Brain-Boosting Crispy Rice Treats for Back-to-School

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It’s back-to-school time and stores are stocked with the essentials to gear up for the new school year, including convenient snacks to help fuel growing minds and bodies. With “all-natural,” “low-fat” and “low-sugar” labels becoming more and more prevalent, supposedly healthy snacks may seem like a great addition to your child’s lunchbox. But before you place one in your cart, take the time to read the ingredient list and nutrition label — you may be surprised by a long list of refined and artificial ingredients.

What’s a better solution for healthy snacking? Keep several nutritious homemade snack recipes in your arsenal that you can easily whip up, like these crispy rice treats without marshmallows. While the original version may be delicious, it is sure to send you child on a sugar high followed by a crash shortly after. Instead, when choosing a healthy and well-balanced snack, make sure it includes a mixture of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat, all necessary for sustained energy and satiety.

Not only are these crispy rice treats nutritious and scrumptious, but they also have brain-boosting power.

Nuts and seeds, aside from providing healthy fats, protein and minerals like magnesium, are great sources of antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids, two key nutrients in brain health and development.

Brown rice, a complex carbohydrate, provides the brain its primary source of energy: glucose. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals as well as fiber, which enhances satiety and prevents blood sugars from rising rapidly.

Cinnamon not only improves blood-sugar levels but has been found to improve cognition and reduce oxidation in the brain.

Got picky eaters? Involve them in the cooking process. Studies show that playing with food is one of the best ways to get kids excited about fresh and real ingredients. Feel free to customize the recipe by adding your favorite ingredients or pantry staples.

Brain-Boosting Crispy Rice Treats

Prep time: 10 min; Total time: 30 min

Yield: 9 squares

Ingredients:

4 cups brown rice crisp cereal

1/2 cup local honey

1/4 cup almond butter (or any nut butter of choice)

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon chia seeds

Directions:

Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. Place cereal in a large bowl.

Combine honey, almond butter, coconut oil and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, and stir until mixture is combined and creamy. Remove from heat and pour over cereal.

Stir until all of the cereal is coated thoroughly. Add walnuts and chia seeds.

Press mixture firmly into the prepared pan. Let cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares.

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Min Kwon, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian who specializes in food sensitivities. She has a passion for translating the science of nutrition into real-life, applicable advice and tips. In her healthy food blog, The Adventures of MJ and Hungryman, she focuses on sharing simple yet healthy recipes made from wholesome, REAL foods.