Puffed rice and puffed corn seem to come in and out of my pantry. At different times I have rediscovered and found new uses for these foods and then just like that they go again. Well, they are back now! The reason this time was my quest to find more healthy snack solutions for my kids (and us!), a quest that seems to be both never ending and much more scarce than the junky alternatives.
Nutritionally they tick a lot of boxes and don't have any salt, oil or sugar added! In fact nothing is added!
They contain varying amounts of fibre, protein and potassium and only trace or small amounts of naturally occurring fat and sodium.
Oh and by the way, I am in no way endorsed by this company! They are just the packs I use that can be found in supermarkets but I'm sure there are many other options, including those in health food stores.
So what can be done with these products?? Well I am getting the sense as I start to play around with them that it is limited only to your imagination!
- Meatballs can be made, rolled and coated in puffed rice (or puffed quinoa or amaranth) then pan fried. A crunchy, fun and nutritious addition to meatballs (a puffed take on the traditional 'porcupines'), and could even be applied to veggie burgers too.
- They can be eaten just as is, or make a snack mix by adding some dried fruit like sultanas or apricots and even seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Young kids especially seem to love them (but I probably wouldnt give them to kids much younger than one year old due to choking risk).
- Instead of those sugar and colour laden lolly bracelets and necklaces that are often given at parties, thread the puffed corn onto string and make your own jewellery to add to party bags.
- Any recipes you have using rice bubbles can be substituted with the brown rice puffs which will reduce salt, eliminate additives (from the bubbles ingredient anyway) and increase fibre and other nutrients.
The first one comes from Natural New Age Mum and are Chocolate Crackles! Obviously still a 'sometimes food' but much better for you than the traditional ingredients!!
I have written the recipe below as I made it but just click on the link to see the original recipe. This is what I would consider to be a 'recipe renovation' too! The traditional chocolate crackles are filled with copha (hydrogenated coconut oil - hydrogenated being the process that forces hydrogen gas into oil at high temperature and pressure, causing the fats to become trans fats - BAD BAD BAD!!! Stay away from any hydrogenated fats!), icing sugar (containing no nutrients other than highly processed carbohydrates), and rice bubbles (highly processed with added salt and sugar). Hmmmm, yes a recipe that could do with improvements indeed!!!
Ingredients2 cups brown rice puffs
1/2 cup desiccated coconut (organic coconut generally means no sulphites which some people react to)
1/2 cup sugar (rapadura is my sugar of choice now due to the minimal processing and therefore maintenance of nutrients but otherwise use brown)
3 tablespoons of cocoa (I am now using raw cacao nibs which for this recipe I just blended in the Thermomix until it was a powder consistency)
125g virgin, organic coconut oil (you can now find this in Safeway stores in the Asian section. Its in a jar and is white in colour. Much better for you than the hydrogenated stuff!)
- If you dont have a Thermomix, mix rice puffs and coconut together in a large bowl. Add the sugar, cocoa and oil to a small saucepan and gently heat just until oil is melted and ingredients are well mixed. Pour over the puffs and mix thoroughly. Divide mix immediately into 12 paper patty cases and place in the fridge until set.
- If you have a Thermomix, pulverise the sugar for 5-10 seconds on speed 5. Add the oil and cocoa and heat for 2 minutes/50 degrees/speed 2. Add puffs and coconut and mix on REVERSE/speed soft for 1 minute. Then divide the mix immediately into 12 paper patty cases and place in the fridge until set.
Now this second recipe is from the same blog, Natural New Age Mum (who got it from a book written by Julie Maree Wood called 'Feeding Fussy Kids'). It is a recipe for gluten free cereal although in typical Mel style, I have tweaked it and have the amended recipe below - finding it quickly became more popular as a snack in this house than a cereal with milk! I added nuts and changed the apple juice concentrate to honey just because I didn't have the concentrate and figure honey is probably an ingredient more of you have on hand. Once cooled you could add dried fruit, seeds such as flaxseed and chia, or even for those of you who aren't Coeliac, you could add oats to the mix as well! Below the recipe is a savoury idea too!
Crispy Corn and Rice cereal
Ingredients1 1/2 c puffed corn
1 1/2 c puffed brown rice
1/2 c shredded or dessicated coconut (preferably organic)
1/4 c slivered almonds
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs virgin organic coconut oil
2 tbs honey (or maple syrup if avoiding fructose)
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- In a large bowl mix together corn, rice, coconut, almonds and cinnamon.
- If you have a Thermomix, place coconut oil and honey in bowl and heat at 50 degrees/speed soft for 2 minutes. If you dont, do this in a small saucepan and heat gently until oil has just melted.
- Pour oil mixture over puffs and mix thoroughly to ensure all dry ingredients are coated.
- Spread mix over the lined tray and place in oven for 10 minutes, taking care not to let it burn! They should be crunchy and will get more crunchy once cooled.
- Allow to cool before placing in an airtight container.
A savoury version of this recipe could be great as a 'nibbly' with drinks or even as a healthy snack to eat at your desk at work! Just omit the coconut, honey and cinnamon and add 1/4c raw peanuts, a tablespoon of brown sugar or rapadura (you can cut this back if you want the mix to be more savoury than sweet), and 2-3 tsp of mixed ground spices that take your fancy (try cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, paprika) and season with salt and pepper. Add an extra tablespoon of the coconut oil.
What versatile, healthy ingredients they are! Stay tuned for more........