Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars

Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars-made with chia, hemp and sesame seeds for extra protein and energy! #grainfree

If you would have asked me ten years ago if I knew how to puff amaranth, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Then I would have asked you what kind of pipe you might use for such practices. Just out of curiosity.

Now I’m that girl who always eats healthy and you know, I’m cool with that. Puffing amaranth is the new rage and it’s only a matter of time before the kids get down with it too. :)

This was actually my first time doing it. I had some left over my Mexican Amaranth Stew and there just so happened to be a puffed amaranth granola bar recipe that caught my eye in Amy Chaplin’s book. I know, two recipes inspired by that book in one week. I need an intervention.

Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars-made with chia, hemp and sesame seeds for extra protein and energy! #grainfree

It takes a little bit of practice to get it right without burning it but once you do, it can be fun! Kind of like making popcorn. And if you don’t have amaranth, you can substitute quinoa.

Here are a few tips on how to pop it:

1. I found that using a coated pan warmed over medium heat works best. You have to make sure the pan is hot enough first. Add a drop of water to test it; it should dance around and quickly evaporate.

2. Start with just a small amount of amaranth in case it burns, about 1 teaspoon. Add it to the pot, cover with a lid and count to five. Then gently shake the pot to move it around and count to five again. Shake one last time, count to five and then remove it from the heat and transfer to a bowl. It shouldn’t be in there for more than 15 seconds total or it will burn. Allow the pot to reheat before trying the next batch.

3. Once you get the hang of it, you can do 1 tablespoon at a time. My recipe calls for 1/2 cup puffed amaranth which is roughly 4 tablespoons regular.

Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars-made with chia, hemp and sesame seeds for extra protein and energy! #grainfree

The original recipe called for 1 and 1/2 cups total but I decided to cut it back to make them a little less time consuming.

I also used different seeds, nuts, and fruit, and then whored it up by adding a bunch of dark chocolate. #sorrynotsorry

Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars-made with chia, hemp and sesame seeds for extra protein and energy! #grainfree

That’s really what’s so great about it. Not the whoring part, but the fact you can modify it to use whatever you have on hand in your pantry.

Unlike your typical granola bars, they’re also grain-free and made from a base of mostly seeds. I used hemp seeds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds for extra protein and omega 3’s.

Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars-made with chia, hemp and sesame seeds for extra protein and energy! #grainfree

To bind the bars, you simply melt a little bit of honey (or brown rice syrup for vegans) with crack, I mean, almond butter. Pour that in with the seeds and coconut, add your nuts, fruit and chocolate (if you please) then press everything down in a parchment lined baking dish.

Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars-made with chia, hemp and sesame seeds for extra protein and energy! #grainfree

Then you just refrigerate them for a few hours, cut them up and they are ready to eat!

Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars-made with chia, hemp and sesame seeds for extra protein and energy! #grainfree

Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars-made with chia, hemp and sesame seeds for extra protein and energy! #grainfree

Again, they’re completely customizable so feel free to use your favorite seeds/nuts/fruit.

I personally love pistachios, cranberries and dark chocolate so I would highly recommend giving it a try if that combo sounds like it’s up your alley.

And I definitely recommend keeping the lemon zest in the recipe. It gives them a subtle bright and tangy flavor that is incredibly addicting!

Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars-made with chia, hemp and sesame seeds for extra protein and energy! #grainfree

 

Puffed Amaranth, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars

Yield: 12 bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup puffed amaranth* (about 1/4 cup unpuffed)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup honey (or brown rice syrup for vegan option)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate (refrigerated)

Directions:

Line an 8 x 8” baking dish with parchment paper and then set aside. In a large bowl, combine the amaranth, coconut, chia, hemp, sesame seeds and lemon zest then stir together.

In a small saucepan, combine the honey (or brown rice syrup) with the almond butter and melt together over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and then stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the mixture into the large bowl with the seeds and coconut and mix together. Then add the pistachios and the cranberry and stir together. Lastly, stir in the chocolate. Tip: I like to freeze mine for 10 minutes before adding to help prevent it from melting into the other ingredients.

Transfer the mixture from the bowl to the baking dish and press down with your hands until the top surface is smooth and edges are flush against the dish. You can also use the back of a spoon to help smooth it down. Place the dish in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours to set.

Once it’s solidified, remove it with the parchment paper from the dish and then slice 12 separate bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Although they probably won’t last that long. ;)

*Could also use puffed quinoa.

How to pop amaranth:

1. I found that using a coated pan warmed over medium heat works best. You have to make sure the pan is hot enough first. Add a drop of water to test it; it should dance around and quickly evaporate.

2. Start with just a small amount of amaranth in case it burns, about 1 teaspoon. Add it to the pot, cover with a lid and count to five. Then gently shake the pot to move it around and count to five again. Shake one last time, count to five and then remove it from the heat and transfer to a bowl. It shouldn’t be in there for more than 15 seconds total or it will burn. Allow the pot to reheat before trying the next batch. Sometimes all of it doesn’t pop and that’s okay. Just try your best to scoop out the popped portions from the bowl to use in the recipe.

3. Once you get the hang of it, you can do 1 tablespoon at a time. This recipe calls for 1/2 cup puffed amaranth which is roughly 4 tablespoons regular.

 

 

Inspired by At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin

Did you try this recipe? Please let me know how it turned out by leaving a comment below or sharing a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #makingthymeforhealth. I love hearing your feedback! heart