Healthy, portable, and easy to make snacks that keep me going without making a mess are my kind of snacks!  This summer I have brought these chewy dark chocolate cherry quinoa bars everywhere.  They have gone with me:

  • on more than one road trip
  • backpacking
  • hiking
  • kayaking
  • as pre and post race “fuel”
  • in my purse on a plane

When I find what I like, I tend to put it on repeat.  And I am a super fan of these chewy bars.  Can you tell?

I have a KILLER time finding protein bars that actually taste good and aren’t packed with sugar and processed ingredients.  So far I’m batting in the negatives (Reveal lack of baseball knowledge with impossible stats: Check!).   All I’m asking for is quality ingredients, a decent amount of protein, good taste, but without all the sugar.  So, I made my own car snack friendly version!  In case it wasn’t clear, we are BIG fans of these chewy, crunchy bars!  They have the right balance of salty and sweet and are packed with protein from almonds, pistachios, quinoa, and chia to keep me moving (and fill me up)!  The cherries add a little tart kick and the dates are the sweet glue that quite literally holds it allll together!  And a little drizzle of dark chocolate on top never hurts, right?

Gluten free, vegan, and actually delicious.   I’m rounding out this summer with snacking at its finest!  i.e. These bars on repeat!

Summer Road Trippin’: Chewy Dark Chocolate Cherry Quinoa Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 16 squares

  • 6 dates, pitted
  • 4 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 c. dried cherries, packed
  • 1/4 c. quinoa
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/4 c. raw almonds, chopped (plus more for topping)
  • 2 tbsp. raw pistachios, chopped
  • Pink Himalayan Salt, for sprinkling
  • 1/4 c. chopped dark chocolate (for melting and drizzling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prep an 8x8 square baking dish by lining it with parchment.

In a small sauce pan, combine dates and water.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce to low and stir and smash until dates are dissolved and mixture is slightly thickened (about 5 minutes)  Stir in sea salt and vanilla.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Add dried cherries, almonds, and pistachios to food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add date caramel, and pulse to incorporate.  Add quinoa and chia seeds.  Pulse just until evenly incorporating scraping down sides as needed.  Press mixture into parchment in prepared baking dish.  Top with a few coarsely chopped almonds for decoration and firmly press mixture into the baking sheet.  I aim for  a clean square shape with tidy corners and edges and evenly compact throughout.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown and firm.  Center should still give a bit when pressed.   If it seems to be browning too quickly, place tented foil over the top.  I usually do this at about the 20 minute mark.

When done, remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with pink himalayan salt.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing the square from the baking sheet by carefully lifting the parchment.  Then slice into 16 squares or 12 rectangular bars.  Allow to cool completely.

Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water then drizzle melted chocolate over the cut bars.  Sprinkle with additional himalayan salt if desired.  Allow chocolate to set completely before eating or storing.  Refrigeration can help speed up this step.