Whenever my heart feels heavy, lost, or confused I tend to turn to the kitchen to distract myself. Seeking comfort in food isn’t as bad as those ridiculous diet magazines make it out to be. Food can bring us all together and make us pause to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Sometimes, a big pot of chili and garlic bread, creamy avocado pasta, or warm walnut banana bread is just the thing we need in that moment. Other days, it’s a big kale salad or a juicy basket of strawberries and coconut cream. Monday night, I made pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce while we watched the news. I felt like a zombie as I cooked, but I knew we needed something to settle our bellies.
It’s been an emotional week to say the least. I find myself extra sensitive about everything, trying to make sense of all the loss in this world. I haven’t made any sense of it yet and there’s no feeling of progress made in my mind. Despite this heavy heart, I can’t help but be inspired by all the good out there. The selfless people helping in a time of need. The bravery and generosity going on is a beautiful thing to see. Sometimes I don’t always see the good, but it’s there. Love always prevails.
These banana bread bars were my solution to another comfort food craving yesterday. Think of them as soft, doughy granola bars filled with crunchy walnuts, omega-3 lovin’ chia seeds, and a sprinkling of dark chocolate chips. The wet batter is made up of spotty bananas, a generous scoop of protein-packed peanut butter, a splash of vanilla, and just a hint of sweetener to round it all out. I’ve been enjoying them around the clock, so it’s safe to say they work nicely as breakfast, snack, or even dessert. Your call.
Banana Bread Protein Bars
Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free (if using Enjoy Life chocolate)
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Yield: 10 bars
- 2/3 cup gluten-free rolled oats
- 1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats*, ground into flour
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- 3 tbsp mini dark chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
- 3/4 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 small-medium)
- 1/2 cup natural smooth peanut butter
- 1/4 cup coconut nectar syrup (or brown rice syrup)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8-inch square pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper, one going each way. Tip – to get the parchment to stick to the pan, give the base a spray with olive oil and do this for the next paper too.
2. Add raw buckwheat groats into a high-speed blender and blend on high until a fine flour forms. Whisk all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
3. Mash bananas until smooth and measure out 3/4 cup. Stir together the banana and all the wet ingredients in a bowl.
4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir well until combined. The dough should be very sticky!
5. Scoop batter into prepared pan. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the batter and press it down to spread out the batter evenly. You can also remove the paper and wet your hands lightly and spread it out that way. Make sure it’s as even as possible.
6. Bake at 350F for 22-26 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the bread is firm to touch. Cool in the pan completely (I left it for 1 hour) before removing and slicing into bars.
Notes: Raw buckwheat groats are not the same as kasha or toasted buckwheat. Raw groats have a milder flavour than toasted. You can find raw groats online, in some health food stores, or the bulk bins of Whole Foods. I buy mine in bulk from Upaya Naturals online. You might be able to substitute the ground buckwheat for oat flour, but I have not tried this myself. If anyone tries it, please leave a comment and report back.
These are awesome! I had to make them nut-free so my kids can take them to school. Instead of walnuts I used pumpkin seed/flax seed mix, and instead of peanut butter I used sunflower seed butter. Fabulous recipe!
I also saw your mention of Organic Garage in a previous comment – I moved out of Oakville last fall, and that is definitely one place I miss…
Thanks Angela for this great protein bar recipe sans protein powder!
Can I use agave syrup for the Banana Bread Bars?
Well, I was relatively happy making these until I dropped my mom’s mixing bowl on the floor while scooping it in and breaking it into a million pieces! The recipe, unfortunately, could not be saved. Listening to calming music trying to feel better now :/ Raw batter tasted mighty nice, though!
Oh no!! Sending you hugs and better baking vibes for next time :)
Your recipe calls for “1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats*, ground into flour.” Another recipe on your website calls for oat groats ground into flour. Why not simply buy buckwheat flour or oat flour rather than grinding my own?
Hey Steven, I’ve only seen toasted buckwheat flour (and not raw buckwheat flour) in grocery stores, and they have a very different flavour. Which is why I grind my own raw buckwheat flour at home. :)
Just following up, here:
I checked with a staff member at my food co-op (Hunger Mountain Co-op, Montpelier, Vt.), and the staff member claimed that Hunger Mountain’s buckwheat flour comes from raw groats. I realize that may mean nothing regarding the offerings at mainstream “grocery stores.” As a general rule, Food Co-ops are much less “truth-challenged” when it comes to labelling. :-)
Thanks for your help.
Thank you for your reply, Angela.
I would have assumed that all flours came from raw grains unless otherwise noted, AND that toasted buckwheat flour would be called “kasha flour,” whereas the flour from the raw grain would be called “buckwheat flour.” Further, I buy my food at a food co-op where they are pretty particular about labelling such details. But we know what happens when one assumes, don’t we? So I will look into it and find out. Meanwhile – regarding the other half of my original question – oat flour is RAW oat flour – is it not?
Thanks again. :-)
TOTALLY making these. I love bar recipes, especially with a kick of protein!
I don’t know what I’d do without your blog! These are a life saver for someone with diet restrictions but who loves to eat and needs a hearty breakfast or snack on the go. I have substituted oat flour and it works great. I use honey or maple syrup instead of rice syrup, and I use whatever seeds I have around – pumpkin (not as good but ok), flax, chia… and I’m not a coconut fan and they are great without it. Thanks SO MUCH! For someone who really enjoys food but with lots of less-then-desirable restrictions, you’re a blessing!
I also substitute sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter… yum!
I made this with oat flour and almond butter instead of peanut butter and they turned out great! Everyone (vegan and non) has loved them every time I make them. Awesome recipe!
Excited to make these. I don’t have rolled oats, but I do have oat groats I can use to make a flour. Would oat flour be ok instead of rolled oats?
I almost always use oat flour and it works great! Love these!
I made the bars with oat flour only. Tastes – awesome! I’m making another batch for my girlfriend before she get’s home from work today:) Thanks for all the amazing recipes over the last couple years!
My family and I are obsessed with this recipe! I have made it many times, and have actually just finished baking a bouble batch! They freeze well.i
Could only find roasted groats at my grocery store: used those, about a 70/30 mix of honey and maple syrup in place of the coconut/brn rice, and skipped the coconut and they worked beautifully! Delicious and just the right texture for a bar like this. One bite and I think I found a go-to, thank you! :)
Oh and hazelnuts toasted just beforehand instead of walnuts since I can’t stop baking and cooking with them lately. Yum.
Wow, these bars are a real winner! I made them last night and had two after my morning run today and must say they are so tasty, super satisfying and just a perfect little snack. I used raisins in place of the choc chips to make them more breakfast friendly and skipped the extra sweetener (I just added in a splash of water to make up for the missing liquid). It worked out perfectly. They are really good with an extra smear of pb on top, too. ;)
What a great recipe, Ill be sure to make these regularly from now on. Thanks for sharing this here with us!
P.S.: I used buckwheat flour without a problem.
These were A-Mazing! I could have eaten the whole batch right out of the oven. But I saved some for the BF and his kids who also loved them. So did my girlfriend and her kids. Brought them camping in Yosemite with us and shared the with a few people there. They all thought they were great! I am going to make again soon!
I made two small changes. Pecans instead of walnuts because I had them on hand, and I don’t much care for walnuts and agave for the coconut nectar. I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!
Thank you for this delicious recipee! I will be sharing with all my vegetarian good food-loving pals here in Australia. Just a note-I used oat flour instead of the buckwheat and honey instead of coconut necter. Also for some extra protein (and deliciousness!) I sprinkled the top with a nut mix of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. DELICIOUS!!! :)
I made these yesterday using oat flour instead of buckwheat groats and used a combo of rice syrup and agave syrup. They are so good! I’m going to have to hide them from my 2 year old, I Just found him shoving them in his mouth after finding the container. He cried when I took them away which speaks volumes as to how good they are!
Thank you for this recipe. These bars are AWESOME! I used agave instead of brown rice syrup and halved the amount of walnuts and peanut butter to lower the calorie count a bit. (I also used oat flour instead of grouts.)These turned out so well! I’m excited to serve them at a cocktail party I’m hosting tomorrow. A healthy snack will be a nice change.
Hi- I subbed the buckwheat for 1/2 cup of oats that I ground finely in the food processor. I also used honey instead of the brown rice syrup. All I can say is that these are going to be a morning staple in my house from now on!! So easy and sooo yummy!!
Hi! How would I make this recipe without nuts???
I am unsure what buckwheat groats are.
I have buckwheat flour and love it, use it often. Would that be alright?
I love the idea of a bar to have that I cam munch happily and not feel guilty. I am not keen on sugary, sweet things anyway.
Raisins are sweet and so full of calories. Could I miss out the chocolate and put a seed or two in. I am trying hard to lose weight, just very slowly but go in the right direction.
I just have a general question regarding the buckwheat groats. I have a food processor and attempted to ground them but the processor did not like this and all the different attachments I use don’t seem to like them either. So I was just wondering if there was another way that I could ground them or could I soak them and then ground them or will this make the texture too wet? Thanks :)
Hi Monique, I always grind my buckwheat groats in my Vitamix – works amazing! Grinds it right into a flour. Hope this helps!
I react with hives to nuts, sesame chia (& traces of).
Is the protein in buckwheat groats the same protein found in the nuts etc mentioned above?
Hi Angela I’ve only got frozen bananas. Will that work or do they need to be fresh?
I used oat flour and the bars are amazing!
These bars are delicious and so quick to prepare! I have a flight tomorrow and was searching for something tasty to bring on the plane. It is actually in the top results in Google for ‘vegan plane snacks’.. I used almonds instead of walnut, grounded them in the vitamix to a coarse flour.
I actually hid these so nobody eats them before the flight…
Double recipe for a family people!
I make this recipe all the time – love it when I’m craving something sweet which happens every day. I haven’t taken the time to find buckwheat groats. Instead I use almond flour and it turns out great. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!
hey quick question! can you grounded up raw buckwheat instead of buckwheat groats for the flour? or are they not interchangeable
I’ve made these bars two or three times and they’re always great. I haven’t had buckwheat so I’ve subbed almond pulp leftover from making almond milk, and the results have been excellent. I took these bars in a cooler for a multi-day cross-country drive and, a few weeks later, on the plane for an overnight trip to Europe. Sure have been glad to have them along.
So great to know that swap works so well!! Glad you’ve been enjoying the recipe. :)
I’ve already left a rave review for these bars, but after having made them over and over again, I need to add another. I make them about once every two weeks and try to restrict my nibbling to no more than one bar per day. They freeze beautifully, satisfy my craving for something chocolate-y and sweet, and don’t contain tons of ingredients I shouldn’t eat. Thanks again for a terrific recipe.
You’re too kind, Jonny! I’m thrilled you’re such a fan of this recipe. Thanks for the love!
third batch of these bars in the oven right now. And I only discovered this recipe two weeks ago. My GF DF daughter loves them. I have subbed the 1/2 cup buckwheat grouts for 1/4 cup hemp hearts and 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder. Also subbed sunflower seeds for coconut. My daughter is not a coconut fan. Great recipe.
These are delicious!
I made a tiny alternation – instead of using peanut butter, I used 1/4 C of powdered peanut butter (PB&ME) and mixed this with 50mL (instead of 60mL) of maple syrup before adding the mashed banana. I also used oat flour instead of buckwheat flour. They baked up perfectly. Mine took closer to 30 minutes in the oven and I would probably cook them longer next time to get them more golden and crunchy.
Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Harri, Thanks for sharing your swaps! So glad they turned out so well :)
These bars are AWESOME!! I changed the recipe up just a bit and it worked. Here’s what I did. I added 2/3 cup original rolled oats plus 1/2 cup original rolled oats. I ground them in my cuisinart until I had a flour like consistency. Instead of coconut, I added 1/4 heaping cup of dried cranberries and instead of chocolate chips, I added 1/4 cup of dried blueberries. Instead of chia seeds I replaced with hemp seeds, which pack 7 grams of protein in 2.5 tbsp (I put in 3 tbsp) I added the cinnamon & the fine grain sea salt & whisked all together. For the wet ingredients, I substituted the bananas with shredded apple fuji apples (just shy of 3/4 cup as they wetter than bananas) I replaced the peanut butter with almond butter & replaced the coconut nectar syrup with honey and added the 1 tsp pure vanilla extract. I followed the recipe and VOILA it worked! Enjoy
Hi Angela, I forgot to say in my earlier comment I also added 1 scoop of organic french vanilla protein powder, plant based.
I made this and it was amazing! You mentioned you didn’t know how it would come out using oat flour, so I tried it- and it worked well! Thanks for another great recipe!
It takes no time to make these delicious protein bars. They’re quick and yummy! Makes a great snack for an energy reboot. Thank you, Angela, for sharing.