Kinda Healthy Fruit and Nut Rice Bars

Just to let you know: I've reintroduced some grains, which aren't strictly paleo. This recipe includes grains. 

A recipe for gluten and dairy free chocolate-covered rice bars - kind of like your old-style Rice Krispie cake but given a health boost. 

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My kids love to make Rice Krispie cakes. You know, where you mix together butter, sugar, golden syrup, chocolate and puffed rice cereal and then let it set. And I wanted, for a long time, to make something a bit healthier for them. Maybe with a bit less sugar and more fruits and nuts. Kind of thing. 

So one day in the kitchen I decided to experiment a little bit. 

It didn't work perfectly, the first time (rarely anything does). 

Turns out it's quite science to make sure you have enough chocolate to actually cover the puffed rice cereal (the rice cereal isn't paleo, but then my kids don't eat paleo all the time), otherwise it doesn't stick together the same and just basically crumbles to pieces when you try and take it out of the tin. Lesson learned: don't skimp on the chocolate. 

These bars are more brittle than the usual bars like these, because it's just chocolate, some other bits and rice cereal. No sticky golden syrup. And they're kind of more bitter too, because I'm using a dark chocolate instead of the milky supermarket chocolate I usually buy for this. So, to add sweetness, I've added some dried fruits and some pistachios and macadamia nuts for crunch. 

Kinda Healthy Fruit and Nut Rice Bars

Did anyone complain? No. We don't mind that they're more crumbly, because they're a little bit kinder to our blood sugar levels. And they taste gorgeous. Top tip: use salted pistachios if you can. The saltiness against the chocolate is GORGEOUS. 

Note to paleo peeps: The rice bars are not paleo, but they are gluten-free. 

Kinda Healthy Fruit and Nut Rice Bars

Kinda Healthy Fruit and Nut Rice Bars
Makes 9-12 bars, depending on how large you cut them. 
50g puffed rice cereal, gluten free
30g salted pistachio nuts, shelled and roughly chopped (not too finely)
100g mixture of macadamia nuts and dried cranberries
80g dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa solids)

First of all, measure out the rice cereal, pistachio nuts and the fruit and nut mixture into a large mixing bowl. Melt the chocolate (either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or very gently, in the microwave). Pour three quarters of the chocolate into the bowl with the cereal and mix well. Keep mixing - it  might feel like it will never mix, but it should. You can add a trickle more chocolate if you need to, but save some for the end. 

Take out a 8"x 8" baking dish and line with greaseproof paper or cling film. Scrape the rice, fruit and nut mixture into the dish and then push it all down with the back of a spatula or spoon. Take the last little bit of melted chocolate and trickle it all over the top of the pressed mixture, letting it go into the gaps. Slide into the fridge and allow to cool. 

Once everything is set, take out a chopping board and cut the set mixture into squares. They might be a little brittle, but you won't mind. 

One bite of these and you'll get creamy, sweet chocolate along with the salty crunch of pistachios and the chewy sweetness of the dried cranberries. Enjoy! 

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