One of the first things I ever learned to make in the kitchen were Rice Krispie treats, made with butter and marshmallows. Yikes. Maybe this reveals something about my culinary roots... I didn't always eat or cook the way I do now. In fact, I didn't always cook. (I'm pretty sure I lived in an apartment in NYC for three years after college and never used the stove or oven.)
But that was then. Now I love to prepare healthy meals and snacks for my family and friends and support other women in doing the same. What hasn't changed is that I still have a sweet tooth. And I often hear myself telling my clients the same thing: I have no "will-power" when it comes to food.
The difference is that now I'm an educated and discerning food shopper. Somehow, at a grocery store, I usually find it impossible to bring myself to buy products that contain ingredients I know aren't good for my family. With very rare exceptions. (Remember, there is no such thing as perfection!)
So this means that many months can go by where I do not bring home a single sweet. The average American now consumes about 120 pounds of sugar a year and I'm determined for my family members to fall well below average on this measurement! But this doesn't mean we never enjoy dessert after dinner.
One of the best ways to eat less sugar is to make your own desserts. It's even possible to make desserts that taste great without any sugar at all. Like these tasty rice crispie treats, flavored with cocoa, three types of coconut flavoring and sweetened with brown rice syrup, a low-glycemic sweetener that's thicker than honey and not quite as sweet.
Have a nut allergy in your family? Swap out the almond butter for sunflower seed butter and you are good to go. Don't like coconut? (I'm surprised you read this far!) Use grapeseed oil to grease the pan, vanilla extract instead of coconut extract and add your choice of add-in in lieu of the shredded coconut -- raisins, slivered almonds or dried goji berries would all work.
Cocoa-Nut Crispie Treats
Makes 18 1 1/2 x 3" treats
1/2 tsp coconut oil
2 1/2 cups brown rice cereal
3/4 cups shredded unsweetened coconut, divided
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup smooth almond butter
1/2 tsp coconut extract (substitute vanilla if you don't have coconut)
2 TB raw cocao or cocoa powder
Rub the coconut oil on the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9" pan with a clean paper towel. This will prevent the treats from getting stuck in the pan. (That would be tragic!)
In a bowl, combine the brown rice cereal and 1/2 cup of the shredded coconut.
In a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, melt the brown rice syrup and almond butter together. Then add the cocoa or cocoa powder and whisk to combine.
Take the saucepan off the heat and add the coconut extract, whisking again to combine. Pour the brown rice cereal and coconut into the saucepan and use a rubber spatula to get everything nice and coated with the brown rice syrup mixture. Then use the spatula to scrape the entire mixture into the prepared 9 x 9" pan.
Sprinkle the remaining coconut on top and refrigerate for 20 minutes to set. If you skip the refrigeration and eat them right away, they will still taste good, but are likely not to stay in the shapes you cut them into. Don't ask how I know this.