My name is Christine, and I have a Pop-Tart problem.
Ever since I discovered these accidentally-vegan goodies in the vending machine at law school, I can’t seem to get my dollar in the slot fast enough. That wouldn’t be a big deal every once in awhile, but the vending machine seems to call out my name every time I’m heading to the gym. My banana just looks so blah next to the shimmering strawberry-frosty goodness! And yes—by “goodness,” I’m mean 10% strawberries, 90% flavored corn syrup.
Besides packing extra coins for the vending machine, I’ve also started carrying around ibuprofen. It worked for Matt during his 50-miler, and I count on it for my killer 3:00 headache. But you know when these headaches started? Right about the time I started a daily 40-grams of sugar ritual with these damn Pop-Tarts.
I knew I had to break this sugar-rush-crash-medicate cycle, and vowed to make a batch of my Homemade Energy Bars to satisfy that starchy-sweet craving.
Lo and behold, for maybe the first time in NMA-kitchen history, the pantry was out of beans. Not a legume in sight. But, times of crisis have a knack of spurring creativity—with a deep pantry rummage I pulled together ingredients for some awesome quinoa energy-protein bars.
With over 7 grams of vegan protein per bar (more if you use nuts!) and about a third of the sugar in Pop-Tarts (from energizing dates and agave nectar instead of corn syrup), the case of the addictive pop-tarts is officially closed. Enjoy!
Chocolate Quinoa Protein Energy Bars
- 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.