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Rice Bubble Bars - an alternative to LCM's

Updated: Jul 25, 2021

With so many LCM's on the shelves, I thought I would try and find an alternative that was not ultraprocessed and packed with sugar, additives, colours, emulsifiers and saturated fats. I knew this task would be hard, but I did not appreciate how hard. Whilst I dont like labelling foods as 'good' or 'bad' or using 'good or 'bad' as a way to describe foods to children (as this attributes a moral value to foods), LCM's are certainly not recommended as an everyday lunch box item despite what the marketing and product placement in supermarkets would have you believe.


The Issue with LCM's



LCM's can be found in most supermarket aisles next to the muesli bars and marketed as a lunch box item.

I was a little surprised for a rice bubble bar, that rice bubbles only make up 32% of the total product - that got me thinking 🧐..... what is actually in it..

➡️ chocolate chips in (this version) make up 14%

➡️ over 50% of the product is then the remaining ingredients, which are added to make the bar palatable and shelf stable, including emulsifiers, natural flavours, additives, preservatives.

➡️ sugar contributes about 2.15 teaspoon per bar (9g). That is a large amount of sugar at 40g of added sugar per 100g, over 4 x the recommended level for added sugar in cereal products. It is also a mix of sugars/syrups/glucose and fructose.

➡️ fat contributes 2.1g/serve the majority coming from unspecified vegetable oils which also overall contribute 4.7g of saturated fat per 100g.

➡️ although on the front of the pack it says no artificial colors or flavors it does contain a variety of ‘natural’ colors, preservatives, glazing agents and emulsifiers. Some children may be sensitive to these compounds.

Other points to consider, LCM's contain no fibre and very little protein. The sodium (salt) content is not low either contributing 220mg per 100g.

Overall LCMs are an ultra-processed food that offer very little to nourish tiny tummies, they are packed with sugar, fat, preservatives and additives.


Alternative to LCM's


Freedom : Messy Monkey Vanilla Puff Bars

Ingredients:

Rice Puffs (22%) (Rice, Sugar, Salt, Golden Syrup, Emulsifier (471)), Soluble Corn Fibre, Dark Choc Compound (20%) (Vegetable Fat, Sweetener (Erythritol), Polydextrose, Cocoa Powder, Inulin, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Natural Flavours, Sweetener (Steviol Glycosides), Salt, Milk), Vegetable Shortening (Vegetable Fats & Oils, Emulsifier (471), Antioxidant (307b)), Chicory Fibre, Polydextrose, Sweetener (Erythritol), Humectant (Glycerine), Rice Flour, Natural Vanilla Flavour, Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Salt, Sweetener (Steviol Glycosides).


Nutritionally the messy monkeys rice bubble bar has less sugar and added fibre

  • There is some sugar in this product 2.9g/100g but WAY less than the LCM's, but the sugar has been replaced with sweeteners instead (Steviol, Erythritol)

  • There is fibre added (soluble corn fibre, chicory fibre) so the fibre content is 4.9g per serve as opposed to zero in the LCM's.

However, things to consider which make this product really no better than an LCM (even though it has a 4 star health rating):

  • Still only 22% rice puffs (less of the main ingredient than LCM's)

  • Multiple added ingredients such as emulsifiers, natural flavours.

  • The fat content is SUPER high for a cereal bar, 19.4g/100g and saturated fat makes up the majority with the saturated fat content way above healthy recommendations at 15.4g/100g. The saturated fat also comes from Vegetable Shortening (Vegetable Fats & Oils) not disclosed which type so is likely palm oil.

  • Still an ultra-processed food with very little nutrition to nourish tiny tummies



Might Bellies : Brown Rice Crispy Vanilla Bars

Ingredients:

Crisp Puffed Wholegrain Brown Rice (60%), Brown Rice Syrup, Chicory Fibre, Humectant (Glycerol), High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Sustainable Palm Oil, Invert Sugar Syrup, Cane Sugar, Rice Protein, Natural Flavour, Thickener (Agar), Salt, Rosemary Extract.


Okay things are looking a little better here.

  • 60% Rice, finally the main ingredient makes up more than 50% of the product

  • Contains fibre 1.5g/serve from chicory fibre

  • Low total fat content of 7.5 g/100g - saturated fat 1.8g/100g from High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Sustainable Palm Oil

  • Sugar is 20g/100g which is half the sugar that is in an LCM

  • Salt content is low at 82mg/100g

  • This product has the least amount of additives of any of the store bougth rice bubble bars; natural falvour added and rosemary extract as a preservative.

Overall this was the best storebought rice bubble bar that I found on the shelves.


My homemade rice bubble bar

Ingredients (makes 16 bars) :

3 x cups of wholegrain puffed rice

25g butter

1/3 cup of almond butter (40g)

4x table spoons of rice malt syrup or honey.


In a pan add the butter, almond butter and rice malt syrup, cook over a low heat stirring constantly until all ingredients are combined and 'melted'.

Add the mix to the three cups of wholegrain rice and mix well so that each grain of rice is coated. Line a try with baking paper and press the ricebubble mix into the tray (press down firmly)

Leave to set in the fridge for atleast 2 hours.

Slice and serve, makes 16 x bars


Notes: if your child has a nut allergy or to make these school safe, you can replace the almond butter for tahini (sesame seed paste) or any other seed paste such as sunflower.

If you dont have almond butter at home you can replace with peanut butter.

Tip: cashew butter tastes amazing as well.


This bar contains 3.75g sugar per serve (less than a teaspoon per bar).

and contains protein from the almond butter, fibre from the whole grain rice bubbles and lots of health fats from the almond butter.


X Anna

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