Wake up, friends! Don’t let the rainy, dreary weather keep you in bed too long this morning.
I’m going to get right to it today. Many of you have probably heard of quinoa and its plethora of health benefits: rich in diverse array of antioxidants, loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, valuable about of heart-healthy fats, and so on…the benefits, to me, seemed pretty similar to the “super food” chia seeds that I wrote about in my PB&J smoothie recipe. Well, just like chia seeds, I was intimated to try to incorporate something new into my diet, but knew that eventually I should.
And so, while browsing healthy dessert alternatives the other day I stumbled across a recipe by Blissful Basil blogger, Ashley, that seemed too awesome to be true: Quinoa Peanut Butter Crunch Cups. Peanut butter cups are one of my all-time favorite candies so I figured-even though there is no chocolate involved in the recipe (it is a healthy alternative, after all)-this would be the safest, and probably most delicious, route to testing out quinoa.
Some things to note: prep time for this recipe is much longer than the usual ones I give you in my Sunday Snacks series…well, depending on if you have pre-puffed quinoa or not; that is the part that took me the longest, especially because I was new to working with quinoa. If you are puffing your own quinoa (don’t be intimidated by the sound of that…remember, if I can do it, so can you!) then I’ve included instructions below. If this is the case, then consider prep and cook time to be about an hour. If you have already-puffed quinoa then take out about 30 minutes out of the overall time. Once the quinoa-peanut butter mixture is complete, the cups will have to set in the freezer for about an hour before they can be consumed.
Despite its longer prep time, the reason I still am including this recipe is that it’s still very simple to follow (just six steps!), there’s no baking involved, and I really appreciate it as a creative alternative to one of the most beloved candies: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The only other downside to this recipe is that it includes things like coconut oil and coconut butter and, if you’re like me, you’re not one to have these things lying around your kitchen so you will have to pop over to a place like Whole Foods and pick those up. However, I must say, now that I have worked with coconut oil as a healthy alternative I think I’ll use it more while cooking–so that’s another bonus from working with this recipe. But, I digress…
The recipe will yield 16 peanut butter cups, which is a great amount to save a handful for yourself and bring the rest in to share with co-workers, friends, and family! I envision these peanut butter cups as a nice mid-morning snack when you’re craving sweets or need a little pick me up or as a great fueling source pre and post-workout. So, without further ado, here are the ingredients and instructions to make your very own peanut butter crunch cups:
Quinoa Peanut Butter Crunch Cup Ingredients:
- 1 & 1/2 cups puffed quinoa*
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. peanut butter (you can also substitute in almond butter, if you prefer)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. coconut butter
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 & 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup (the recipe calls for pure maple syrup, but I used the “fake stuff” because that’s what I like-feel free to improvise, as well)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
*You apparently can buy puffed quinoa in the store (most likely in a place like Whole Foods), however I had trouble finding it so my instructions will include how to “puff” regular quinoa. Note: if I can do this, so can you-this was my first time ever working with quinoa and I think I did alright!
Other Items Needed:
- cupcake/muffin liners
- measuring cups and spoons
- mixing bowl
- “Puff” your quinoa: use a little coconut oil in a pot on medium heat and pour in a small amount of quinoa at a time-enough to line the base of the pot. Gently stir the quinoa around the pan (to avoid burning) and wait for them to “pop”- this should take a couple of minutes. I had no idea what I was doing during this part of the instructions and was honestly just hoping for the best, so my advice to you is to trust yourself-the site and smell will remind you of popping popcorn. The size of the quinoa won’t be drastically different, but you’ll be able to tell that they’ve popped a bit. Be careful because some can pop right out of the pot and burn you! Once the quinoa is puffed, pour it into a mixing bowl and repeat with the rest, little by little, until you have puffed and popped 1 & 1/2 cups of quinoa.
- One your quinoa is puffed and in a mixing bowl move on to the other ingredients. In another pot, mix together your peanut butter, coconut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Keep the heat low and whisk continuously until the ingredients are melted and smooth (it took me 1.5-2 minutes).
- Pour the peanut butter mixture over the puffed quinoa in the mixing bowl and stir until fully and evenly coated.
- Place your cupcake/muffin liners on a tray or baking sheet. Scoop 2 tbsp. of the mixture into each liner and smooth out evenly with a spoon.
- Pop the tray into the freezer for an hour to set.
- Once the cups have set, move to the refrigerator to store until you are ready to induldge!
I found that these peanut butter cups are definitely crunchy and delicious: your taste buds will be overwhelmed with the peanut butter taste at first and then as you continue to chew, the more plain quinoa flavor slowly takes over-and so that will continue for every bite you take to consume the cup. I think I’m still just getting used to the overall quinoa flavor and texture and I realize that many of you, might be as well. That being said, I’d like to find a way to incorporate these peanut butter cups into something else as to ease our way into loving quinoa. Perhaps we can dip these cups into a Greek yogurt, drizzle a little chocolate on top (the dark kind, to keep it healthy), or even throw them a few cups into a smoothie that needs some peanut butter and crunch!
Can you think of other ways to utilize these peanut butter crunch cups in your snacks? I’d love to hear your thoughts: leave me a comment below, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tag me on Twitter: @meggielukes and include #MegInTheMeantime. Then, be sure to check back later this week for more wellness tips.
Oh, I should mention: next week I leave for China for a business trip for a week….I know, casual right?! I’m pretty stoked for this trip and can’t wait to share some of my cool experiences with you but, this also means that some of my posts may be a little late or shorter than usual. I would never leave you hanging and don’t intend to put Meg in the Meantime on hold while traveling, so it will be be a great testament to still being able to incorporate a healthy lifestyle and workout regiments while on the road. I also start training for the B.A.A. 10k this week so, for the next eight weeks, you can follow me on a fitness journey that will hopefully result in a PR, one of my “Current Goals” listed on my homepage–this will be a great series to follow if you are thinking of training for a race of any length!
In the meantime, I’m off to tackle my first training run (after I actively stretch first, of course)-it’s nothing too long or crazy, just a 3 miler, but I think it will be a great starting point. Starting points don’t have to be drastic or too scary, they just have to be somewhere semi-comfortable to begin and give you enough space to be able to move forward to where you want to be in your projected time frame. For me, starting with a 3 miler allows for me to have a few weeks of consistent 4 and 5 milers, and even allows for me to push into the 6-6.5 mile zone, before the actual race day-which is enough for me to feel comfortable and confident to tackle shaving off some time. That’s the plan, at least! I will definitely make sure to share my training schedule with you this week so you can see where I’m at and offer any advice you may have if you’ve recently attempted something similar.
Talk with you soon,