I have been experimenting with creating new types of energy bars following up on my post last month (Peanut Butter, Oat, and Honey Power Bars). I've also received some requests from friends and family to incorporate some gluten-free recipes into my repertoire. It turns out that this isn't that difficult when it comes to energy bars. I still wanted to create a bar that had a nice balance of protein (almond butter, quinoa, and nuts), fiber (oats & flaxseed), and natural sweeteners that are relatively low glycemic (honey, agave nectar, and pure maple syrup) and therefore help keep you satiated for an afternoon snack or during a run or bike ride. I learned a lot about different sweeteners from Heidi Swanson's cookbook "Super Natural Cooking". For example, I had no idea that brown sugar, which I always used to sweeten my oatmeal with, is in most cases just white sugar colored with a little bit of molasses. Now I use maple syrup.
These bars are a great everyday snack for kids and adults alike. They also are perfect for those of you out there involved in long-distance or endurance sports, or just enjoy hiking or other activities where you need some sustenance. I brought one of these on my long run today (I'm training for the Skyline to the Sea trail marathon in April) and it gave me the energy I needed throughout the run without any stomach issues. I also found it much easier to eat and digest during the run than other bars which can feel more like a "brick" when you're trying to chew it and get it down (i.e. Clif Bars). It's difficult for me to find bars that I both actually enjoy eating and are good during exercise and I think these fit the bill.
Store the bars in an airtight container, between layers of parchment paper or foil, as they are chewy (although the quinoa gives them a great crunch!). They'll last for about 2 weeks this way. I also froze some of the bars by wrapping each of them in foil and then putting them in a plastic bag and placing them in the freezer. They should last in the freezer for up to 3 months and unthaw quickly.
Gluten-Free Energy Bars
Makes 16 bars
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes (plus a few hours to set)
2 c. old-fashioned (not instant) rolled oats
3/4 c. quinoa (uncooked)
1/4 c. ground flaxseed
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/2 c. pecans, roughly chopped
1/4 c. hulled sunflower seeds
1 c. dried fruit (I used 1/2 c. cranberries & 1/2 c. cherries), chopped if the fruit is larger in size
1 c. almond butter
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. agave nectar (I used raw dark agave nectar)
1/4 c. pure maple syrup (I like Grade B)
1/2 t. fine grain sea salt
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 13x9x2 baking pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients - oats, quinoa, ground flaxseed, almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds. Put the dry ingredients on a baking sheet or sheet pan and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.
After the dry ingredients have been in the oven for about 5 minutes, put the almond butter, honey, agave, and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stirring often, bring to a low boil. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Remove the dry ingredients from the oven and put into the saucepan with the wet ingredients. Stir to combine well. Transfer the mixture to the 13x9x2 baking pan and using a small piece of parchment paper, press down to distribute the mixture evenly in the pan. Let the bars set for about 3 hours then cut into 16 bars.