Millet Cherry Bars

Here’s more proof that you don’t need to dish out your hard-earned cash for energy bars designed in factories when making your own inspiring version is easy, even for the culinary challenged. Not just for the birds, millet is an inexpensive gluten-free grain that gives these bars great texture and nutritional firepower.

Notes: This recipe is dairy-free, freezer-friendly, gluten-free, and vegan or vegetarian; serves 9. The flat side of a measuring cup is a perfect tool for pressing the bar mixture into a flat, even layer in the pan. Placing the uncut bars in the refrigerator for a couple of hours can make slicing them easier.

1 C roughly chopped pecans
½ C raw millet
¼ C raw shelled sunflower seeds
¼ C raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 C dried cherries
2 T honey
zest of 1 medium orange
½ t salt

Recipe Key:
C = cup
T = tablespoon
t = teaspoon

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Spread pecans, millet, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven and heat, stirring a couple of times, until golden and fragrant, 10–12 minutes. Line an 8- × 8-inch square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper large enough so there is a 1-inch overhang.

Reduce oven temperature to 200°F. In a food processor blend cherries, honey, orange zest, salt and 2 tablespoons water into a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the toasted pecan mixture. Press firmly into a prepared pan in an even bars and bake until just slightly sticky to the touch, 25–30 minutes.

Let cool completely in the pan before using the parchment overhang to lift the uncut bars from the pan. Cut into 9 bars. These can be kept chilled for 2 weeks or frozen for up to 2 months if wrapped tightly.

5 game changers: 1. Replace pecans with almonds. 2. Try raw quinoa as a replacement for millet. 3. Swap out cherries for cranberries. 4. Use brown rice syrup or agave syrup instead of honey. 5. Add lemon zest instead of orange zest.