Sugar-free Puffed Quinoa & Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars

Vegan Puffed Quinoa & Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars by An Unrefined Vegan

Today I’m going to be talking with Laura Theodore (a.k.a. the Jazzy Vegetarian) on her BlogTalkRadio Show – and we’re chatting about Crave Eat Heal AND we will be announcing the names of the four winners from our recent mega-giveaway that included: NuNaturals, Todd’s Seeds, Jazzy Vegetarian DVD/cookbook, and my Crave Eat Heal e-book. Don’t miss it – maybe you won?!!

During my monthly or so visits to the Whole Foods in Oklahoma City, it’s impossible for me to resist the aisle that contains the rows (and rows) of chocolate bars. So many varieties! I want to try them all! But I usually content myself with 1 or 2 bars that Kel and I dole out to ourselves in small squares, usually following dinner. My favorites almost always contain mint with something crunchy. Finding myself out of chocolate bars and with no trip planned anytime soon to Oklahoma City, it was time to improvise. I could have used Lily’s Sweets stevia-sweetened chocolate chips – but I wanted to try my hand using cacao powder instead. The recipe below is what I came up with: single-serving dark chocolate bars studded with puffed quinoa, crunchy cacao nibs, and a hint of mint.

A note on ingredients and equipment: to make these you’ll need NuNaturals Cocoa Mint Syrup. You won’t regret the purchase because you’ll find a million ways to use this delicious, stevia-sweetened syrup. No, I’m not a paid spokesperson for NuNaturals – it just seems that way! You could use a vegan chocolate syrup instead and forgo the mint – or just add additional peppermint extract. And, to make truly adorable little chocolate bars, I use this silicon soap/mini loaf/cornbread mold. I order the puffed quinoa from Living Tree Community

What’s the good stuff going on with these bars?

Cacao Powder

  • unlike cocoa power, cacao powder is a raw food – which means it retains its nutrients better than its counterpart
  • is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants
  • alleviate stress and anxiety by drinking a cup of hot cacao
  • is a source of protein as well as iron, calcium, zinc, and potassium

Cocoa Butter

  • there is no dairy butter in cocoa butter – it’s made from cocoa beans – but it is a light lemon color, has a rich scent, and is soft and smooth
  • an ingredient in cocoa butter may help the body slow the replication of cancer cells
  • this ingredient may also alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • does extra duty outside of the kitchen; use it to moisturize hands, feet, and lips


  • is a complete protein (kinda like eating rice and beans!) – meaning it contains every single amino acid
  • is high in calcium and iron
  • is an excellent and tasty source of fiber

Vegan Puffed Quinoa & Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars by An Unrefined Vegan

Vegan Puffed Quinoa & Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars by An Unrefined Vegan



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Sugar-free Puffed Quinoa & Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars

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  • Author: Annie
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 2
  • Total Time: 72
  • Yield: 9 1x


Is there anything prettier than deep, dark, shiny chocolate bars? Add a little crunch, a little mint – and your mouth is in sugar-free sweet heaven.


  • 3/4 cup high-quality cocoa butter
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. NuNaturals Cocoa Mint Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup puffed quinoa
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs


  1. Set aside a silicon mold. Put the cacao powder in a large glass measuring cup. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, gently melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil with the Cocoa Mint Syrup. Once the mixture is melted, remove pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and peppermint extracts. Pour mixture into the measuring cup with the cacao powder, and whisk until it is thoroughly incorporated and a rich, dark brown. Taste and adjust sweetness to your liking.
  3. Stir in the puffed quinoa and cacao nibs. Divide the mixture between 9 molds and refrigerate until set, less than one hour.


  • After you pour the chocolate into the molds, sprinkle a little extra puffed quinoa and cacao nibs on top.


  • Serving Size: 9
  • Calories: 90
  • Sugar: 0
  • Sodium: 2
  • Fat: 7
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Unsaturated Fat: 6
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 8
  • Protein: 2
  • Cholesterol: 0



Vegan Puffed Quinoa & Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars by An Unrefined Vegan

Vegan Puffed Quinoa & Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars by An Unrefined Vegan

Vegan Puffed Quinoa & Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars by An Unrefined Vegan

36 thoughts on “Sugar-free Puffed Quinoa & Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars

  1. coconutandberries

    I love crunchy chocolate! We have a chocolate bar over here with puffed rice in that I used to love as a kid. I’ve never tried quinoa puffs but I’ve done buckwheat crispies in homemade chocolate which is also nice.
    Love the mint addition here too.

  2. Rachel in Veganland

    WOW! These look seriously incredible!! I love puffed quinoa chocolate bars–I guess they bring back the childhood nostalgia of a Crunch bar but they’re so much better! These would make great little Christmas presents!

  3. The Vegan 8

    These look soooo amazing Annie! Seriously, you know how much I love chocolate, haha! These are just gorgeous and I laughed at you wanting all the chocolate bars at Whole Foods because I do the SAME thing…I spend probably 20 minutes looking at all of them!

  4. Gabby @ the veggie nook

    Oh yes, I am in love with that syrup! Also love chocolate bars with a crunch factor, so these are pretty much the best chocolate bar ever.

    Also- congrats on all the press and excitement surrounding your book! So deserved 🙂

  5. Linda @ Veganosity

    I only use cacao powder when I make chocolate treats. It’s so much better than cocoa powder. These look like something I’d buy at a fine chocolate shop. They look delicious.

  6. tearoomdelights

    Wow, Annie, those little bars look amazing. Your photos are mouth-watering. I didn’t realise there was a difference between cacao powder and cocoa powder, I imagined they were different spellings of the same thing. I like the idea that these little bars might alleviate stress and anxiety, I feel calmer just thinking about them.

  7. Sophie33

    I made these tasty home-made chocolates just a few hours ago & they are just perfect! I loved the added puffed quinoa in them too! xxx
    They are great with a vegan café latte! x

  8. lisavk2

    Hello! I just got on the Pinterest group board Raw & Vegan Food from Around the World and discovered your blog. Your site is beautiful and inspiring. I subscribed. Looking forward to more of your great posts:-)))

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  11. Danielle

    Hi, tiny error made in your facts about quinoa. You are correct in comparing it to rice and beans (together), however, it does not contain all 22 amino acids, only the essential 9 amino acids which makes it a complete protein 🙂 Just wanted to clear that up!

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  13. Sophie

    Hello! What is the sweetener here? I don’t have access to the NuNaturals Cocoa Mint Syrup or peppermint extract, but I can get the rest. Is the cocoa butter sweet? My cocoa nibs definitely aren’t sweet … a bit bitter, even. Worried that I’ve missed something…

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      Hi Sophie! You didn’t miss anything – the cocoa mint syrup contains stevia so it is sweet and provides just the right amount (IMHO) of sweetness to the chocolate bars. You could use another kind of chocolate syrup (I believe they’re all sweetened) – OR – you could skip the syrup and use whatever sweetener floats your boat in the amount to your taste. You might want to bump up the amount of cacao or cocoa powder from 1 cup to 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. As for the peppermint extract, without it the bars won’t be minty, but they should be very tasty. You could use vanilla extract instead, if you like. Finally, the cocoa butter is NOT sweet, neither are the cacao nibs. The cocoa butter gives the bars a nice creaminess – and I like the nibs bitterness w/ the sweet chocolate.

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