Gluten-free, vegan quinoa PB&J cookie bars
What brings back fond childhood memories with more immediacy than a tried-and-true, old-fashioned combo like PB&J? Given how emotionally charged both childhood and food can be, I guess it’s no surprise when nostalgia swells over something so simple. It does come as a sort of surprise, though, when I find myself getting wistful cravings for not just plain old PB&J (that’s totally understandable, any time, any day), but for PB&J slathered on white bread barely deserving of the label “bread”. You know, like the Wonder Ilk. My mom would probably be appalled, not just because of how I eat now, but because she never fed us that way. I guess it’s just testament to how deeply ingrained and powerful marketing can be—especially in the food industry. It can shape longing in the form of memories around food we never ate.
But right now is not the time for a Big Food/junk food marketing discussion, because good news! Good old-fashioned PB&J can be deliciously wholesome and fun! In lots and lots of ways, of which you doubtlessly know. But I just realized recently that I never got around to logging on of my very favorites. Better yet, whether thanks to procrastination, distraction, or whatever, realizing this oversight led to discovering a few tweaks that make these already simple bars even easier, healthier, vegan, and BETTER!
When I first created these quinoa PB&J bars for Ancient Harvest, they included eggs. But by losing the eggs and swapping in my still favorite vegan dream surprise aquafaba, as well as scrubbing the baking soda (these bars don’t need it)…YUM. Bonus, they are really fun to make with kids—quick and simple as playdough but so much tastier. No kids on hand to play? Then they’re tasty all the quicker. :)
Quinoa Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
3 cups quinoa flakes (*or sub/mix in oats ground slightly finer than quick oats)
1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup aquafaba (drained chickpea liquid)
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅔ cup fruit-only jam or jelly of choice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine quinoa flakes, peanut butter, aquafaba, and vanilla and mix well.
Press a little over half of the batter into an 8 X 8 baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Use a spoon or rubber spatula to spread jam over mixture. (Soften jam of needed in a saucepan or microwave to help with spreading.) Crumble remaining mixture over jam layer as topping.
Bake for 30 minutes, until topping is browned and jam layer is bubbly. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.