Chocolate Quinoa Protein Bars

One of my new favorite blogs is No Meat Athlete, despite the fact the fact that I’m not an athlete. This seems to surprise a lot of people, who tend to assume I have some form of dedication to my physical health, perhaps running or hiking, but they are wrong. I do, however, like to talk about getting in shape. Once a year or so I even go to the store and look at running shoes before getting distracted by the cute high heels. Just because I’m not an athlete, though, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t swap sugary sweet snacks for a healthier, protein-rich bar. These chocolate quinoa protein bars from No Meat Athlete* boast a minimum of 7 grams of protein, which is a whopping 14 percent of the daily recommended value for an average sized man. They’re also full of whole grains, omega-3s and vitamin C, with a little chocolate to sweeten the deal. Eat them while training for a marathon…or not.

  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa, or about 2 cups cooked
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup protein powder
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup stir-ins like dry fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, or vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 8×8 baking dish lightly with baking spray.

Rinse the dry quinoa in cold water, then let sit in a bowl of water for 10 minutes.  In the meantime, bring 1 cup of water to boil.  Drain the quinoa and add to the boiling water.  Cover, and reduce heat to simmer for about 12 minutes.  Let cool enough to handle.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooked quinoa, dates, agave nectar, vegetable oil, flaxseed, almond extract, and salt.  Process until relatively smooth (the quinoa is so small it stays slightly lumpy).

In a small bowl, stir together the protein powder, flour, and stir-ins.  Fold this dry mixture into wet mixture with a spatula.  The dough is very thick, like cookie dough, so use the spatula to press into prepared pan evenly.

Bake for about 22-25 minutes, until firm.  Let cool, then slice into a dozen bars.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

*Note: Christine from No Meat Athlete talks about Pop Tarts as a vegan snack. This is NOT true for most Pop Tarts — only the unfrosted kind, which aren’t available in my city, at least that I’ve found.

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