Vegan Chocolate Quinoa Protein Bars (Gluten and Refined Sugar Free)

Can it be that these bars remind me of grandma’s brownies made from scratch?  They’re not too sweet thanks to the dates and unsweetened applesauce.  They have a nice cocoa flavor and a moist but slightly dense, almost torte-like consistency.

OK, grandma’s brownies weren’t actually torte-like and they rose to a height of at least two and a half inches.

Other than the quinoa, hemp powder, and coconut,  I’m sure they’re almost an exact replica.

quinoa protein bar

I’m sure grandma never baked with hemp powder.  She’d probably be a little confounded by the ingredient.

This was my first attempt to bake with it too.

It wasn’t a completely anonymous ingredient, and was a tad noticeable on the first bite.  Keep eating, and the taste of coconut becomes more prominent and adds a nice little crunch.  Then it’s just sweetness, chocolate, and coconut.

The only reminder that there’s quinoa in here is a little seed looking out at me as I bite.

protein bar

My sister Alex is the official baker of grandma’s brownie recipe.  Luckily, she’s searching for a substitute recipe that’s gluten-free.  Maybe this will work.

Or maybe I’ll discover that the only thing they have in common is that they’re made with love.

Note:  Inspired by Christine Frazier’s Chocolate Quinoa Protein Bars, and grandma.

Vegan Chocolate Quinoa Protein Bars (Gluten and Refined Sugar-Free)

Serves: 12/ Prep time: 25 mins. (including quinoa cook-time)/ Cook time: 22-25 mins.  Oven temp: 350 degrees

Nutritional info in one bar: 131 calories, 3.6 g. of fiber, 6.6 g. of protein

¾ cup dry quinoa (or about 2 cups cooked)
½ cup dates, pitted (about 5)
3 TBSP unsweetened applesauce
2 TBSP coconut oil
2 TBSP ground flaxseed
½ tsp vanilla extract (grain free)
¼ tsp salt
½ cup protein powder (I used unsweetened hemp powder)
½ cup blanched almond flour
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ cup crushed 70% dark chocolate bar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil an 8×8 baking dish.
  2. Rinse the dry quinoa well.  Add quinoa to a pot and cover with about an inch of water.  Place quinoa on the stove on high and bring to a boil.  Then lower the heat so it bubbles gently. For me this was medium.  Cook until tender, about  20 minutes.
  3. In a food processor, combine the cooked quinoa, dates, unsweetened applesauce, coconut oil, ground flaxseed, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix until smooth.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the protein powder, flour, and coconut.
  5. Fold the dry mixture into wet ingredients with a spatula.  Add the crushed chocolate and mix well.
  6. Press the dough into the baking dish.  I used moist fingers to help smash things down.
  7. Bake for about 22-25 minutes, until firm. Mine took 25 mins.
  8. Let cool, then slice into a dozen bars.
  9. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.  Inspired by grandma, I wrapped each one individually in Saran wrap.

Do you have a favorite recipe that your grandma used to make? Tell me about it by leaving a comment up above.

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: Protein Protein Quinoa | kuchhuufoodieadventures

  2. As the official baker of grandma’s brownies, I can say they have one ingredient in common with this recipe: vanilla. Though grandma’s recipe calls for a tablespoon. Grandma’s were all butter (a pound), sugar (2 cups) and bakers chocolate (8 squares) plus a few other things.

    I do not believe it will be possible to reduplicate hers in a healthy fashion, thus I have simply retired the recipe.


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