Quinoa is a versatile grain that packs a protein punch, and is perfect for any meal or snack. I adapted this recipe from Cook's Illustrated, and it's like a meal in a bar: full of grains and fruit, plus protein from quinoa and nuts. We love them for a grab-and-go breakfast or a midday snack. —CravingSomethingHealthy
Test Kitchen Notes
Although a bit crumbly, these bars had a great texture and combination of flavors. I especially loved the peanut butter caramel that binds the bars together. They set up quickly and I know they'll be gone just as fast! —Omeletta
old fashioned oats
roasted, salted cashews, chopped
roasted sunflower seeds
dried fruit, chopped (cranberries, raisins, apricots, etc)
Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil so that the foil hangs over the sides. Spray with cooking spray and set pan aside.
Heat oil in a large sauté pan. Add quinoa and oats, toss to coat with oil, and toast lightly. Remove from heat and let cool.
Put oat mixture into a large mixing bowl, then add cashews, sunflower seeds, fruit, chocolate chips (if desired), and Cheerios. Stir well to combine.
Pour sugar and water into a medium saucepan, stir lightly to combine, and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until sugar turns a light golden color, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to boil until sugar is a dark amber color (another 1 to 3 minutes). Stir only as needed.
Immediately remove from heat, then whisk half and half, vanilla, and peanut butter into the sugar. The mixture will bubble vigorously, so be careful. Work quickly because caramel will start to thicken.
Pour caramel over the oat mixture and stir well to combine. Immediately transfer granola mixture into the prepared pan and press and pack well into a flat layer. Be sure to press very tightly, or the bars will break apart.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Remove from pan by lifting the foil, and then cut into 16 bars. Wrap bars in wax or parchment paper, to keep them from sticking together.
Refrigerate extra bars in an airtight container, or freeze.