When Holland & Barrett asked if I would like to create a recipe with any of their new range of ancient grains of course I said yes.
I let them surprise me with their choice of grain and they sent me a bag each of red quinoa, black quinoa and white quinoa.
I then set about creating something that you may not have come across before, sweetened only with whole fresh fruit and free from gluten, dairy, eggs and soya.
First things first, you need to pop the quinoa. Yes, you did hear me right, and you could just stop there and eat it on its own. It is delicious with a nutty toasty flavour.
I chose the red quinoa just because it looked pretty.
The process of popping quinoa is simple. Much like corn, when the seeds are heated they pop open. Unlike corn, you do not need to use any oil in the popping process and rather than close the lid, I just used a deep saucepan and whisked the seeds while they popped, thereby making sure they didn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
There is one step you need to do before you start the popping though and that is to at least wash, and preferably soak the quinoa before you use it. This removes the outer surface of the quinoa that contains saponin, a chemical that covers each grain. It is the saponin that makes quinoa taste a little bitter and also makes it hard to digest for those of you who have sensitive tummy’s like me.
So, place the quinoa in a bowl of water and whisk it for around 4 minutes. While you do this you will notice the water turning cloudy and bubbly. Sieve the quinoa and give it a quick rinse before placing into a pre-heated hot, deep saucepan.
As soon as you put the quinoa in the pan you need to turn the heat down to low and move the grains around with the whisk. Firstly, the water will evaporate and then you will hear the grains, once dry, start to pop.
Provided you keep whisking and moving the grains around you should be able to keep most of the grains in the pan. Some will jump out, but that is half the fun!
Using your nose and eyes to judge when most of the grains have popped, pour the popped grains onto a plate to cool and prepare the rest of the recipe.
I hope you enjoy these bars. Being full of protein they would be perfect as a post-workout snack, or to pop into the kids lunchbox. They get a little sticky when kept at room temperature so I recommend storing them in the fridge.
As always, do let me know what you think if you try popping the quinoa or making these bars.
Popped Quinoa & Banana Bars
- 115 g popped quinoa
- 50 g almonds
- 50 g pecans
- 30 g sunflower seeds
- 15 g sesame seeds
- 85 g banana - 1 medium sized one
- 15 g coconut oil - melted
- 10 g cacao nibs - optional - for decoration
- Pinch salt
- Pop the quinoa following the instructions above
- While the quinoa is cooling place the nuts into a handheld food processor (or ordinary food processor) and blitz until it turns into a butter. You will have to stop and scrape down the sides several times before the nuts become a butter
- Add the banana and blitz until smooth
- Add the sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, coconut oil and salt and blitz again until roughly combined
- Finally stir through (or quickly blitz) the popped quinoa
- Tip the mixture into a lined tin...choose one that will give you the sized bars you require. I used on that was approx.25cm x 10cm, and press firmly into the edges smoothing off the top
- Scatter the cacao nibs, if using, on the top and press gently into the mixture
- Place in the freezer to set before turning out and cutting into bars
- Keep in a container in the fridge
I given the quinoa and paid by Holland & Barrett to create this recipe.