Monday, February 20, 2012

Chewy Puffed Rice Bars

I hate to waste anything and I'm sure that trait stems from my peasant roots. When my Ukrainian great-grandmother peeled a potato the skins were almost transparent. She knew what it was like to go hungry, so she wasted nothing. I often think about Nanny when I'm ringing up my groceries and wonder what she would say if she could see the prices today. She'd probably shake her head and respond in her broken English, "Oy, yoy, yoy", and perhaps she'd shave those potato skins just a little bit thinner. So, when I found an untouched bag of Nature's Path Rice Puffs cereal in the pantry I figured it was time to put it to good use, and try my hand at a healthier version of the rice crispy treat.


Chewy Puffed Rice Bars
85 grams/5cup of puffed rice cereal
114 grams/1 cup toasted slivered almonds
116 grams/3/4 cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds
90 grams/1 cup toasted coconut and sesame seeds
166 grams/1 cup brown rice syrup
126 grams/1 cup almond butter
65 grams/1/4 cup maple syrup

Toast the almonds in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside. Combine the sesame seeds and unsweetened coconut and bake on a sheet pan until golden brown. You'll need to toss this mixture a few times while it's baking so it browns evenly. Set aside enough (1/4 cup) to sprinkle on the bottom of your pan and on the top of the bars.  Note: I make a larger quantity of this condiment to have on hand for sprinkling over granola or oatmeal. It's delicious and good for you!

Add the puffed rice, sunflower seeds, coconut and sesame seed combo to a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Add the almond butter, brown rice and maple syrups to a sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it's well combined and smooth. Pour this over the dry ingredients, mixing with a rubber spatula or your hands, until it's evenly distributed.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch (about 25 x 32 cm) pan and sprinkle 1/2 of the reserved coconut and sesame seed combination across the bottom of the pan.

Press the puffed rice mixture into the pan and pat it down firmly with a spatula until you have a nice even top. 

Sprinkle the remaining coconut and sesame seeds across the top. Allow it set up for about an hour in the refrigerator. Run a spatula around the edges and turn it out onto a cutting board. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They're chewy and just sweet enough to satisfy a craving, without giving you that sugar high you get from most store bought bars. Ally wants to add dried cranberries to the next batch which sounds like a good idea to me. The kids seem to love them, they're healthier and less expensive to make, and Nanny would approve so that makes me happy. Note: You can substitute granola in place of the puffed rice.

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