Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls

by jenna on April 6, 2012

I made these little trail mix balls for my new yoga students yesterday.

Why yes, I use food to get people to like me, why do you ask?

I can’t help these things…it’s just the way I am. Which reminds me, I need to bake Adam’s new neighbors a batch of cookies so they won’t mind when we blast Mad Men on surround sound Sunday night. Speaking of Mad Men!!!!!! Please observe this Betty-esque dress I found at a vintage clothing store for only nine dollars a few weeks ago. We were going to a Mad Men premiere party in the city and I needed to dress in character.

Isn’t it fab? I feel like I definitely got my nine dollars worth, even if two hours later I spilled an entire glass of red wine down the front of the dress. Classy!

You know what else is classy? Turning last night’s dinner into today’s sweet snack. I’m talking quinoa, people! Quinoa.

Use your leftover quinoa plus chocolate chips, coconut, sunflower seeds, oats and dried cherries in these yummy little balls that perfect to bring to work, school or yoga.

I love the little pop that the quinoa adds, as well as the chocolate chip-cherry combo. If dried cherries aren’t your favorite, you could try adding cranberries or raisins (but don’t tell me about it).

My students loved them…I loved them…and Adam will love them when he actually gets to try one of ’em. We are camping this weekend (Easter camping has become a bit of tradition around here!) and I think they will come in very handy after a long day on the trails.

They taste like birdseed….in the best way possible.

Happy Easter weekend! I hope you get to spend it with someone you love and are able to soak some sunshine into your bones as well.

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls

makes about 14 bite-sized balls

Print this recipe!


1 cup old fashioned or quick-cooking oats, dry

1/4 cup quinoa, dry + 3/4 cup water

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/3 cup dried cherries, raisins or cranberries

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp peanut butter

1/3 cup honey


Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 12 minutes, until quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. Fluff and scoop quinoa into a large mixing bowl.

Add sunflower seeds, oats, dried cherries and coconut to quinoa and mix well. Bring honey to a simmer on the stove then stir in the vanilla extract and pour on top of nuts and seeds. Mix until well combined.

Let mixture cool before adding the chocolate chips, peanut butter and sea salt. Mix well with your hands so the peanut butter is evenly dispersed but be careful not to melt the chocolate chips! Chill dough in fridge for an hour.

Using wet hands, gently roll mixture into golf ball-sized balls. Place balls on a plate and chill for at least two hours until firm.


2 1/2 hours (includes time to chill)

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{ 116 comments… read them below or add one }

Blog is the New Black April 6, 2012 at 3:42 am

I love this idea and I LOVE that dress!! What a steal!


Kristen @ notsodomesticated April 6, 2012 at 3:57 am

Very pretty dress! πŸ™‚ And I love this idea … I think my husband would even like these! πŸ™‚


Morgan April 6, 2012 at 4:18 am

You know what makes me most excited about this? All of the ingredients are in the salad & oatmeal station at my dorm dining hall. Thank you! Can’t wait to make these. I love the dress. Woo-hoo for old souls!


Molly @ RDexposed April 6, 2012 at 4:33 am

I want to make these and eat them frozen!


Angela @ Happy Fit Mama April 6, 2012 at 4:48 am

Brilliant! The first thing I thought of when I saw the picture was suet for birds! Although a very tasty looking suet. πŸ™‚ I’m making these asap. We are planning a hike for Easter (our tradition) so these will help fuel us for the trek. Thanks!


Lindsay April 6, 2012 at 4:55 am

OBSESSED with that dress! You’re adorable.


Angela April 6, 2012 at 4:59 am

Mmm those balls look good! I’ll need to try that recipe. That dress looks adorable on you too! Love it πŸ™‚


kat April 6, 2012 at 5:00 am

These are awesome! That dress was a steal!


Trey @ Dudes Cook Too April 6, 2012 at 5:02 am

Quinoa is so good for you! And the fact that you turned into a sweet snack sends it out of the water!


Katrina April 6, 2012 at 5:06 am

Mmm perfect for after a run!


The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh April 6, 2012 at 5:10 am

Those look awesome! So do you in that dress…super cute! I hope you were able to get the wine out!


Jenny April 6, 2012 at 5:18 am

Looks yummy, quick and easy:) Perfect for after yoga!


Emily April 6, 2012 at 5:45 am

That dress is fantastic!! Love vintage clothing stores! And these quinoa balls look delish!


katie @KatieDid April 6, 2012 at 5:51 am

ohh have fun camping, I always love looking at your camping adventure pictures!!


Amanda @Dogs, Chocolate and Fruits & Veggies April 6, 2012 at 5:53 am

Those look amazing! What a great twist on granola bars!


Joelle (on a pink typewriter) April 6, 2012 at 5:57 am

YUM! We’re going camping in June so these will be perfect!

When I was in Santa Rosa last fall I stumbled into a vintage clothing shop near that coffee shop you’ve mentioned on here (Flying Goat or something??), and it was fantastic!


Jacqueline April 6, 2012 at 6:15 am

Love the dress and the trail mix snack!!! Have a fun camping trip!


Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray April 6, 2012 at 6:20 am

I love love love this idea! Great use of quinoa, and I love grab and go snacks…even if I don’t camp. πŸ˜‰


Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables April 6, 2012 at 6:28 am

I LOVE this idea of adding quinoa to my granola bars!!


Kristin @ FoodFash April 6, 2012 at 6:30 am

Why would anyone swap out the dried cherries!? These sound like a perfect office snack!


Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) April 6, 2012 at 6:44 am

That dress is beautiful. I def. need to make these!


Kate @ get up and flow April 6, 2012 at 6:47 am

A perfect snack for luring yogis to your class! Hope to hear a teacher training update soon!


molly April 6, 2012 at 6:56 am

these look crazy good! and i love that dress!!


Pamela April 6, 2012 at 6:57 am

Directions say “stir in vanilla extract” but recipe doesn’t have it listed in ingredients?


Amanda @ Becoming a Boulangère April 6, 2012 at 7:00 am

What a creative way to repurpose quinoa! And coconut..cherries..yum! Gorgeous dress by the way!


Corey @ Learning Patience April 6, 2012 at 7:00 am

Love your dress and your balls! hee hee I just couldn’t resist typing that….
Can’t wait to try this once I get back from all this crazy traveling…

xoxo from Michigan- where it’s very very very cold


Kim @ The Family Practice April 6, 2012 at 7:00 am

You are adorable! Both for making those cute little snacks for your class and because that dress is amazing! What a great find


Faith @ For the Health of It April 6, 2012 at 7:07 am

That dress is AMAZING! I want to start wearing more vintage clothes just because the attention to detail is to die for…like Anthropologie but WAY more affordable when you go the thrift route!


Lori @ RecipeGirl April 6, 2012 at 7:08 am

Totally coolio idea for doing something fun with quinoa! Love it!


Carrie April 6, 2012 at 7:09 am

These look really good! And what a cute dress!


Ashley @ Hudson on the Potomac April 6, 2012 at 7:09 am

LOVE the dress!! Very Betty-esque!


Meg April 6, 2012 at 7:11 am

Those look absolutely delicious! Have a blast camping! πŸ™‚


Nicole April 6, 2012 at 7:19 am

Adorable dress! I wish I was going to a Mad Men premier party tonight, how fun!!


Maria April 6, 2012 at 7:31 am

I make a similar ball treat, but I have never added quinoa! Genius! Happy Easter Jenna!


Jen April 6, 2012 at 7:32 am

Love the dress – mint green is “in” this spring!


Jessica @ April 6, 2012 at 7:35 am

I am TOTALLY making these this weekend!!! Look sooooo yummy!!!


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 6, 2012 at 7:40 am

I want to go hiking just so I can make these and take them with me!! Happy Easter Jenna!


Elisabeth April 6, 2012 at 7:53 am

Love the dress – definitely VERY Betty πŸ™‚ Your Easter weekend definitely sounds like more fun than mine… (working 3rd shift the whole weekend!) Have fun!


Carrie @ Kiss My Whisk April 6, 2012 at 7:54 am

Love this & cherry is my favorite too!


Em (Wine and Butter) April 6, 2012 at 7:55 am

Oh YUM! As I sit here eating a $2 chocolate chip Lara Bar pre-breakfast I am thinking I need to make these for next week. Gorgeous dress too love!


Emily April 6, 2012 at 7:57 am

I’m going hiking tomorrow and I’m going to definitely make these! Great idea! Thanks Jenna πŸ™‚


Annie @ What's Annie Making? April 6, 2012 at 7:59 am

These look like the perfect little snack! And that dress is so pretty on you. What a good thrifty find!!!


Allie@sweetpotatobites April 6, 2012 at 8:10 am

i happen to have leftover quinoa in my fridge and now i know exactly what to do with it. great idea!


Cait's Plate April 6, 2012 at 8:11 am

That dress is ADORABLE. You rock my socks off with your thrifty fashion finds!


Averie @ Averie Cooks April 6, 2012 at 8:16 am

These look so good, Jenna! I saw them on your Instagram and was studying that tiny tiny little picture wondering if you used honey, agave, or maple as the “binder” glue to get them to stick together. Now I know.

And that blue dress is gorgeous! WHAT a FIND! You look stunning and have a blast at the premier!


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen April 6, 2012 at 8:48 am

Food is the best way to a person’s heart…I say abuse that for what it’s worth! πŸ˜‰ Love that dress and love these little balls. I’ve made quinoa balls before for snacking and they were pretty much like crack…could.not.stop.eating.them.
Happy weekend πŸ™‚


Laura April 6, 2012 at 9:05 am

Look at those toned arms-I am jealous!!!!

What does the coconut do and could i sub it out for something else? I don’t like the tasted of it.


jenna April 6, 2012 at 9:14 am

Coconut is just for taste…you can totally leave it out!


Hilliary @Brunch&Cupcakes April 6, 2012 at 9:31 am

Love the dress, it is such a great shade of blue! These trail mix balls look excellent!


Ash April 6, 2012 at 9:39 am

Umm if my yoga teacher fed me, I’d be SURE to come back to class haha. Love the dress! It’s a great color for you. We have the same phone cover btw πŸ™‚


@HilaryFleming April 6, 2012 at 10:00 am

This is perfect! I’m heading to the airport tomorrow (6 mos preg with a 2 year old–I’m scared). This looks like good comfort food/healthy snack that I can take on the plane. Plus I have 3 cups of cooked quinoa that I need to use up pronto. Thanks for the recipe!


Margarita April 6, 2012 at 10:09 am

I love everything quinoa and trail mixes are always great snacks! Your dress is muy pretty! Doesn’t look like a $9 dress to me!


Emily @ Life on Food April 6, 2012 at 10:19 am

You would have had me with these balls. I use food to win people over too πŸ™‚ Love the dress. I hope you don’t spill wine on it!


Maria April 6, 2012 at 10:42 am

That dress is a great find for only $9! I’m also a fan of the trail mix balls…portable, quick energy foods are the way to go

Happy Easter!


Megan @ Megan's Miles April 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

Cute dress! These look like the perfect post-yoga or run snack! Definitely going to make these soon!


Lindsey April 6, 2012 at 11:21 am

These look delicious, except the problem I have with most homemade granola/trail mix items is the use of coconut. Call me crazy but I just can’t stand the taste of coconut. Do you think they would hold together if I omitted that ingredient? Or does anyone have any suggestions for something I could swap in?


fabiola April 6, 2012 at 11:24 am

Super cute dress, and picture! I am a lover of all things quinoa, so I will for sure make these this weekend! I like how versatile they are, even though I am not supposed to tell you about it:). thanks for the post!


Casey April 6, 2012 at 11:49 am

Hey Jenna! if I already have cooked quinoa on hand, would it still be 1/4 cup? Or would I adjust the measurement?



jenna April 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Nope! Then you would use a half cup if it’s already cooked πŸ™‚


Urban Wife April 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm

You are darling and that dress was a wonderful find! These quinoa balls are lovely, too and I can’t wait to make them as snacks for us. Thanks and enjoy your camping weekend. πŸ™‚


Sarah @ The Cyclist's Wife April 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I can’t believe you got that dress for nine bucks! So cute!


Laura @ She Eats Well April 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I love making snacks like these because you can adapt them fairly easily to the ingredients you have on hand! Of course, I love the chocolate the most! But raisins would be delicious too I imagine…thanks!


Julia {The Roasted Root} April 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Very pretty dress and cute, nutritious balls! Great sweet flavors, and awesome protein! Happy Easter!


Moni Meals April 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm

wow, you got me on this one! So creative and perfect. I am so happy to know of this. πŸ™‚ great one Jenna! What a healthy, fun, easy treat.

Lucky yoga students indeed. πŸ™‚


Mel April 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Such a cute dress, and very Betty esque. I’m dying to watch Mad Men…but since I’m currently kicking it in Morocco, it’s going to be a bit difficult!


Luv What You Do April 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

I have been experimenting with different energy bars and balls. I made some quinoa bars which have been great. Yours look amazing. Can’t wait to give them a try!


Terra April 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I am such a huge fan of quinoa! I love finding new ways to enjoy the delicious treat:-) What a great treat to take to your yoga students, they look fantastic! Take care, Terra


Kerry April 6, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Your dress is adorable, and very Betty-esque! A Mad Men party sounds like so much fun! These balls look great too. I never would have thought of using quinoa this way, but it sounds so good! I can’t wait to make them!


Tara@Sugar Spice and Bacon April 6, 2012 at 9:37 pm

#1 That dress is amazing!
#2 I LOVE using quinoa in sweet snacks! Totally give you license to have seconds/or thirds!
#3 Thanks for the recipe, definitely trying these out!


Angie Pather April 6, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Mmmmm YummmmOoooo, I love nutty trail mix & unbaked yummies:-D I normally dry roast the oats in a very low oven, to crispen & remove the raw taste. I will also add some roasted sesame seeds & dates. Love it. Thanks 4 sharing. Njoy the Easter weekend & Easter. Lotz of Love.


Jacqueline April 7, 2012 at 9:00 am

I would like you as my yoga teacher even if you didn’t bribe me with treats. Although these do look delicious!


jenna April 7, 2012 at 11:01 am

yum! i love bird food! these look fab.

love love love the $9 dress. looks like 100$


amy walters, aDESIGNdock April 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Love the dress. the recipe. everything. cheers!


dingbatt April 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Jenna: I don’t typically comment on your blog, but this post really grabbed me…particularly the “I definitely got my nine dollars worth, even if two hours later I spilled an entire glass of red wine down the front of the dress. Classy!” I freaking get a kick out of you and your appreciation of life. I have been following your blog for years…ever since I googled “shin splints remedy”(ahhh those running days). The blog is only a snapshot of your life, but I know a bit about your past to know where you are today. Just wanted to send some admiration your way. Keep up your spirit…I love it.


Kristen April 8, 2012 at 5:12 am

Hi there! My little sister is running her first 1/2 soon and I wanted to ship these out to her. She’s in VT and I’m in CT. Do you think they will hold up if I ship them overnight? Should I freeze them first?


Lindsay April 8, 2012 at 7:02 am

Hi Jenna,

These look great. I tried to make them but when I rolled them into a ball, they kept falling apart. What am I doing wrong?



jenna April 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

Did you add the peanut butter at the end? That is what makes the balls stick together. If you’re still having trouble, try adding an additional tablespoon. And make sure you are working with wet hands!


Christine April 24, 2012 at 8:07 am

I second the “wet hands”! The mixture didn’t come together when I stirred in the peanut butter, it was the pressing into balls with wet hands that made them stick….and as soon as my hands got a little bit dry, it was game over and I had to run them under the tap again! They were excellent freshly made AND after chilling the requisite two hours!


Cora White April 8, 2012 at 7:06 am

Looks yummy
the dress and the food!


Jen @ The Scrumptious Pumpkin April 8, 2012 at 7:56 am

Love the dress – I’m a huge fan of Mad Men too (I just posted a modern, healthy update on retro fish sticks this week in honor of the show)! These trail mix balls look so tasty πŸ™‚


Amanda @ Sweet Release April 9, 2012 at 8:31 am

That dress is lovely! And my kinda price, lol. I must try this recipe– would be great to throw in a bag and take on the go!


Sam @ Fit for My Fork April 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Wow. Just wow. These look SO amazing. I am going to try them soon!!

I love the colour of your dress (and the dress itself!). I can tell you like the colour too because it matches your phone case, lol πŸ™‚


Bubblybunny April 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I had this recipe sitting in my kitchen since I first saw it but I didn’t realized I was missing some ingredients until I started making it tonight. So I substituted the sunflower seeds with chopped almonds and honey with light maple syrup. I also added the peanut butter to the maple syrup as I was heating it (because I didn’t read your instructions properly). It worked out so well. This was So Good!!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!

I have one question: do you think baking it (like a granola bar) would help the balls stay firmer at room temperature? I have a feeling that these will become soft by the time I get into work.


jenna April 9, 2012 at 7:34 pm

You could try baking—I haven’t tried that though! What really worked for me was to freeze the balls then take them camping with us…they totally stayed together after that!


Sarah @ TaterGirl Runs April 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm

These look amazing! I will be making them ASAP.


Heidi - Apples Under My Bed April 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

pretty pretty pretty – these balls (awesome!) & the dress!! Love the colour. Obsessed with mad men. Obsessed.
Heidi xo


Myra April 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

I made these last night and OMG are they yummy! My husband had to stop me from eating all of them in one sitting! I brought some to work with me today and can’t wait to eat them this afternoon at snacktime! Thanks for another awesome recipe!


Emmanuella April 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm

These look soooo good but my daughter is allergic to peanuts, any suggestions on what else i could use??


Lindsey April 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Hi Jenna, Just wanted to let you know that when I clicked the “Print this Recipe” feature the vanilla extract is missing from the list of ingredients.


jenna April 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm

oops! going to fix it now–thanks for heads up!


Laura April 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I have been wanting a quinoa snack recipe! I didn’t have all the ingredients so I used quinoa, oatmeal, extra crasins, chopped dark chocolate chips, chia seeds, and heated aguave with 2T peanut butter. So good! I like freezing them.


BakeMe April 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Jenna! You look lovely in the dress!


renee April 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Hi Jenna-

These are delicious. I’ve tried the recipe twice now but both times they fall apart. Could I be simmering the honey for too long? Any other ideas why they aren’t staying together? I will try to add more peanut butter next time. I love all the ingredients together! Thanks!


jenna April 19, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Try adding more peanut butter, working with wet hands and keeping them in the freezer!


Johanna April 25, 2012 at 4:47 am

I just made these, with a few small twists based on my cupboard offerings… and WOW! Licking my fingers. Great recipe!


Hawley April 25, 2012 at 10:36 am

Love your dress, Jenna darling πŸ™‚ And can’t wait to make these! I’m on the hunt for more iron-rich foods, with the ambition of having something iron-rich at every meal of the day until this baby arrives due to my being a bit anemic… So, yay for using quinoa in this! πŸ™‚ xoxo


Carolyn April 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm

These are fantastic! I am probably not to be trusted with a whole batch of them… Thankfully I made these for run clinic snacks tonight and not just for me (although I think a few extras will stay in the freezer)!


Stephen @ FeedingMyFolks May 5, 2012 at 9:44 am

Such a cool idea! I do something similar with cous cous and sometimes wild rice (no chocolate though…I’ll have to sneak in some mini chocolate chips next time!)


Kelly S. May 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I made these today and had trouble w/ them staying together too. I used almond butter in place of the peanut and added an additional Tb. I chilled the dough in the fridge before rolling into balls and then put them in the freezer. Worked much better that way. I also poured the hot honey over the chocolate chips so that they melted into everything and the entire batch tastes like chocolate. Delicious, but I may try knocking the honey back a touch next time.


Lillian May 6, 2012 at 7:11 am

I just LOVE quinoa! I have a similar recipe for granola! I love the idea of switching the fiber cereal for quinoa!!! I will definitely be trying this one! Thanks!


Lillian May 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Okay…I made these and they are DELICIOUSLY tasty and satisfying! I think I’ll be making a double batch next time! They are so nutty, crunchy and sweet! The perfect healthy snack!


lahelamoon June 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Hi! If I’m using leftover quinoa vs cooking it, how much cooked quinoa should I use for this recipe?


Alice July 19, 2012 at 3:12 am

My quinoa fluffed up to about 3x the original size…so maybe use 1.5 c?


Alice July 19, 2012 at 3:11 am

I made this the lazy woman’s way…using what I had around the house. I used pepitas instead of sunflowers, extra dried fruit to use up what I had, left out the vanilla and switched maple syrup for the honey, and it was terrific. I was worried it wouldn’t congeal as well without the honey, but it was perfect. I’m not sure I needed the chocolate – harder to pretend it’s a breakfast food with chocolate chips. Mmmm.


Alex September 2, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I loved these! I didn’t have any honey on hand so I used mashed bananas to keep them together and they came out wonderfully. These will be something i’ll be making very often! c:


suzanne November 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm

to be random here, but that space behind you would make a lovely little nook!! you can tell I have been on pinterest too much!!! lol


Jamy January 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm

DANG! These are good! I haven’t even waited the 2 hours yet. I tasted it from the bowl and ate 5 spoonfuls before I told myself I should stop! Very impressed!


Sarah January 11, 2013 at 11:32 am

These are delicious! My family is hooked πŸ™‚


Jamy January 16, 2013 at 11:13 am

After making them into balls, I froze them. I keep them in a freezer bag and take a few out when I want some. They take a VERY short time to ‘defrost’. DELICOUS! I know I already said that, but seriously!!!! SOO GOOD!


Rayna February 13, 2013 at 8:13 am

I just made a batch and it’s chilling in the fridge now, but I sampled some and it’s so good! I used cherries, bittersweet chocolate, and added a big pinch of cinnamon. I’m definitely going to blog about this recipe soon.


Tricia March 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm
MAC March 12, 2013 at 9:38 am

Hi! I made these on Sunday! Thanks for the recipe! I used less honey and chocolate chips, but I added ground flax seeds. They are delicious! They are the perfect after school snack (I’m a teacher). I ususally crave something sweet when I arrive home, and these satisify my sweet tooth without wrecking my diet πŸ™‚


stacey July 21, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I made the trail mix balls but mine wouldn’t hold together in a ball- even added an extra tablespoon of peanutbutter; they taste good though


megan January 5, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Cute dress! what can I sub for the sunflower seeds?


Brandy April 7, 2014 at 10:47 am

Just finished making these and they are amazing! I didn’t even wait for them to chill before I had one. Definitely a keeper! Thanks!


Kelly January 10, 2015 at 3:36 am

How should I store these? In the refrigerator??


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