Chocolate Walnut Zucchini Snack Bars

I was compensated to administer this contest sponsored by California Walnuts.

We be road trippin’! It seems everyone is on the road this summer. (Have you seen the completely bare suitcase section at Target lately?)

These super yummy, cakey, ‘blondie’-like snack bars will definitely qualify as a treat with all the people in your car. Fellow travelers will adore the nutty flavor of the walnuts and all the chocolate chips. (They may not even see the teeny-tiny flecks of zucchini!)

And we need some good road trip snacks that fill us up – so we don’t have to stop for all those brightly colored packaged snacks at gas stations along the way.

While it was not what my kids would call an “epic” road trip, our trip from our house in southern Illinois through Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan was when they first tasted these Chocolate Walnut Zucchini Bars. And these were their responses:

  • “Wow! Mom these are really good, don’t change the recipe at all!” (Can you tell I’m always tinkering with recipes!)
  • “These are so filling I can’t finish mine.”
  • “Mom, I’m too full to eat anything else.”
  • “I’m glad you used all these chocolate chips!”

All this feedback made me so happy because these snacking bars are really, really good for my kids (and for me as a nursing mom!) They contain more than one whole cup of walnuts in the recipe. That means with each serving, we’re getting a whole handful of nutrient-rich walnuts.

Research suggests walnut consumption may be associated with improved cognitive function.

  • A handful of walnuts is a versatile snack or ingredient that can help you feel full and satisfied thanks to a combination of key nutrients including plant-based protein (4g/oz) and fiber (2g/oz).
  • Walnuts are also the only nut with a significant source of essential omega-3 ALA (2.5g/oz).
  • A growing field of research is looking at walnuts and cognitive function, including areas like healthy aging as well as mood, concentration and more.
  • More information on snacking with walnuts can be found at https://walnuts.org/snacking/ 

When I created this recipe, I wanted to make walnuts the predominant fat to moisten this baked treat, adding lots of good fats. So I created a walnut butter by using the food processor to blend the batter. Because oats don’t have gluten, you can blend them a long time in the food processor without the final baked treat becoming tough. Win, win!

And not only are these bars packed with the goodness of walnuts, they also have:

  • Veggies! – A full 2 cups of shredded zucchini
  • Whole grains – 2 whole cups of oats
  • Honey– The natural sweetness of honey and dark chocolate chips are the only sweeteners used
  • A short list of ingredients – You probably already have them on hand

Plus, these snack bars mix up super quick. (I made them literally the night before we left on our road trip as my kids were packing the car.) Just use the food processor to grate the zucchini, then pop the grating blade out and use the puree blade to mix up the entire batter.

Happy snacking…and happy trails this summer, friends!

Print

Chocolate Walnut Zucchini Snack Bars

Moist and dense cake-like zucchini ‘blondies’, these chocolate chip walnut bars are a yummy fill-you-up snack.

  • Author: Serena Ball, MS, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 9 bars 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 medium or 2 small zucchini

  • 2 cups oats

  • ½ cup honey

  • 1/3 cup canola oil

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • ¼ teaspoon table salt

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped California walnuts, divided

  • 1 cup chocolate chips, divided

Instructions

Coat a 9’ X 9’ baking dish with cooking spray. Heat the oven to 350°F.

Using the food processor, grate the zucchini to get 2 cups of loosely packed, grated zucchini. Remove the grating blade of the food processor and attach the pureeing blade.

To the bowl of the food processor, add the zucchini and oats. Turn on processor and puree until well mixed. With the processor on, pour the honey and oil through the hole, pureeing until fully incorporated. Stop the processor, remove the lid and add the eggs, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Attach the lid and process until well mixed. With the processor on, add 1 cup of walnuts (reserving 2 tablespoons of nuts) through the hole; process until walnuts are completely pureed into the batter. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the chocolate chips and stir them in using a fork or spoon. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the reserved walnuts and chocolate chips over the batter. Bake until the middle is set, for about 30 minutes if using a glass baking dish and for about 25 minutes if using a metal baking dish.

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We’re Serena & Deanna, two dietitians who love food as much as you do!  

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