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It’s beginning to feel and look a lot like Christmas. That’s primarily because my apartment is filled with far too many types of cookies and other Christmas treats. Every year, my Mom makes a ridiculous number of cookies, most of which are some variation of shortbread and are to die for. Needless to say, I seem to have taken it upon myself to make as many treats as she does so our family has twice the amount of ridiculous baking as usual. Thank goodness we have plenty of people to hand these treats off to.

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In addition to the baking that is done by my Mom and I, there are always heaps of chocolate lying around. Almond bark is an essential part of Christmas, and without fail there will be a bag of it in my Dad’s stocking. While scouring the internet for new festive recipes, I came across a delicious looking quinoa bark. With a layer of chocolate and a mixture of nuts, seeds and syrup, this looked like I treat that I could add into our Christmas cookie must-haves. A touch of sea salt added a nice balance to the richness of the bark. Overall I was pleased with the result – my waistline might not be, but that’s what running is for…

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Chocolate Quinoa Bark (Adapted from Half Baked Harvest)

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp coconut oil
½ cup honey or maple syrup (I used a ¼ cup of each)
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp instant coffee granules
1 ½ cups of assorted nuts, raw and roughly chopped
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp flax seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp hemp hearts
1 cup uncooked quinoa
12 ounces dark chocolate
¼ cup dried cranberries
sea salt for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt together the honey or maple and coconut oil on power level high, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth (this took about one minute for me). Whisk in the vanilla, coffee granules and salt.
3. Add the quinoa, almonds, cashews and mixed seeds. Stir until all the dry ingredients are evenly coated in the wet ingredients.
4. Spread the mixture out in an even, thin layer on the prepared baking sheet.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the the bark is golden in color and crisp – the bark is done when the nuts and quinoa look caramelized or golden brown in colour.
6. While the bark is baking, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave, heating on 30-second intervals and stirring after each interval until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Spread the melted chocolate over the bark in an even layer. Sprinkle with cranberries and sea salt.
7. Place the pan in the fridge to set, about 30 minutes or in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove and break into pieces. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.


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