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)
Email, text, or print this recipe
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.
I made these today. I changed a few things. I did not have any walnuts or coconut on hand, so I used a mixture of cashews, dried cranberries and candied ginger that I had left in the cupboard. I also used almond butter instead of the peanut butter. turned out delicious. I just had two pieces with a cup of tea. Very nice after a 10k run.
These look amazing! How long do you think the leftovers will last? And do you refrigerate them?
Thanks!!! I just love your blog/recipes!
Hi Mandy, We polished off our batch within 2 days hah…so I can’t say how long they last. I would expect like most other baked goods no longer than a few days. You can probably freeze them though.
Hi Angela, I love what you wrote for this post. I love your recipes and I’ve made plenty of them!
I have a new blog that is dedicated to those seeking recovery from their eating disorders as well as follows my own. I hope that my message and support will reach who ever in the world needs it. If you have time to check it out it’s Aheartinhealing.com Book mark it and pass it! xoxo
Hi Angela! I just recently discovered your blog and I have can not be more enthusiastic. Your recipes absolutely rock!! I have made several of your recipes and after making your banana bread protein bars I just had to write to you and tell you how wonderful they turned out. I am so excited for your cookbook to come out. I will be buying it for my mom and several friends:). –KB
Hey Kyle, Thank you so very much! I appreciate it and so glad you enjoyed the bars (and other recipes) take care!
I’ve been feeling the same way. Sometimes I feel as though it’s easier and less mentally draining to ignore the news to ignore all of the ugliness, murder, violence, and cruelty in the world. Crimes are not only committed and perpetrated by “monsters” or “terrorists” but sometimes by our own government. But I am with you: love will always prevail and the truth will always set us free (even though it might piss us off first). I have to constantly remind myself of this and know that is what I want to dedicate my life to. To helping those who aren’t heard and to be a part of something bigger than myself. Thanks for your thoughtful insight.
Side note: these looks awesome! I have some bananas that will be ripe enough to bake with in a day or two :)
Hi Angela, definitely feeling the same sentiment as you right now… and I’ve always been of the opinion that food can nourish both the body and the mind. I definitely reach for warm, comforting and filling stews or soups in winter, and crave leafy, fresh crisp salads in Summertime. I think that it’s good to be responsive to our bodies, whilst also maintaining an awareness of how our emotional state affects our eating patterns and other behaviours (i.e. food should not be the only comfort!). Argh, complex subject and I probably shouldn’t have started discussing it here! But… great blog post, beautiful recipe. Can’t wait to try it… I’m still working through a bag of beautiful cacao nibs so it’ll be lovely to throw a big handful into these bars!
Hi Angela, great recipe, you are a big inspiration for me, since a week ago i became into a vegan, im really happy, im vegetarian since im 23 im 36 now.
The only thing i have to say is that my stomach is very very swollen is it common? Its just in the bigining?
Sorry about my english i m argentinian, thanks
These are wonderful – I just made them this afternoon. Thank you for another incredible recipe. I made a couple of tweaks for my taste – didn’t add the chocolate chips (I don’t like chocolate – I know, I’m weird), used 1/2 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp of Coconut sugar and used Gluten free oat flour in place of the buckwheat (which I love but didn’t have it). Anyway – I’m taking the rest to work tomorrow because I can’t stop eating them! Thanks again for another luscious recipe!!! I love your website. I’m an aspiring cook myself and when I grow up I want to be just like you (I’m only 61 years old right now . . .) :)
These look absolutely amazing, Angela! I love banana-everything
I made these yesterday…they are gone now lol they were so yummy! I made them with no walnuts and a bit less coconut nectar. Great Recipe thanks Angela! SOOOO excited for your book I cant wait!
This is just the thing I was looking for! I love that it doesn’t use protein powder too! Will definitely whip up a batch before my exams come up as a portable snack to keep me going!
Lovely recipe! I jumped up and made a batch immediately. I substituted coconut flour for the buckwheat groats and honey for the brown rice syrup (I’m not vegan), and they turned out great.
So yummy!!! I didn’t have the rice syrup or the groats but I had everything else. I replaced the rice syrup with maple syrup and used oat flour. Yummmm-o! If the texture and taste is improved without the substitutions I can’t even imagine how good they can be, since I think the ones I made were sheer perfection. They cut perfectly and are new in the rotation of green monsters, oatmeal bars :) You’re making my new vegan lifestyle sooo easy!
Could you just use store bought buckwheat flour instead of the grinding the groats?
HI Kristy, I think someone has commented saying they did that. Oat flour also works!
Angela, I had a couple of sad, lonely spotty bannanas sitting on my counter begging for a purpose. And what a purpose they have found! My son LOVES these bars. Sadly I am on the candida diet and could not partake, but am looking forward to eating them in the future. They smell divine! Thank you!!
I made a variation of these yesterday and they turned out amazing! Used ground flax instead of chia seeds and used a mixture of oat flour and chocolate protein powder for the flour. They are very chocolaty even without the chips from the protein powder. Great flavor and consistency! Definitely reminiscent of banana bread and a fun treat. I really like them cold – thank you for this recipe!
I love these! I made these these with cacao nibs and with wheat flour (b/c I’m not gf and didn’t have buckwheat in) and they were great! thank you!
These look delish! Love the way you’ve made them protein-rich naturally, without needing to add powder.
I’m from Upstate New York and this past weekend participated in the Seneca 7 relay race. Seneca Lake is one of the finger lakes in upstate NY and it is 77 miles around. You have a team of 7 runners and you alternate legs and run around the entire lake, each runner doing about 11 miles. It ends up being a pretty tiring day. I made a double recipe of these and everyone LOVED them. They really helped us power around the lake :) I usually rely on Clif bars for an event like this so it was a wonderful change to actually know what i was fueling my body!
I couldn’t find buckwheat groats and coconuts nectar syrup so I used buckwheat flour and honey and they were fantastic!
thanks so much for the excellent recipe!
I made this recipe over the weeked, and it is Mmmm, Mmmm GOOD! Thank you for another fabulous creation!
Yum! Do you think they would turn out okay if I added some Vanilla Garden of Life protein powder?
Also, could you have a tutorial on cooking seitan for your next entry on transitioning to veganism. I’ve been vegan for years now, but I struggle with seitan even though I’ve been told it is super easy.
Made these yesterday. Turned out great. I used golden flax meal instead of buckwheat, agave instead of coconut nectar and almond instead of peanut butter. I made the changed because that is what I had on hand. I think the flax meal made the bars a little dry so next time I am going to use more bananas. Thanks for the recipe.
Didn’t have any buckwheat groats on hand so tried the recipe with the almond flour I needed to use up. Wasn’t expecting great results but turned out DELICIOUS! :)
Hi Angela–Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings at the end of what was a really difficult week. Your words express what so many of us are experiencing. We all just have different ways of dealing with it. I, for one, think creating a recipe for yummy vegan banana bars is a pretty great coping mechanism. :)
I made these on Sunday and they turned out AWESOME! I ended up grinding up some gluten free oat flour in place of the groats (because I didn’t have any) and it didn’t seem to be an issue at all. Will definitely be making these again :D
I just wanted to let you know that I made these on Sunday and OMG they were delish!! Thank you so much, now I have a portable healthy breakfast!!
Love always prevails, isn’t that the truth? These banana bread bars look like such nutritious, tasty treats.
Made them tonight.
One word: delicious!!!!
I used pure maple syrop as a sweetener and spelt flour instead ground buckwheat.
These are going right on my new faves list!!!
This is a great receipe, have been on a 28 day challenge and was getting tired of the protein balls receipe that I had and it is like the “law of attraction” I found your one, so thanks for this can’t wait to get these made.
These are AMAZING!! I used oat flour (just threw the oats in my vitamix for a few minutes), agave nectar, and because I didn’t have natural peanut butter I used unsweetened Kraft PB and they were SO GOOD. Will definitely be making these again- great for breakfast, snack, dessert….
These were so easy to make and my kids loved them!
This looks like such a great recipe! And adding the Chia seed seems like such a great idea. I have heard so many good things about chia seed. I am definitely going to give this one a try! thanks!
Loved these bars! I used oat flour instead of the buckwheat, and I used maple syrup for the sweetener. They even meet the approval of my 7 year old :)
Tried this recipe last night…only 4 bars are left!!!
I baked these yesterday and they are absolutely amazing!
I used sultanas instead of chocolate chips and honey instead of the syrup, and they held together fantastically!
Thank you for such a delicious recipe!
I made these tonight and they are fabulous! It was easy to throw together too. I used oat flour and maple syrup as that is what I had on hand. Thanks for the great recipe!
This is the second recipe I’ve seen for banana bread protein bars! Such a great idea! I’ve been making my peanut butter choc protein balls for ages, so this is probably I sign I should mix things up a little ;) These look perfect for a morning snack.
I’ve been eating yucky protein bars lately so I’m super excited to try this recipe out. Will let you know what I think :)
I made these last night and they were wonderful! Is there a place on your site to find the nutritional information for all your recipes?
I have a sensitivity to bananas – go figure. Anyway, what about using apple sauce in place of the bananas. These look so yummy!
Thanks = )
I just made these, but swapped the brown rice syrup out for honey and applesauce instead. DELISH!!!
These look so yummy!! I can’t wait to try out the recipe! Thanks for sharing!
Made these as a double batch and added nutmeg and they were a huge hit, even with non-vegans at the office. Thanks for the great recipe!
I just discovered your blog and have found so many yummy recipes here. I can’t wait to try these bars. Just a question about the coconut nectar syrup. I recently started using some recipes from the ‘I Quit Sugar’ cookbook (Sarah Wilson) and she recommends to sweeten foods with Rice Malt Syrup because it is not a fructose based sweetener. Do you know if coconut nectar syrup can be used in a sugar-free diet also? Thanks! Love your work.
Hi Jill, I’m sorry but I’m not sure. I do know that coconut syrup has a low glycemic index (35ish I think), but not sure how that compares to the composition of RMS. good luck & enjoy!
They look very good.
Angela: I know you are busy but hoping you can answer a question for me. I might be moving to Oakville and renting a room in a condo with a senior lady (I’m in my 30’s). I’ve never been to Oakville ever…not sure what its like? She said the grocery stores are far awway but she could drive me to “Metro” once per week….the other grocery stores she mentioned didn’t even sound familiar to me ..she also said the library would be a longish bike ride away…so not the best location for me (far from food and library :) ). Yet the condo she has seems very clean and healthy and that’s important to me.
Thoughts? I have NO idea how big Oakville is or if its a neat place to be or not? I don’t believe there’s a university there right? I’ve heard its nice but I suppose if I live away from the “nice” spots, then I won’t get to see that. I like to walk, but am limited in how far/long I can walk and dont want to spend all energy on that I guess yuo know? And not sure getting a bike would be financially realistic for me, so…
hi, do you know what the protein content is in these bars ?????
Hi Leanna, Yes I linked to it at the bottom of the recipe – I recall it’s about 8 grams of protein per bar.
Looks great… my 10yo daughter would love these..too bad I cant send them to school because of the nuts
I’ve been looking for recipe’s for protein bars for a while. Never seen one with bananas, peanut butter and walnuts. Three of my favorite foods, can’t wait to try these!!
I used buckwheat flour and instead of chocolate chip, I added some carob power. It tasted wonderful! Thank you so much for the recipe. It’s such an economical way to make my own energy bars to go.
I was needing something today to use up some ripe bananas, these seem tasty!