how can you make Rice Krispie Treats healthier?
We love requests from members and, honestly, we love a good challenge!
So, what's so bad about Rice Krispie Treats?
If you have made them at home, you know they typically call for A LOT of butter and A LOT of marshmallows. What about those convenient, pre-packaged versions? There is more going on in those little packets than you might think!
Check out the ingredients from one version:
And, of course, you can get them loaded with cookies or candy bars, covered in chocolate or many other sugar-loaded varieties.
Have you ever wondered what's in the puffy, white squishy squares we call marshmallows?
Well, here is an example of their ingredients:
It's pretty obvious this is NOT REAL FOOD!
So, we took on the challenge and discovered -- it IS possible to make a better-for-you rice krispie treat!
There are 3 main parts to rice crispy treats, and the great news is you have options - based on your personal preference - on which healthier ingredients you choose!
The Crisp Rice Cereal:
There are several options beyond the Snap, Crackle & Pop Rice Krispie cereal we have all grown up with. There are brands that offer recognizable ingredients and a few tips you should know:
- There are brands such as Erewhon that include just brown rice, salt, and less than 1 gram of sugar. Mom's Best Cereals offers a cinnamon and chocolate version, although these of course include additional ingredients, including more sugar. These two brands were easy to find and look exactly like the traditional Rice Krispie brand.
- There are even simpler and cleaner brands. For example, Kashi makes a 7 Whole Grain Puffs Cereal with a blend of whole grains. And, Nature's Path and Arrowhead Mills make a version that has only one ingredient: whole grain brown rice. The chewier consistency of these is more like puffed rice (or a corn puff). Just know that picky eaters may notice they look and taste a little different, and might take a bit of getting used to -- but they still taste really good and work well!
- The key - as always - is reading those ingredient labels!
No, not actual butter! This part of healthier rice krispie treats includes other butters such as nut butter:
- Almond butter and natural peanut butter both work great - keep in mind, you may have to adjust the sweetness depending on whether your almond butter and peanut butter include sugar.
- If you are a coconut fan, coconut butter (or coconut puree) also works really well and actually makes the rice krispie treats seem very close to the original. We like coconut, and didn't feel like it had an over-bearing coconut flavor.
- Other nut butters, such as cashew butter and hazelnut butter, also produce great results.
Optional Add-ins and Toppings:
Feel free to get creative and mix it up!
- Add chopped peanuts
- Add coconut flakes or shredded unsweetened coconut
- Add mini chocolate chips
- Drizzle with melted dark chocolate on top
- Add 1/4 cup ground flax seed with the cereal before adding the nut butter/honey mixture (yes, we did this and the kids had no idea!)
How do you put it all together?
The process of making homemade rice krispie treats is still the same...you are just using better ingredients. This will make 16 treats in an 8 x 8 inch pan (2 inch squares):
3 cups crisp rice cereal (reduce to 2 3/4 cup if adding in 1/4 cup of ground flax seed)
1/2 cup nut butter (such as peanut butter, almond butter or coconut butter)
1/3 cup honey (or pure maple syrup, adjust to taste)
- Grease an 8 x 8 inch pan.
- Pour the cereal into a large bowl.
- Melt the nut butter and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat, or in the microwave in 20 second increments. Stir frequently and, once melted, remove from the heat and pour over the cereal. Immediately stir until well coated. Add to the pan, pressing down into the pan with the back of a spoon.
- Drizzle with melted dark chocolate if desired.
- Let sit for 15-30 minutes - at room temperature or in the refrigerator - to set before cutting.
Remember, as Zonya always says,
"it's the dose that makes the poison"!
So, go ahead and enjoy a sweet treat and remember to keep it in moderation!
Let us know what you think - and your favorite combination of ingredients!
Do you have a favorite recipe or sweet treat you would like us to try to transform into healthy, REAL ingredients? Please let us know and we will give it our best shot!