Chewy Fruit & Nut Bars

Have you used Amaranth grains to cook with? If so, how do you use it and what do you think about it?IMG_6586Recently, I came across a packet of Amaranth grains that my daughter-in-law gave me some time ago. It’s been sitting in my pantry for ages mainly because I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I kept it because I like Connect Foods products and their values as an organisation.

I decided to Google Amaranth and discovered that it is an amazing grain that provides many health benefits.

Amaranth contains amino acids and is rich in magnesium, iron and selenium, all of which are essential for good health. Amaranth grains are gluten free and considered a superfood. This ancient grain was revered and consumed as a staple by the Aztecs for a very long time.

To this day, Amaranth grains are toasted (or puffed) much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses, or chocolate to make a treat called alegría, meaning “joy” in Spanish.

After reading up on how healthy Amaranth is, I decided to use it to make these Chewy Fruit & Nut Bars and they are soooo yummy and healthy! I love them as a mid-morning or  afternoon snack with an Almond Latte (is that bad?).

They are also great for a kid’s lunchbox because they don’t have any refined sugar in them to make they hypo!IMG_0855In the process of experimenting, I discovered that Amaranth can be used in many different ways such as breakfast cereals, salads and snacks, so look out for some new recipes!

The best thing about these Chewy Fruit & Nut Bars is that they are gluten free, simple to make and you can use whatever nuts or dried fruit you like.  I’ve added dried sour cherries to this recipe because I love how the sourness of the cherries contrasts with the sweetness of the apricots and honey.

IMG_0858What you need

  • ½ cup Quinoa flakes (available from health food shops)
  • ½ cup puffed (popped) Amaranth => How to puff Amaranth
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ pistachio nuts – chopped
  • 1 cup dried apricots – chopped
  • 1 cup dried sour cherries
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup vegetable or nut oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 50g dark chocolate

Makes 25 – 30 bars

What to do

Heat oven to 106°C.

Line a 20x30cm slice tray with baking paper and put aside.

Toast the nuts in the oven for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted – keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Take the nuts out of the oven and place in a large bowl.

Next you need to puff the Amaranth:

Puffed Amaranth
  1. Preheat a deep pot (the seeds will dance and jump out of the pot if it is shallow) over medium-high heat.

  2. Place about 1 tablespoon at the time evenly in the hot pot.

  3. Wait for the seeds to pop. This should be quite immediate. If they don’t pop right away, the pot wasn’t hot enough and the seeds won’t pop and just burn. If that happens, discard and start again with another batch.

  4. Once the popping starts, shake the pot to ensure all seeds pop and the popped seeds don’t burn. It should only take about 10 seconds.

  5. Once the puffing ceases remove the popped Amaranth and put into a sieve to shake out the unpuffed seeds.

  6. Then add the popped Amaranth to a bowl and repeat the same process until you have ½ cup of popped amaranth.

Add the puffed Amaranth and all other ingredients to the bowl of toasted nuts and mix well to combine.

Spread the mixture out on the slice tray and press down evenly.

Bake for 20-30 or until the top turns golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.

Once cooled, use the paper to lift the slice out of the tray onto a chopping board. Cut into bars.

Break the chocolate into chunks and place in a heatproof bowl over simmering water to melt.

Drizzle some melted chocolate over the Chewy Fruit & Nut Bars and allow chocolate to set before serving.IMG_0847Bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Thanks to for sharing instructions on how to pop amaranth!