Quinoa Breakfast Bars

Quinoa Breakfast Bars

How many of you spent the summer with kids who were constantly eating – because they were starving after hours at the pool, because their friends were over and wanted a snack, they wanted to try a new concoction, or they were just plain bored because you took away their electronics? My kids had more than their fill of junk food over the last few months, and there was not much I could do about it when extended family visiting for a few months and there was constant entertaining.

Quinoa Breakfast Bars

Fast forward to mid-August: the guests leave and my college bound child – who is suddenly on a gym routine – announces that he needs lots more protein than he gets at home! The 11-year old on a growth spurt eats like there’s no tomorrow. Husband says he’d like to take something from home to keep the 3p.m. vending machine run at bay. I just want something that can be eaten without utensils and feels like a treat but is also healthy for my family. These Quinoa Bars to the rescue! I made these the first time without any recipe, and you can do the same too. The amounts and ingredients below are just a guide (as are many of my other recipes). Feel free to substitute what you have on hand and adjust quantities to suit your taste. For example, add coconut flakes if you like the taste. Substitute almonds with walnuts (or mix a little of both!). Replace cranberries with cherries or even raisins if that’s what you have on hand. I’ve used a whole 15 oz bag of milk chocolate chips but you could reduce it or switch it up with dark / semi-sweet / white chocolate.

With school back in session and after school events looming around the corner, breakfast and grab-and-go snacks that are easy, tasty and good for you are a blessing. These bars keeps for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

Quinoa Breakfast Bars

(Makes 16 bars 2-inch X 2-inch bars)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup dates (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup figs (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup almonds (or walnuts) – chopped
  • 1/2 cup cranberries (or cherries / tart raisins)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups chocolate chips of choice
  1. In a heavy bottom pan, lightly toast the quinoa over medium flame for few minutes. It will pop and lightly puff. Remove from heat & cool completely. (Do not brown.) – I feel this removes the slight bitter taste, but feel free to use raw if that’s what you prefer. 
  2. In a heavy duty food processor, add the dates, figs and coconut oil and pulse till it becomes finely processed.
  3. Add the cooled quinoa, flax, chia, almonds and half of the cranberries & pumpkin seeds. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped and mixed well.
  4. Line an 8X8 pan with wax paper and press the mixture into the pan. Level the top using the back of a flat spoon or dish.
  5. Melt chocolate chips according to package directions and pour evenly over the mixture and spread.
  6. Set in the refrigerator for an hour or so to set and firm up. Cut into 16 pieces. The bars keep for atleast 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Click here for recipes for No-Cook Oats & Dates Breakfast Bars and No Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars

Cashew Nut Pakodas

Cashew Nut Pakodas

Here’s a slight twist on a classic Indian appetizer. Usually, pakodas (also called pakoras) are spiced chickpea-batter dipped pieces of vegetables or meat; a denser version of tempura. This recipe is an attempt to recreate one of the items sold at the sweets store in Bangalore that my mom frequents. Unlike the traditional pakodas,  these stay crisp for a few days in an air tight container and can be made a day or two ahead of your party.

Cashew Nut Pakoda

Cashew Nut Pakodas

(Serves 4-5)

  • 2 cups cashew nuts – roasted
  • 1 cup besan (chickpea/gram flour)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne)
  • 1 large onion – chopped fine
  • 2 green chillies – chopped fine
  • 1 sprig curry leaves – chopped fine
  • Salt to taste (about 1 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp ghee / Crisco** – (optional) – melted & warm
  • Oil for frying

1) In a medium bowl, mix all the above ingredients (EXCEPT cashews and ghee) with your hands, pressing on the onions with your fingers. The dough will be sticky and dry, but that’s okay. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, if using unroasted cashews, use a heavy bottom wide pan, and dry roast the nuts on a medium flame, stirring frequently. This should take about 5-7 minutes. The nuts should be lightly roasted – a bite test will show that they are just beginning to get a snap to them.  Remember that will be get crispier as they cool.

3) Alternately, preheat the oven to 350* F and roast the nuts on a large tray for about 7-10 minutes, stirring them every few minutes. Allow the nuts to cool completely. If you are using roasted cashews, skip steps 2/3 and move directly to step 4.

4) When the nuts are completely cooled, remix the batter with your hands. The onions would have released moisture and made the batter softer and easier to handle. Add the nuts and ghee** and mix well. If you must, sprinkle a few drops of water as necessary and mix. DO NOT ADD EXTRA MOISTURE AS THIS WILL MAKE THE PAKODAS & NUTS SOGGY.

4) Heat oil in a pan on medium, and drop little clumps of the cashew nut batter. Fry, stirring occasionally, till it is golden. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain oil completely. Serve warm or cool completely and store in an air tight container for a couple of days.

5) To reheat, spread on a cookie sheet and warm in a 325*F oven for a few minutes.

** NOTE: Adding  melted ghee or Crisco is said to make the fried food crispier. You may omit it if you don’t want to use it.

Baked Oatmeal Bars

Baked Oatmeal Bars

Here’s another easy recipe for breakfast on the run or for a snack attack. These taste better than store bought granola bars, and are definitely healthier as they contain real foods rather than dozens of additives and chemicals. I am working on making these bars without the dry milk powder, but till I find a better alternative, my family will eat these instead of pop-tarts. Another fall back I’ve been using regularly is for No-Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bar – recipe to follow soon as I take some pics. Baked bars adapted from this recipe.

Baked Oatmeal Bars

  • 2 cups rolled oats (NOT instant)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped dry fruit (dates, raisins, craisins, figs, etc) – whatever strikes your fancy
  • 1 cup roughly chopped nuts – whatever you like
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ (or sunflower seeds)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dry milk powder ( I’ve been sneaking in my husband’s protein shake powder, and its delicious)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 Tbsp butter – melted

1) Preheat oven to 350*

2) Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl.

3) Press into a lightly greased 8 or 9 inch square pan.

4) Bake 25 minutes until lightly golden brown and crispy on top.

5) Cool well and cut into bars.

6) Refrigerate for a month or freeze for up to 3 months.

NOTE: To double recipe, use a 9X13 pan and follow same method.