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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Cocoa-Tahini Brown Rice Crispy Squares

    Rice Krispies treats originated as a homemade snack in the 1920s. As a testament to their popularity, they are also available in prepackaged form.  Of course, that means means they come bundled with partially hydrogenated oils, petroleum-derived artificial flavor, sketchy preservatives like BHT, and the usual genetically modified suspects (high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, etc.).  No, thank you.

    Vegans are out of luck, too; traditional recipes for Rice Krispies treats contain butter and marshmallows (made from gelatin). Homemade versions can be made with vegan marshmallows, which are nevertheless empty calories that usually contain likely GMO ingredients, like soy and corn byproducts.

    This no-bake recipe — my adaptation of an original one found in the excellent cookbook Vegan Bites by Beverly Lynn Bennett — saves the day. It offers whole grains, healthful fats from whole foods, not too much sweetness, and is a snap to make.

    YIELDS: 12 – 16 squares (depending on how you cut them)

    INGREDIENTS:

    • Coconut oil or trans-fat-free vegan margarine (to oil pan)
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 cups puffed brown rice (the brand I come across most often at health food stores is Erewhon)
    • 1/2 to 3/4 cup seeds or chopped nuts (I used a combination of pecans and hemp seeds)
    • 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup liquid sweetener (i.e.: maple syrup, yacon syrup, brown rice syrup, honey, agave, coconut nectar)
    • 1/2 cup tahini (tahini is slightly bitter, so you can also try 1/4 cup tahini + 1/4 cup of another nut or seed butter)
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean powder
    • Pinch of salt

    Note: Once these were chilling in the refrigerator, I thought a quarter cup of of cacao nibs would have probably been a great addition (more so for adults than children, given their intense taste).  Give it a try!

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    1. Lightly grease an 8-inch baking pan. Set aside.

    2. Place the shredded coconut in a small pan and toast over low-medium heat until it turns a light brown color.

    3. Add toasted coconut, cocoa powder, brown rice cereal, and nuts/seeds to a medium bowl.

    4. In a small pot, combine liquid sweetener, tahini, vanilla, and salt.  Cook over low-medium heat for a few minutes until uniform, thick liquid texture is achieved and mixture is slightly bubbling.

    5. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix gently, making sure all dry ingredients are evenly coated.

    6. Transfer contents of bowl to baking pan.

    7. Wet your fingertips and, applying a good amount of force, press the mixture into the baking pan.

    8. Refrigerate baking pan for 45 minutes.

    9. After 45 minutes, the squares are ready to be cut and enjoyed!

    Treats before refrigeration.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (1 square; for recipe made with 3/4 cups nuts/seeds & 1/3 cup sweetener, cut into 12 squares)

    175 calories
    3 grams fiber
    38 milligrams sodium
    6 grams added sugar
    4 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Copper, magnesium, manganese, monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, selenium, vitamin E, zinc

    Good source of: Phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids

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    6 Comments

    1. Suzy said on October 16th, 2011

      These look good and the ingredients are so much better than commercial rice crispy treats. I saw a recipe for homemade marshmallow creme a while back. It is not vegan, but still made with healthier ingredients. It was from Cheeseslave. This is the link:

      http://www.cheeseslave.com/2010/12/26/how-to-make-marshmallow-fluff-without-corn-syrup/

    2. Antonella said on October 24th, 2011

      I started making these without realizing I was out of tahini, so I made them with the full 1/2c of smooth almond butter. Great for snacking, and sooo easy. Thanks! I love your blog, all the info and your perspective on health and nutrition. We need more RD’s like you in the field :-)

    3. Andy Bellatti said on October 24th, 2011

      Thank you for your comment, Antonella. Happy to hear you enjoy the blog — and that the squares turned out well.

    4. GD said on October 27th, 2011

      these are delicious!
      thanks for sharing.

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