Lemons and Basil

Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Quinoa and Nuts

Well, this Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Quinoa and Nuts was not at all what I had intended on posting today, but after making myself nearly sick on it yesterday, because I COULD NOT STOP EATING IT, I decided that while it may not be pretty, it is AMAZING and I had to share this easy recipe! How’s that for an opening, run-on sentence? See what chocolate does to me!

I had never actually tried toasting quinoa before, though I’ve read of others doing it and have had it on the radar to try in the near future. However, I had no idea yesterday morning that this “near future” was here, but once I got the idea of the Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Quinoa in my head, I couldn’t let go of it! I love a bit of crunch in my chocolate and thought it might be the perfect texture I was looking for, and boy was it! The best thing? Outside of rinsing the uncooked quinoa really well, it literally took five minutes to toast these babies and they were instantly little delectable crunchy pops of nutrition, ready to be added to my dark chocolate!

The inspiration for this bark came from a big bag of All Natural Protein Packed Trail Mix I picked up while at TJ Maxx. Am I the only one who loves the little health food section there? I find all sorts of things that I have a hard time finding outside of Whole Foods or special health stores. They have raw cacao powder, hemp seeds, several flax and chia options and this time I even found Organic Maca Powder, which I’m pretty stoked about! It is an adaptogen and is an ancient super-food I’ve recently read up on – I can’t wait to develop a smoothie recipe around it, then I’ll share the scoop with you on all its benefits!

Anyway, I picked up this bag of protein packed trail mix because I wanted peanuts and pumpkin seeds for two other recipes I had swimming in my head to make this week, but I didn’t need a ton of either. I figured this trail mix was about the most affordable way to purchase those two things while giving me several other things I could snack on or add to salads and yogurt this week. {Healthy eating isn’t necessarily cheap, but it IS doable even on a budget – I am always looking for a good buy!} So I sat down and separated out each ingredient, eating a few as I went, when the idea hit me that I could melt down some dark chocolate and top it with these goodies to make a healthy sweet treat for this week.

As I said before, once the idea is there, it’s hard to ignore! I opened my pantry to see if there was anything else I wanted to add to this bark to increase its nutritional benefits, and my eyes rested on the red quinoa I had just used for our lunch. I could toast it and add it for a crunch…uh yes please!

I immediately Googled how to toast quinoa and set to work. Seriously, this was about the easiest thing I’ve ever made, only problem is walking away from it! If you are anything like me and have a giant sweet tooth with a love for anything with dark chocolate, nuts, and dried cranberries, not to mention the added health benefits of quinoa, then you may want to have someone else in the kitchen when you make these! Not to help make them, but to take them away once they’re made and spare you from yourself!!

I’ve put these in a freezer safe glass container and told myself I’ll eat a piece a day…I ate my piece this morning after breakfast while packing lunches for work. Nothing like a little chocolate to wash down breakfast…I looked at it as an added touch of energy for the day :) You know me, always looking for a way to justify chocolate!

Next time you are looking for a quick healthy sweet, see if you have some dark chocolate chips on hand and what nuts or dried berries might be in the pantry and get to work, you won’t regret it!

Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Quinoa and Nuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This Dark Chocolate Bark w/ Toasted Quinoa & Nuts is full of healthy fats and antioxidants; a healthy choice to satisfy your sweet cravings!
Recipe type: Dessert/Snack
Serves: 20
  • ¼ cup uncooked red quinoa (or color of choice)
  • 1½ cups dark chocolate chips
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • ¼ cup almonds, chopped
  • ¼ cups cashews, chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter chips
  1. Cover a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.
  2. Thoroughly rinse the quinoa to remove the saponin (bitter taste) by adding uncooked quinoa to bowl, fill with clean water and soak for a few minutes. Use a wire whisk to move the quinoa around in the water, then strain the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse with fresh water.
  3. Add wet quinoa to saute pan and cook on stove top over medium low heat, using a whisk or spoon to move the quinoa around in the pan.
  4. Once it gets hot, the water will be absorbed and the quinoa will start to pop, this means it's drying out. Keep moving it around with the whisk until the grains of quinoa start to brown. You will see it transform before your eyes and it will smell nutty. I used red quinoa so I had to watch closely to not let it burn! This took about 5-6 minutes.
  5. When it's sufficiently done, remove from the pan and place in a bowl to cool.
  6. While toasted quinoa cools, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in double boiler if you have one, or melt in a small pot on low stirring constantly and watching to make sure chocolate does not burn.
  7. Once chocolate has fully melted, stir in toasted quinoa and mix well.
  8. Pour chocolate mixture onto prepared wax covered pan and spread into thin layer.
  9. Add chopped almonds, cashews, dried cranberries and peanut butter chips (they will likely melt due to the hot chocolate), press down lightly to mix toppings into chocolate, then put in freezer for 15-20 minutes or until chocolate has fully hardened.
  10. Break into approx 20 small pieces, store in freezer.
This made about 20 small pieces, nutrition info is for one piece.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 piece Calories: 138 Fat: 7.1 Saturated fat: 3.8 Unsaturated fat: .6 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 16.6 Sugar: 11.9 Sodium: 22 Fiber: 1.6 Protein: 2.2 Cholesterol: 0

Instruction for toasting quinoa taken from www.food.com.