Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bars

So I was flipping through my April issue of Cooking Light and came across a recipe that called for such an awesome mix of ingredients that I just had to try it!  Also, I think (for the first time ever) I either had every ingredient or a perfect substitute.  I swear that never happens to me! 

These Cranberry Pistachio bars looked beautiful on the page and when I saw almond butter, chocolate, agave, cranberries, pistachios, and coconut – I was SOLD!  Not to mention, it called for healthy whole grains like oats and quinoa.  These bars are delicious, and I had 3 other people vouch for that.  I made a couple of slight modifications but Cooking Light deserves all the credit for this one!  Kudos!

Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bars

1c uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ c uncooked quinoa
¾ c sweetened, dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
½ c salted, dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
1/3 c flaked, sweetened (or unsweetened) coconut
2 tbsp chia seed meal
1/8 c dark chocolate chips, finely chopped
½ c unsalted creamy almond butter
6 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp vegetable oil (or almond or coconut oil)
½ tsp salt
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spread oats and quinoa on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350F for 8 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.  Place oat mixture in a large bowl, and stir in cranberries, pistachios, coconut, chia seed meal and chocolate.

Tip: Make your own seed meal!  The original recipe called for flaxseed meal but I only had chia seeds on hand.  Making your own meal is super easy.  Just use a coffee grinder, bullet, or powerful blender to break seeds up into meal.  Seeds often pass through the body whole, so breaking them down into meal allows the body to absorb more of the nutrients from the seeds.

Combine almond butter, agave, oil, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Cook 1 min, stirring constantly.  The mixture will thicken slightly.  Pour almond butter mixture over oat mixture; toss well to coat. 

Note:  I used my hands to thoroughly mix in wet ingredients to coat the dry ingredients as it was pretty thick and would have taken forever with a spoon.

Press mixture into an 8” square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350F for 13 mins or until lightly browned.  Cool completely in dish.  Cut into bars or squares.

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