 of these today. So I can totally start with, “Neener, neener! My kid ate quinoa!” Heh. No really. She ATE quinoa. Voluntarily. Plus, they cost way less than a Clif Bar or a Larabar; those are all the rage these days.

I had my friend over today, the one who introduced me to Super Healthy Kids, so I forced her to be my guinea pig and try one of these bars. She liked it! Well, she ate it all and didn’t die, so I assume she liked it!  🙂

Here’s the lowdown on the nutrition, per bar (when cut into 25 smallish bars):
Calories: 158, Fat: 8g, Sat. Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 124mg, Carbohydrate: 20g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 4g

For the original recipe, in case you missed it, just click HERE.

Edit (6/7/13) It seems people are missing the hyperlinks to find the recipe, so I will post my recipe to show you what I did. But you really should visit the original recipe on Super Healthy Kids that I linked to twice above.

My Ingredients:

Quinoa 1 Cup
Oats 1 Cup
Coconut (Shredded) 1/2 Cup
Walnuts (or nuts of choice to equal 1 Cup) 1 Cup
Salt 1/4 tsp
Oil (Coconut) 1 Tblsp
Peanut Butter 1/2 Cup
Honey 3/4 Cup
Brown Sugar 3 Tblsp
Chocolate Garnish

My Method:
Rinse quinoa well. Add all the dry ingredients (minus dried fruit if you intend to use it) to a sheet pan to toast at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes, while you are cooking the wet ingredients. Add oil, peanut butter, honey, and brown sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients (add dried fruit here) in a large bowl; stir to incorporate well. Spread with wet hands into a greased 9 X 13 dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Let it cool 
completely, about 2 hours. Cut and remove squares. Add chocolate, if using. I melt almond bark in the microwave for about a minute or in a double boiler until melted. Let the chocolate harden before storing. Store wrapped in wax paper in a zipper bag or seal-able container. These will keep longer when kept in the refrigerator and can be made ahead in larger batches and frozen. 

Now it’s up to you guys. Will you try them? Do you like quinoa?

~Veronica

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