• 10

    Bars

  • Prep Time 15'

  • Total Time 35'

  • Gluten-free

  • No refined sugar

Puffed amaranth protein bar recipe

  • 10

    Bars

  • Prep Time 15'

  • Total Time 35'

  • Gluten-free

  • No refined sugar

Growing up, I always wanted the yummy energy bars that all my friends brought for snack time, but my mom refused to buy them for me. I would have to go over to my friends’ houses or ask my dad for them! I never understood why until I began reading and analysing nutrition labels and the impact that sugars and processed foods had on my overall level of functioning. I am happy to say that I finally got to buy these for myself and shortly after I decided that they were not worth all the hype.

Being active, I rely on snacks in between meals to keep me fuelled. Juggling work and school, I am typically grabbing for whatever I have on hand, so my snacks need to be easy to throw in my purse or gym bag. There are tons of options on the market, I am honestly overwhelmed by the protein bar aisle at the grocery store. I try and go for high protein, low sugar and minimal ingredients but I am always having to make a trade-off between one or more of these things. Even when I have found a bar that I believe to be “healthy” and actually taste good, I usually find myself crashing and craving sugar within a couple of hours. I don’t know about you, but I need something that will energize me and carry me through to my next full meal.

Being a firm supporter of using real ingredients whenever possible, I began trying to re-invent what I loved about certain energy bars without the nasty side-effects. I had the freedom to use flavours that I liked and ingredients that I knew worked well with my body.

I have found a few great combinations of fruits, nuts, spices and amaranth pops. This one is currently my favourite and I needed to share it with you because I am driving my friends and family crazy with how excited I am about it!

I must say that you have to be willing to invest a little bit of time upfront, but I find it fun to make, shape and chop these bars! I usually make these bars as part of my weekly meal-prep since I have already carved out this time. The great thing about them is that they keep really well in the refrigerator. They are also great to keep in my bag or car to snack on during the day. When I feel my energy level dropping, I grab one of these guys and enjoy them knowing that I will feel good and energized after!

I also love these bars because you can really experiment with what you put in them. The bars are a combination of fruit, nuts, grains and spices. You can spice (ha!) up these bars however you like or using whatever you have on hand at the time. They are naturally sweetened with dates, which is my favourite part because literally anything with dates is guaranteed to be delicious!

The Erbology Organic Puffed Amaranth is an absolute must, this is what keeps the bars light. Remember, snacks are supposed to be a pick-me-up and not something that is heavy or hard to digest. There is seriously nothing worse than having a snack that leaves you feeling sluggish.

It’s surprising that more companies aren’t using amaranth, but I am happy to keep it our little secret until the world discovers the great flavour and nutritional value they provide. I would describe the flavour to be malty or nutty. If I had to pinpoint what it tastes like, I think it is something like whole wheat or brown rice. Of course, different combinations of fruits and spices can change the flavour a little bit.

Thinking back to it, as a kid, I was drawn to the chewy type of bars. They almost seemed more like a treat than a snack! I have mastered this “chewy” consistency through nut butter – my favourites being cashew or almond butter. The nut butter is a great compliment to the amaranth pops and works well to keep all the other ingredients together as well.

Amaranth nutritional benefits

Amaranth first gained popularity in the Aztec culture, but it is no surprise that it has been a staple crop for many others since then. With its impressive nutritional profile and versatility, amaranth is still used today in kitchens across the world as a gluten-free grain.

One cup of cooked amaranth grain contains 9 grams of protein (1), probably that is why it is called the “mighty grain”. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of our body. Without protein, we could not build, repair or maintain muscle tissue. Every cell in our body relies on protein. It also supports neurological function, aids in digestion and helps to naturally balance hormones. Protein helps to slow the digestion process and keep us feeling satiated for longer. This gives us energy to do what we love and also helps us to maintain a healthy weight (2,3).

Unlike a lot of grains, amaranth is a good source of the amino acid lysine. Lysine is responsible for the production of carnitine, which helps to lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss and promote muscle growth (4).

Amaranth boasts a fifth of our daily fibre recommendation (1). Fibre is essential for the functioning of our digestive system and keeping us regular. Fibre also helps to naturally lower cholesterol levels by acting on and eliminating bile with each bowel movement. Stored cholesterol is put to use and then reduced in order to produce more bile.

Amaranth is also a good source of manganese. With 2.1mg of manganese, a one cup serving of amaranth exceeds our recommended manganese intake (5). Manganese plays a key role in activating enzymes that we need for digestion, helping us get the most nutrients from what we eat. Manganese is also closely related to mental functioning and deficiencies have been tied to mental illness, mood changes and learning disabilities (6,7).

Written By: Danielle Bear

 

(1) “Daily Value Reference of the Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD).” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/dailyvalue.jsp.

(2) “Amaranth – May Grain of the Month.” Amaranth – May Grain of the Month | The Whole Grains Council, wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/easy-ways-enjoy-whole-grains/grain-month-calendar/amaranth-may-grain-month.

(3) “Amino Acids: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm.

(4) “L-Lysine.” Amino Acid Studies, aminoacidstudies.org/l-lysine/.

5) Vanovschi, Vitalii. “Amaranth Grain, Cooked.” Nutritionvalue.org, www.nutritionvalue.org/Amaranth_grain%2C_cooked_nutritional_value.html

(6) “Manganese Benefits and Deficiency Symptoms | Foods High in Manganese | Overdose Symptoms.” Health Supplements Nutritional Guide, www.healthsupplementsnutritionalguide.com/manganese/.

(7) Takeda, A. “Manganese Action in Brain Function.” Brain Research. Brain Research Reviews., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2003, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12505649.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup almond butter or cashew butter
  • ⅓ cup pitted dates
  • ¼ cup raw coconut oil
  • 1 cup Erbology Organic Puffed Amaranth
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest

Here's how you make it

  1. Melt the coconut oil on the stovetop.
  2. Place the dates and nut butter in a high food processor and blend until mixture becomes smooth.
  3. Add the melted coconut oil into the food processor and blend again. If the oil doesn’t combine well, add 1-2 tbsp of water to help with this process.
  4. Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and add the mixture from the food processor.
  5. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together.
  6. Press the mixture into a square or rectangular pan of your choice (I usually use a 6.5 x 6.5 inch pan).
  7. Move the pan into the fridge and let it cool for 15 minutes.
  8. Take out and cut into squares or rectangles.
  9. Keep in an airtight container for up to four weeks!

Tags

  • Amaranth
  • Breakfast
  • Energy
  • Gluten-free
  • Guilt-free
  • Protein
  • Snacks

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