Dark Chocolate Quinoa Energy Bars

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The life of a chef is always exciting. It’s pretty much go go go from the time you walk in the door until the time you get home 10-15 hours later. When your working in a kitchen, (especially when the area your working in is a tourist area during some times of the year), you have to have a lot of energy and be ready to move quick. If not you could set yourself far behind in your work and end up screwed by the time breakfast/lunch/dinner service comes around.

The kitchen I’m currently working in is a little understaffed. I am working a different shift every day which can get a little ugly when it comes to my sleep schedule. Currently I’ve been coming in at 6 am which is definitely a shift for the birds. It’s not so bad once you’ve worked it for a while, you come in real early and get out early enough that it almost feels like a day off. I usually start my day with coffee to give me that wake up call and added pep in my step. Sine I’ve been cutting back on coffee and switching to green tea, I’m trying to eat something light in the early mornings that will aid in getting me motivated and ready to rock. While 90% of the people I work with roll into work with a red bull or 2 in their hands to keep them awake and moving fast fast fast, I nibble on these homemade energy bars that are made with quinoa, chia seeds, and berries. They are a million times better and packed with a lot more nutrients than red bulls. One batch can make up to 20 bars, depending on the size you choose to cut. These are also great to pack for lunches and will hold for a few days in the refrigerator.

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Gluten Free/Refined Sugar Free/Vegan

Mise en Place:

-1/2 Cup Quinoa (I used Red Quinoa)

-2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds

-1 Cup Frozen Berries (I used mixed berries)

-15 Dates

1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries

-1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds (optional)

1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips

 

Additional Tools:

-Parchment Paper

-Pizza cutter

-Rubber Spatchula

-Vitamix or blender

 

Method of Prep:

-Rinse the quinoa under cold water and drain. Cook quinoa according to directions on the box. (Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes). Drain quinoa and place in refrigerator to cool.

-Throw the chia seeds, berries and dates into blender and blend until its gooey and sticky.

-In a bowl, mix the dried cranberries with the quinoa and berry mix.

-Spread the mixture on a sheet of parchment paper and shape into a nice even square.

-Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the energy bars. Once crispy on the top, remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature.

-While Quinoa is cooling down, Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler over high heat until smooth.

-Pour hot chocolate over the top of the quinoa and spread all over using a rubber spatula. Place in the refrigerator to harden.

-Cut into small squares using a pizza cutter.

Enjoy!

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How to Clean & Maintain Cast Iron Cookware

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Few tools are as essential in my kitchen as my cast iron skillet. Durable, affordable and virtually nonstick, it’s a pretty awesome pan. You can cook just about anything in it as you would any other pan such as sear fish, scramble eggs and even make a pizza!

Due to cast iron conducting and holding heat very well, it’s a great pan to fry chicken in. It’s really the only tool I’m attached to and take the most care of (next to my 600 series mixer and vitamix).  If this pan is maintained properly and taken good care of, I can pass this pan down to my grandchildren. The process of taking care of your cast iron is very simple. The main step is to clean it immediately after each use.

Traditional cast iron skillets don’t come pre-seasoned. You have to season it yourself. After each use it is recommended you re-season it. You must clean immediately after cooking if you want your cast iron cookware to last. There are a few different methods on how to clean cast iron pans.  I will show and explain to you in 3 steps how I properly clean and season cast iron cookware after each use. The additional uses if you find easier and prefer, will be listed a the end. Use which ever method you feel is easier for you.

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Cleaning:

A cast iron skillet isn’t ideal for the set aside and let soak people. For best results, wash right away with hot water after cooking. If you need to remove food that is stuck to the pan, gently rub with a mild abrasive such as salt or a nonmetal sponge. I personally prefer not to use any soap in my cast iron pan but it’s okay to use just a small amount once in a while. Don’t submerge the pan in water; this will cause it to rust faster. If the pan gets sticky or begins to rust, scrub it with a steel wool and re-season it. To prevent rust, dry immediately and rub with a small amount of canola or vegetable oil and dry with a paper towel.

Seasoning:

Seasoning cast iron cookware is necessary to maintain its ongoing non stick surface and to prevent the pan from rusting. If seasoned correctly, your cast iron cookware can last a lifetime.

Mise en Place:

-Cast Iron pan or other cookware

-1 Cup Salt (Preferably fine grain such as Diamond Crystal)

-1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

-1 Pair of Tongs

-1 Kitchen towel (one that you don’t mind getting dirty)

-1 nonmetal abrasive sponge or scrub brush

Method of Prep: (For electric stoves only, gas stoves see the notes section at the end)

-Turn on oven to 350 degrees.

-Immediately after you have finished cooking out of your cast iron pan, add hot water and gently scrub the inside and around the edges to remove any food particles or oil from the pan.

-Pour out water and place pan on the stove over medium high heat. Allow pan to get hot and add in salt. Using the tongs and kitchen towel, rub salt around the pan. The salt will begin to turn brown as it cleans the pan.  Leave the salt in the pan over medium high heat for approximately 5 minutes.

-Using a heat pad, grab the pan at the handle and dump the salt out into the sink. Place the pan in the oven and let bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes to “season”. (If you have a gas stove refer the bottom of this page for this step)

-Carefully pull pan from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled add in olive oil and rub all over the inside using a paper towel.

**Note: If you have a gas stove, Over high heat, turn your pan upside down so the inside of the pan is facing the open flame and allow the pan to cook under the flame for 20 minutes. This is another way to season the pan minus the baking. (If you have an electric stove follow the directions above.)

-A good cast iron pan wont stick.  The inside should always look shiny. If after a few uses it begins to stick, that’s when you need to re season the pan.

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