Do you ever go into the kitchen on a mission with a very specific idea about what you want to make, but you end up with something very different? Something better?!
When I first started out with these Quinoa, Fruit, and Nut Protein Bars, my goal was to create granola bars. What I got in the end was not crispy, crunchy granola bars, but rather, more like delicious, soft cake bars!
And to be more specific, cake bars packed with tasty, wholesome goodness!
Unlike many of the packaged granola bars you can find at the store, these are made from only healthy, whole ingredients with no processed sugar, dairy, or gluten in sight. And since they offer up an array of protein, vitamins, and minerals, I’ve been eating these cake bars for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and everything in between! They’ve also become my favorite pre- and post-workout snack.
Don’t you just love when things turn out even better than you planned?
- 1½ cups cooked quinoa (or approx. ½ cup dried quinoa cooked in 1 cup of water)
- ½ cup pecans, half ground and half coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds, pulsed in the food processor
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, pulsed in the food processor
- ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 3 Tbs. ground flaxseed meal
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅔ cup dried fruit (I like to use cranberries, raisins, and goji berries)
- 4 Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 banana
- 3 Tbs. almond butter (or other nut butter)
- 2 Tbs. maple syrup or raw honey
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line an 8″ x 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper so that the parchment extends over the sides OR grease the inside of the pan with oil
- Combine all of the ingredients (quinoa through dried fruit) in a large mixing bowl.
- Combine the dates, banana, almond butter, and maple syrup/honey in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the liquid mixture over the rest of the ingredients in the mixing bowl and use a spatula or spoon to fold everything together. When thoroughly combined, the ingredients will stick together.
- Scoop the ingredients into the baking pan and use a spatula or the back of a spoon to press down into the pan and smooth the top.
- Bake for approx. 30 minutes, or until brown on top.
- When done, remove pan from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before removing the “cake” from the pan.
- Slice into squares or bars and enjoy!