Lately, I've began noticing how often I frequent the granola bar aisle of the grocery store. I'll stand there and marvel at how many options there are, and yet I'm often unimpressed by the majority of them. It's not that I'm necessarily looking for one with a tiny ingredient list (heck, this recipe here doesn't fall into that category) — for me, it matters more what these ingredients are, and what order they show up in.
Everyone looks for different things in a granola bar. Personally, I need it to be hearty. If I'm in a hurry, I want to be able to grab one for breakfast and have it hold me over 'til lunch. It also needs to have a good balance of sweet and salty (my next granola bar project will involve pretzels and chocolate) and the texture can't be too soft or too crunchy.
Now I'm starting to realize why I'm so picky at the grocery store—apparently I have a laundry list of granola-bar rules. Oops.
Finally, granola bars shouldn't have to be something I treat myself to. Which means a) they should be healthy, and b) they should be cheap. My favorite store-bought brand is Kind, but I honestly can't afford to constantly have those on hand. Making my own is the perfect solution (isn't it always?!)
These fulfill every item on my granola bar wish-list. I love the addition of quinoa—it adds the most amazing texture—and toasting the quinoa, oats, and coconut packs a ton of amazing flavor. It was also fun to use pistachios in these, because it's a nut I don't normally get a chance to cook or bake with. Additionally, I'm a sucker for agave nectar, and having that be the only sweetener in these makes me pretty happy.
Finally, these granola bars are fun because they crumble as you eat them. They stay together well enough to slice and pack as a snack, but once you bite into them, they fall apart in your mouth. In an awesome way. And a way that makes me think these could double as a topping for yogurt. Which I'll probably go try after I publish this post.
Quinoa-Pistachio Granola Bars
Makes 14-16 square bars
- 1 cup uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/3 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
- 3/4 cup dried fruit (I used 1/2 cup golden raisins and 1/4 cup dried unsweetened cherries, but the original recipe calls for dried cranberries. use whatever you have on hand!)
- 1/2 cup salted, dry roasted pistachios
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
- 1/2 cup unsalted creamy almond butter
- 6 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon canola or extra-virgin olive oil (I used evoo)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the oats and the quinoa on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
Spread the coconut on the now-empty baking sheet and bake at 350 until golden brown and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add the coconut to the oats and quinoa.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the dried fruit and shelled pistachios and pulse until everything is coarsely chopped. Add to the mixing bowl, along with the flaxseed meal.
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the almond butter, agave nectar, canola or extra-virgin olive oil, and salt. Bring to a low boil, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Watch the mixture carefully—don't overcook it/let it get too thick. Pour the mixture over the oat mixture, toss to coat.
Spray an 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray and press the mixture into the dish. Bake at 350 until lightly browned, about 13 minutes. Cool completely, then cut into squares or bars. If you want, I'm thinking a little drizzle of chocolate at this point would be pretty good. Just sayin'.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.
The following nutrition info is for 1/16 of the recipe:
CALORIES 205; FAT 10g (sat 2g, mono 4g, poly 3g); PROTEIN 6g; CARB 26g; FIBER 4g; CHOL 0mg; SODIUM 57mg