Toasting the high protein grains quinoa and amaranth in a hot skillet causes them to "pop", which is how they are often enjoyed in South America. Tiny amaranth (called kiwicha in the Andes) grains pop quite dramatically into something like miniature popcorn.It's quick and easy to pop these healthy grains, and they add pleasing crunch and flavor to fruit and nut bars. Mix your favorite dried fruits, nuts and seeds with a bit of sweetener, bake them briefly, and you have a great, nutritious snack that will liven up your lunchbox all week. Drizzle these bars with melted dark chocolate for an extra special treat, or stir dark chocolate chips into the fruit and nut mixture before baking.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: About 9-12 fruit and nut bars.
- 1/4 cup pre-washed raw quinoa
- 1/4 cup raw amaranth
- 2 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit and nuts (cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds, raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, etc)
- 1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut (optional)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease the foil with vegetable oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degress.
- Pop the quinoa and amaranth grains in a large skillet (see how to pop quinoa and amaranth). Set aside to cool.
- Add the mixed fruit and nuts to a food processor. Process the mixture in very short spurts, until coarsely chopped.
- Add quinoa, amaranth, and chopped fruit and nuts to a medium bowl. Add coconut if using.
- Place honey, vegetable oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, and salt in a microwave-proof bowl or measuring cup. Microwave very briefly, until just heated. Stir mixture until the sugar is dissolved, then add it to the bowl with the nuts and fruit. Use a spatula to toss fruit and nuts with the honey until everything is well mixed.
- Press fruit and nut mixture into the foil-lined pan. Use a piece of wax paper to press mixture firmly into the pan (the wax paper will keep the mixture from sticking to your fingers), making sure that there is an even layer over the whole bottom of the pan.
- Bake mixture in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Use the foil to lift the fruit and nut bars from the pan. Make sure mixture is completely cool before trying to cut the bars to prevent crumbling. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars into desired size. Store bars in an airtight container, between layers of wax paper, for up to one week.