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Chocolate Quinoa Protein Energy Bars
by Matt Frazier
Editor's Note: These bars are wonderful. As someone who tries very hard to stay away from processed/packaged foods, but yet is always on the go, these are a great alternative to some vending machine snack or worse fast food. They also are much cheaper to make than buying high end, expensive and organic protein bars, which was a habit I needed to break for the sake of my wallet! If you make a batch of these or something like it over the weekend, then you have them for the whole week and it took you less than a half an hour. You will find that many recipes like this call for dates, both because the sugar they provide is a good source of energy for the body and because they are good at binding the other ingredients. Go ahead and give these a try as an afternoon snack if you wish to really fuel your body, not to eat processed carbohydrates and crash soon after!
3/4 cup dry quinoa, or about 2 cups cooked
1/2 cup dates, pitted
3 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup protein powder (I used an unsweetened hemp-based version)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup stir-ins like dry fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, or vegan chocolate chips. (I went for half chocolate chips and half coconut)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8×8 baking dish lightly with baking spray.
Rinse the dry quinoa in cold water, then let sit in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. In the meantime, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Drain the quinoa and add to the boiling water. Cover, and reduce heat to simmer for about 12 minutes. Let cool enough to handle.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooked quinoa, dates, agave nectar, vegetable oil, flaxseed, almond extract, and salt. Process until relatively smooth (the quinoa is so small it stays slightly lumpy).
In a small bowl, stir together the protein powder, flour, and stir-ins. Fold this dry mixture into wet mixture with a spatula. The dough is very thick, like cookie dough, so use the spatula to press into prepared pan evenly.
Bake for about 22-25 minutes, until firm. Let cool, then slice into a dozen bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Nutrition facts (with chocolate chip and coconut option): Calories: 184, Total Fat: 5.4 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 0 g, Sodium: 37 mg, Potassium: 113 mg, Total Carbs: 29 g, Fiber: 3 g, : Sugars: 16 g, Protein: 7.3 g.
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About the Cook
Matt Frazier is a vegetarian marathoner and ultrarunner, currently training for his first 100-mile ultramarathon. Matt writes the blog No Meat Athlete, where you can sign up to get his free e-course on the essentials of plant-based nutrition for endurance.