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.
I am new to your blog and absolutely love it! I just tried baking this particular recipe and it was a major hit. It turned out so well and I will be making this again. Thank you for all of your postings. I am a big fan!
Oh wowza! Can’t wait to get my hands on to these sticky lil bars! :)
Yummo! These are the kind of snacks that I can stick in my bag for when I’m doing errands and I need to eat now!
I’m off to bake banana bread! Its May and we have snow on the ground! The only answer for being snowbound is banana bread and I’m so happy to find this recipe that
is healthful! My tomato plants are on the sunporch, waiting to go in the ground and ice is pelting the windows. Thanks to Angela, there’s going to be a bright spot in my kitchen.
Tried this today, it was delicious and I shared with a gluten intolerant friend, thank you as always!
These were perfect! The ultimate solution to packing a homemade snack for work! I love that there was no added sugar and the brown rice syrup didn’t add much sweetness. They hold me over for the couple hours before I can get my lunch at work!
Can I sub agave for the coconut syrup??
These are AWESOME Angela!!! I was out of a few things so I made some substitutions: I subbed oat flour for the groats, pecans for the walnuts, and hemp seeds for the coconut (I have a coconut allergy). Thanks for another great recipe! :)
I’m new to your blog and love it! Love this recepie, had to try it out for myself as I am also a natural health blogger. I was so pleased, my kids loved the coconut flavours through the bars as well. Would it be ok if i featured some of your recepies on my blog with a link back to you? I’d love to spread them around among my clients and readers too.
Many thanks :)
If you’ve adapted the recipe feel free to post your version along with a link, but if you haven’t changed the recipe I ask that you do not repost it, but simply link. So glad you enjoyed the bars!! Take care
Ok great Angela that’s no problem at all will follow that guideline for you. Many thanks for your lovely food. :)
I am making it right now. I used ready buckwheat flour and added one more banana. Curious to see how it turns out.
Thanks for the recipes. Where did you buy the gluten free rolled oates please??
I have never seen it in Australia as yet.
Hi Maureen, Bobs Red Mill makes them – I find them in the natural food section of my grocery store, but you can buy them online too. Good luck!
I made this with agave nectar (had on hand) and I ran my regular sized chocolate chips through my hand crank nut chopper. I’m trying to get used to the crunch of chia seeds in baked goods (I sometimes sub them out for flax, like in your gingerbread), but these are really growing on me. Thanks for the recipe!
Where did you purchase the bar pan? I would love one of those.
I can’t do Walnuts, and I think Pecans are an issue too. Do you have a suggestion of a viable alternative? Thanks!
Looking foreword to trying some of your recipes! I keep wanting to eat vegan more but gluten and several nut intolerances have made me shy away…
Hi Daniel, What about sliced almonds? I’m sure any nut or seed of your liking would work. Enjoy!
I subbed oat flour and honey and they turned out so good. I LOVE them. Highlight of my day so far :)
Just made these before my yoga class (up at 6 AM, who am I?)
yummy!!! I used buckwheat flour instead of groats and it worked just fine. Also agave syrup because that was all I had.
These look like the perfect breakfast- yum! Can’t wait to try ’em :)
i was looking in whole foods and found organic buckwheat flour in the baking section, will that be okay ?
Hi Natalie, Does it say raw or untoasted? If it’s toasted buckwheat flour it will have a more pronounced earthy taste, but Im sure it will work! Let me know how it goes :)
Wow. Angela, these are incredible. I made a batch last night to bring on an a three day trip out of town. My fiance insisted I leave at least a few behind because he loved them so much. I had one for a mid-morning snack today and all of my co-workers were peaking. I get really tired of taking Lara Bars and Cliff Bars on trips, so these were a wonderful substitute. I will absolutely be making them again. Maybe another batch to take on the flight to Ireland in a few weeks??
This is a great tasting recipe that’s very yummy and healthy. I tried making this for breakfast earlier and my husband and son enjoyed it. I added a little maple syrup for flavor and sweetness!! Thank you for sharing!!
Just made these awesome bars last week. Unfortunately, we forgot to buy the coconut! They still turned out great though. All of my friends loved them. They beg me to bring them before every softball and soccer practice! Thanks for all the amazing recipes, I’ll continue to make them on my path to veganism.
so glad to hear they turned out even without the coconut! :) Enjoy!
I made the banana bread protein bars using oat flour instead of the buckwheat groats one. Also, I substituted the walnuts with pecans and hazelnuts. I was truly amazed of how good this recipe turned out to be. I think these bars are my new favorite snack. Thanks again for sharing it with us.
Has anyone used almond meal/flour?
I have a bunch at home and would like to use it to make protein bars without using protein powder and am in search of a recipe so that I can use it up!
I love these! I have been buying bananas like crazy and waiting for them to ripen just right on the counter (impatient!) :-) so I can make another batch! Soooo good!
I subbed wheat bran for the groats – it adds fiber and a bit of hearty texture. I also subbed maple syrup for the brown rice syrup as I have never used brown rice syrup in baking but had plenty of maple syrup on hand!
The first couple batches I made in a big pan, and then cut into bars when cool. The most recent batch I made in a mini-loaf pan (think elongated cupcake wells) and they came out the perfect granola bar size.
Thank you so much for your recipes – they are accessible and easy and delicious! Love your images, too!
So glad you enjoyed them Ellary! Thank you so much for your feedback :)
Just made these today and substituted with sunflower butter, almonds and added dried cherries they were SO yummy!
Oh and added a scoop of protein powder:)
Ahhh delicious! love the ingredients in these as I dont like buying store granola/protein bars as always seem to have hidden sugars/chemicals – could I use coconut oil instead of nectar or is it too different??
I made these without chocolate & subbed oat flour. A filling a comfort food snack… It was just right for my mid-afternoon fuel!
I made these over the weekend. Super yummy!! Hubby loved them as well. Only extra thing I did was add chopped dates. Thanks for the recipe.
Hi there! I made these recently and they ROCK! I did substitute with oat flour and they turned out great for anyone who doesn’t have buckwheat groats. They are a wonderful snack for on the go. They keep great in the fridge! Thanks for another awesome recipe!
Can I just use buckwheat flour instead of groats and can i use date syrup instead of brown rice x
Hey Nell, Buckwheat flour (if made from kasha, which is toasted buckwheat) has a stronger, earthier flavour, so I’m not sure how it would impact the overall flavour of these bars. You can certainly try it! I haven’t tried date syrup in the bars, so it would be an experiment. Let me know how it goes if you try it!
it looks great ! but i guess its not gluten free because of oats.
It is if you use gluten free oats – Bobs red mill is what I use. enjoy!
Hi Angela! Cooking and baking is so therapeutic for me as well ;) I could honestly do it all day. It’s just so comforting and satisfying to make your own food and then eat it! I am leaving for New York tomorrow and I needed to make some quick and satisfying bars that I could bring on the plane and eat on the go while in the city. After deliberating between all of your delicious looking bars, I finally decided on these and I’m so glad I did! :) I love that they have a subtle banana flavor but it’s not overly strong and the texture is chewy and moist- just like banana bread. I substituted homemade oat flour for buckwheat groats and agave nectar for coconut nectar syrup and they turned out perfect! Thanks for the fabulous recipe. I will be making it again.
Wow, I am obsessed with these, they are so good! I have made a batch a week for the past month. I also just made 2 more batches for my camping trip. Thanks for the great recipes! PS- I have used buckwheat flour in place of the groats… also quinoa flour and they both worked out great :-)
I made these last week and they were amazing to snack on while on the road for work. I made another batch tonight, adding a scoop of chocolate protein powder into the wet mix and some dried cherries to the dry – thank you for this recipe that I will be sure to make each week!
Hi, Thank you for the recipe I cannot wait to try it! I often get confused; Is the recipe calling for half a cup of the groats, then ground? or half a cup of ground groats/flour?
it’s calling for 1/2 cup groats – then blend that into a flour. Hope this helps! It should be fairly equal anyway though.
My fiancé just said to me: “I have never had a tastier bar…EVER!”
WOW, now that’s a compliment! Thank you :)
Just made these – loving them! Instead of the buckwheat flour I used brown rice flour and they turned out great. Thank you so much for all of your healthy recipes!
I made these bars today and they are delicious! The kids thought they were really good, too! I am on a no meat or soy,vegan, no peanut (I used almond butter), no milk dairy diet (anit-inflamation) and need to get my protien. These bars will do the trick! Thanks for the great recipe.
I don’t know if anyone’s asked this yet but can you substitute agave nectar for the coconut nectar?
Hey Phoebe, I think others have mentioned maple syrup working, so my guess is that agave would be fine too. Goodluck!
I tried the agave (even though my roommate had brown rice syrup I didn’t know about) and they turned out amazing! I had to struggle to keep myself from tearing into the batter before they were baked it was so delicious. I’m obsessed with all of your recipes I’ve tried, I haven’t made a single thing from your blog that I haven’t loved.
How long do these keep for? Should they be kept in the fridge?
I live abroad and AC is few and far between…
Delicious! My boyfriend loves these so much that usually I make a double batch, they are gone so fast! I was super happy that my local food co-op sells raw (as well as toasted) whole buckwheat groats, and I was excited to try out a new grain/seed, whatever groats are. I used a 3:1 almond butter to peanut butter ratio because I ran out of peanut butter, and they were great still. The flavors are perfect, and they are a great energy bar to grab and go and snack on throughout the day.
Oh and I made some of these and brought them to my mom and grandma, (my mom is curious and always trying different health foods), and they loved them too! Great recipe, I would recommend to anyone to make!
Thank you for the recipe! it is sooo delicious.
I used oats flour instead of buckwheat groats and coconut milk instead of the nectar syrup.
I also used Almonds and cashew butter.
It worked out great!!!
I made these last night with home made oat flour (rolled oats blasted in the blender really quick) and it turned out fine! I doubled the cinnamon too just for flavour. I love the textures with the walnuts in there. Thanks for the recipe x
Love these! So easy and adaptable to whatever I have on hand, almonds, coco nibs, coco powder, flake coconut, ground coconut… delicious!
Thanks for the fantastic recipes! You are my go-to site for inspiration.
I’m excited about this recipe. I’m trying mine with Oat Flour and I’ve added some rice protein powder (because I don’t mind the taste of protein powder). Instead of the rice syrup, I added another banana. They are in the process of being baked, but the batter is already delish! I plan on using this as a post-workout refueling instead of my usually banana with a protein powder drink.
Thank you for all the wonderful recipes. I am trying to bake/cook ahead and freeze many things. Do you know if this is something that will freeeze well?
Hey Melissa, I’m sorry I haven’t tried freezing these – I would suggest reading through some of the comments to see if someone has tried it! Good luck
I made these today and they taste very good! I used almonds instead of walnuts, raisins instead of chocolate chips and honey in place of the coconut nectar and everything worked out just as in your recipe, even the baking time is right =) Thank you! I am looking forward to eating the rest of these for the next week! =) I like that they actually survive cutting and don’t crumble away like granola bars…and the banana-peanut-honey mixture (from the wet ingredients bowl) tasted fantastically ;-)
I just wanted to say I admire your blog so much and I’m so in love with this recipe! My mom made these bars and sent them to me a few weeks after I left for college and they couldn’t be more perfect! It’s so hard to find good nutritious food on campus especially when I have a dairy allergy; these definitely satisfy my sweet tooth! Thanks again!
Thanks so much Emily!
Do we know the calorie and macro nutrient breakdown here?