Quinoa Sunflower Seed Clusters
(Makes approximately 20 clusters)
These clusters are a healthy alternative to cookies. Two clusters have approximately 320 calories, 11 g. fat, 49 g. carbs, 10 g. protein and 5 g. fiber.
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes (or old-fashioned oatmeal) Note: The quinoa flakes are much more digestible than the oats. Just eat the clusters in moderation.
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (I grind them but you may leave them whole.)
1 cup peeled, drained canned apricots (finely chopped) or replace this with 1 cup chopped dried apricots or whole dried cherries
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts (Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews work well.)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup agave nectar or maple syrup or honey (Avoid honey if you have IBS.)
2 T. safflower, sunflower or other vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Egg replacer for two eggs plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten (or use equivalent egg whites)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the quinoa, return to a boil, cover and reduce the heat. Cook at low heat until the quinoa is cooked or about 15 minutes. For those with normal stomachs, the quinoa should be slightly undercooked or about 12 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a large, rimmed cookie sheet. Bake, fluffing with a fork occasionally, until the quinoa is pale golden, about 30-35 minutes. Let cook in a large bowl.
Spread the quinoa flakes or oats on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the flakes or oats to the cooked quinoa. Spread the sunflower seeds on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 7 minutes. If grinding the seeds, allow to cook before placing in a coffee grinder. Add the seeds to quinoa mixture and allow to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Toss the apricots (dried or not dried), optional nuts, sugar and salt with the quinoa mixture. Beat the agave nectar, maple syrup or honey, vegetable oil, and vanilla with egg replacer or eggs. Stir into the quinoa mixture.
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, lightly spray with pan spray. Spoon 1/4 cup batter onto sheet for each cluster or use an ice cream scoop. Space the clusters about 3 inches apart. Flatten to 1/4-inch thickness. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until crisp, about 25 minutes. Note: If you are using egg replacer, you may need to leave the clusters in the oven slightly longer. When done, remove from the oven and let cool. The clusters store well for several days in the refrigerator. Freeze extras.