No Bake Quinoa Protein Bars are nutritious, tasty, and come together with 7 simple ingredients. They’re perfect for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. You can also make a complete quick breakfast with them along with milk and fruit.
These delicious bars were a hit with my son who doesn’t eat oatmeal and quinoa. You and your family are sure to love these, too!
Kids can sometimes come home afterschool a bit hungry. However, if you serve a snack like this it could tide them over while you’re preparing dinner. Making these bars and enjoying them with your kids is a great way to spend some quality family time together.
Read on for the recipe and all the different ways to make these quinoa protein bars your own.
Why This Works
- No baking required
- Requires only 7 simple ingredients
- A homemade snack with nutritious ingredients
- Kid-friendly snack
- Tons of easy ways to customize
- Make it gluten-free with gluten-free oats
- Go nut-free with sunflower seed butter
- Make it vegan with plant-based protein powder
- Reduce the sweetness with less chocolate chips
Ingredients and Nutrition
Quinoa is a seed that originated from South America. However, because it’s consumed the same way as other cereal grains, quinoa is classified as a whole grain .
Rich in protein, fiber, and other nutrients, quinoa is also gluten-free. As such, people with an intolerance or allergy to gluten can consume it. You can find quinoa at major grocery stores.
Touted as a “superfood”, quinoa has an impressive nutrition profile. The term “superfood” is not a scientific term, nor is it regulated. It’s a marketing term used to describe exceptionally nutrient-dense foods that offer health benefits.
One cup of cooked quinoa contains about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. What’s more, a balanced, healthy meal or snack that includes protein and fiber is more satisfying.
Proteins are the building blocks for every cell in our body and are essential for the growth and maintenance of tissues. Most adults need about 0.8-1.0g protein/kg of body weight . However, some people may require more protein depending on their activity level or medical conditions.
An optimal fiber intake supports gut and heart health and reduces the risk of diabetes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories of food consumed .
In addition, a 1-cup serving of quinoa contains a good amount of the following nutrients listed:
- Copper – an antioxidant mineral that’s important for heart health.
- Folate – a B vitamin needed for cell function and tissue growth and essential to take for a healthy pregnancy.
- Iron – helps transport oxygen in the blood.
- Manganese – involved in bone formation, immune response, and metabolism.
- Magnesium – supports regulation of muscle and nerve function, blood pressure, blood sugar, and bone formation.
- Phosphorus – works with calcium for bone health, plays a structural role in the body’s cells, and is involved in energy production.
- Zinc – plays a role in many chemical reactions in the body.
Oats (not cooked)
Oats are a very good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. One cup of uncooked oats provides about 10 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber.
Like quinoa, oats are a good source of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.
What’s more, oats contain vitamin B1, or thiamine, a nutrient that participates in metabolism and helps prevent complications in the brain, heart, and nervous systems.
Oats also contain selenium, an antioxidant nutrient that supports the immune system and mental function.
Unique to oats is beta-glucan, a type of fiber that forms a gel-like solution and can help lower cholesterol. In addition, beta-glucans can aid in lowering blood sugar.
Nut or seed butter
In this recipe, I use sunflower seed butter, but you can use peanut butter, almond butter, or any other nut butter, too.
All these types of butter spreads offer a good amount of nutrition such as protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Sunflower seed butter comes from roasted and ground sunflower seeds. It’s a great alternative for people who have allergies to peanuts and nuts.
Additionally, sunflower seed butter is similar to peanut butter in taste and protein content of about 8 grams in a 2-tablespoon serving.
However, although it is rare, sunflower seed allergy is possible, too. If you’re not sure if sunflower seeds are safe for you to consume, check with your doctor.
Moreover, it’s always important to check the product label to make sure the food you’re purchasing is made in a facility free of any foods you’re allergic to.
In this recipe, we have protein from the quinoa, nut or seed butter, and oats. The addition of a protein powder offers a boost in protein, and you can use either an animal-based or a plant-based powder.
Protein powders vary in their protein content and ingredients, so if you’re especially concerned about this, read the product label. In this recipe, I’m, using a powder that’s widely available at major grocery stores and offers 21 grams of protein in a 2-scoop serving.
Honey or maple syrup
Honey or maple syrup helps bind the ingredients together.
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
The addition of chocolate chips sealed the deal for my son who wouldn’t dare eat quinoa and oatmeal. Trying new food has to be fun for kids! Of course, you could always lessen the amount of chocolate and do a little drizzle on top.
To make no bake protein quinoa bars, first rinse the quinoa with water.
Then add it to a saucepan or small pot along with the water. Bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
The cooked quinoa will look like the photo on the right. Remove the cooked quinoa from the heat and set it aside to cool down.
Next, while the quinoa is cooking, add the oats, protein powder, maple syrup (or honey), and sunflower seed butter (or peanut or nut butter) to the food processor.
Don’t mix it yet, wait for the quinoa to cook and cool down.
Alternatively, you can mix all the ingredients in a bowl by hand or with a utensil.
Additionally, while the quinoa is cooking, line your baking pan or baking dish with parchment paper or wax paper.
Once the quinoa has cooled down, add it to the food processor and blend until well combined.
Next, use your hands, spatula, or spoon to place the bar mixture in the dish and press the mixture down evenly.
After you’ve pressed the mixture into the pan, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave using a microwave-safe bowl. Stir the chocolate every 20-30 seconds until it’s all melted, about 1 minute or so. Be careful when removing the hot bowl from the microwave and use oven-safe mittens or a kitchen towel.
Use a spatula or spoon to spread the melted chocolate over the quinoa protein bars mix. Finally, place the bars in the fridge for about 30 minutes or in the freezer for about 15 minutes to allow the chocolate to solidify.
Once the chocolate has solidified, remove the dish/pan from the fridge or freezer, cut it into bars, and enjoy! The 8 x 8-inch square dish I used yielded 9 square bars. You can also cut these protein quinoa bars into rectangles or smaller squares.
Frequently Asked Questions
While rinsing quinoa may be a pain, I recommend doing it.
Quinoa is coated with saponin, a naturally occurring chemical that repels insects and has a bitter taste. Saponins are a component in many different types of plant foods including peanuts, beans, lentils, and soy. .
Some people have built up a tolerance to saponin. While others cannot tolerate saponin because it’s hard to digest.
As you rinse the quinoa, pay attention to the water–the bubbles are an indication of saponin. Rinse until the bubbles disappear.
You can use a fine sieve to rinse the quinoa. Another way to rinse is by using a bowl and your hand. Rinse the quinoa in a bowl and drain the water using your hand to hold the quinoa in the bowl as you carefully pour the water out.
Even if you don’t have any issues with saponin, it’s a good idea to rinse quinoa and other saponin-containing foods when you’re serving a crowd. You never know how other people may react to saponin.
Uncooked rolled oats you see in the grocery store are not the same as raw oats. Raw oats come straight from the field with the whole oat plant still intact–kernels, hulls, and stalks. Rolled oats, on the other hand, have gone through processing, which includes pre-steam and heat treatments to kill potentially harmful pathogens. 
So yes, you can eat rolled oats without cooking.
This recipe calls for rolled oats, either quick-cooking (instant) or regular (old-fashioned) and both have undergone processing.
Using an 8 x 8-inch pan yields 9 bars at about 8 grams of protein per bar. To increase the protein content, I recommend starting with protein powder. As mentioned above, protein powders can vary in their protein content.
For this recipe, I use a protein powder that contains 21 grams of protein in a 2-scoop serving. There are powders with higher protein content; shop around at your store and online for them.
Another way to increase the protein is to increase the nut or seed butter or add protein-containing ingredients such as seeds and nuts into the mix (see the next question).
Make these quinoa protein bars your own and try adding one or a combination of these optional ingredients into the mix.
You can fold these ingredients in with the mix after your blend the quinoa with the other ingredients. Or you can also sprinkle them on top of the chocolate layer before the refrigeration or freezer step.
– chia seeds
– pumpkin seeds
– sesame seeds
– sunflower seeds
– dried cranberries
– other chopped dried fruit
– chopped pieces of peanuts or nuts
– shredded coconut
Yes, you can make these quinoa protein bars less sweet by reducing the amount of chocolate chips. Try melting a few and drizzling them on the mixture. Alternatively, you can skip the chocolate-melting step and just sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top or fold them in with the mix.
Another way to reduce the sweetness is to decrease or omit the maple syrup or honey. If you do this, you may need to increase the nut or seed butter to add more cohesion for the ingredients to bind together.
Additionally, you can experiment with using chopped dates instead of maple syrup or honey, since dates have some stickiness to them.
No Bake Quinoa Protein Bars and Variations
- measuring cups and spoons
- saucepan or small pot
- 1 food processor or blender Optional. These bars can be mixed by hand, too.
- 1 8 x 8 inch square baking pan or baking dish
- parchment paper or wax paper Optional. Helps with preventing bars from sticking to pan and a lot easier on the cleaning.
- ⅓ cup uncooked and rinsed quinoa (equal to 1 cup cooked)
- ⅔ cup water
- 1 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned or gluten-free)
- ½ cup peanut or nut butter or sunflower seed butter if you have a nut allergy (see note)
- ½ cup protein powder (animal-based or plant-based)
- ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
- ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Add rinsed quinoa and water to a small pot or saucepan and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until quinoa is cooked–about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat once cooked and set aside to cool.
- While the quinoa is cooking, add the oats, sunflower seed butter (or peanut or nut butter), protein powder, and maple syrup or honey to a food processor. Once the quinoa has cooled, add it to the food processor. If you don't have a food processor, you can mix the ingredients by hand or with a spoon in a bowl. Blend until well combined.
- Line an 8 x 8 square baking pan or baking dish with wax paper or parchment paper.
- Pat the mixture into the pan and press evenly.
- Melt chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl for about a minute. Stir every 20-30 seconds until melted. Spread melted chocolate evenly over the mixture in pan or dish.
- Freeze for 10 to 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes until the chocolate solidifies. After freezing or refrigerating, cut bars evenly. You can get 9 square-sized bars from this or 6 rectangular-sized bars.
- Enjoy and store leftovers in an airtight container and keep refrigerated.
Tried this recipe? What variations or adaptations did you make? Share in the comments.