I have always been a lover of snack bars – muesli bars, nut bars, protein bars. But many, even those marketed as healthy, are full of sugar, vegetable oil and additives. So lately I’ve been experimenting with homemade versions. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to produce a bar with a higher protein content that I can eat as an after exercise snack. And if you know me, you’d know that I don’t like to do one thing if I can being doing several.
Case in point, while I’m writing this I’m also toasting macadamias and infusing olive oil with garlic for tonight’s pesto pasta. Hmm, is that burning I smell?? So I also wanted a bar that I could send in my son’s kindy lunch box, that would last for a week or two unrefrigerated. So this meant no nuts, no eggs, no dairy. So what could I add to up the protein content? Seeds!
Now seeds can sometimes be a bit seedy, if you know what I mean. I didn’t want to end up with bird seed or trail mix. But how would I stick it together to form a cohesive bar? This was quite a challenge. My first try used just honey as a binding agent, but this was dubbed “crumbly bar” by the family. It ended up mixed into yoghurt as a muesli replacement. Tasty, but not what I was trying for. After a couple of attempts, I hit upon the idea of whizzing some of the sunflowers up first to make a sunflower butter. Combined with a bit of honey, this seems to work quite well. The puffed quinoa and water probably help to glue it together too. As does, chopping the pepitas and sunflowers rather than using them whole.
The final thing was to get the flavours right. I added too much ginger to my first batch and they were a bit zingy. I accidentally added nutmeg in place of mixed spice in my second batch and this just didn’t really work. The balance of the ground ginger and the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves of the mixed spice just seems to work together. Although I am keen to try a few more variations in future – maybe infusing the honey with orange peel and cinnamon or cardamon pods for a middle-eastern flavour. Let me know what spices you try!
Spiced seed bars
- 1 cup puffed quinoa
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 2/3 cup pepitas, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp mixed spice
Pulse the sunflower seeds in a food processor until you have a coarse meal. Remove half of the meal. Continue to pulse the remaining sunflowers until a butter forms. This may take a while (ie forever), but don’t give up.
Combine puffed quinoa, sunflower meal, coconut, pepitas in a bowl.
Stir together sunflower butter, honey and spices in a small saucepan over a low heat. Slowly add boiling water, stirring until mixture is smooth and fragrant.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.
Grease or use baking paper to line a slice tray. My tray was 17 cm X 27 cm. Press the mixture into the pan and tamp down with a glass.
Bake at 150°C for about 60 minutes. Check it regularly to make sure it doesn’t burn. Allow to cool before cutting into bars / squares.