YOU CAN DO IT: Homemade Salted Quinoa & Fruit Energy Bars

DSC04671 If you’ve been with me awhile then you know “SmartyBars”.

I started making SmartyBars in my kitchen back in 2009 when Seb was in the 2 year old constant snacking phase. I struggled to find prepared snack items that weren’t fortified (meaning they were so stripped of nutrition in processing they had to re-add the vitamins back in), or amped up on processed sugars, or filled with chemicals.

The other issue I struggled with was, while I had no problems getting him (or the rest of my family) prepared with good snacks while we were on the go, I was constantly running on empty. My lack of attention for my own well being meant I fell into a pattern of either a) not eating, b) eating everyone’s leftovers and lasts (half a piece of cold toast, the last bite of banana, the cold crumbled scrambled eggs), or c) lots of fast food.

I had simply allowed motherhood to run me ragged… and, because I had stopped seeing how I nourished myself as a big deal, I was tired, achy, cranky and developing a palate that craved salt and sugar constantly.

SmartyBars were the concoction that got me back on track. I pulled together the best whole ingredients I could find and figured out a way to stick them all together in ONE snack. I wanted something that would be nutritious, would fend off hunger, digest well and keep my mind sharp. SmartyBars ingredients were prized for all of those things.

Fruit.

Quinoa.

Oats.

Walnuts.

That’s it. Only four ingredients went into my SmartyBars and, because they were so clean and pure, I got myself (and my cravings) back on track.

I had a manufacturer for SmartyBars for a couple of years and sold them through my website and several local stores. Then, in 2013, I manufactured my very last batch and shut the company down. (Thankfully, however, the Lord used SmartyBars as the springboard for NBC Food Fighters, this Rebel Grain blog and to launch me as the Quinoa Queen! So, no regrets :) ) Today, however, I’m going to show you how to make your own SmartyBars… and, let me tell you, if you’re looking to get back on track and retrain your cravings: THIS IS IT.

While my original recipe was just four ingredients, the version I’m making today is a little more tasty with a few additional ingredients:

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You’ll need:

  • 1.5 cups of precooked Royal Quinoa (or you can use 1.5 cups of Royal Quinoa flakes)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free whole oats (regular oats are fine, too, if you’re not gluten free)
  • 1 cup of whole, raw almonds
  • 1 cup of unsulfured dried apricots (NOTE: sulfur is the preservative that gives typical dried apricots the bright orange look; unsulfured apricots are dark brown (like mine in the photo), but they taste WAY better without the preservative. Find them in bulk bins at some grocery stores.)
  • 2/3 cup of dried, pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of raw honey
  • 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil

I like to rehydrate the fruit just a little bit so it’s easier for the food processor to work with. To do this, simply add the dry fruit and about 2 TBSPs of water into a shallow, lidded pan.

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Turn the pan on high and, when the water sizzles, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Allow the fruit to steam for about a minute or so.

Next, using a slotted spoon (so that you don’t add any additional water to the mix) add your fruit into the bowl of a food processor….

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and process until smooth, like this:

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Scrape the fruit puree away from the sides of the bowl, and then add in the rest of your ingredients:

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Process all the ingredients together for about 30 seconds to a minute… and then, you should have a mixture that looks like this:

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NOTE: It may be necessary to scrape the fruit puree out of the processing bowl and then work the ingredients in two batches. It all depends on the strength of your processor and the stickiness of the mixture.  You’ll know if it’s necessary because the processor will be moving too slow to break down the ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and press the mixture to about 1/2 inch thick. Then sprinkle the top with a little flaked coconut and some coarse finishing salt (optional):

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Now, place the prepared tray into your oven at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes. (This isn’t really ‘baking’ the bars, it’s simply allowing some of the moisture to evaporate.)

Remove the tray, cut the bars into your preferred sizes and then, with a spatula, carefully place all the bars on a drying rack:

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Allow the bars to ‘air dry’ for as long as possible; then, store in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for grab and go snacking.
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This recipe makes about 24-28 bars (depending on how large you cut them and how much you eat BEFORE you press them onto the pan 😉 )… and, start to finish, you’re looking at a time investment of about 30 minutes.

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The best part? If you make these yourself you’re saving a ton of $$$$ by not buying the prepackaged options. And, honestly, I think these taste a thousand times better than anything you can buy off a shelf.

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Give them a try… and play with the recipe, too! Here are some other ideas:

  • If you like more texture, don’t process all the ingredients together. Make the fruit puree as I described, then add it to a bowl with your honey, coconut oil and dry ingredients. You can use your hands to squeeze it all together and then, when it’s all fully incorporated, press it onto the pan and follow the rest of the directions.
  • You can use any dried fruit or nuts you prefer! Just follow the general guidelines for fruit/nut/grain ratios and you’ll be fine.
  • Substitute the precooked quinoa for quinoa flakes. If you do this, you remove a lot of the water content from this recipe and the bars will have a longer shelf life. (It’s the precooked quinoa in this recipe that requires they be refrigerated.)

I hope you’re inspired to make these… and, if you do, I’d love to know what you think!

Thanks for reading :) I love having you here. ENJOY!

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REBEL GRAIN IS BACK!

 

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Drum roll please…. Rebel Grain is back!

Thanks to my beautiful, talented, very patient and gracious designer Jessica Tate – my heart now has a home.

Over the last several months I’ve sensed a transition coming on. At first I thought maybe we’d move (so we were looking at houses). Then, I thought maybe we’d be moving the kids to new schools (so we started looking around). I mean, there was something – just something – that was keeping me/us uneasy. So, I kept praying, kept my eyes on Him – patient, waiting… and I/we breathed a little easier as neither of those first ideas grew any feet. Then, it happened. I received some news from my SmartyBars manufacturer, and the ‘just something’ I felt coming became clear: SmartyBars, my business for the last two years and labor of love, was coming to an end.

After I hyperventilated at my computer and cried quite a few tears, I got up and kept walking. I called around, started asking question to see if I could find a new place to run my product… but, weeks passed and the signs still kept flashing: END OF CHAPTER.

So… as the job of human requires, I pulled myself together, zipped up my thick skin, and, with goose-bump covered arms, turned the page to this new chapter. It’s a chapter where the name “Rebel Grain” continues, and where the story of rebellion continues to unfold.

I’ve redesigned this place to – hopefully! – be a place where you and I can meet. You’ll notice some new things, such as:

  • “Just Quinoa” in the top navigation bar gives you access to all my quinoa recipes in one place
  • Each post is now easier to share – just look for the share buttons at the end of each new entry
  • PinIt for Pintrest has been added to every post photo as well, so PLEASE: Pin away!
  • You can subscribe to the blog two ways: (1) to your inbox via the link in the sidebar, or (2) via bloglovin’ (just be sure to download the app!). And, YES, I’d love for you to subscribe!
  • CATEGORIES have been simplified: Being, Believing, Mothering, Loving, Eating… but, you can continue to search TAGS through the side bar drop down menu.
  • You can “Journey With Me” via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, and YouTube via the icons in the side bar

My hope is that you’ll join me regularly to eat quinoa, keep the faith, spill our hearts, and share the the highs and lows of mothering the next generation of women and men. Most importantly, that you’ll join me for this: ENCOURAGEMENT. Encouragement to eat well, love our men, fight for our kids, and live sexy and confident in our womanly skin.

We’re in this together – aren’t we?

WE ARE THE REBEL GRAIN.

Training Eaters

When I talk about quinoa, or SmartyBars, or meals that I cook at home I am often asked, “…and your kids eat like this?”

My short answer is ‘yes’. But, what I am always sure to help them understand is this: I’ve trained them to eat ‘this way’.

The dictionary defines training as, “bringing a person to an agreed standard of proficiency by practice and instruction; activity leading to skilled behavior.’ Yes, my goal is to get my kids to eat well, but my larger goal is this: equipping my children with the skills they’ll need make healthy choices when they leave my home someday (or when they’re at a birthday party, or a friend’s house, etc.).

With this in mind, it is a day in, day out exercise in healthy choices that has made my children lovers of vegetables, fresh fruits, beans, nuts, fish. I buy what I want them to eat; I cook most of what they take in so that I can control the salt and the sugar content (so that they know what the real taste of food is); and, most importantly, I don’t offer any other options when it’s meal time. It’s been this way since before they could feed themselves.

Training, by nature, takes time. It takes dedication, commitment, and a understanding your goal. Look at Walmart, for example. Last year Walmart announced that it was working on a 5 year plan to reduce sodium and added sugars in it’s packaged foods. Why so long? Because it takes people time to get used to new tastes; taste palates need to be retrained. The same thing applies in our families.

Every taste of food we offer our children (especially those that predominate our diets) plays into their training. (This is where SmartyBars came from, actually: a desire to control the taste palate of my little guy so that he wasn’t ‘trained’ to need the added sweeteners and flavors.) Additionally, let’s not forget how what we – their trainers – eat also plays a huge role. When it gets right down to it, our children aren’t just listening – they are watching. They are watching what we eat, how we eat, when we eat… and all of that plays right into the eaters we are training them to be.

Thanks for being here.

Rebel on, -e.