Chocolate Raisin Crunch Bars – Gluten-Free Snacks for Kids

These chocolate raisin crunch bars are nut free and free of all refined sugars.  A healthy tempting treat to help sway your little ones from the candy bag.

Chocolate Raisin Crunch BarsIt is a truth universally acknowledged that young children just don’t know what’s good for them.  I suppose that’s why they have parents in the first place, to be constantly redirecting them away from the not-so-good things back to the better choices.  The problem is that the not-so-good things in life often have the appearance of being more fun or more tasty to little, unsuspecting and uneducated eyes.  So it’s a constant dance for parents, trying to convince those young, unformed minds that the healthy, wholesome and safe things in life are the better choice.  Like holding on to Mummy’s hand instead of dashing into the street on a whim.  Safe, but admittedly very boring for a feisty three year old.  Or going outside into the yard to play instead of watching yet another hilarious episode of Phineas and Ferb.  Healthy, sure, but it’s sooo hard having to rely on your own imagination for entertainment.  And eating fruits and veggies instead of lollipops and chocolate?  Oh my gosh, Mummy, you are such a killjoy.

So my adult parent brain is constantly trying to come up with treats that are healthy, but tempting enough to sway those impulsive, pleasure-seeking young brains away from the junk.  It’s not an easy task, considering the foods they see their friends eat on a daily basis, and the things that the schools serve as hot lunches (which, by the way, my children do not get.  Packed homemade lunches every day for them!).  My healthy, gluten-free snacks are pitted against all sorts of seemingly delicious but terribly bad for you things and I have to be wildly creative to compete in that arena.  Sometimes I hit the mark, sometimes I fail miserably.  But I’ll never stop trying; it’s my job as a parent.

Chocolate Sunbutter Crunch Bars @dreamaboutfood

These gluten-free chocolate raisin crunch bars took shape in my head during our recent family vacation to Disney World.  Let’s face it…traveling to any kid-oriented place like Disney means entering a veritable minefield of sugar and gluten-filled treats.  And eating the majority of our meals out means I have to let go of my desire to make every bite they put into their mouths a healthy bite.  It’s just not going to happen, and I am going to look like an ogre mum for denying them any of the treats they see.  So I do my best to mitigate the damage by insisting on fruit and yogurt in the mornings, and salad and veggies at every lunch and dinner.  Once they’ve eaten those things, they are allowed to eat some of the other items they so desperately want.  It’s the best I can do.

And then I declare a full ban on anything sugary when we get home, at least for a few days.  But I don’t deny them dessert.  Sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not.  I just have to get those creative juices going and come up with desserts that seem like a treat, but are actually healthful.  Melting some unsweetened chocolate with sunflower seed butter, adding raisins for natural sweetness and some crisp brown rice cereal for crunch and you have yourself a sweet, healthy treat that kids love.  Bonus points that it takes all of about 5 minutes to whip up and requires no use of your oven!

Chocolate Raisin Crunch Bars @dreamaboutfood

Chocolate Raisin Crunch Bars – Gluten-Free Snacks for Kids

Yield: 16

These chocolate raisin crunch bars are nut free and free of all refined sugars. A healthy tempting treat to help sway your little ones from the candy bag.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup Swerve Sweetener or powdered erythritol
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups gluten-free crisped rice cereal (I recommend Erewhon)
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Grease an 8x8 inch pan well and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sunflower seed butter, chopped chocolate, Swerve and vanilla extract. Stir until melted and smooth.
  3. Stir in rice cereal and raisins and mix well to combine.
  4. Spread in prepared pan and chill until firm.
  5. Cut into 16 squares.
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Comments

  1. Ummm…do you have to be a kid to eat these? ‘Cause I think they look scrumptious! :)

    • Yes! You must be under 12 years old to eat these! ;) Kidding. I just happened to make them for my kids. And then I ate a big one yesterday myself!

  2. These look sooooo good and I love the simple ingredient list!!

  3. I’m diabetic, and I’m always on the lookout for something everyone in my house can enjoy, but for myself I’d rather not pump myself full if insulin just to have a treat. I think the raisins in these would require A LOT of insulin. How do they react with you? I understand you’re diabetic as well.

    • These were for my kids, not for me. So although I ate one yesterday, I then went for a run to keep my sugars at bay. You could easily leave out the raisins and they’d still be pretty great!

  4. TuckerDeRatt says:

    Just found your blog, Love It!! I am deathly allergic to peanuts & since most sunflower butter has peanut oil in it, use soy butter. Have you tried using soy butter or another nut butter instead of the sunflower butter? I can’t wait to try these treats, they look so yummers.
    ~C8>

    • I think any thick nut/seed butter would work very well. So soy would work just as well. I haven’t tried it myself, but really it’s for thickening and sticking things together. Almond butter and other tree nut butter would work too, if you can find brands that are certified peanut free.

    • By the way, my sunflower seed butter has no peanut oil in it. It’s trader joe’s brand and it’s just sunflower seeds, cane juice and salt.

  5. I would definitely make these for myself for an afternoon snack, they look perfect for perking me up during the 3pm drag at work.

  6. These sound incredible!!

  7. I think Imma gonna go make these right now. I have everything on hand, including Swerve!! :)

  8. For kids? I want one! :-)

  9. You’ve done it again! These look AMAZING! Looking at these dark & lovely confections I just had a flashback. As a child I used to really like Chunky bars which were thick chocolate bars filled with peanuts, raisins, and chocolate. That was back when I didn’t have to calculate or exercise to exorcise carbs. I don’t have any children but I know some I could borrow and I’m still a kid at heart. Does that entitle me to make a batch of these? I’d have to taste test them before I could give any away ;>)

  10. NOM! Carolyn, I love how you are always thinking creatively. And, you’re always mindful of developing great, easy and tasty yet nutrient-rich snacks and treats for kiddles as well as adults. This recipe reminds me of Chunky Bars growing up. Thanks for another excellent go-to recipe…so nostalgic!

  11. I agree with Brian……I want one!

  12. I would happily take these over not-so-healthy snacks any day! They look wonderful!

  13. These look delicious! Of course I appreciate the recipe since I blog for the SunButter brand of sunflower seed butter and I’m always looking for new creations. But as a fellow mom looking to put GOOD stuff in front of the kiddos, I’m eager to make these. Thanks for the clever inspiration.

  14. Add me to the list of wanting these kid bars for myself!

  15. These look fantastic Carolyn! I know what you mean about going to places like Disney. Thankfully, the kids are really sick of the food by the time they get home and can’t wait for real food. I did discover last time I was there that some of their restaurants carry gluten-free menu items and are more than willing to make whatever you ask. I had them make a dairy-free smoothie for my son after I suggested what to put in it. They were more than happy to oblige.

  16. I cannot believe how rich these look!

  17. Angie Barclay says:

    Hi there, your recipes look truly great and I am so with you on steering my kids away from stuff (and myself, haha). I need to ask you, because of your experience, are these sweeteners you use truly safe? I desperately want to remove refined sugar without adding in anything else that’s bad, like sugar alcohols. I’m afraid to try these things, you don’t notice any effect on you or your kids from them? And your lifestyle is working? Easter, Christmas and Halloween are terrible, it takes me weeks to get us all back on track from them. I’ve started sweetening my baking with honey and maple syrup. I eliminated breakfast cereal and started making my own granola, I’m increasing fruit and veggie intake any way I can (including spinach in the smoothies!), but I’m nervous to enter the realm of all these oddly named sweeteners, it sure would help with calorie levels if they really worked and were safe…you seem like a great person to ask, any advice? I love that you made chocolate chips, I was just thinking of that yesterday, do you notice any mood changes with the chocolate treats, because that happens to me/us, and I always wonder if it’s the chocolate or the sugar in it. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer this, I appreciate your input a lot.

    • Hi Angie,
      I completely understand your worries, I do. When I was first trying to cut out sugar, I was really worried. But I did a fair bit of research and have become comfortable with erythritol, xylitol and stevia. Keep in mind, I don’t pretend to be a doctor or expert so I can’t truly tell you what you should do. But erythritol and xylitol, despite very chemical sounding names, are naturally occurring in fruits and fermented foods, so you are likely ingesting some every day as it is. They do need to be processed out where they occur, but that’s not more of a process than rendering sugar cane into refined sugar. And having come to the conclusion that sugar itself is toxic and addictive, it made a lot more sense to me to choose these natural sweeteners that don’t affect my blood sugar. I still eat them in moderation, I don’t go around eating sweet baked goods all day. And I do feed them to my kids and have noticed no averse effects whatsoever. Some people get a few tummy issues with xylitol so it’s best to keep the amounts of that pretty low.
      But do some research yourself and decide what’s the most comfortable thing for you. Again, I am no expert and am not qualified to give out medical advice. But I far prefer these natural substances to icky man-made substances like sucralose and aspartame! That’s just my opinion.
      Carolyn
      (and I don’t notice any mood issues from chocolate itself…sugar does make me irritable though!).

  18. Carolyn, these sound fantastic! I might sub dried cherries for raisins (I was never a fan of raisins + chocolate), but otherwise, I’m on board! I’m also going to share this recipe (and your site, obviously) with a friend of mine who’s son needs to be GF. She just switched his diet this week. You’ve got so many wonderful ideas; I think she’s going to find a lot to use!

  19. Just made these for my DS, with a couple of variations :-)
    He is sensitive to caffeine so I used carob powder and coconut oil in place of unsweetened baking chocolate. I also was out of erythritol so I used stevia glycerite to sweeten. Also to cut down on sugar I used 1/2 cup of raisins and chopped them up a bit to add volume.
    Tasty! Thanks for the recipe!

  20. These are gorgeous!

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