cashew quinoa energy bars

20 Jun

Several moons ago, I began dabbling in the art of the Wayfaring Chocolate ‘raw balls‘ recipes. Never before had I harbored any sort of interest in raw food, let alone things labeled near-vegan or no-bake. But I found myself hooked by these simple recipes, and the endless possibilities out there for combining nuts, dates, and other such tasties.

More recently, I’ve been fascinated by the nutritional research and dietary changes made by my blog pal Sarah and her family. The idea that overconsumption of grains is unhealthy had never occurred to me, perhaps because I love to eat gigantic bowls of pasta every chance I get. But now (although I still eat plenty of grains), I’m trying to work more grain alternatives into my diet, such as quinoa and chia seeds. Thank you, Sarah, for changing my outlook on nutrition.

Most recently, I went for another hike in Baxter State Park. I didn’t bring my camera with me this time, but I brought an idea. The night before hiking, I woke from a dream in which I combined cashews and quinoa into some sort of delicious ‘raw ball’ treat. The idea stuck with me, and I made sure to stock up on dates and cashews so that I could experiment.

These are not raw. I ended up baking them because I wanted to go with a looser ‘dough,’ if you will, one that would benefit from a crisp-up in the oven. That way, they’re kind of like a grainless granola bar. They are crunchy, nutty, and make for a wonderful midday snack. I recommend keeping them in the fridge for extra crispness.


So, last weekend’s hike. It was a hot and sunny day, and the bugs were much less bothersome than last time around. Our hike du jour was a 7.3 mile jaunt along the Fowler Brook and Middle Fowler Pond Trails, plus a quick .6 up and down Barrel Ridge, and also a roughly 2-mile triangulated bushwhack up and down the trail-less Bald Mountain, making for a total of nearly ten miles.

It was a 6.5 hour endeavor, and due to the bushwhacking I accumulated 49 scrapes on my arms and legs, and one puncture wound from a perilously large branch. It was all in good fun, although, yes, we ran out of water again. This cycle of abuse needs to stop.

Here are a few photos from last year [although the computer claims they were taken on May 28th, 1956, at 1:36am] on the nearby Traveler loop. The Traveler is much higher in elevation than we were this past weekend, but it is adjacent to where we were hiking – to give you an idea of the scenic beauty near Baxter’s South Branch Pond campground.

On to that energy bar recipe – perfect to bring along on hikes, if you remember to wrap the semi-sticky bars in wax paper beforehand. Also perfect to eat mid-afternoon, after a day spent lazing about in the yard, getting sunburnt.

Cashew Quinoa Energy Bars

A recipe created by my brain during REM sleep


1/2 c. cashews, soaked in water 1 hour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c. quinoa, cooked and cooled
1/2 c. cashews
1/2 c. almonds
1 2/3 c. dates
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla


Preheat over to 350 F. In a food processor, pulse the softened cashews and salt. Add quinoa, additional cashews, almonds,  dates, honey and vanilla, and pulse until combined.

Butter or spray a loaf pan (I used a 9 x 5″ pan), and press mixture into pan. Bake for 15-22 minutes, until edges are crispy and center of pan appears to be somewhat thickened. Remove from oven. Score lines into the pan; I created 14 rectangles that were each roughly 1 x 2″. Cool, remove from pan, and store covered in the refrigerator.

Variations: Next time I will try not soaking the cashews, and will see if there is enough liquid without doing so to bind with the quinoa and make no-bake balls. I also may add a small amount of almond extract, in place of, or in addition to, the vanilla.

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32 Responses to “cashew quinoa energy bars”

  1. Brianne 2012/06/20 at 09:23 #

    Ohh, I will be making these soon. I’m going to Baxter next weekend!

    Also, mad props on creating recipes in REM sleep.

    • emma 2012/06/20 at 09:31 #

      Where are you going to be hiking in Baxter? Katahdin, that mountain that remains a mystery to me? Ooh, you’ll have so much fun!

      My sleeping mind also wanted to include chia seeds in this recipe, but I told it to hold its horses.

  2. sarah 2012/06/20 at 16:36 #

    Awwww, shucks. Thank you. I’m glad someone listens about my rants.
    These look amazing.
    I’m forwarding this to my mom. She’s been on a quest for healthy delicious energy bars and loves dates.
    I think I’m going to unplug and go make these right now!

    • emma 2012/06/21 at 08:23 #

      They seem much more intelligent than any ‘rants’ I’ve paid attention to before!

      The other link I provided above has so many good recipes for various raw treats. I love them all, and all of them have dates in them. Check them out too, if you’re looking to mix it up.

  3. Ashley@bakerbynature 2012/06/20 at 18:10 #

    I’m going to have to try this recipe out – we’re hooked on quinoa over here!! Your hike looks amazing!

    • emma 2012/06/21 at 08:24 #

      There are worse things to be hooked on than quinoa:) We did have a really wonderful hike, I always feel so lucky to visit Baxter.

  4. cheezyk 2012/06/20 at 18:22 #

    Okay, 1 – these bars look amazing, I will have to try them (although don’t hold your breath, there’s a line of Hannah’s no-bake still sitting in the ‘to do’ list too :) ) and 2 – your hike and bike photos are making me seriously reconsider which part of your country I want to see first … there is so much in the way of natural gorgeousness that just doesn’t get promoted here!

    • emma 2012/06/21 at 08:28 #

      I would start with Hannah’s no-bakes, as some of the mouth wowing flavor poppin’ treats she comes up with are just so darn delicious. I’d like to work some dried fruit into these next time, but I was pleased that quinoa worked successfully.

      Which part of the country have you been wanting to see first? Although there is beauty up here, there is lovely scenic beauty to be found in most (if not all) states, if you know where to look. It’s so wonderful to be able to travel and see as much of it as possible:)

      • cheezyk 2012/06/21 at 21:14 #

        Our original plan, back when we were heading to the US instead of Italy last year, was to fly into LA, drive inland a bit then up about 1/3 of the way in (not quite the middle), over the border to Banff, across to Vancouver and out …

        The more I look at that bottom corner around LA though the more I think we could spend 3-4 weeks just touring around there, visiting the canyons and parks and still have trouble seeing all there is to see.

        And then I see all of your lovely photos and look at that top corner and the parts of Canada over the border and I just get plain confused, not to mention that there is still so much more of Europe and the rest of the world to see too … (*head explodes*).

        Good thing I still have at least a year or two to plan :) !!

        (Oh and look, another near novel … I just can’t keep it short some days)

        • emma 2012/06/22 at 07:07 #

          I live for long comments, don’t apologize:) There are so many regions of the US that merit plenty of well-spent time. I would love to make it back to the West Coast myself, but would likely prefer to stay away from LA… if only because it’s LA! Still, I’d like to see places like Joshua Tree and Yosemite and the like. I’ll be heading out to Nevada and Utah next summer, probably only for a week at most, but here’s to hoping that I’ll make the most out of it:)

          Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are wonderful places to see. I visited them before I had this blog going, so I have nothing to show for my efforts, but the food was fantastic and the scenery was lovely. And the area was really charming.

          I still need to make it to Quebec (City) and Montreal….

          • cheezyk 2012/06/25 at 01:14 #

            I know what you mean about LA, I ‘to and fro’ on that one, BUT it is easier and cheap(er) to fly there from here than anywhere else in the US so …

            Look forward to seeing what you see in Nevada and Utah, if I can’t be there myself at least I can live vicariously.

            As an ‘Anne’ fan, PEI and that area still holds a certain charm, even so many years after last reading the books.

            Decisions, decisions :)

            • emma 2012/06/25 at 07:05 #

              I’m sure it’s much cheaper, it’s understandable:) And there is plenty to see, too.

              We’ll be headed out there for a wedding, but we’re already thinking about where our side trips will be to. Hopefully some mega hiking, and a little bit of chocolate!

              That’s why I was most thrilled to visit PEI, because of Anne of Green Gables. It lived up to the dream world status I’d created through reading the books so many times. And unlike you, I am still re-reading them. It’s like a ritual:)

      • Hannah 2012/06/22 at 09:08 #

        You so lovely! Squish!

        • emma 2012/06/22 at 09:24 #

          Squish! You[r treats] so delicious!

  5. leaf (the indolent cook) 2012/06/21 at 09:00 #

    So full of protein, awesome! I’m not much of a hiker, but these would be great to have after my martial arts classes.

    • emma 2012/06/21 at 17:10 #

      Definitely protein-filled! I ate two in a row the other day, and then worried momentarily that I had overfilled myself (this coming from someone who could eat a whole pie or three slices of cake in one sitting).

  6. kale 2012/06/21 at 13:16 #

    1956, impressive! You look great. :)
    These look like the perfect bring-along for a rigorous hike! (If I did that sort of thing, I mean…)

    • emma 2012/06/21 at 17:13 #

      Yeah, I’ve aged pretty well. I’d like to think it’s my moisturizer.

      I didn’t get into hiking until last summer – watch out, the hiking bug might hit you too:)

  7. Hannah 2012/06/22 at 08:12 #

    Squee-diddly-squee-pop! Love it! Cooked quinoa in a bar is like magic. Bravo, REMma!

    P.S. Is oatbrain a grain? It totally is, isn’t it? I don’t know if I could live without my oatbran.

    • emma 2012/06/22 at 08:35 #

      I think that oatbrain sounds more like a disease than a grain? But bran is part of the grain, yes. It’s the tough outer layer on cereal grains, so on oat, wheat, etc. You don’t need to live without it if it isn’t causing you problems:)

      I think the issue is more if you just eat bowls upon bowls of things that your body has to work harder than necessary to digest. At least, that seemed to be the take-home message, as applicable to me, from Sarah’s research.

      Squee-diddly-squee-pop, REMma.

      • Hannah 2012/06/22 at 09:09 #

        Bahahaha!!! Oh, mercy. Oatbrain. Dear heavens I’ve really had almost no sleep in two weeks. I definitely shouldn’t live without my brain.

        • emma 2012/06/22 at 09:25 #

          No, never leave the house without your oat brain, please.

          Try to get a bit more sleep this weekend than you have of late:( I mean, if you want to, that is! xoxo

  8. Alayna @ Thyme Bombe 2012/06/22 at 15:23 #

    Beautiful pictures! I can’t believe you hiked for over 6 hours.

    I love these types of little raw snacky things. They are so awesome to have around but I never get up the motivation to make them. My food processor sucks too, so it does a terrible job of chopping up nuts and dates just stick to the blades. Never would have thought to put quinoa in them, genius!

    • emma 2012/06/25 at 07:07 #

      The time goes by quite quickly, except when the water runs out!

      That’s a shame that your food processor is wonky. If I have tough dates, I add them first and let the processor work on them for awhile. Then I add the nuts, so they don’t get overly processed.

      I love these snacky things too:)

  9. erin @ yummy supper 2012/06/25 at 03:37 #

    Emma, I think you know, I stopped eating wheat for medical reasons and I was forced to branch out on alternative grains. It has turned out to be so delicious and fun to experiment.
    I am totally digging your cashew quinoa bars. Nuts, grains, dates and honey – yes please! Your REM brain does good work.
    Glad to see you enjoying your summer despite the scrapes and bug bites:)

    • emma 2012/06/25 at 07:13 #

      Yes, I was aware of your dietary restriction. You have to be much more responsible in the kitchen than I do, and only in part because you also have small mouths to feed:)

      Let sleeping brains lie, I say! They come up with tasty recipes.

      It wouldn’t be summer without some scrapes and bug bites. If only you could have seen my ridiculous bike falls yesterday. Haha, oh boy, they were classic.


  10. Adrian Briones (@food_rehab) 2012/06/25 at 05:52 #

    ah no! Hope you’re ok, that picture wound sounds terrible! You try and do the right thing by keeping fit and look what you get LOL

    This would make a perfect crunchy 3pm at work snack!

    • emma 2012/06/25 at 07:16 #

      It was terrible at the time, but only because the puncture wound was where I have a tattoo, and I was terribly worried that it wouldn’t heal straight. Oh, the life of a 20-something! But I know, try to stay fit, end up bruised and battered:D

      Crunchy work snack, indeed:)

  11. Silvia 2012/06/25 at 14:39 #

    These look great! I’m with you, I eat so much grain all the time, and I also recently started to think how I could depend just a tiny little less on grains.

    • emma 2012/06/26 at 14:58 #

      It’s interesting to think about, isn’t it? For instance, why do I crave so much of it? Why do I think it’s so healthy for me? Why is it so hard to interest myself in grain-free foods when all I want is pasta, pasta, and more pasta?

  12. Cinnamon & Thyme 2012/07/11 at 10:17 #

    Ooo, yummy, yummy. This looks and sounds delicous! :)

    • emma 2012/07/11 at 10:42 #

      They’re the perfect snack to quell a hunger craving:)

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