Sunday, March 10, 2013

Baked Cinnamon Quinoa Bars

It's Lent; my husband and I gave up sweets.  This means we are now discussing our intense cravings for sweets on a daily basis.  We don't typically eat sweets regularly, but since now we can't have them we dream about all of the wonderful chocolaty things we wish we were eating.

I came across a recipe on Pinterest for Cinnamon Quinoa Bake.  The recipe calls for no sugar, no flour, is paleo, and sounded yummy.  I was committed.  Although, big surprise, what you will find here is my modified version.
I will be honest, I had to make the recipe twice because the first time I totally screwed it up (it was edible, but did not look like the pictures).  Not because it is a hard recipe, but because I decided not to follow the directions.  Apparently they give those to you for a reason...  Lucky for you, my idiocy has resulted in some helpful tips.

Begin by making 2 1/2 cups Quinoa according to the directions on the package.  Know that Quinoa approximately triples in size when cooked.  Also know that the package is likely to explode if you try to open it without scissors, and uncooked Quinoa will find it's way into any crack and crevice in your floor, will travel all the way to your living room, and root itself into your carpet.  Use scissors (only cut a small corner to pour out of) and measure over the sink.  Trust me.
Set cooked Quinoa aside and let it cool completely.  This is not an option.
In a small bowl, whisk together 4 Eggs, 1/3 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, and 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon.  When it says whisk, this does not mean to blend in your Magic Bullet.  I totally thought I was outsmarting the recipe and used mine.  The result was a mixture that contained way too much air, thus affecting the texture and baking time negatively.
 Go away, Magic Bullet.  You don't belong here.

Add 1/3 cup Pure Maple Syrup to mixture and whisk.  Do not use cheap maple-flavored corn syrup.  Use real maple syrup.  As in, from an actual maple tree.  It is pure and natural; has no fake, processed, or added sugar; and it is delicious.  This is what we serve our son on his Sunday pancakes, and he loves it.
Chop up a small handful of Raw Natural Almonds (or you can buy chopped raw natural almonds -- I didn't have any in my cupboard) and add them to the cooled Quinoa, along with a small handful of raisins.  Gently stir.
Add the egg mixture to the quinoa mixture and stir with a large spoon to combine.
Pour mixture into a parchment paper-lined 9"x9" baking dish (the parchment should be lightly greased).  Spread around to ensure even baking.  My suggestion is to use more parchment paper than less.  If you try to make it lovely and snip off all of the top edges, it is possible that the mixture will leak over the top and into your pan and adhere itself permanently to the bottom of your pan.  Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.
Remove from oven and, using parchment, remove bake from pan immediately to avoid steaming.  Place it on a plate and allow it to cool completely (the taste really is much better after it has cooled).
After bake has cooled, cut into 12 bars and serve with a dollop of nut butter (insert perverted joke from my husband here).  I prefer Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter because literally the only ingredient listed on the jar is peanuts (and our son also loves it in a sandwich on whole grain bread with a dab of honey).
The original recipe says that the texture should be like a granola bar.  I found it to be more like a cross between a coffee cake and a very soft no-bake cookie.  We both rather enjoyed this recipe (more so the second time), but agreed it would be much better with a ton of brown sugar and maybe even some diced apples -- although the brown sugar would defeat the purpose of this healthy snack.  My husband gave it a rating of 6 (I think he might have been slightly disappointed that it wasn't full of chocolate or exactly like a delicious cinnamon coffee cake).
For your preparation ease, I have posted this in recipe-form below.  Again, if you would like to view the original recipe, click here.
Baked Cinnamon Quinoa Bars

2 1/2 cups Quinoa, cooked and cooled
4 Eggs, beaten
1/3 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/3 cup Pure Maple Syrup
1 small handful Raw Natural Almonds, chopped
1 small handful Raisins

1. Preheat oven to 375.  Line a 9"x9" baking pan with lightly greased parchment, set aside.  Place cooled quinoa in large mixing bowl, set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, almond milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon until thoroughly combined.  Add maple syrup and whisk.
3. Fold almonds and raisins into quinoa.  Add egg mixture to quinoa mixture.  Stir with a large spoon to combine.  Pour into the parchment-lined baking dish and spread it around to ensure even baking.
4. Using Parchment, remove bake from pan immediately to prevent steaming.
5. Cool completely and cut into squares.  Serve with a dollop of nut butter (insert perverted joke from your husband here).

5.  Enjoy In Good Company. 

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