Bringing a prairie classic, puffed wheat squares, over to the healthy-ish plant based world with some chocolate puffed quinoa snack bars. You know what? I love them even more than the corn syrup laden version I grew up (obsessively) eating.
This version is sugar free, made with whole dates to hold everything together and adding that delicious caramel flavour. Using puffed quinoa makes these gluten free, and they’re oil free to boot.
The bars take about five minutes to make, then half an hour in the freezer before they’re ready, but still, no bake and so simple. Try storing them in the freezer for a chewy chocolate bar. So good.
If you like rice crispy squares, you’ll like these puffed quinoa bars. They’re not super crisp but have the same kind of idea behind them – definitely on the softer side, but so is puffed quinoa to start with. If you have had puffed wheat squares, they’re pretty spot on. If you want a really crisp bar I’m afraid this isn’t that, as the dates do create more of a chewy treat.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
Just sweet enough, chocolate-y, and chewy, these are one of my favourite healthy-ish desserts and I make them any time puffed quinoa is on sale. They’re so easy and so good.
- Just seven ingredients: including salt, this recipe needs just seven total ingredients.
- They’re fruit sweetened: dates act as the only sweetener here, and since the bars are made with cocoa rather than chocolate, all the sugar comes from whole fruits (extra fibre!).
- You don’t need a food processor: see more on this below – while it’s easier to blend the date mixture, these can also be made by hand if you don’t have a processor.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Dates: the type of dates doesn’t matter as long as they’re very soft. I usually use deglet noor but had medjool on hand when shooting.
- Nut or seed butter: I usually choose peanut butter for these, but sunflower seed butter makes an excellent nut-free substitution. Hazelnut butter makes a great nutella-like choice if you have some, too.
- Non-dairy milk: I use oat milk but any type can be used, even canned coconut milk, though that’ll make it quite a bit richer.
- Cacao or cocoa: interchangeable here, but make sure you’re not using hot cocoa drink mix (there shouldn’t be any sugar or milk powder added). Cacao is a little bitter and regular cocoa is slightly sweeter, so go by your preference.
- Cinnamon: optional but adds a nice flavour! You can sub vanilla or other spices if you’d like.
Step by Step
1. Blend: mix the dates and nut butter to form a rough paste. Don’t add the milk yet!
2. Mix remaining ingredients: blend the milk, cocoa, and spices to make a smooth paste. Adding the milk later prevents an explosion from the date pieces moving too much.
3. Mix with quinoa: combine the date paste and the puffed quinoa and mix very well.
4. Press into a tin: firmly press the mixture into a lined tin and chill before slicing.
You can find puffed quinoa online and in most health food stores. It’s also often available in the GF section, or with the baking supplies, in grocery stores.
If you have a high powered blender, you can blend the date mixture instead. In that case, all of the ingredients (minus the quinoa) can be added at once rather than working in two steps as with the food processor.
No blender or processor? That’s okay! You can mash the dates by hand before mixing in the other ingredients with a fork. If your dates aren’t completely soft, simply soak them in hot water for an hour before beginning.
The tin size doesn’t really matter because the bars aren’t baked – you can press the mixture into just about any form you have on hand and then slice into bars the size you’d like. A bread tin works a treat.
How to Store
Storage: if you prefer the bars quite soft, they can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for at least three days.
Freezing: these are best frozen. Keep an an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months and eat from frozen.
- Flatten well: use back of a soup spoon or damp hands to get a nice, evenly packed layer for the bars.
- Soak the dates: if your dates are too hard, soak them in very hot water for at least half an hour (preferably about an hour) and drain well before blending. No need to rinse.
- Salt to taste: the salt added should be adjusted based on your personal taste and whether salt is added to the nut or seed butter you’re using. If you like salty-sweet, go for the 1/2 teaspoon. Otherwise stick with 1/4, or omit it altogether if the nut butter is salted.
If you make these Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Bars or any other snack recipes on Occasionally Eggs, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more OE, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, purchase the Occasionally Eggs cookbook, or subscribe for new posts via email.
Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Bars
- 100 grams puffed quinoa
- 130 grams soft dates, seeded
- 150 grams runny nut or seed butter
- 125 ml non-dairy milk
- 20 grams cacao powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon sea salt*
- Line a 20cm (8 inch) square baking tin with parchment paper and set aside. Add the puffed quinoa to a large bowl.100 grams puffed quinoa
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, add the dates and nut butter and mix on high speed until a rough paste forms.130 grams soft dates, seeded, 150 grams runny nut or seed butter
- Add the milk, cacao, cinnamon, and salt. Blend again until smooth.125 ml non-dairy milk, 20 grams cacao powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon sea salt*
- Add the date mixture to the quinoa puffs and mix until combined. You may need to use your hands to fully mix.
- Press the bar mixture into the lined baking tin. Use damp hands to really press it in and try to make it as even as possible.
- Place the tin in the freezer for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for a couple of hours, before cutting into 16 squares. These are best stored in a sealed container in the freezer.
- The amount of salt can be reduced here if your nut butter includes salt or if you prefer a lower amount.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.