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With the holidays just around the corner, your child will likely be coming to you with requests for treats to take to his class parties (hopefully, not the night before!).
However, gone are the days where you could buy a box of Duncan Hines cake mix and whip up two dozen “homemade cupcakes.” Today, kids’ treats must be allergy- and special-diet friendly. In other words:
- Nut free
- Dairy free
- Gluten free
- Vegetarian and/or vegan
- Kosher friendly
What’s a parent in 2015 to make, then?
How about these Nice Krispie Treats, which are nut-free, dairy-free, gluten free, soy free and vegan. But don’t worry — these big, fat squares will remind you of the Rice Krispie Treats you had as a kid — only better, because they aren’t full of all that yucky stuff!
Nice Krispies vs. Rice Krispies
Generally, Rice Krispie Treats lack any sort of nutritional value: between the white rice cereal, sugary marshmallows and fat-filled margarine… this classic treat’s stats are pretty lackluster.
Now, you wouldn’t go so far as to call this substitute “healthy food;” but, as far as desserts go, these Nice Krispie Treats aren’t too shabby! Here’s why:
- The regular rice cereal is swapped out for brown rice cereal. Brown rice is the whole rice kernel, so it’s higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals than white rice. Hooray for whole grains!
- The ‘mallows are nixed for a brown rice/maple syrup blend. Since it’s derived from the complex carbohydrates of a whole grain, brown rice syrup doesnt impact the glycemic index in the same way as refined sugar does. Meanwhile, maple syrup contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and B6! Mixed together, these syrups bind, sweeten and add a carmel-y, nutty depth of flavor to the treats.
- Coconut oil is used instead of butter/margarine. As far as fats go, coconut oil is king. Coconut oil is a great source of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which have been shown to fight diseases, boost metabolism and increase energy. It’s also a wonderful source of lauric acid, which is found in breast milk, and proven to fight a myriad of different viruses and diseases, including certain cancers. Want to learn more? Check out 4 Reasons Why You Should Be Cooking with Coconut Oil!
Add it all up, and you can feel good about giving your kids these treats!
Recipe: Nice Krispie Treats
1. Line an 8×8 square pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
If you’d prefer more bite-size squares, use a larger, 11×7 pan. An 8×8 pan will give you giant, bakery-style squares!
2. In a large saucepan, combine the maple syrup and brown rice syrup.
3. Stir over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble and boil.
You’ll need a very large saucepan for this step, as the mixture will bubble quite wildly!
4. Remove from heat, and stir in coconut oil and extracts.
5. In a separate mixing bowl, add rice cereal.
Again — you’ll need a very large bowl, as the rice cereal is quite voluminous.
6. Pour in the liquid mixture very carefully.
It’s hot, so be careful!
7. Stir to coat evenly.
8. Pat it down firmly to make a nice, flat square.
9. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
10. Remove by flipping the pan upside down on a cutting board.
Peel away foil/parchment paper, then slice into squares.
Store in a sealed Tupperware container or Ziploc bag in the refrigerator for a week or so. Remove and let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes for best results.
For a fun variation, press mini chocolate chips or sprinkles onto the top of the pan right before refrigerating. Or, stir a spoonful or two of your favorite nut butter into the liquid mixture after Step #4.
Sources: 1. Wellness Mama, The Many Benefits of Coconut Oil | 2. Eating Well, Are “natural” sweeteners really any healthier than sugar? | 3. the kitchn, Looking for a Corn Syrup Alternative? Consider Brown Rice Syrup. | 4. Consumer Reports, Consumer Reports Issues New Consumption Guidelines Based On Analysis of Arsenic Levels in Rice Products & Other Grains.
Photo credit: Sarah M.