Do you burn potatoes in the microwave? Do you know the difference between a rolling boil and a simmer? Does even the act of cracking and separating an egg mystify you? Is your idea of making breakfast putting the cereal box next to the milk? Don’t worry. It’s not your fault. When women left the kitchen and entered the workforce we got fat, lazy and lost generations of cultural kitchen knowledge.
No I’m not currently the victim of an alien abduction. I don’t actually mean to blame this epidemic of culinary ignorance on moms; certainly not with mother’s day approaching. I once had a professor who blamed our overweight, convenience food culture on women’s lib. This wasn’t a soapbox about forcing women back into the role of housewife mind you. He was just trying to grab our attention and demonstrate how a shift in family structure created the opportunity for the fast food market, also known as the fat food market, to gain a stronghold. Prior to the 40’s, women stayed at home and family meals were a daily job. Food was made from scratch, at home, and generally was more nutritious as a result. It wasn’t a matter of grabbing a box of processed junk from the drive thru window while juggling teleconference calls. Don’t go rushing off thinking your shrink is right and that all your problems are rooted with dear old mom. There’s no reason Dad can’t stay at home instead and make those meals for the kidlets. Sadly in today’s world having either parent out of the workforce just isn’t really a possibility even when/if a parent wants to.
As a result we’ve got a whole generation to whom seeing Mom or Dad in the kitchen is an anomaly—and as a result we’ve got kids who aren’t learning how to cook at all. Heck even stay-at-home moms are so busy with their kids overloaded schedules that cooking is still likely to fall by the wayside when we have so many convenient options for pre-made meals. It’s all about prioritizing and if someone else can do it then delegate, delegate, delegate…right?
Never let it be said that I don’t try to accommodate even the busiest of lifestyles. I have stretched myself even thinner than usual so I definitely understand the need for something easy to make that takes little time, little effort and little cleanup. One party dessert popular amongst soccer moms for this reason is an American Classic: the Rice Krispy Treat. You can make these with almost no kitchen training whatsoever. The hardest part is melting the marshmallows and this can be done in a microwave—no stove needed! They are also traditionally pretty low in calories and thus folks like them as a more diet friendly dessert. The only problem?
Diet food that’s low on calories is usually low on nutrition too. That’s because foods high in nutrition usually package those vitamins to be absorbed by our bodies—meaning fats or sugars. My theory is that dieting isn’t really worth it when the calories you’re consuming are totally empty. Since Rice Krispies are really just fat, sugar and empty carbohydrates I wondered: could I make these slightly healthier at all to justify them as a diet dessert?
The first step was to eliminate the “Crispy Rice” of a certain name brand cereal well all grew up snapping along with. Instead of using fried bits of white rice, high in fat and low in nutrition, I went for air puffed brown rice instead. You can buy for cheap at Whole Foods. This substitution reduced the fat content of each square by 60% and introduced some fiber. The benefit of airpuffing also means that the brown rice retains most of the vitamins and minerals; one cup has 1/3 of your daily B vitamins. I actually made these during my vegan week so in addition to being low calorie, gluten free they are also totally vegan…and yet still manage to taste like what they are. Thus instead of using butter I used a flax based butter substitute which cut the calories from fat AND reduced the saturated fats. As for the marshmallows…well you can’t replace that sugar but if this were 100% healthy I don’t think I could call it a proper dessert right? Mine do have a little more sugar probably because of the brand of marshmallow but since they also have more B vitamins, zinc, potassium, fiber and less fat and fewer calories…I think I will let that slide.
One last tip: if you aren’t worried about gluten free try using puffed whole wheat, puffed kamut grains or puffed barley instead. You’ll get even more vitamins and fiber from those!
Vegan Rice Krispeasies
An Olivia Original
- 6 cups puffed brown rice cereal
- 1 bag of vegan marshmallows (I used Dandies)
- 3 Tbsp Smartbalance with Flax (this product does contain some soy)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or any flavored extract you like
Prep a 13×9 inch cake pan with lining or a small rubdown with buttery spread.
In a microwave safe bowl heat your marshmallows and butter substitute on high. Watch these carefully and stop periodically to stir and continue heating. Once entirely smooth remove from the microwave. Stir in the extract if you want to add a little oomph of flavor to these treats.
Mix the puffed brown rice cereal into the melted marshmallows. Spread into your prepped pan and let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
Vegan Rice Krispeasies: (1 serving – 12 total) 128 calories | 1g Fat (<0.5g Saturated) | 28 carbohydrates (17g sugar) | 1g protein
TraditionalL1 serving – 12 total) 140 calories | 4g Fat (2.5g Saturated) | 28g carbohydrates (14 sugar) | 1g protein