Quinoa Coconut Bars
A few weeks ago I was tricked. Fooled. Bamboozled. What made it worse is that it happened in the super-expensive “convenience and grocer” store by my house, which I only go to in times of dire emergency when I can’t be bothered to drive that extra two kilometers to a grocery store which doesn’t charge $6.00 for two red peppers. Sigh.
The prices at this place are truly blasphemous, but in their defense they often have some interesting culinary wares. Such is the crux of my difficulty with this store in particular, and most other stores of a similar nature. I skulk through the aisles glowering at the privileged divorcees with their well laquered talons and highlighted hair, or the soccer Moms that are desperately trying to live beyond their means, and I mutter comments about friggin’ yuppies, shameful price points, and idiot consumers who create such situations…..and then I go, “OH LOOK! FIG AND BLACK OLIVE CROSTINI! WHEEEEE!!!” And I squeal like an ecstatic she-piglet with Valentine’s roses.
I have not stepped out of this store once without spending $40 or more, despite the fact that I went in to buy, say, a small container of oregano. It’s ridiculous, and I have nobody to blame but myself. I am an impulse buyer extraordinaire. It’s like a force outside of nature compels me as I close in on that last lap approaching the checkout line. All of a sudden I turn into Grabby McHoardsalot, and in 7 seconds or less my little basket went from $5 to $55. That’s how I end up with, oh, seven different types of mustard in my fridge.
This particular time, as I was doing my frantic all-hands-on-the-merchandise header, I spied a can of Heinz curried baked beans. Into the basket! Organic spelt and seaweed chips. Don’t mind if I do!! Quinoa and Coconut Bars (with an unmarked price). Well golly, how could I refuse?!
How excited was I to bring my organic quinoa and coconut bar to work for an afternoon snack the next day? VERY excited! Very excited indeed!! Then I got the excessively inflated bill and noticed that my Quinoa and Coconut Bar had cost me $6.99. WTF?! HOW ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH CAN PEOPLE JUSTIFY CHARGING THAT MUCH MONEY FOR A GRANOLA BAR?! I am still outraged at this flagrant disregard for reasonable pricing. Oh, but despite my rage, co-mingling with shame at being enough of a twit to spend that much money on a granola bar in the first place, that’s not the worst part. The worst part was when I bit into it the next afternoon.
I had just spent $6.99 on a bar of coconut.
Yup. That’s it. JUST COCONUT.
Evidently “Quinoa and Coconut Bars” actually referred to quinoa bars and coconut bars, and they must have been all sold out of the quinoa bars. So I got coconut. A big old bar of dessicated coconut which stuck to the roof of my mouth in lumps of dry disappointment.
So what do you do in a situation like this? Do you go back to the store, spitting angry even though it’s your own fault for being a tool and buying exactly what they had advertised and you PAID the exorbitant price? Or do you go home, pull the quinoa out of your pantry, and make your OWN quinoa and coconut bars?
I make my own.
Quinoa Coconut Bars
Makes 12 small bars or 8 large ones
- 1.5 cups dry quinoa
- 2 3/4 cups water
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1 cup dried figs
- 1.5 cups salted cashews
- 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
- 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
Rinse the quinoa 4-5 times in cold water until no cloudiness remains in the water that is discarded. Put the rinsed quinoa into a medium pot and cover it with 2 3/4 cups of cold water.
Bring the pot of quinoa up to a rolling boil. As soon as it reaches the boiling point, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, turn the heat down to minimum, and leave it to continue cooking for 20 – 25 minutes. Remember not to be nosy and lift up the lid!! Please resist temptation and just let it steam away in peace and quiet.
I love quinoa not only because it has as much protein as chicken, can be bought in bulk for ridiculously affordable prices, has a mild and slightly nutty flavor with that fabulous sprouted texture, but also because it’s so G.D. easy to cook. If you can make rice, you can make quinoa.
While the quinoa cooks merrily away we can start chopping up our fruit and nuts. Cut the dried apricot and figs into a 1/4 inch dice. When you’re cutting up the dried figs, don’t forget to remove that troublesome stem because the tip tends to be really woody. Nobody wants to break their tooth on a coconut quinoa bar. Give the salted cashews a rough chop as well until they’re in pieces which are mostly in the area of 1/4 inch.
When the quinoa has finished cooking you can spoon it out into a large mixing bowl. Give it a nice stir to remove any lumps and clumps, and also to encourage some air circulation to cool it down a wee touch.
Preheat the oven to 325F as the quinoa cools for 10 minutes.
If the quinoa is still slightly warm to the touch that’s okay. Add in the sweetened condensed milk and give it a good stir. Follow that with the dried fruits, cashew and coconut. Toss it around until the mixture is fully combined.
Grease an 8×8 baking pan and scoop your quinoa mixture into it. Press down firmly to really pack it in there, and try to make it as even as possible.
Bake the pan in the center of your oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the top has just started to get golden (but is still very light) and the edges are gently browned. Let this cool completely before cutting it into bars.
When you cut the bars, use a very sharp knife and you may wish to dip it in water occasionally to get a cleaner line. Or, if you’re lazy like me, you’ll just cut away and hope for the best.
These are about as thick as your average brownie, so I tend to cut them into smaller bars – about 12 per pan. If you like a larger bar, feel free to go for 8.
These are not dessert bars, they are protein packed, healthful, not too sweet and utterly delicious ‘granola’ bars….except that they aren’t granola at all, I just can’t come up with a better name. I refuse to call them protein bars because I’ve had too many chalky textured chocolate covered versions of utterly unpalatable protein bars. But that might be what they are, if I was to be honest.
Anyway, dried fruit and nuts – you get the point. ALSO: by far my favorite part is that to make the entire batch it probably cost me about $8.00 (guesstimating here, because most of it was from the pantry) as opposed to $6.99 for my bar of crappy coconut. Take that, “convenience and grocer” store!!!! Oh, the spite just feels so good.