Don’t you love it when classic kid-friendly snacks get a makeover? I sure do! These chocolate chews remind me of eating Rice Krispies squares after school as a kid. Pulling up a chair at the table with a glass of cold milk… that was bliss.
Luckily I didn’t know (or care) back then how much sugar was in those snacks!
Now I know that these are the real (healthy) deal: portable, sticky, chewy snacks, but revamped for better health.
In particular, bite-sized portions, higher in protein by swapping the rice for puffed quinoa (a complete protein), and lower glycemic index to keep your blood sugar stable with protein, cacao and the use of brown rice syrup instead of marshmallows made from refined white sugar.
Who needs those? Not me!
I created these easy snack balls for a Stress-Busting Snacks workshop I hosted at Banting Memorial High School in Alliston last month.
The students went crazy for them and I think you will too!
I consider these “stress-busting” in particular because of the cacao. It’s packed with magnesium, a key stress-busting mineral that acts to relax the nervous system and muscles throughout the body. It’s the key mineral in Epsom salts (excellent after strenuous exercise). It helps balance many of our body’s neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which helps calm our nerves, boost our good mood and fend off all types of stress.
Magnesium is a mineral that’s often deficient in many, many people.
Fortunately, for chocolate lovers, cacao (especially raw, organic) is considered one of the highest food sources of magnesium on the planet.
Sunflower seed butter is a nut-free alternative to peanut butter that I’m crazy about. I love its delicious taste and it’s a great option for kids with nut allergies (and schools). You can substitute peanut butter or almond butter though if you have them.
The secret to these easy chocolate snacks is the brown rice syrup. It’s stickier than either honey or maple syrup and seems to bind ingredients together unbelievably well. Brown rice syrup is like CEMENT in this recipe… which also makes these chocolate chews fun for kids to make as well as anyone else who likes to get their hands dirty!
I bought my brown rice syrup at the bulk foods store in Alliston, but many health food stores (including Upaya Naturals online) carry it.
If you can’t find it, you could try substituting honey but it may not hold as well. You can also buy the popped quinoa and sunflower seed butter at the bulk foods store. If you have raw cacao, use it here. If not, cocoa powder is definitely fine (and it’s what I used for the workshop to make it more accessible for all).
Here’s the recipe for this kid-friendly stress-busting snack:
Kid-Friendly Chocolate Chews (dairy-free, nut-free, veg, vegan)
- 1 tsp real vanilla extract
- ¼ cup sunflower seed butter can substitute peanut butter or almond butter
- 5 Tbsp brown rice syrup
- 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 cups popped quinoa
In a medium bowl, mix the vanilla, sunflower seed butter, brown rice syrup and cocoa powder together thoroughly until it forms a smooth paste.
Add the popped quinoa and mix well.
The next step will be to shape these into small balls. The mixture will be very sticky so I recommend wearing plastic gloves if you have them. If not, you can wash your hands often if they get too sticky. Taking a small amount of the sticky mixture, shape and press it into a small, tight ball. The tighter you press the mixture together, the better it will stay together and remain chewy.
Serve immediately or keep in the fridge until ready to eat!
What’s your favourite kid-friendly snack from childhood? What do you love most about it?