I’m not sure about y’all, but I have had one of the busiest summers to date. Nick and I have been out of town nine of the last twelve weekends (!!), and those few spent locally were booked up with activities galore. Now don’t get me wrong– we have had an absolute blast visiting family and friends, attending weddings and celebrating our engagement. However, with all this going, going going, my healthy eating habits have been slipping, slipping, slipping.
In an attempt to detox from the past few months of celebrations and set myself back on my normally healthy routine, I was inspired to make a healthy granola bar that I could eat for breakfast or a snack. Something that would fill me up, not break the nutrition bank, and taste delicious. The trifecta! The healthy “fountain of youth” for which we are constantly searching! The combination of qualities that, when accomplished, produces nutritious perfection.
This banana nut quinoa bar is the result of my attempt to attain the trifecta. The number one problem with most granola/protein bars is the disgusting amount of sugar they contain. It can be truly horrifying. I urge you to look at the nutrition label of the next bar you pick up before chowing down. In my opinion, anything over 10g of sugar is a big fat NO. I’m sorry, but there is something fundamentally wrong with consuming 26g of sugar “healthy” snack bar than the 24g you get from a Twix bar. Just…no. I want to save my sugar splurges for something wonderful and indulgent like thick, chewy cookies; dense, fudgy brownies; or rich, creamy ice cream. DEFINITELY not on a snack bar. These bars have absolutely no added sugar. The sweetness comes from the almond butter, dried fruit and banana. These bars provide just the right amount of sweetness to satisfy my morning sweet tooth or craving for an afternoon treat.
What these bars lack in sugar is made up for in protein. Though I eat meat occasionally, more often than not I find myself eating a vegetarian diet. (Note: vegetarian, not vegan. I could NEVER live without cheese.) It is obviously a bit harder to consume the right amount of protein when eating vegetarian, so I wanted a snack that would give me an extra boost of protein on these meat-free days. Obviously these are no substitute for a big, juicy steak, but you get the picture. Any little bit throughout the day helps. Almonds, pumpkin seeds and quinoa provide the majority of these bars’ protein, as well as a delicious flavor and great crunch. Take it from the queen of ALWAYS BEING HUGNRY- these bars will keep you energized and full for hours.
So drop that processed, sugar-filled granola bar and whip up a batch of these tasty banana nut quinoa bars. Your tastebuds and waistline will thank you!
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup uncooked tri-color pre-rinsed quinoa
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- ½ teaspoon real vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ cup roughly chopped almonds
- ¼ cup roughly chopped pepitas (I get mine from Trader Joe's)
- ⅓ cup raisins
- ¼ cup dried cherries
- ¼ cup natural almond butter (I used MaraNatha Maple Almond Butter)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper and spray.
- Mash the banana in a medium bowl. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, quinoa, flax seeds, chia seeds, salt and cinnamon. Add in the banana mixture and stir to combine.
- Roughly chop the almonds, pepitas, raisins and cherries (or any other add-ins) and fold into banana oat mixture.
- Melt the almond butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until liquidy in nature. Mix into banana oat mixture until coated.
- Press mixture into lined pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until top begins to brown.
- Remove parchment and bars from pan and cool completely before curring.