Vanilla Cashew Quinoa Bars [vegan, gluten free, oil free]
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One of my favourite ingredients, and also one of the most difficult to find ingredients, is puffed quinoa. Maybe it’s just me and the neighbourhood I live in, but for whatever reason, I always have trouble hunting down puffed quinoa when I need it. Anyone else? Let me know where you usually pick it up and I’ll send you the biggest virtual hug. Anyway, last week I picked up some puffed quinoa from a zero waste, package free grocery delivery service called The Wally Shop and I could FINALLY work on photographing one of my favourite snack recipes for you–Vanilla Cashew Quinoa Bars.
This snack is one of my go-to’s because it’s no bake, one bowl and only 5 ingredients. These quinoa bars are vegan, gluten-free, oil free and refined sugar free, but the best part is that it’s insanely easy to make. It’s a lightly sweet, rich and textural snack, reminiscent of a rice krispy treat but actually good for you. I love puffed quinoa because it makes for a great alternative to puffed rice, and generally speaking, I find quinoa to be a little more nutritious than rice. If you can’t find puffed quinoa or can relate to my sourcing struggle, I recommend purchasing online (here) OR substituting. Alternatives to the puffed quinoa include other crispy popped grains OR just using puffed rice works just fine! Key thing to look for is that they’re crispy, although soft puffed grains work too, the texture is just a little bit different from the rice krispy texture you probably know.
Let’s talk about the other 4 ingredients in this recipe: cashew butter, maple syrup or medjool dates, vanilla and a little pinch of salt to enhance flavour. The cashew butter holds the bar together and provides healthy fats and creamy texture, while the maple syrup or medjool dates add just enough sweetness and help the bar to firm up in the fridge. Vanilla packs flavour in these bars and the little pinch of salt is optional, but always a must in my book when it comes to sweet dishes.
Other optional add-ins that I highly recommend are ground cinnamon (creates a snickerdoodle-y flavour), cacao powder, chocolate chips, cacao powder, crushed nuts and/or a drizzle of your favourite vegan chocolate. This recipe as is can be modified with the addition of just one ingredient to spice the flavour up and if you like this one, I’ll share a few other flavour variations soon!
Today I drizzled a tittle “salted caramel” chocolate over the bar, and threw some chopped raw almonds on top for garnish. Feel free to add in other toppings, or just eat them on their own. If you live in warmer temps, I highly recommend keeping them refrigerated until you eat because they do require chill to firm up! More details in the recipe below.
Vanilla Cashew Puffed Quinoa Bars [vegan, gluten free, oil free]
- 2 cups puffed quinoa crisp works best!
- 1/2 cup cashew butter or other nut/seed butter
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or use date paste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean or vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- melted chocolate to top
- chopped nuts
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients at room temperature in a bowl (with the exception of puffed quinoa). Mix together until smooth and evenly incorporated. At this point, taste the mixture and make sure it's sweet enough for you! If you like things extra sweet, now's the time to add on, or throw in any additional spices.
- Add in puffed quinoa by the cup and using a spatula, make sure quinoa is coated evenly. The mixture should begin to stick together when packed.
- Line a square baking tray (I used this 8x8 inch one) with parchment paper, or lightly grease and transfer mixture into tray.
- Cover with parchment paper, and using a spatula, press down to flatten. Don't press too firmly as you might crush the puffed quinoa, but make sure it's packed down enough so that the mixture will stick once chilled.
- Place in fridge to set for at least 30 minutes. I recommend an hour for best results.
- Once chilled, remove from fridge and slice into bars. At this point you can drizzle melted chocolate on top and add toppings, then return to fridge until firm. Enjoy!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Love & quinoa,