Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Recipe Connection: Quinoa Oat Protein Bars

May 22nd, 2012 · 54 Comments · Recipes

My husband doesn’t eat quinoa, no matter how I serve it, but when he tried this gluten-free quinoa oat protein bar recipe, his feedback was something like this:

“Yeah, these are pretty good – and if you consider they’re supposed to be healthy, they’re really good!”

Quinoa Oat Protein Bars

So if you, too, are not a fan of quinoa, have hope: you might still like these protein bars.

My kids and quite a handful of other kid testers have also been fans (my son even says, “Are there any quinoa bars left? Yesssss!”), so consider them “kid-tested!”

A High Protein Snack on the Go?

I began the quest to perfect a quinoa protein bar recipe because a friend of mine was training for a running event and was told she should have a certain amount of protein within 15 minutes of a workout. We wondered what might be able to go into a homemade bar that would hold a candle to the high protein soy-based bars that we wanted to avoid. (It turns out the answer is probably nuts, but we thought working with quinoa would be interesting, and it was!)

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I fiddled with a  few recipes, most of which began with one from Bob’s Red Mill originally, but I’ve adapted the end result to add more protein, include the soaking step, and of course, be as simple and delicious as possible. I even have a couple grain-free options coming in another post later today.

Quinoa Oat Protein Bars

Quinoa Oat Protein Bars

Start with quinoa cooked in milk for additional protein, add oats soaked in yogurt for even more, a touch of honey sweetness and a final blast of peanut buttery protein, and you’ve got a delicious snack bar to take with you to the gym, the beach, or just as a morning brain food snack for a school-aged child.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Quinoa Oat Protein Bars
Recipe type: Desserts and Snacks
  • 1 c. oats
  • ½ c. plain whole milk yogurt (or water)
  • 1 c. cooked (sprouted) quinoa*
  • ¼ c. dried cherries
  • ½ c. chopped nuts (optional)
  • ¼ c. honey
  • ¼ c. peanut butter
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • optional add-ins:
  • ¼ c. shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 Tbs. ground flax
  • ½ tsp. baking soda, for lift
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. The night before, mix one cup rolled oats with the ½ cup plain yogurt in your mixing bowl.
  2. Allow to rest on the counter overnight or for 12-24 hours to reduce phytates and improve digestion. (Why soak?)
  3. Make sure your quinoa is also prepped to cook or already cooked per instructions below. I find it's easier to cook the quinoa one day while preparing lunch or dinner, then have it cold and ready to go into the bar recipe whenever I'm ready to bake.
  4. The recipe has also been tested with 1 cup soaked and dehydrated oats plus one half cup liquid: milk, water, or yogurt.
  5. To mix up the bars, add one cup cooked quinoa to the soaked oats, then simply add all the other ingredients and mix well.
  6. Spread in an 8x8-inch baking pan (or 7x11 works too).
  7. In a preheated 350F oven, bake for 20-30 minutes.
  8. The bars are done when the middle is no longer soggy and the edges become browned and pull away from the pan slightly.
  9. Cool in the pan before slicing into 16 pieces.
  10. Stores best in the refrigerator, although they can handle a few days at room temperature.
*Quinoa Soaking Instructions:
One to four days before baking, soak quinoa overnight in filtered water.

Either sprout for 1-3 days following these sprouting directions, or just rinse well and cook. (Sprouted quinoa pictured in post)

If you want exactly enough for an 8x8 pan of bars (this recipe), soak ¼ cup dry quinoa. I always soak a full cup and just freeze the extras in one-cup servings for future batches.

Cook with double the amount of whole milk or coconut milk vs. quinoa. In other words, cook ¼ c. dry quinoa in ½ c. milk, or use 2 c. milk or one can coconut milk for a full cup of dry quinoa. Bring to a boil, stir, and reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, for about 30 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

If you use coconut milk, try using the cooked quinoa on top of yogurt with blueberries, cinnamon, and maple syrup. It's wonderful.

Note: People find various things with soaking - if your family really reacts to unsoaked grain, you may want to soak in ½ c. warm water with a little whole wheat flour or buckwheat (gluten-free) flour to make sure the phytic acid is neutralized, instead of yogurt...

Crumbly fix: If you find that your bars come out too crumbly, first make sure to refrigerate them. (That might solve it all.) Then cut them apart and place individual bars on a cookie sheet or baking stone. Toast at about 350F for 10 minutes and allow to cool completely. This "re-toast" process really helps the bars keep their shape and be more solid.

If you have tamed your sweet tooth and don't need a lot of sweetness, try cutting the honey right in half.

Peanuts are the highest protein nut, hence the peanut butter, although I admit I didn't try using ground peanuts (yet).

Sunflower seeds (24-27g/cup) and almonds (20-31g/cup) are also very high protein nuts (numbers vary widely depending on source).

Walnuts are lower at 14-20 (maybe 28?) g/cup but have excellent omega-3 fats, so they're still a good choice.

Hate peanut butter? Allergic? Use butter or coconut oil instead (or try simply omitting; these bars have been incredibly flexible).

Don't care to soak? Want the bars now? Just use 1 cup oats with ½ cup liquid (yogurt, milk OR water) in the recipe.

This recipe is gluten-free as long as you use gluten-free oats.

If you use flax, be sure to take care of it so it doesn't go rancid. (How to store flax)

Only buy peanut butter that has NO hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

Feel free to use any dried fruit you have on hand.

2.6 g protein per 2x2" bar Or with ½ c. nuts = 3.2 g protein


Quinoa Oat Protein Bars

Sprouted quinoa

sprouting quinoa (1) (475x356)

Cooked quinoa and Quinoa Peanut Butter Protein Bars

Quinoa Oat Protein Bars

In spite of quinoa being a “grain” with high protein (about 5 g per cup), you can see from the protein content that these guys didn’t end up being as  high protein as maybe I hoped!

Quinoa oat PB soaked bars w nuts

(Nutrition facts courtesy of’s calorie counter.)

The bars are fairly small, so it would be easy to eat two or even three after a workout, which would get your protein up near 10 grams, but that’s still far short of most iron-pumping soy protein bars.


More on high protein foods for after a workout

Lactation Support?

Luckily, I can still give these quinoa oat bars a purpose beyond just “delicious healthful snack.” Donielle of Naturally Knocked Up tells me the combination of quinoa and oats are on the list of milk-supply boosting foods. Let’s market them as lactation bars (and use walnuts for the healthy brain fats for baby)!

Quinoa Oat Protein Bars

Whip up a batch for your favorite new or stressed out nursing mama (and be sure to keep a few for yourself to take to the gym…or just to enjoy).

Just don’t tell my husband the new purpose, or he might give up quinoa for good. ;)

Here’s the second recipe for the grain-free option, a tropical version, and how to really pump these up with protein: Grain-free Quinoa Bars

Catch the whole Real Food Weight Loss and Exercise series for lots of great ideas on being healthy every day…

***Also, don’t forget about my snacks lesson coming TODAY in the GNOWFGLINS eCourse for lots of other ideas on healthy snacking and some fun video tutorials, plus 60% off Healthy Snacks to Go. Join anytime!


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54 Comments so far ↓

  • Christina

    These look great. I’ll be trying them soon. I also started a new running program and I’ve been working on some good protein options. Have you thought of adding nutritional yeast? Or are you against that? I like the flavor it adds and the protein.

  • Mom @ Cube2Farm

    Am so excited to try these! Love the fact that you posted nutritional info. Thanks for experimenting and posting for us!

  • Laura @MOMables

    I am definitely going to have to whip some out for ME!!

  • Laura

    These look great! My son has allergies to nuts and sunflower seeds. Is there a possible substitution for the peanut butter that would serve the same purpose in baking? Thanks.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    You bet – just use butter or coconut oil. Enjoy! :) Katie

  • Jill

    I can’t wait to make these! I want to use quinoa more!

    I have a question off topic of this post. I’ve just had a baby less than 1 month ago. I was group b strep positive, and was given one bag of antibiotics. Now, my daughter has yeast diaper rash, and thrush, and I’m also treating me for nursing. We both are using nystatin for 10 days.

    So my question is, what would you say are the top 10 foods/things I can do to nourish me, to then in turn nourish baby while NOT feeding the yeast? We are a whole/real food eating family for the most part so our diet is generally good.

    I’m thinking some might be: yogurt, chicken bone broth, No sugar, less fruit (because of sugar)??? What would you add/take away from this list?? Any advice would be great!

    Thank you so much!

    Danielle Reply:

    We have recently battled a similar mess here. I might be able to offer some advice…but everyone has a different opinion. First garlic is great…but baby might not think so. Cutting sugar and fruit is a good idea but you should extend that also to big fluffy white carbs like white rice, pasta and bread. That gave me a chance to experiment with new foods like quinoa pasta and chick pea flour. (A friend showed me that I could make muffins by subbing all purpose flour for chick pea flour…they are different, more dense…but my 22 month old loved them.) If I really wanted to sweeten anything I used a little honey. I also read in a medicinal herbal that celery is a anti fungal. We ate lots of veggies and simply prepared meats, water and unsweetened herbal tea. I got really creative with salads and homemade dressings. Creativity extended to using alternative cereals like buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa and steel cut oats. It also has helped my little girl to sit in bath water that has about a cup of white vinegar in it. (Her poor bottom gets to be such a mess. :( ) Hope I didn’t overwhelm you…I tried to condense it. But would talk more if you like.

    Danielle Reply:

    Sorry, I’m back. I also purchased and/or made my own plain yogurt and dressed it up with things like a wee bit of strawberries, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, nutmeg…more creativity!

    Jill Reply:

    Are nuts, natural peanut butter, whole wheat flour, brown rice, & oats ok to eat, or do they feed yeast too. I’m wondering what I can eat for snacks that won’t do more harm than good.

    Danielle Reply:

    From what I understand, almonds are the best option. Whole wheat flour and other nuts are ok in moderation. Some of the information I have recommends Old-Fashioned oats over quick ones…not sure of the science behind that. But bulgar, quinoa, amaranth, steel cut oats buckwheat, brown and wild rice seem ok in moderation. Try researching popped quinoa or amaranth…it actually pops like little popcorn! Then I created “cookies” with things like nuts, uncooked oats, popped amaranth, sunflower seeds….you’ll have to experiment with the “glue”… I used nut butters and honey. I even put a little bit of cocoa in one batch. That went well. Careful not to overindulge…these buggers are full of fiber! Eggs are a good snack, cut up veggies. Experiment with making dips using yogurt as the base. ( a little lemon juice and thyme or a little garlic and basil is interesting)

    Black eyed peas are supposed to be a great food for this problem. Try this recipe using a very little bit of the dressing it calls for or make your own with out much if any sweetener. I thought this was pretty good:,2326,158182-235201,00.html

    Good luck with all this. My baby girl (now 23 months tomorrow) has another nasty yeasty rash down south. We’ve been battling it off and on for nearly two months now. By using this diet and monistat cream externally I manage to beat it off…but then we have another weekend surrounded with friends and family…and eating whatever…and we are right back where we started. Not sure when it’s time to do something a little more serious. But she’s on this diet now so we’ll see how it goes, right?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Oof, I’m sorry you’re battling this! Fear of yeast was a huge part of my move to natural medicine and yogurt when I had my first and was strep B positive…

    You’re right on with your thinking, and Danielle covered the food part awesomely. I have one friend who can’t touch a speck of fruit when battling yeast.

    The other thing I have to throw out there is to make sure you get RID of the yeast from your house – you may find that you have to wash sheets and your nursing bras/shirts/baby’s clothes/diapers in some serious antibacterial stuff – hot water, vinegar…look up some ideas on that online. I’ve never done it myself, but again I have friends whose yeast infections w/nursing kept returning after medicating b/c it was hanging around the fabrics in their house.

    You may want to look into getting a probiotic supplement to counteract the antibiotics in your system, Garden of Life is a good brand.

    Good luck!
    :) Katie

    Jill Reply:

    Thank you for all the advice! I hope to beat this thing! I am also taking a probiotic – florajen.

    How would I treat our clothes/blankets, etc? I also cloth diaper, which I’ve taken a break from until this clears up. And I’m using paper towel wipes, too, until I can return to cloth wipes…

    I read that I should use grapeFRUIT seed extract on my diapers. So I’m guessing to use it on clothes too? Does anyone know if grapefruit seed extract kills both yeast & yeast spores?

    Do I need to/should I cut out whole wheat? We don’t eat much white flour stuff, but we do eat plenty of pasta…

    Again, thank you! Any and all advice is so helpful!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    As it turns out, I just saw a naturopath for a skin yeast infection yesterday…she recommended nothing made with flour as the BEST course of action. Oats feed yeast more than other whole grain – she said quinoa, rice, millet, all in unbroken, whole form (not flour). So that’s all I know about that!

    I am not sure on the GSE…I’m sure a quick Google search would get good cloth diaper answers though! Good luck – Katie

    Caroline Reply:

    I’ll add my two cents in here too…I also tested group B + and with my long labor had at least 3 rounds of antibiotics. I came out of the hospital w/ a nasty yeast infection turned mastitis and it took months before I ever figured out what it was. Anyways, when I finally did find out…I treated all of our linens/clothes/nursing bras/cloth diapers by washing in hot water and drying in the sun. I also made sure my son was in the sun w/out a diaper on for at least 10min a day.
    As for food, I cut out all dairy, wheat and sugar (though I did eat fruit in moderation). It wasn’t very fun, but it seemed to help.
    Perhaps most helpful was a long treatment with gentian violet- we just got this at the grocery store pharmacy and there are instructions all over the internet regarding how to use it- and a 10 day course of nystatin. I also tok probiotics and gave them to my son. Sorry you are going through this! Its no fun. But I think the more strict you are with diet/laundry etc, the quicker it will go away. Good luck!

    DavetteB Reply:

    Grapefruit seed Extract is good for killing everything – the bottle I have has the amount you need for different purposes printed right on the label. HTH
    PS: I’ve used this on bras and it didn’t hurt the fabric.

  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I just want to note that soaking oats overnight in yogurt is not going to help. I have done that and my kids reacted like I hadn’t done a thing. The oats are low in phytase, and calcium inhibits the reduction of phytic acid further.

    Better to soak in plain warm water and add just a bit of wheat flour and that will take care of it. :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Thanks Kate! I updated the post with your note – thoughts on soaking are changing all the time, it seems, but if you see it in your kids, that’s a pretty clear sign!
    :) Katie

  • Laura

    Jill, you could try eating some homemade lacto-fermented vegetables (gingered carrots, sauerkraut, etc). They are very rich in probiotics and it will replace the bad bacteria with good. Wardee at GNOWFGLINS has a lot of information on the why and how of lacto-fermented vegetables. Hope that helps!

  • Alana Dalene

    I could use that morning brain food too! These sound really good. :D Thanks!

  • Sharon

    Just curious– is there actually anything to that advice to have protein immediately after exercise? Is this evidence-based? Or is it something put out by the folks trying to sell that kind of product?

    But I am planning to try these, just have to get some quinoa.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Opening a bunch of tabs to try to look into that for Wednesday’s post immediately! Thanks for reminding me that I wanted to check on that point…

    :) Katie

  • Bebe

    These sound yummy but I am wondering, if the goal is to get protein on board in a portable way, what about just a couple of hard boiled eggs? They are easy, travel well and take a lot less prep time! Or a tuna or salmon sandwich? I know bars are really popular right now but it also seems to add another level of complication to our lives to have to come up with a “cookie” that satisfies protein requirements.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    TONS of ideas coming Wed., eggs included! (Although at 6-7 g protein, an egg is good but not amazing…)

    I just wouldn’t get a lot of food blogger props if I posted a recipe for “hard boiled egg.” ;) j/k
    :) Katie

  • Jennifer

    Hi Katie! I’m anxious to try these. One question: if you sprout the quinoa, what is the ratio of liquid to quinoa for cooking? Is it decreased since the seeds have already taken up moisture?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I measure the quinoa first (1 cup) and just use the same amount of liquid, but if I don’t sprout, I’ve soaked anyway and they’ve taken up moisture there, too. It works! Makes kind of a thick puddingish consistency…
    :) Katie

  • Saeriu

    These look great and I think I’d really like to try them. I am surprised to see no eggs in the recipe. I’m fairly new to quinoa, is it sticky enough to bind like eggs? Could I mix in a couple to bump up protein even further?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    This bar holds together quite nicely, since the quinoa is cooked. You can see lots more variations here: including adding an egg. Enjoy! :) Katie

    Saeriu Reply:

    Wonderful! Thanks!

  • Katrina

    I made these today- I baked them at 350 and they took about 30 min. I didn’t keep perfect track just kept adding on 5 min. At fifteen minutes they were still very soft- just looked like mushy oatmeal. I haven’t tried them yet but they smell awesome- instead of grinding nuts I just used chunky natural peanut butter.

  • Chelsea

    Thank you for this recipe Katie, I’m a pretty mainstream gal, but I thought it looked like an interesting and challenging recipe to make (sprout quinoa? Soak oats?) so I gave it a try. They turned out pretty good, I am retoasting mine now, but will probably keep the recipe. The second time around it should be easier to make I think. I also agree with previous posting that 350 for 30 min is the correct time and temp.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Way to go trying something new! Glad they were a fun experiment…
    :) Katie

  • Amber

    Hi Katie,

    I made these yesterday, baked for 17min at 350. It had just turned from being completely mushy in the middle to a bit firmer. I think they are delicious. My 3 and 5 year olds were not overly keen. Although my 3 year old said she liked it today. My partner is yet to try. Should be interesting as he is not keen on quinoa either.

  • Rachel

    How well do these keep for you? I made some over the weekend and cooked the quinoa in milk. I stored the extra bars in the fridge, but they became moldy within 2 days! Have you noticed this problem at all?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Yikes! In the fridge I’ve kept them well over a week, on the counter even for a few days. How long did you bake them? I wonder if they weren’t quite done, although that still is an incredibly short time for refrigeration. The cooked quinoa alone usually lasts for 5-7 days. So sorry they got lost on you!

  • Kristin

    Hi Katie,

    Thanks for this recipe. I’m wondering, however, if I soak the quinoa, I don’t then cook it, right?

    Thanks in advance for your help,

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    You still have to cook it – the soaking is just one step, but it would still be crunchy without cooking. Glad you asked! :) Katie

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  • Stephanie

    Thanks for the recipe. I’m always looking for quinoa ideas and this is a great one.

  • Erin B.

    Do these bars freeze well? I am stocking up for baby, and hoping to get some snack bars in the freezer. I am wondering the same for the Grain Free Bars.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Yes to both! Enjoy! :) Katie

  • lisa

    Hi, in the recipe notes you say, “Peanuts are the highest protein nut… Sunflower seeds (24-27g/cup) and almonds (20-31g/cup) are the highest protein nuts .” ??

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Sorry I’m so late catching your comment; I got buried releasing the latest ebook.

    That doesn’t make much sense at all, does it? :) I think something got mixed up when we transferred the old post to the new, prettier recipe format. Peanut butter has 72g protein per cup, wow, so I changed the post. Give peanuts the protein award and almonds and sunflower seeds runners up. Thanks for catching my error! :) Katie

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  • Mindy R

    These are awesome!!! I made a batch last night and tried them out on the guys (who, I must mention, run screaming at just the thought of anything healthy) and they loved them! I was thinking they might of just been saying it to not hurt my feelings, but when I woke up this morning they had taken all the bars I’d wrapped in plastic wrap for breakfast on the go :) This will definitely be a staple in my kitchen from now on!

  • Kristy

    I haven’t made these yet, but I definitely intend to–bonus for lactation support! Are the dried cherries required (for sweetness), or could I sub them out? Not a huge dried fruit fan, but am wondering if fresh blueberries would work ok?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Any fruit would work great, and skipping it would be fine, too! (Sorry I let your comment get lost for so long, gah!) :) Katie

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  • Rachel J

    Darn! Why won’t it let me pin this without having a wordpress log in and password???

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I just tried pinning and it worked…but Pinterest drives me crazy. I have no idea why it asked for a WP login!

    Try repinning this:
    or this:

    Sorry about the hassle! :) Katie

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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