Cocoa and Quinoa Energy Bars

Ever since I started making energy bars at home I have not bought a single pack from any grocery store. I absolutely enjoy making my very own version of energy bars wherein I can add ingredients of my choice and the fact that it is naturally sweetened and free of preservatives takes the cake. 
I have already made a baked version (Oats and Nuts Energy Bars) and my favorite non baked version (Amarantha and Dates Energy Bars) of energy bars. You can take a look at the recipes here and here
This energy bar is also a no bake, super easy like throw in everything and mix kinda recipe. I have used cocoa powder to add a different flavor profile. But do not expect this to have an intense chocolate flavor. This energy bar is mildly chocolaty,  super crunchy because of the popped/puffed quinoa and very much chewy in texture. You can add chopped chunks of dark chocolate for an extra kick of chocolate.

This is a small recipe and makes about 8 – 10 energy bars.

Ingredients:

1 cup pureed/crushed medjool dates (approx 14 -16 pitted soft medjool dates)
1/3 cup of good quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup of popped/puffed quinoa (If you want to know how to make popped/puffed quinoa click here)

1/2 cup of popped/puffed amaranth (You can skip this and add more quinoa or more nuts of your choice)

A little less than 1/4 of chopped almonds
A little less than 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
You can use any nuts of your choice.

Method:

1) Lightly grease an 8″x 8″ baking dish with coconut oil or vegetable oil or any baking dish in which you will be able to spread the mixture to make bars. Keep this aside.

1) In a blender/mixer puree the pitted medjool dates until it is gooey in texture. If you are using dates other than medjool which are hard in texture, soak them in little warm water for few minutes before making a puree.

2) In another bowl add the rest of the ingredients. To this add the pureed dates and vanilla extract.

3) Mix everything thoroughly until nicely combined. If you are finding it hard to mix everything with a spatula then just grease your hand with coconut oil and use you hand to combine everything nicely.

4) Spread the mixture evenly into the greased baking dish pressing with your fingers. Use the back of a spoon to spread the mixture evenly. Cover with a cling wrap/plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1- 2 hrs.

5) Cut into squares or any shape of your liking.

Crunchy and yummy cocoa and quinoa energy bars are ready.

Have you tried Quinoa yet? Do you have questions about what exactly quinoa is and why you should include it in your diet? If you are not aware of the health benefits of Quinoa, then you should check out the below article by Marry Spencer in which she has explained everything you need to know about the mighty Quinoa. 🙂

Amaranth and Dates Energy Bars (No sugar and no bake energy bars)

Long post Alert!!!! 😀 😛

Since the past few months (from the month of September 2015 to be precise, you will know if you have read my previous post about hiking) I have been consciously trying to workout more, cutting down refined sugar, processed and all kinds of unhealthy food from my diet as much as possible. Although i won’t say that I have completely cut down chocolates, cakes, cookies, ice creams, pizzas etc entirely but yes I am trying to eat in moderation and incorporating all healthy organic food in my diet as much as I can.

Being a foodie it becomes a bit difficult or should I say challenging 😛 to control what you eat and you tend to go off track very easily. It becomes even more difficult especially when you live in a place like US where you get the opportunity to try cuisines from all over the world. Believe me it was not that easy initially. But I have done this before and I tried to look back to the “old me” who was very much thin.

Few years back prior to my wedding I used to work a 9-5 job which also involved lot of traveling. I hardly bothered when it came to exercising and ate whatever I liked. The amount of sweets and sugary stuff that I ate during that period was extensive. Then came a day when I said to myself “that’s it”, I had to do something about all this weight. And that is when i decided to cut sugar, fried and processed food completely from my diet no sweets, no chocolates or ice creams. I started walking whenever I could and took stairs rather than the elevator to office. It took time but slowly and gradually after 6 – 7 months I has lost almost 10 – 12 pounds (5-6kgs). Only by cutting down on sugar and eating mindfully and in moderation, I had lost all the unwanted weight. I strongly disagree with any form of dieting. I continued eating our regular Indian food. But everything in moderation. My goal was not only on shedding all the excess weight but I wanted to be healthy at the same time. I reached my target weight and maintained it for a good 2 years.

Post marriage and after moving to US, after 3 years I yet again find myself struggling to stay fit and healthy. I have gained so much weight that this is the heaviest that I have been in years. And its definitely not a good feeling. No I am not interested in being a size zero (I love my curves) or shedding weight just because people started pointing out that I look fat. I want to look and feel healthy, I want to be fit physically and feel strong from within. All this weight gain has caused a number of changes in me like lethargy, lack of interest in doing anything, weakness, unhealthy looking skin, hair fall.. to name a few. Just imagine even after having all the time in the world (yea I am on H4 so currently not working hahaha) I did very little to stay healthy. The only time I lost some weight and stayed healthy was when we lived in Austin, Texas. It’s not like I didn’t want to, I think I was not motivated enough.

One fine day I read this quote on Instagram “Take care of your body, it is the only place you have to live”, that is when something in me switched on and I decided enough is enough. This powerful quote coupled with a strong motivation from my husband has been the driving force on my road to leading a healthy life.

To stay healthy we have to eat healthy as much as possible. . Well there are cheat days involved but even on those days I make sure I never go overboard. Cook your own meal, eat at home, homemade is always good because you know what goes in your food and you have complete control on what you add. Choose healthy snacking to fight the hunger pangs during the day. That is the reason why I always have dates, walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds etc handy in my pantry. Eat a handful in place of fried chips and other processed stuff to satiate your hunger pangs late in the afternoon.

Healthy lifestyle had led me to avoid all kinds of packaged stuff and that includes energy bars. I make mine at home. This way I always know that my energy bars are free of preservatives and all that sugar. Have you checked out my previous energy bar recipe? If not then click here.

My husband requested to make a completely sugar free energy bar. And this Amaranth and Dates bars are just that. Super easy, no bake and no sugar energy bars . They are perfect as a pre workout snack or you can even carry them in your purse when you are on the go for a quick energy refill.

 

This is a super easy recipe. All healthy ingredients minus sugar and homemade makes this energy bar a must try. If you don’t have amaranth at home skip it add more oats and nuts. Feel free to add your favorite nuts in this recipe and enjoy this healthy snack but try and limit yourself to one small bar at a time because this can be very addictive :P.

Ingredients:

1 cup of puffed/popped amaranth
1 cup of oats (traditional or quick cooking. I used quick cooking oats and toasted them on a skillet for few mins)
1 and 1/2 cup of crushed medjool dates
1/2 cup of unsalted peanut butter (at room temperature)
2 tbsp of goji berries
1/3 cup of chopped walnuts
1 tbsp of chia seeds
1 tbsp of flax seeds

All of the above ingredients used were organic.

Method:

1) Throw the pitted medjool dates in a blender and give a few pulses until it is gooey in texture. If you are using dates that are a little hard, soak them in warm water for few minutes.

2) In a large bowl add the crushed/pureed dates and peanut butter. Mix thoroughly.

3) Now add all of the above mentioned dry ingredients and mix everything until nicely combined. The texture will be such that you should be able to make a ball of the mixture easily.

4) Transfer the ingredients into a lightly greased 8″ x 8″ inch baking pan or any pan in which you can spread the mixture easily to make bars. I lightly greased the pan with some coconut oil.

5) Press the mixture with the back of a spoon and pack tightly in the pan. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 -2 hrs. And thats it.

6) Cut the bars in any shape of your liking and enjoy this perfectly healthy no sugar energy bars 🙂

Need more information on Amaranth? Check out the below link and get to know everything about this nutritious grain.
We have only one life and one body to care for, and we better do it right – Novak Djokovic
 
So until next time, stay healthy, stay happy 😀

Homemade Oats and Nuts Energy Bars

Why buy energy bars from store when you can make perfectly healthy and yummy ones for yourself at home. Store bought energy bars have tons of sugar and additives. By making these at home you know what goes into your energy bar and your body.
I have adapted this recipe from thekitchn.com and have made few changes of my own. Since this is an energy bar, i decided to ditch honey and instead used jaggery as a sweetener. Jaggery is known for its high fiber and mineral content. Also unlike sugar it provides energy slowly and for a longer period of time. Far better than any form of sugar. And so works perfect as a pre workout snack. I wasn’t sure about the quantity of jaggery but thankfully the amount i decided to add worked perfectly. This bar is very lightly sweet, cakey and chewy in texture. I have used the quick cooking rolled oats for this recipe and mainly nuts. You can also use traditional oats with any nuts or fruits of your liking.

Makes around 14- 15 medium sized bars.
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups of quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup of applesauce (since I was out of applesauce quickly made one at home)
1/3 cup of jaggery (here you can substitute the jaggery with 2 – 3 tbsp of honey, maple syrup or any other sweetener of your choice)
3 tbsp of creamy peanut butter ( I used the organic salted one)
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil ( I used organic virgin coconut oil)
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of ground flaxseed
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of slivered almonds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup of pistachios roughly chopped
1/4 tsp of cinnamon powder
A little less than 1/4 tsp of salt
Method:
1) Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a 8″x8″ baking pan with parchment paper.
2) In a large bowl combine the oats, nuts, cinnamon powder and salt. Keep this aside.
3) In a saucepan add coconut oil, peanut butter and jaggery. Heat it on a low flame and cook until jaggery is melted and everything is combined. Remove from heat and add the the applesauce, vanilla extract and ground flaxseed.
4) Add the wet ingredients (that is the coconut, peanut butter, applesauce mixture) into the oats and nuts mixture. Mix well until everything is nicely combined.
5) Transfer this mixture onto the baking pan. Press down the mixture evenly with your hands.
6) Bake at 325F for 45 minutes until it is lightly brown in color. Lift and remove from the baking pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Cut them into bars of your desired size and store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
Note: For the applesauce I used 1 large apple. Peeled and chopped. Added it in a saucepan with 3 – 4 tbsp of water and cooked it for 15mins or so until it was tender. Mashed it using a fork. And thats it homemade applesauce is ready. Applesauce is mainly used for binding and is way to replace fat in the recipe.