Popped Amaranth Energy Bars

Energy bars and granola bars are available a dime a dozen in the market, and as is the case with most packaged foods, you can’t be completely sure about half the names on the ingredient list. This is a an easy recipe with Amaranth instead of oats, a local super food that is packed with fibre, energy and nutrients that make it the perfect choice for a pre or post workout snack. You can make them in advance for the week and store in airtight jars. For a flavour variation, try using honey or brown sugar instead of the jaggery we are using here.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup Amaranth (yields about 2 cups of popped Amaranth)
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut or dried grated coconut
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup Chironji
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup deseeded and chopped dates
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder (or powdered vanilla or a mix of the two)
  • 1 cup (packed) sugarcane jaggery
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ teaspoon ghee (for greasing)

Method:

  1. Begin by popping the Amaranth. First, heat a wok or kadhai or pan on high for 5 minutes. Then, turn down the heat to medium. Add one tablespoon of amaranth seeds and count to five. By this time, they will have begun popping gently. Put a lid on and count to five again, swirling the pan to avoid burning. Take off the lid and see if the popping has stopped. If not, put the lid on again and wait for 2-3 seconds. Remove the popped amaranth into a bowl or plate and separate the unpopped seeds (if any) by swirling the plate—the popped ones will move to a side and you can easily remove the unpopped ones. Repeat this process until you have two cups of popped amaranth.
  2. Grease and line a baking tray or thali with ghee and parchment paper. Keep aside.
  3. Place the jaggery in a thick bottomed pan and add a tablespoon if water. Put this pan on high heat and stir until the jaggery has melted. Keep stirring until the jaggery is foamy and lets out a deep caramelized aroma. If you drop a bit of this jaggery caramel in a bowl of water, it should immediately form a hard ball.
  4. Switch off the flame and take the pan off the burner. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well, working quickly.
  5. Remove the mixture onto the greased tray or thali and using greased fingers or a spatula, pat the mixture into a tight cake.
  6. Leave to cool under the fan for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Remove the cooled and hardened cake onto a chopping board and using a sharp knife, cut into neat squares or bars. Wrap individually in paper or line in an airtight box. Keep in a cool and dry cupboard for up to a week.

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