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Lately we’ve had a silent grocery shopping battle. It started out innocently, both of us offering to pick up groceries for the other. It’s turned into a full-out race to our co-op as soon as one of us needs something. It’s getting a little weird.

When I do the grocery shopping, I like to go and get everything on my list. When Matthew goes, he likes to get everything not on my list. He comes home with the most random things from a home cook’s perspective: sunchokes, calabrian chilies, 6 pounds of dried red lentils. I imagine if someone mapped out the path he took at the grocery store, it’d look like a big scribble. This guy has no rhyme or reason to his grocery shopping madness. Sometimes I wonder if he’s trying to recreate the “black box” cooking competitions from his culinary training days at home.

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But his grocery shopping isn’t all bad. The other day he came home with red cocoa powder. This is speaking my language. I pureed it with dates, nuts and coconut to make a no-bake snack that we’ve been loving this week!

Hot Date Bars with Crunchy Quinoa
{gluten-free, raw, vegan}

Makes about a dozen small bars

1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (any good cocoa powder will do)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of raw quinoa, rinsed

Add dates to a food processor and blend until they begin to come together and form a ball. Add almonds and walnuts and blend for another minute or so, until they are chopped into fine pieces and begin to form a paste with the dates.

Add the coconut, cocoa powder, salt and cayenne (if using) and blend until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Dump into a large bowl and add quinoa. Mix very well. I use my hands!

Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8×8 pan and cut into squares. I find it way more fun to roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper (to prevent sticking) and use cookie cutters to punch out shapes.

They can be refrigerated at this point, or you can coat them in shredded coconut, crushed quinoa or finely chopped nuts to prevent sticking. To make crushed quinoa, pulse 1/4 cup dry quinoa in a clean coffee grinder a few times until it begins to break apart.

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