You remember those crispy rice squares, right? Those ooey-gooey, sticky, crunchy, more-marshmallow-than-cereal squares that Mom used to make? There’s nothing more comforting than diving into a treat you used to enjoy as a little kid, especially one surrounded by happy memories in the kitchen. Yum—except for the boiled pig bones and artificial colors.
That’s right. Those crispy rice treats are packed with questionable ingredients, ranging from gelatin (created by boiling cow or pig bones, hides, and connective tissues) to artificial color Blue 1 (associated with cancer in animal testing, and a questionable addition considering that marshmallows are white, not blue).
While gelatin from high-quality sources has some health benefits, when it pops up in processed foods, you know we’re talking about cheap, factory-farmed animals. Here’s the official ingredients list for a popular brand of fluffy, squishy marshmallows:
Corn Syrup, Sugar, Dextrose, Corn Starch, Modified Water, Gelatin, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, A Whipping Aid, Flavors Artificial, Colors Artificial (Blue 1)
The first ingredient is corn syrup and likely to instantly skyrocket a kid’s sensitive blood sugar. But that’s only the first problem here. We’re also looking at tetrasodium pyrophosphate (a “slightly toxic and mildly irritating colorless transparent crystalline chemical compound”), a mystery “whipping aid” and artificial flavors and colors. Not sounding like a very family friendly treat now, is it?
Even with the marshmallows, the crispy rice treats Mom used to make are miles better for you than the new pre-packaged bars, which add in some bonus ingredients such as:
Artificial butter flavor – linked to Alzheimer’s disease
Acetylated monoglycerides – an emulsifier used as a powdered foaming agent
BHT for “freshness” – A synthetic antioxidant used frequently in cosmetics, banned in the European Union due to cancer risk and classified as a “high human health priority” by Health Canada
Corn syrup solids – the dry version of corn syrup, most likely from GMO sources
And many more. Luckily, we don’t need marshmallows or spooky-sounding ingredients to make ooey-gooey rice squares of our own. With the help of some mood-boosting pumpkin seed butter, blood-sugar balancing coconut oil, sweet and anti-microbial honey, and whole grain puffed cereal, this powered-up protein treat will satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you and your kiddos feeling energized, too.
Protein-Powered Chocolate Rice Squares
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seed butter
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup honey or vegan alternative
- 1/4 cup Sunwarrior organic Cocoa powder
- 1 scoop chocolate Sunwarrior Warrior Blend
- Pinch cinnamon
- Pinch Sunwarrior Sea Salt
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- 1/4 cup cacao nibs (optional)
- 4 cups crispy brown rice cereal, puffed quinoa, puffed amaranth, or other dry cereal of choice
In a large pot on medium heat, melt together the pumpkin seed butter, coconut oil, honey, cacao powder, Sunwarrior protein powder, cinnamon, and sea salt. Once melted together, stir in the almonds, cacao nibs, and crispy rice cereal. Stir until thoroughly mixed.Lightly oil a glass dish with coconut oil and spread mixture out evenly. Press down with the back of a spatula until firmly pressed together.Refrigerate for 30–40 minutes until hardened and then cut into squares.