Vegan Mac and Cheese


This recipe came from my baby sister Becca who is gluten free and vegan and who also has this recipe posted on her food blog, so be sure to check her out at: 

Although I’m not vegan or gluten-free, I do a lot less dairy than most because my stomach can’t handle too much, and if you’ve ever read The China Study, which is the most comprehensive study ever done on nutrition, you’ll know that cutting down on all animal products is a good thing (and I didn’t say cutting out, but cutting down. Should be less than 10% of your diet). So I love that I can get the creaminess from this recipe from cashews and sweet potato and almond milk, all blended together, but then I use a little bit of cheddar cheese (only 1 cup), but you can always use the dairy-free cheese as well for the vegan version.


You’ll want to start off by cooking your pasta elbows, gluten-free or not(I used whole wheat), and peeling and cooking your sweet potato in the microwave for 6 minutes. Or you can cook it in the oven at 400 degrees for almost an hour, but if you do it that way, don’t peel it before hand, just wait for it to cool and slip the skin off.  Once the pasta is done, drain the water, place them in a large mixing bowl, drizzle a little olive oil over top and give it a stir so they don’t stick together. Set that aside and you’ll combine the rest of your ingredients in a blender and blend until it’s smooth. If it’s too thick and your blender is having difficulty blending, just add a little more milk about 1/4 c at a time, giving it a stir and then blending again.

Once it’s all creamy, dump it over your macaroni noodles and stir to combine.


Grease a 9×13 pan (I smear coconut oil over the whole inside of the pan) and then dump your mac and cheese inside and spread it even. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.


Serve warm!



Mac n’ Cheese (lightly adapted from Becca)


1 lb of whole wheat or brown rice pasta elbow noodles (good price at Trader Joes)

1 sweet potato

1 cup grated cheddar cheese (can use dairy-free cheese like the Daiya brand- mozarella or cheddar)

3 cups of raw cashews

16 oz. almond milk (more if needed to thin so it will blend)

1/2 cup of nutritional yeast(Fred Meyer, Whole Foods or Winco)

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sea salt

pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic, minced
optional: 1/4 tsp paprika


 Cook noodles according to directions on package. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potato and cook in the microwave for 6 minutes (or in the oven, unpeeled, at 400 degrees for 1 hour; can do this before hand). Drain noodles, dump back into your pot, drizzle with a little olive oil and mix so they don’t stick together. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

 In a blendtec or food processor, add almond milk first and then all the other ingredients and mix until a creamy consistency. If you need to add more milk so your blender won’t burn out from the thickness, add 1/4 cup at a time. Pour over your noodles in the pot and stir to combine.

 Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan with coconut oil, or something like it. Add stirred mac n’ cheese into the 9×13 pan and place in the oven. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees

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Filed under Dinner, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian

Buttermilk Syrup

This is another Chef Brad recipe. I know it looks like chocolate, and in fact, my 4 year old calls this the ‘chocolate syrup’, but there’s not chocolate in this recipe; the dark color comes from coconut sugar which is a very dark brown. I love that this buttermilk syrup is made from coconut sugar; it’s still super yummy but coconut sugar doesn’t have the same impact on your blood sugar as normal sugar which is nice.


Pictured I have my vanilla coconut sugar (right) and my plain old coconut sugar (left), both of which would work perfect for this recipe. I normally just use the plain coconut sugar but the vanilla was on sale so I gave it a try. You’re going to melt your butter in a medium/large saucepan over medium high heat(do not use a smaller saucepan as it bubbles and rises and you’d have a big mess on your hands). Then you’ll add in your sugar, butter milk and vanilla and bring it to a boil.


Turn the heat down and simmer it for a couple of minutes so it can thicken slightly, then remove from heat and stir in your baking soda and it’ll bubble and thicken a little more.


Serve this warm over pancakes, waffles, french toast etc (I put the link for the cottage cheese pancakes here but if you’d like to see more pancake recipes, I have a couple more under my recipe tab). It gets a little frothy at the top so give it a quick stir before you serve it.


And if you want, you can add a little bit of coconut whipped cream, or any whipped cream for that matter.



Buttermilk Syrup- lightly adapted from Chef Brad

1 c butter
1 c buttermilk (can use whole milk or almond milk with 1 Tbsp lemon juice)
3 c coconut sugar (or another sugar; which will leave it a much lighter color)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
*do not double

Melt butter in a medium saucepan or medium heat. Add buttermilk, coconut sugar, and vanilla and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and serve warm over pancakes, waffles, or French Toast.

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Applesauce Muffins with Streusel Topping

I frequently read recipe books and magazines; these applesauce muffins are a recipe I lightly adapted from the most recent Costco magazine, and they are so good! My husband ate 3 the day I made them, and he is not a big guy and doesn’t eat a whole lot. I love that the original recipe used applesauce and honey for the sweetener and fat/oil. I substituted half spelt and half whole wheat flour for the white flour in this recipe, but really you could do any combination.


My tip for speeding up the muffin making process and for more even size muffins, is to use an ice cream scoop to divy out the batter.


If you want to make any mini muffins, you can use a cookie dough scoop.


This recipe makes about a dozen muffins, which doesn’t seem worth the time and effort for my family of 7, so I double it which made 24 regular sized muffins plus half a dozen mini muffins.


I use coconut sugar for the streusel, which is an unrefined sugar, and it’s amazing!



Applesauce Muffins with Streusel Topping

*makes 1 dozen muffins; can easily be doubled

Streusel Topping:

1/3 c coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter, melted


2 c flour (I use 1 c whole white wheat flour and 1 c spelt flour)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/3 c honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12 count muffin tin or line with paper/silicone muffin liners. Mix the streusel ingredients together until small clumps form; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce, egg and honey until combined. Add in the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, salt and baking powder and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin using an ice cream scoop. Sprinkle streusel topping over the batter and bake about 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle, comes out clean. Carefully remove muffins to cooling rack (may need a knife or fork to help loosen muffin from around edges).

*If you want to make some mini muffins, decrease the baking time to 10 minutes, and I use a cookie scoop to fill those mini muffin cups.

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers

Peach Lemonade

I recently attended BYU education week, and Chef Brad was the presenters. He did some cooking demonstrations and he made this really yummy peach lemonade, that really, you could sub out the peaches and use whatever fruit is in season. It was so yummy, I came home, and made a batch, making a couple of small modifications mostly because I didn’t have the exact ingredients he had, on hand. The whole family loved it!

Before I share the recipe, let’s talk for a minute about lemons. They are a power food. Really, they are. They cleanse your system, flushing out toxins. They help stop hunger cravings. Lemons are very Alkaline (they decrease acidity in your body) which keeps your body in a state where diseases and cancers etc cannot survive. That alone is amazing! Greens are another great alkaline food, but we won’t go there today. Lemons also provide energy and reduce anxiety and depression; even the smell can help with that. In fact, I  have a lemon essential oil that I will diffuse during the day for that very reason; the smell is calming. If you could get into the habit of having a glass of warm lemon water every day, before you eat anything in the morning, that would be ideal.

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This recipe uses fresh lemons so here’s another good way to get lemons in your diet, and without the sugar rush you’d normally get while drinking lemonade. Why? Because we’re using stevia, a natural plant extract that has zero impact on your blood sugar level. To make this lemonade, I squeeze the juice from my lemons, add the juice to my blender, add the peaches, stevia and a little water and ice and blend it until smooth.

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Then I dump that into a 1/2 gallon jar, add another cup of ice and fill the jar with water until it’s nearly full, give it a stir and it’s ready to serve!

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Peach Lemonade- lightly adapted from Chef Brad
*makes 1/2 gallon

1/2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
3 packets stevia or to taste(1 gram packets. If you’re using the stevia with a filler that converts 1:1 with sugar then use about 1 c stevia; or can  use 1 cup agave)
2 peaches
1 c ice
1 c water

Add ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into 1/2 gallon container and add 1 c ice and enough water to fill nearly to the top. Stir and enjoy!

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Healthier Options for Packaged Foods

This post is a little different from most, there’s no recipe, but instead I’m going to share a few foods you can buy at the store that are better for you than most. I’ve shared others in the past, so this is just adding to some of those other favorites (like Ak Mak crackers, rice cakes, triscuits, Lara Bars, Naked Juice when I’m traveling without my blendtec and need a green smoothie etc).

Our four oldest kids went back to school this week so it’s just me and the baby left at home all day(and by baby I mean she’s 4, but still our baby), which means it shouldn’t be as hard to get a post on here each week, like it was in the Summer when we are all home working and playing together! But I did it; I kept this up even though it was challenging, yay for me! The summer flew by and we made lots of memories: with family, on trips, camps, at the pool and with friends. Our oldest daughter who is 12, did her first mini triathlon this summer, with me and Scott (hubby/daddy). I placed third for women which was rewarding🙂.  And our 10 year old son ran his first 5k race! These races don’t just all happen on one day, but they were training several days a week with me or Scott for months, which gave us some special time together. We encourage our children to be active each day through our words and example and we hope they will continue to do that throughout their lives. We remind them regularly that the foods we eat (and how we sleep) directly affect our level of activity, so we need to put good fuel in our body and not junk foods that are not nutritious like white flours/sugars, fried foods, processed meats, etc so that we can perform to our best abilities. They have experienced this for themselves and know it to be true, but reminders are good🙂.

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This, by the way, is one of my favorite snacks to have during a long run (longer than an hour):

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My sister-in-law, who is an amazing runner, introduced me to these last year. They sell these waffles gluten-free or not, I get both, and the ingredients list is mostly organic and whole grains, though their is a little cane sugar. They have all different flavors and I’ve loved each one so far. This is so tasty that I actually look forward to my long runs just because I know I’ll get to eat this part way through🙂. I have found these at running stores, on amazon, at Sierra Trading Post and health food stores by the power/granola bars. The cheapest I’ve found them is $1/each(at Sierra Trading Post), and they go up to around $1.50.

The week before school got out my Mom and brother came for a visit from Washington and New York, and we attended BYU education week together which was awesome. My mom shared a couple of foods with me that I loved and am passing along to you! These Mariani Honey Bars are made with all whole foods, nuts, fruit and honey and that’s it! No preservatives or refined sugar. My mom found them at Safeway in Washington but so far I haven’t been able to find them locally, but you can order them on amazon here. They run about $1.60/bar on amazon, which is about right for this healthier type of granola bar, and honestly, besides Lara Bars, there’s not much else out there that is this natural. And I personally like the taste of these more than Lara Bars, and my kids definitely do, too! The kids favorite flavors were Sweet and Salty and Granola. I liked all of them.

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We found these Van’s Simply Delicious waffles at Walmart (also at Sprouts and other whole foods stores), and they make them gluten-free or not. They have a couple choices that are sweetened with 100% fruit juice which I think is great! It will state it right on the front of the box if that’s the case, like the box below, otherwise they’ve got some added sugar. Our Sprouts had them on sale, buy 1 box, get 1 free, so we got a few🙂.

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These really are ‘simply delicious’! Notice I topped mine with a little peanut butter, pure maple syrup and fresh strawberries! So yummy!

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So if you don’t have time, like I sometimes don’t, and can’t make your granola bars or waffles from scratch, these will be great options for you. Have a wonderful day!

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Filed under Snacks/Sides/Appetizers

Whole Wheat Cottage Cheese Pancakes

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I think I’ve mentioned before that I have each of my 5 children help me make dinner one day a week. That way I get some special time with that child and they’re learning to cook at the same time, plus cooking with someone makes it seem more fun! It’s great! This time we were making Sunday morning breakfast and it wasn’t really anybody’s turn but both my 12 and 6 year old daughters wanted to help.

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I know we have a couple of pancake recipes on this blog already, but each recipe is so different(all so yummy though!) and produces a different result, and these are just fabulous so I had to share!

We got this recipe for Cottage Cheese Pancakes from a good friend of mine who loves them, and since it uses less flour (lots of flour  tends to make me feel bloated), I thought we’d give them a try, and we loved them! They aren’t as wheaty and they are more white in color, even though they also only use whole white wheat flour, because there is less flour and an addition of cottage cheese. These pancakes are light and filling and they are great as leftovers.

You can use any sugar in this recipe but I either use pure maple syrup (substitute 1:1) or coconut sugar.

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These kids love helping in the kitchen which I love! Great bonding time.

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Place all your ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

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You can either mix it with a hand mixer, in your blender or with a whisk. We mixed vigorously with a whisk for less than a minute until it was well blended and the big chunks of cottage cheese were broken up, but little chunks remained.

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Should look something like this:

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Then we used a 1/4 measuring cup to measure out the batter and we placed it onto a hot pancake griddle, preheated to around 300 degrees. Once they get bubbles on top and the underside is golden, flip them (about a minute or tw0), and then cook again until that side is also golden in color (around a minute)and it’s done.

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Top with whatever you like on your pancakes. We love peaches and cream, peanut butter or butter, pure maple syrup, fresh fruit and sometimes whipped cream! Yum!

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Cottage Cheese Pancakes
*feeds 6-8

2 c Cottage Cheese
8 eggs
1 1/2 c whole white wheat flour
1/4 c olive oil
2 Tbsp coconut sugar (or pure maple syrup)
1/8 tsp sea salt

Toppings(choose whichever you like):
natural peanut butter
warm maple syrup
sliced fresh strawberries
whipped cream
Peaches and Cream Topping

Heat a pancake griddle to 300 degrees. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously for a minute, or combine in blender and blend until most chunks are gone. Use a 1/4 measuring cup to measure the batter and pour onto hot griddle. Repeat spacing pancake batter out about an inch apart (or more). Flip once the pancake batter begins to bubble on top and the bottom is golden. Cook another minute or so, until golden on both sides. Serve immediately or place on a cookie sheet and keep in a warm oven (200 degrees), until ready to serve (but serve within half hour). Store leftovers in fridge or freezer for longer term storage. We love these pancakes topped with peanut butter or butter and pure maple syrup, fruit and whipped cream.

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Pasta Salad and Dressing Recipe

We eat a lot of different salads for dinner during the summer; it’s nice to have something cool to eat on a hot day. I’ll typically add whatever veggies I have on hand in my fridge at the moment, so it changes from week to week, and in the pasta salad pictured below we have tomatoes, celery, bell pepper, cubed cheese, white beans and onion. Sometimes we’ll add nuts or serve some chicken or pepperoni on the side for the meat lovers in our house.

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I will sometimes use an Italian salad dressing or something similar for convenience, but I actually love homemade dressing so much more; it really makes the salad. So if I have 5 minutes, I’ll whip this up.

Here are your ingredients for the dressing:

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Whisk it all together in a glass measuring dish and stick it in the fridge while you cook your pasta.

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We use various shapes but one of our favorites is the bowtie, and it’s fun when we get a pasta with a little color. We cooked up a bag of costco pasta which is just over a pound, drained it, rinsed it with cold water as I swish the pasta around with my hand (to help quickly cool it down…we don’t want our cheese cubes melting onto our pasta), then transfer it to a large mixing bowl, add the dressing, stir it to combine and then you can serve it from there or transfer it to a pretty bowl. If you’re not going to eat it right away, you can store it in the fridge for at least a day.

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Pasta Salad:
*serves 6-8

1 lb uncooked pasta (we love to use bowtie)
Topping Ideas:
bell pepper, chopped
grape tomatoes, halved
celery, chopped
red onion, chopped
1 c cooked and drained white beans
1 c cubed cheddar cheese
1 c cubed chicken, or pepperoni quartered

Pasta Salad Dressing:
*makes enough to cover 1 lb pasta

1/2 c mayo
1/3 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c  olive oil
1/4 c plain yogurt (or sour cream)
2 cloves minced garlic (1 tsp)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sea salt

Combine all your pasta salad dressing ingredients into a glass measuring dish and whisk to combine. Set aside, in fridge. Follow package directions for uncooked pasta, bringing water to a boil and cooking until done. While it’s cooking, chop up any combination of veggies/cheese/beans/meat you like and place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Dump pasta into a strainer over your kitchen sink, then rinse with cold water as you move pasta around with your hand (be careful, it’s hot). Once pasta is cool, add it to your veggies in the large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over top. Stir it all together to combine. Serve right away or cover and store in fridge.

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Filed under Dinner, Lunch, Salads, vegetarian

Peaches and Cream Pancake Topping

Just about every Sunday we eat breakfast for dinner, or at least while we have 9am church, which is for the year of 2016…after that we will probably go back to making a big breakfast for breakfast🙂.  This past Sunday I went onto my blog to find this peaches and cream topping recipe and it wasn’t there! I ended up finding it in my binder of favorite recipes and then I took a couple of pictures as I made it so I could share it with all of you, and so now it’s online, for my own convenience.

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I first came across this recipe, or a similar one, years ago while I was watching Chef Brad on the BYU channel. He used agave, and Freekah flour (another whole grain), but I’ve substituted a raw sugar and whole white wheat flour in it’s place.

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This peaches and cream topping takes about 5-10 or so minutes to make, so it’s pretty fast and easy, and the consistency is not as thin as syrup, but not as thick as gravy, just in between.

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After my kids were full from their pancakes with peaches and cream, they asked if they could have a little more of the peaches and cream on the side, just to spoon into their mouths from the plate🙂, so even the kiddos like it!

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Peaches and Cream Topping– adapted from Chef Brad’s recipe
*serves about 8

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
1 frozen peach, thawed (or 1 can of sliced peaches, drained, cut in half)
1 c whole milk (heavy cream or half and half work too)
1/3 cup raw sugar or agave (I used turbinado, you can use any granulated sugar)
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp sea salt

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and lightly toast wheat flour to create a rue. Add milk/cream and whisk together for a couple of minutes as it thickens. Add sugar/agave, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Whisk again a couple more minutes until thick and add peaches and stir. Serve warm over pancakes or waffles. This should not be gravy thick nor watery thin; if it’s too thick add more milk/cream.

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High Altitude Snickerdoodle Cookies

My ten your old son and his friend came in today and asked if they could make cookies so they could have a bake sale in our front yard. I reminded them that it was 100 degrees outside, and that they might not get any cars that pass by because we don’t live in a high traffic neighborhood, but that didn’t deter them a bit. So we pulled out our tried and true high altitude, ‘healthified’ snickerdoodle recipe (because we live in Utah and cookies bake different in high altitude; but this will also work great at lower altitudes as well), which has a wonderful flavor and soft, chewy texture, and the boys went to work, making cookies, with minimal help from me!

We used whole white wheat flour in these cookies, but also some white flour, otherwise you compromise the texture, which I didn’t want to do. We also used a less refined sugar, but any granulated sugar works.  I know, I know, we are cooking with sugar and white flour, which is something I usually try to avoid, but I’m also not a fanatic, and this is what the boys wanted to make so we went with it, and like I mentioned, it wasn’t all bad because this is a recipe I’ve tweaked and ‘healthified’.  The boys ended up making some money, almost $6, which surprised me, until I found out that most of that came  from one place, our next door neighbors🙂.

Start out by creaming together your softened butter, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and mix.

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Form into a large ball, in your bowl, and  chill about 10-20 minutes, until the dough is easy to handle. While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, put your other ingredients away, and mix together your cinnamon and sugar on a dinner plate, preferably one with a little bit of a rim so the sugar doesn’t fall off the plate. Using a cookie scoop(or a Tbsp), form dough into  balls and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

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You can bake them on an ungreased cookie sheet, or use one lined with parchment paper for super easy cleanup.  They bake for about 10-11 minutes or until golden and firmed up a bit.

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This recipe makes about 3 and 1/2 dozen cookies. You can freeze them once they’ve cooked and cooled on a baking sheet, in freezer ziploc bag, for another day.

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High Altitude Snickerdoodle Cookies
Makes about 3 and 1/2 dozen cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c turbinado sugar (or other granulated sugar)
2 eggs
2 c unbromated white flour (or any white flour)
3/4 c whole white wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt

Cinnamon and Sugar Topping
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and eggs.  Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and mix. Form into a large ball, in the bowl, and  chill about 10-20 minutes, until the dough is easy to handle. While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, put your other ingredients away, and mix together your cinnamon and sugar on a dinner plate, preferably one with a little bit of a rim so the sugar doesn’t fall off the plate. Using a cookie scoop(or a Tbsp), form dough into balls and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet (or one lined with parchment paper for super easy cleanup)  for about 10-11 minutes or until golden and firmed up a bit. Makes about 3 and 1/2 dozen. Can freeze after cooked and cooled, in freezer ziploc bag, for another day.

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Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

We moved last week and so things have been crazy busy around here! We didn’t have internet for several days and even my iphone internet was spotty with the cellular data, which is why there was no post last week. But I think we are getting back into the swing of things around here now that we are mostly unpacked…I’m actually a crazy person and unpack and organize everything within the first couple of days, but there are a couple of boxes in the garage I need my hubby to go through and decide where he wants to put things. Anyhow, I haven’t done much cooking over the past month besides the quick and basic essentials: daily green smoothie, crock pot black beans, quinoa, spaghetti and yeah that’s about it🙂. Tomorrow I intend to make my granola that we always like to have on hand and hopefully I’ll get some real cooking and experimenting time in over the next couple of weeks.

This is a dessert recipe I’ve had for awhile and which we’ve made several times. They are a healthy version of a peanut butter rice crispy treat, which are kinda like my no-bake peanut butter rice crispy bars, but there are a few small differences like less peanut butter, no oats, and different natural sweeteners. Give them a try, they are delicious! And they’d be great to serve to friends at a gathering or to sell at a bake sale.

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I find this cereal at health food stores like Sprouts or Whole Foods. There are a couple of different brands that work well, just make sure it’s the ‘brown rice crisp’ cereal and not the ‘puffed brown rice’.

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Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats (vegan, gf)
*makes 1, 9×13 pan, about 12 squares

1 box brown rice crisp cereal
1 c honey (or can use brown rice syrup in place of honey and maple syrup)
1/2 c pure maple syrup
1/8 tsp sea salt
3/4 c natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
1/4 c carob or chocolate chips

Pour rice cereal into a large bowl. Heat the honey and syrup, with a pinch of sea salt in a saucepan over low heat. Add the peanut butter and stir until well combined. Pour over the rice cereal. Mix well with wooden spoon. Once cooled to room temperature, stir in chocolate chips. Make sure it’s cool or the chips will melt. Turn the mixture onto a 9×13 baking dish. Wet your wooden spoon lightly and press the mixture evenly into the pan, or lightly wet hands and press into pan. Let chill for an hour in fridge before cutting into squares and eating (if possible :)).

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Filed under Desserts, gluten-free, vegan