Old treats updated for a healthier palate

Do you remember Rice Krispies treats? Maybe you still make them? I don’t. Not anymore, even though they are such a fond childhood memory of mine. I was crazy for them as a kid. I would have to say they were one of my favorite junk food items. I loved them so much that I didn’t leave it up to the fates to decide if I would be able to have one. Finding a Rice Krispies treat depended on a parent (not related to me, mine preferred to purchase their junk food pre-made) making them for some event and then being in the right place at the right time to have one. (I guess with that statement you’ve figured out that I am old enough to predate the advent of pre-packaged Rice Krispies Treats which are a pale shadow of the homemade kind). In order to guarantee a steady supply of these wonderful treats and make sure I had access to as many as my heart desired, I learned to make them. It turns out they are extremely kid friendly to make if you are a kid who can stand a second degree burn or two in the kitchen. I never had a problem making the actual molten goo required to make them stick together, I usually got into trouble after I mixed the cereal into the molten goo and then attempted to form them into the compact mass that would enable them to be perfect squares of crispy sweet goodness. I somehow managed to get my fingers and hands into the incendiary rice crispy mass.

So, you may wonder why I stopped indulging in something so wonderful? I don’t eat much beef or beef products anymore and when I do I choose grass fed. I don’t eat a lot of sugar anymore. The main ingredient in these treats, marshmallows are loaded with gelatin and sugar. I know they make vegan friendly marshmallows now, but I don’t want to go down that slippery path. Not now that I have been doing so well at moving a lot of the processed junk and refined sugars and grains out of my diet.

Years ago, I tried to make the treats on the box of my favorite brown rice cereal. They were a disaster. I can’t remember what the ingredients were, but they were horribly sweet and would not stick together. The cereal tasted terrible in them. I gave up on the idea of having a healthier version of my childhood favorite treat until I came across a recipe on the Madcap Cupcake blog. This version used brown rice syrup for the sweetener with the addition of nut butter to cut the sweetness. This recipe looked promising so I bookmarked it and as usual forgot about it. You see, brown rice syrup isn’t an ingredient I am familiar with. I know I have eaten it in some of my favorite processed food from the health food store, but I didn’t know that you didn’t have to be a corporation to buy it. (This is why, I, an omnivore, hang out on vegan blogs. Not only are they nice folks but I learn something all the time!). Anyway, a few weeks ago, I remembered I wanted to make this recipe, so I got a box of brown rice cereal and the brown rice syrup. Today, I finally decided to dive in and give the treats a try. Were they the same as a Rice Krispies treat? Not by a long shot, but to my healthy palate, they were quite wonderful. Lightly sweet and nutty with little hidden surprises in each bite.

I really enjoyed the way these treats turned out, but since I used the bare minimum of rice syrup suggested in Marika’s recipe, the bars had structural integrity problems. They fell apart easily. I might make a little more goo in the same one to one ratio of syrup to peanut butter, or, if I keep them this way, I might form them into little balls next time instead of trying to make big thick bars. In the following recipe, I doubled the salt. I have salt free peanut butter so I knew I would need a teeny extra hit of salt. If you are using regular salted peanut butter, use the lesser amount. I also added 1½ cups total of the “add ins” (nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, etc). This was a full ½ cup more than suggested, but I just love a good “add in”

Brown rice treats

Adapted from crispy rice squares from Madcap Cupcake

1-10 oz box brown rice cereal (I used Barbara’s brand)

¾ cup brown rice syrup

1/8 – ¼ tsp salt (use more if your peanut butter in unsalted)

¾ cup chunky peanut butter

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup chopped dark chocolate

½ cup toasted almonds, chopped

Olive oil cooking spray.

Spray a 9” x 13” pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the brown rice syrup and salt. Add the peanut butter and stir until melted and well combined.

Empty the box of cereal into the biggest mixing bowl you can find. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal and mix until well combined. Add the cranberries, almonds and chocolate. Mix until the goodies are well distributed. Pour the cereal mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth the mixture evenly into the pan, pressing to compact it. Let cool for an hour (I missed that last instruction which would explain why my bars wouldn’t stick together. I’m impatient, I tell ya!)



  1. Kevin said,

    July 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Holy Fuck Mimi.
    I must have some.

    • Mimi said,

      July 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm

      LOL! You said the F. word on my blog. 😳

      Reminds me of old times…good times, good times!

  2. Marika said,

    July 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Your squares look AWESOME! I wholeheartedly agree about the 3/4 cup rice syrup being a bit crumbly – 1 cup worked better for me, structurally speaking. It’s been so long since I’ve made these – you’ve inspired me to give them another go 🙂 LOVE your idea to turn them into balls – great!

  3. chelsl said,

    July 7, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    mmm, yummy! I never want to use (much less BUY) marshmallows – I eat a lot of crap but marshmallows seem so far away from any actual real food item, and who knows what preservatives are in them? – but I do love me a rice krispie treat… might have to give these a try! thanks for showing us a healthier alternative that looks incredibly tasty!

  4. July 8, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Oy! What a mind reader, I’ve been craving the chance to make rice krispy squares after eating a few of them in the past two months! Unlike you, though, I’ll probably break under my desire, ahah. It’s fabulous how yours is a healthier version, but it still looks so delicious. I love it when that happens, ahah.

    I also like your reaction to the F word ;D

  5. Andreas said,

    July 8, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    In case of structural integrity problems, you need to redirect auxiliary energy to the deflector screen. Alternatively, just take a hammer and give the flux compensator a good whack.

    Oh, you are talking about some sort of granola bar. Right.

    • Mimi said,

      July 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm

      Have I told you recently how much I love you?


  6. Elizabeth said,

    July 11, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Now this is interesting! I too used to adore rice krispie squares. But now I just can’t bring myself to make them. Marshmallows aren’t the same as they used to be. They’re still the same cloyingly sweet but now they have so much fake vanilla in them.

    I love that you’ve figured out a way to have your rice crispie squares and eat them too.

    (Came here via Susan’s WildYeast post to find out about your schiacciata made with grapes and blue cheese.)

  7. pragmaticattic said,

    July 12, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Healthy rice crispy treats? Didn’t think it was possible. Wow! These are a must try.

  8. July 12, 2010 at 7:40 am

    I really like the idea of giving a healthy kick to rice crispy treats! they look yum!

  9. Kate said,

    September 5, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Mmmmmm rice crispy treats! looks super tasty. Will try this soon.

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