Naturally Homemade Energy Bars 4: Chocolatey Quinoa

I’ve been starting to feel caught in a looping time warp, or at the very least  like a broken record, given post after post of oat-brimming energy/breakfast bars. When our friend Brendan challenged me with a nut, soy, dairy, oat and wheat free energy bar, however, I couldn’t resist. Plus, the fact that I could not include my staple oats presented an opportunity to break free from the redundancy I was creating, however enjoyable. When I found out that the challenge was for our mutual friend Owen, who is an incredible athlete not to mention an all-around great guy, the challenge became even more fun, and I probably perseverated on it to what most people would consider a surprising degree. Owen wasn’t actually avoiding all those ingredients, it turned out, just oats, soy, and onions. The latter didn’t constitute a hurdle in the slightest, obviously, but the oats were perplexing.I decided to use quinoa, and the idea that the bars should be chocolatey stubbornly stuck in my psyche.Adding to the sense of indulgence, I broke two of my (sort of) rules: one, I used bananas again; two, I paid an alarming amount for organic coconut oil. I think you’ll agree, though, that despite the frugal and sustainable goals of this blog, these ingredients have just got to be easily forgiven, especially the bananas. After all, bananas are a fantastic food source, especially for athletes. I just want to buy fewer of them, and have converted to organic. As for the coconut oil, you’ve probably noticed it’s all the rage in healthy fat sources, and I guess I’ve been steadily eying that bandwagon. Health benefits attributed to it include stress relief, cholesterol aid, weight loss, enhanced immunity, digestion and metabolism, hair and skin care, bone strength, and more. Much of the hype pinpoints the presence of lauric, capric, and caprylic acids, as well as antimicrobial, antioxidant, and other properties as the reason behind the power. Whatever the nutrients, I also couldn’t help but feel like fragrant coconut oil would add a welcome, binding touch. My jar wasn’t too terribly expensive, about $7 on sale, and I only used one tablespoon, allowing for many more experiments, and the chance to finally try some of the wonderful cookie recipes on 101 Cookbooks with the specified oil. : ) I included date puree and mashed bananas, as well as rice flour (could be wheat), flaxseed meal, honey, and ground almonds. I thought about adding a powder protein source, but decided against it, though this could be easily included without greatly affecting the bars.

Straight from the oven, the bars tasted great, like a meltingly soft cookie (I included 1/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips). The real test was whether they’d still taste good after being cooled. I was going to defer to Owen for the verdict before posting, but since after waiting a couple of hours before trying another bite, I still liked them, I decided I wouldn’t apply that pressure in case for him they’re a flop, which would be fair enough! Also, after the fact of making these, I did one more online search and found a couple of other quinoa bars. One is incredibly like, so much so that I have to link it here; and, it also looks truly yummy. This one uses a hemp protein powder and is on a terrific resource site for vegetarian athletes, No Meat Athlete.

Chocolatey Quinoa Energy Bars

  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa, or about 2 cups cooked
  • 1/3 cup dates, pitted
  • 1 mashed ripe banana (medium)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: ground almonds, chocolate chips or dark chocolate pieces (I used 1/4 cup ground almonds and 1/3 cup chocolate chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Rinse the dry quinoa in cold water.  Drain and add to a saucepan of 1 cup boiling water.  Cover, and reduce heat to simmer for about 12 minutes.  Let cool.

3. While quinoa is cooking, soak dates in hot water for 10 minutes. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooked quinoa, dates,mashed banana, honey, and coconut oil. Process until fairly smooth.

4. Add flaxseed meal, flour,cocoa powder, ground almonds (if using), and salt and process to combine.

5. Stir in chocolate chips, if using.  Spread evenly into a prepared 8 X 8 inch baking dish.

6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm.  Slice into bars (see below for suggestions) and let cool.  Store in an airtight container.

Drum roll…one more time, here’s the  Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Clif bar nutritional info once again, for reference and as a general guideline 260 calories;  6 g fat;   1.5 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol;  11  g protein; 42 g carbohydrates; 5  g fiber; 200 mg sodium

Chocolatey Quinoa bars (based on 9 servings, without chocolate chips, with 1/4 cup ground almonds): approximately 182 calories;  4.8  g fat;   1.5 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 3.8  g protein; 33.7  g carbohydrates; 2.9  g fiber;  65.9 mg sodium

*Based on 8 servings, with 1/4 cup ground almonds: approximately 204.7 calories;  5.4  g fat;   1.7 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 4.3  g protein; 38 g carbohydrates; 3.6  g fiber;  74.1 mg sodium

*Based on 9 servings, without chocolate chips or almonds): approximately 166.7 calories;  3.5  g fat;   1.4 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 3.3  g protein; 33.2  g carbohydrates; 2.9  g fiber;  65.9 mg sodium

*Based on 12 servings, without chocolate chips or almonds): 125.1 calories;  2.6  g fat;   1.1 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.4  g protein; 24.9  g carbohydrates; 2.2  g fiber;  49.4 mg sodium

*Increasing to 1/2 tsp salt yields approximately 130.5 mg sodium per bar given 9 bars per pan and to 146.8 per bar given 8 bars per pan; increasing to 3/4 tsp yields approximately 195mg sodium per bar in a 9 bar pan

  1. Constance
    October 31, 2010

    I can’t wait to try all these bars! Soon I’ll be on break and will have free time to do that. These sounds great!

  2. Christina Gillen
    October 31, 2010

    Your culinary imagination and blog writing always amazes me!

  3. Brendan Claflin
    November 1, 2010

    Wendy, this sounds amazing, you’re creativity astounds me! Can’t wait to try some!

  4. Owen
    November 4, 2010

    Super tasty! Taste almost too good to be true. good texture and easy to eat. Really helpful to have all the nutritional info too. Mission accomplished!

  5. Gail Storey
    November 24, 2010

    Thanks for the tip about coconut oil, I was out of the loop on that! I’ve recently discovered black rice as tasty and highly nutritious, and have been using it as an alternative to other rices and quinoa.

  6. Emilee
    January 25, 2011

    Hi Wendy! I finally made these. I didn’t have almonds and maybe I should have substituted another ground nut. Mine didn’t get hard, they are soft and texture is a little odd. They aren’t bad, I kind of like them, but thinking I needed to add something else or I didn’t cook them long enough???

    • Wendy McMillan
      January 25, 2011

      Hi Em, sorry they didn’t work out so well for you! The texture is definitely on the soft side, and may not be for everyone. I would definitely recommend using some kind of nut, although the amount called for is small. Walnuts would work well, I think. Or, if you wanted to eliminate nuts entirely, I’m sure we could make some tweaks, maybe adding flax meal or protein powder, depending on the goals. Owen, whom they were originally developed for, has been using them in training, and needed a firmer texture, too, so after separating them into squares, he baked them again, about 10-15 minutes, separated. They remind me more of a Z-bar than a granola bar as is. Of course, everything can generally take extra chocolate for more flavor, too! : )

  7. Emilee
    January 25, 2011

    Hi! I will try them again. I have started to like them quite a bit and Laura eats them too which is nice! I will let you know how the second round goes! Miss you!!!

  1. Chocolate Quinoa Bars Recipe - Simply Rurban | Simply Rurban - [...] why not try and make some quinoa bars similar to the granola bars.  I found a recipe on-line (…

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