Here in Australia you can buy premade/prepackaged rice cripy square/rice bubble treats which they advertise VERY heavily for mums to buy for school lunches – they’re called LCM’s.
When I looked up what ‘LCM’ stood for, I found a few ideas people had posted online…light crispy morsels, liquid crystal meth, least common multiple…
Turns out it (apparently) stands for nothing. Just some good old fashioned marketing. So let’s get back to what’s important here! What is in these things? I’ll be frank. They are pretty much crap.
Ingredients: Rice Bubbles® (41%)(whole white rice, sugar, salt, barley malt extract), glucose, fructose, hydrogenated soyabean oil (antioxidants [304, 307b]), sugar, glucose solids, invert sugar, humectant (glycerol), gelatin, flavour, salt, emulsifiers (472e, 472a), skim milk powder. (Source: http://www.kelloggs.com.au/)
Mmm…humectant and emulsifier 472e. Look those up in your Additive Alert app and see what it tells you. Just as an example, 472e additives are diacetyltartaric and fatty acid esters of glycerol, and associated with ‘headaches, high blood sugar levels, eye skin irritation in sensitive people.’ And JECFA (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) is ‘still evaluating’. (Source: Additive Alert www.additivealert.com.au)
At least when I grew up in Canada, we took the 5 minutes to make our own rice crispy squares ourselves with the puffed rice cereal, marshmallows and butter. Not great, but a step above the store-bought ones.
Well, it can be better than this.
I’ve got a much healthier (and still delicious; actually much more delicious) option for you to make your own just below. Your kids will love these. And so will you. And although any ‘puffed’ grain has still been processed in some way (a whole, unprocessed grain is best/ideal), this is still a MUCH better option than the alternatives above.
Ingredients you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup of 100% real maple syrup, or real honey, or coconut nectar
- a good drizzle of blackstrap molasses
- 2/3-3/4 cup of a nut/seed butter of choice
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp real vanilla extract or paste
- pinch sea salt
- 5-6 cups puffed grain – brown rice, quinoa, etc.
- Optional: a little coconut butter/oil, ghee, butter, cacao powder, some finely chopped dried fruit, chocolate chips, a drop of orange or peppermint essential oil.
What to do:
- Gently mix and melt all ingredients (except rice puffs and any dried fruit or choc chips if you’re using them) together in a small pot on the stove (or Thermomix speed 1-2/70°C) until well mixed and somewhat runny.
- Place your puffed rice (and dried fruit/choc chips if using) into an EXTREMELY LARGE bowl (very important!) and pour over your still-warm, still-runny sweet nut butter mixture.
- Continually mix this until all puffs are coated or left dry at the bottom of the bowl. You can use your hands for this, but keep a bowl of water nearby. This is extremely sticky! Get the kids to involved – they’ll love it. Just make sure they don’t eat it all off their hands before you get to serve it…
- Pour this whole mixture into a lined square or rectangular glass dish or cake pan (mine was about 20x20cm – a little larger might be a bit better). Press VERY firmly down, otherwise this will crumble easily later. I used the bottom of my pyrex measuring cup!
- Pop into fridge or freezer until hardened, and then slice into square or bars. This will keep for ages in the fridge (at least a week or two).
- I find if you combine at least 2 different sweeteners, it is more delicious!
- Use the blackstrap molasses if you can. It adds a beautiful caramel colour and flavour. AND lots of minerals. If you can make it organic, much better.
- The flavour options are endless – experiment with what you and your kids like to add or sprinkle on top.
- Use a natural nut/seed butter that is purely just nuts and/or seeds. Or even better, make your own if you have a high-powered food processor or similar. Just add plain nuts or seeds and blend and blend until it is smooth and creamy. Macadamias are the quickest and easiest to do because of the high-fat content (still good for you)!
- If your family or school is nut-free, use only a seed butter, such as sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
- Try to get organic cinnamon. Cinnamon (and other herbs and spices) are otherwise irradiated, which means that they have put them through radiation to try and kill off any microbes. Organic cinnamon is at a whole new level – smell the difference! And also, the type of cinnamon you buy is important. Make sure it is ceylon cinnamon not cassia cinnamon. Too much of the cassia variety can be toxic if it accumulates in your system. I’ll write more about this in a separate post.
- What makes this recipe a healthier option is that we are getting some great fats and protein from the nut butter, using unrefined sugars, and no fake flavours, additives or preservatives. And these choices of puffed whole grains contain more nutrients than the refined white breakfast cereal which besides being high GI because they are processed puffed white rice (so it sends your blood sugar skyrocketing and crashing, leaving you still hungry), contains sugar (oh yes, they add sugar, and not the good kind), additives, preservatives, and synthetic vitamins and minerals.
So have some fun and make a mess in the kitchen with your kids. And know you are creating a healthier snack option. Enjoy!