I can feel it in the air, and I can see it in the Target commercials… back to school time is just around the corner. With my kiddo starting nursery school this year, it’s all becoming very real. Backpacks and school clothes, folders and pencil cases, lunch boxes and after school snacks. While I don’t have to pack lunch for my little one this year, I am feeling that time approaching very quickly.
I’m lucky, because this year I only have to worry about organizing my little one’s snacks, which I’m hoping will ease me into the lunch packing routine. To give me even more practice with the whole vegan lunch box packing duty, I’ve teamed up with a few other plant-based mamas on Instagram, and we will be sharing our ideas for healthy lunches for the kids using #plantbasedkidslunch. If you’re looking for nutritious lunch ideas, be sure to follow me so you can check it out or if want to join in the fun, share your healthy lunch pics and tag your photos #plantbasedkidslunch.
The recipe I’m sharing today would make for a great lunch box treat or after school snack. I’ve been excited to try out my idea for a healthier rice crispy treat alternative, ever since I shared these bars. At first bite, they tasted incredibly like rice crispy treats. With just a few tweaks I transformed them into these buckwheat crispy treats. Sticky, sweet, and crispy-crunchy, you won’t believe you’re eating something that’s actually quite nutritious!
Soaked and dehydrated buckwheat groats take the place of puffed rice cereal, for a much more nutrient dense alternative. Cup for cup, buckwheat is the clear winner over rice (and most grains) in almost every nutrition category. Despite it’s name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, and happens to be gluten free and technically not a grain, but a seed. It’s loaded with plant-based protein, amino acids, fiber (including plenty of soluble fiber – the same kind that makes oatmeal such a heart healthy option), flavenoids, and minerals like zinc, copper, manganese, and iron.
I know this word gets thrown around a lot, but buckwheat truly is a superfood, and I’m always looking for ways to sneak it into our daily meals and snacks. Soaking and dehyrating buckwheat makes it light and crispy, an absolute must for this recipe! While I highly recommend trying the buckwheat in these squares, you can also substitute with your favorite cereal (puffed rice, puffed quinoa, etc).
Instead of marshmallows to sweeten and keep everything sticking together, I used a variation of my date caramel dip, a mixture of nut or seed butter and dates. It’s magical! It also means that there is no need for any added sweeteners, sugar, etc. Although they’re optional, the addition of chocolate chips really takes these babies to the next level. I love these unsweeteened vegan chocolate chips.
Sweeten up your kiddos lunch box with these secretly healthy buckwheat snacks, or revisit your childhood love for rice crispy treats with a nutritious alternative. Hope you love these as much as we did!
Buckwheat Crispy Treats – Vegan, Gluten Free, Oil Free, Refined Sugar Free, Nut Free Option
- 1 cup loosely packed medjool dates
- 1 1/2 cups soaked and dehydrated buckwheat groats (*see below)
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp almond butter, sunflower seed butter, soy nut butter, tahini, or other nut butter alternative
- 1 tbsp almond milk (if using a stronger flavored seed butter like tahini, you can substitute with 1 tbsp of maple syrup if you want it sweeter)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup unsweetened or semi sweet vegan chocolate chips
If your dates are hard or dry, soak them in hot water for just a minute or two and then drain and pat dry. Combine the dates nut or seed butter, almond milk, vanilla, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth, thick and sticky. Scrape into a large bowl and add the buckwheat and optional chocolate chips and mix into the caramel. I used a large wooden spoon at first, then my hands. Yes, it’s very sticky and messy! But it’s worth it.
Line a small dish (I used a 5×5 square baking dish) with parchment paper and press the mixture into it. Press down on the top (I folded the parchment paper over the top and pressed down hard with my hands). Freeze for about an hour or so and then lift out the parchment paper and cut the treats into small cubes. Store in the fridge or freezer.
I made mine in a small dish because I wanted them to be extra thick. You can make these in a larger pan (like a 8×8) but then they will be thinner.
*To make the crispy activated buckwheat, simply cover your raw buckwheat groats in plenty of filtered water plus a few squeezes of lemon. Soak overnight. In the morning, rinse your soaked buckwheat in a fine mesh strainer very, very well. Rinse off all the slime! Dump out the buckwheat on a few layers of tea towels or paper towels and carefully blot some of the moisture. Add the buckwheat to your dehydrator, and dehydrate until completely dry and crispy. This took no time at all in my cheap little dehydrator. You can also try dehydrating your buckwheat in the oven set on the lowest temperature. More details can be found here.
If you don’t want to use buckwheat, feel free to substitute with any other cereal, like puffed rice, puffed quinoa, etc. You may have to adjust the amount, so just play with it. Be sure to let us know what you come up with!