Have we talked about my sweet tooth? With nothing more than a quick glance over my posts, coming to the conclusion that I have a serious sweet tooth wouldn't be a challenge. My love for sugar is a serious part of who I am, and what I love to do in the kitchen. While cooking never fails to excite me, I'd be hard pressed to find something that brings me more joy than whipping up something sweet - no matter how simple or complex the recipe might be. A little piece of how Toot Sweet got it's name! 

I am a full on sugar-fiend and I'm not afraid to admit it. I even wrote a jingle about it, and it's sung frequently around our house - often while snacking on something sweet, of course! 

These bars, of course, still fit into that category - but there is something different here. There is also a hearty dose of health in these babies! I've been thinking a lot about how I can please that sugar tooth of mine, while also doing some work to better my diet this year. How can I (and you!) manage to eat less processed sugar and more whole grains without feeling like my cravings are satisfied? So when I saw the inspiration for this recipe, I knew I had found something magical! 

(of course, this tall glass of Monday afternoon iced coffee helped launch me quickly into the kitchen)

Caramelized honey binds together a whole slew of nuts and seeds packed with protein, nutrition, and healthy omega 3's - quinoa, hemp seeds, chia seeds, almonds, and walnuts. Then it's all topped with a nice layer of dark chocolate, chunks of crystalized ginger, cacao nibs, and vanilla flake salt. It makes for a perfect crunchy, chocolatey, just sweet enough treat that could pass just as well as a dessert or as a mid afternoon snack. 

Now, it wouldn't be right to take any sort of credit for these beauties. The real genius is Tieghan over at Half Baked Harvest, and this recipe differs only slightly from her Superfood Chocolate Quinoa Bark

Chocolate Quinoa Bars 

1 cup quinoa

1/2 cup honey 

2 Tbsp coconut oil 

2 tsp vanilla  

1/2 cup almonds, chopped 

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped 

1/4 cup hemp seeds 

1/4 cup chia seeds 

12 ounces dark chocolate 

1/4 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped 

flake salt & cacao nibs to sprinkle on top (optional) 

  • Rinse quinoa under cold water. Place a few paper towels on a sheet pan or cutting board, then spread the quinoa over the top and let dry for about 5 minutes. 
  • Combine honey and coconut oil in a medium saucepan placed over medium heat. Stir as the mixture warms, until the two combine easily. Remove from heat. 
  • Add vanilla, quinoa, nuts, and seeds to the honey mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated. 
  • Cover 1-2 baking pans with parchment paper, and spread the mixture in a thin layer over the parchment. You'll want to use one large sized pan, or two if your pans are smaller. This is also a preference thing! Spread the mixture in a thinner layer, and you'll have a thinner, crisper bar. Spread it thicker and they'll be more like mine - and a little softer. 
  • Bake at 350 for 20-40 minutes (depending how thin it is). You want it to be a dark golden brown, and for the quinoa to look caramelized. 
  • While the base start to cool, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (stirring ever 30 seconds at the least). When it's smoothly melted, spread the chocolate over the base in an even layer, getting it as close to the edges as you can. Sprinkle with crystalized ginger, cacao nibs, and flake salt. 
  • Place the pan into the fridge and let the chocolate set for about 30 minutes.
  • Carefully transfer it onto a cutting board, and cut into squares. Layer into an airtight container with parchment, and store in the refrigerator.