Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Favorite Snack: Birdseed Bars

We laugh about this snack a lot at my house.  Rich, the hubby, makes fun of me for eating birdseed all the time.  But I really like millet so I just tell him to shut up, with a smile :)  Truth be told I wasn't sure how these would be the first time I made them, but I desperately missed the granola bar like snacks I used to have.  Now these can be adapted easily depending on what ingredients you can or can not have, and every variation I have made have been great.  They are easy and fast, but there are a few tricks, so let's get started:

Birdseed Bars

Step one is to gather and measure all your ingredients first.  This is critical, so not start cooking until you have everything measured out and near the stove.  Grease an 8x8 pan.  Measure 1/2 cup honey, and 3/4 cup nut or seed butter of your choice, I like sunbutter, cashew butter and almond butter for this.  Set these aside.

Then place these ingredients in a bowl:

1 cup whole grain puffed millet cereal
1 cup whole grain puffed brown rice cereal
      of course you can use two cups total of any whole grain puffed cereal you like,
      but the health food kind not Rice Krispies, they will not work in this recipe
1 cup dried fruit of your choice, I used mixed berries and cherries
1 cup shredded coconut, optional, you can also add any candied ginger or citrus instead

Mix well.

Next we are going to puff some amaranth.  Amaranth is a yummy small seed/grain.  It puffs in a hot pan like tiny tiny popcorn and it is really fun and delicious.  Two tricks, keep a cover handy, and preheat the pan.  Trust me on this, do not put the amaranth in until the pan is good and hot.  Letting the amaranth cook in the not hot enough pan just produces burnt amaranth.  So measure out a half cup of amaranth, and preheat a high sided pot over medium heat, I used a 3 quart saucepan.

Now that the pan is hot you take one tablespoon at a time, and shake shake shake the pot, often you will need the cover, and the seeds will pop like popcorn, you can see them get bigger and lighten in color and smell slightly popcorn like.  It goes fast.  As each batch finishes, dump it in with the cereal and fruit.  When you have popped all the amaranth, return the pan to the heat.  Give the fruit and grains a quick stir, then carefully dump the honey into the pot, turn off the heat and stir that bubbly honey, then stir in the nut or seed butter till smooth and melted.  I use a silicone spoonula for this.  Pour the sticky stuff over the bowl of grains and fruit, and mix well.  I use a tool called a dough whisk for this, you can find it here KAF Dough Whisk, I use this tool for a lot, worth every penny.

Once this is well mixed dump into prepared pan and press well.  Let cool and cut into bars.  We love them around here, and they are a great healthy adaptable alternative to a granola bar.
Hope you try these and love them as much as we do :)

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