Crisp rice treats have been a kid favorite since they were first “invented” in 1939 for a Campfire Girls bake sale. Even though the treats are incredibly easy to make, they became so popular that now you can find them in single-serving packages at the grocery store.
Somewhere between that first batch of treats and the snack aisle, the recipe picked up a few more ingredients. Some brands of ready-made bars contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, and benzoate preservatives like TBHQ that have a possible link to hyperactivity in kids and are suspected animal carcinogens.
Even when making from-scratch crispy rice treats, ingredients can contain high fructose corn syrup (like marshmallow fluff) and artificial flavors and colors. White rice doesn't bring whole grain goodness to the party, either. So, how do we take back the snack?
First step: Replace the puffed white rice cereal with one made of organic brown rice, which will add fiber and more complex carbs. Next, opt for a natural sweetener, such as honey and organic brown rice syrup, to replace the high fructose corn syrup. Finally, add in a healthy nut butter for protein and good fats. Just be sure to use a variety with no added oils or sugars.
When you're looking for a healthier dessert, this is one that you can feel good about serving your family.
Crispy Rice and Almond Squares
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup natural almond butter or peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups brown rice crisp cereal
1. Heat the sugar and brown rice syrup in a saucepan over low heat. Add the nut butter and salt and stir until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the brown rice cereal and the nut butter mixture, folding to combine.
2. Press the mixture into a greased 9-x-13" pan and let cool. Serve.
Recipe courtesy of The Cleaner Plate Club, by Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin (Storey Publishing).
Beth Bader is the coauthor with Ali Benjamin of The Cleaner Plate Club. She writes for Eat Local Challenge, and is currently working with local food and food policy groups to help consumers access healthy, local foods and support small family farms in her region. Visit her at cleanerplateclub.com or expatriateskitchen.blogspot.com.