Quinoa Crunch

April 5th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

When I found myself in a bit of  snack slump last week, I came up with this crunchy quinoa recipe to satisfy my mid-afternoon munchies. Packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fat, a handful of this crunch sticks with me and tides me over until my next meal. If you’ve read my book, you know that I’m as devoted a snacker as they come. I wrote an entire section of The Pure Kitchen solely based on healthy nibbles. Eating in between meals keeps me feeling energized and steady-Eddy all day long.

I wanted a chewy, crunchy snack that wouldn’t spike my blood sugar, so I chose to sweeten this quinoa crunch with stevia. If you’d prefer to use maple syrup or honey, I’m sure a tablespoon or two of that would work just fine here.

Quinoa, a grain-like seed containing all of the essential amino acids, offers an impressive nutritional profile. Boasting vitamins and minerals as well as fiber, it pairs perfectly with the heart-healthy walnuts and coconut in this recipe. Soaking the quinoa in advance not only helps to hydrate and soften the seeds, but also makes them easier to digest.

Instead of using an egg to bind the clusters together, I whipped up a quick mixture of applesauce and flaxseed to work like “glue.” I also did this in my Grain-Free Cranberry Walnut Granola recipe and it worked like a charm.

More crunchy nibbles you’ll love:

Quinoa Crunch

Makes 1  1/2 – 2 cups

Enjoy this healthy snack by the handful or sprinkled over fresh fruit, applesauce, or smoothies for some added crunch. For extra sweetness, stir 1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit into the mixture upon removing it from the oven.

1/2 cup quinoa, covered with water and soaked at room temperature for 5-6 hours

1/2 cup raw walnuts, pecans, or almonds, chopped

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

15 drops liquid stevia

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Drain the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Rinse well and drain again, pressing on the grains with the back of a spoon to remove as much water as possible. Transfer the drained quinoa to a mixing bowl and stir in the walnuts, coconut, cinnamon, and salt.

In a small bowl, combine the applesauce, flaxseed, and stevia. Stir the applesauce mixture into the quinoa mixture to thoroughly combine. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until golden brown and crunchy. Cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


  1. I LOVE this. I’ve soaked and dried quinoa before so I might try that. Thanks for the mention!

  2. How creative! I would have never thought to use whole, soaked quinoa in a granola-type snack. Love this.

  3. i love when i see a recipe that i just have to try and i already have all the ingredients in the kitchen. let’s me know i’m on the right track. makin’ it this weekend. thanks again for you.

  4. I love this idea, but i just read that liquid stevia is as bad as white refined sugar and so is agave nectar.
    Have you try this recipe with coconut sugar, or brown sugar instead? or even honey?
    although honey will loose all of its benefits after being bake but a better natural sweetener after all.

    • Kathya: I’m sure coconut sugar would work fine here. The crunch itself is not a super sweet treat, so you may be able to omit the sweetener altogether and just stir in raisins or other dried fruit after it’s baked to add a sweet pop here and there. :)

      • I have heard that using any calorie free sweetener can be bad for you because of the way the body reacts to sugar and is expecting more calories that you are actually consuming, however I have never heard of it being compared to refined white sugar.

  5. This looks awesome! Can’t wait to try it. I’ve been wanting to buy some quinoa flakes to replace oats in some granola recipes, but this alternative is much better (especially since I already have whole quinoa on hand!). Thanks!

  6. Hallie,
    I love the idea of using quinoa here. I think I’ll whip some of these up subbing pepitas for the nuts for lunchbox snacks next week.

  7. I love this idea. I’ve never soaked quinoa but am definitely going to have to give this a try.

  8. This sounds amazing! And just like a granola recipe that I created a few months back that needed some modifications. Can’t wait to try this!

  9. this recipe looks really great! i’m trying to find ways to get my family to like quinoa:)

    *the comment earlier about stevia is troubling… i’ve been heavily researching sweetener choices for the last month and this is the first i’ve seen anyone say anything about stevia being bad, and i’ve never heard it compared to refined white sugar, anywhere! i’m curious to know what the source is!

    • Apryl: I’ve never heard of stevia being declared worse than white sugar either. I do think that the processed, granulated varieties of stevia can have some sketchy ingredients that I personally wouldn’t want to eat, but the pure extract (like the kind I link to in the recipe) has to my knowledge been proven a safe and healthy alternative to sugar. Hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it out! :)

  10. @Kathya, I’m sure we’d all like to see your source about the stevia. I’ve never heard that either, but I would disagree. I grow stevia and dry the leaves and crush them adding it to my tea. I don’t bake much so I’ve never used it in baked goods. Perhaps the author didn’t like the idea that its processed some to make it usable in liquid or powder form? ALL sweeteners are processed before we receive them, even honey has to be extracted from the comb and unless you’re buying that locally from a bee keeper, the news is that all store bought honey has no pollen in it, ESP imports, and manufacturers aren’t putting the source of the honey on their containers.

    Many baking stevias have dextrose in them so I’d avoid them personally. There’s much on the negatives of the agave processing too. Brown sugar would be just like white sugar to me, colored white sugar really.

    According to Aryurveda, honey should not be heated ever, as it makes it toxic, hence from the western perspective loss of nutrients?

    Having had candida I had to switch all sweeteners I was using, and I did to NuNaturals stevia. I never liked the sweet taste of artificial sweeteners (bad for you anyway!), and because stevia was so sweet, it took me a month to get used to it. Now I love it! I’ve used xylitol in baking and it works great.

  11. Oh, and Hallie, this sounds great! Sounds it could be used like granola too!

  12. Love this! Oat-free, but not too nut heavy. Another pinned gem from Hallie!

  13. That’s a lovely idea. Just soaked quinoa with some lovely nuts. I look forward to making a batch.

  14. What a fabulous sounding recipe. I, too, am interested in the stevia source.

  15. Hallie, just found your site from Alta @ Tasty Eats. So excited to find someone else on the Health Train with GREAT food. I will be trying out this recipe next week. Thought it would be tasty as a topping for one of our healthy salads – love crunchies with my lettuce and fruit. Look forward to sharing recipes and ideas. Angela @ Home Cooked Healthy

  16. Stephanie said on April 14, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I’m going to try this for sure, but need to remember to soak the quinoa first! What would you think about using ground chia instead? Chia is water soluble, it gets a gel around it when it is soaked, so I’m not sure if that would be a good or a bad thing? Works great for making turkey burgers instead of bread crumbs! Nice and moist. Chia is so good for you too – loaded with omega 3s, iron, regulates blood sugar, etc. etc. etc.

  17. Perfect for my kids munchies! Can’t wait to try this.

  18. Hi Hallie,
    I have a quinoa query. Just yesterday I had what I thought to be a ‘novel’ idea;)… substituting quinoa for oatmeal in a cookie recipe. Everything was looking and tasting great, until the cookie [bars] came out of the oven. The cookies still tasted great, but it was the quinoa I didn’t like. It was way too hard- like, possibly-break-your-teeth hard, which makes e cookies a lot less enjoyable!
    I added already-cooked quinoa, and about 4TBSP of applesauce to a fairly standard chocolate chip cookie recipe, and then baked the cookie bars at about 375* for about 25 min.
    Do you have any insight into what might have happened? Was it the way the cookies were made (bar form), or the fact that the quinoa was cooked and not soaked?

  19. Sarah: Sounds like you had the right idea! I’m not sure what went wrong. Sometimes I have had cooked grains dry out in the oven if baked for too long. Maybe try making them into cookies next time, reducing the oven temp to 350, and baking for less time (maybe 10-15 minutes). For quinoa flavor, you can also use quinoa flakes in place of oats. I do this quite often with good, soft results. :)

  20. I followed your suggestions- Lowered the oven temp, and made cookies. The results: perfect, soft quinoa cookies! I sometimes make cookies in bars to save time, but not this recipe!
    Thank you for your tips. :)

  21. This looks like a recipe I’d love to try! I’ve been trying to increase the amount of quinoa in my diet. Do you have the nutritional info on this?

  22. Could I use cooked quinoa in this recipe?

  23. Karla: Yes, I think you could try it with cooked quinoa.

  24. This looks great but where are the nutrition facts for those of us who are counting them?

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