I Was Craving Crunch Bars. Here Is How I Made Them Healthier At Home.

Cravings are multifaceted. There is the physiological side to cravings – what feels like an intense physical hunger for a certain food. Then there is the mental-emotional side of cravings, which is where they get a bit more complicated. We all have an emotional relationship with food, and very often, we have memories of a particular dish or dessert that stirs nostalgia and other positive associations. For example, you crave pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving because you have fond memories of your grandmother making it every year. I would characterize this as a nourishing emotional craving. Food fuels our cells, but it can also feed our soul when joy and celebration are a part of the eating experience.

When you get deeper into the territory of emotional eating however, things can take a disconcerting turn. I won’t get into that here (I talk all about this in my online course Counting Colors), but just know that cravings can be triggered by uncomfortable emotions that we are trying to quiet or quell: loneliness, boredom, sadness, anger. It’s why you might have seen the woman in a movie soothing her broken heart in a pint of ice cream. The mind and body are working together to create a craving for a specific type of food to get back into balance. Sadness after a broken heart might have you craving sugar for both the dopamine spike and the relationship you have with ice cream. Without consciousness for these mechanisms at play, we can often feel controlled by our cravings, not the other way around.

All of this is to say that I am well aware that my mind was playing a big role in my recent craving for Crunch Bars. I remember eating one almost every day at the pool growing up. After I would eat my chicken fingers and french fries, I would immediately order a Crunch Bar (I had yet to understand anything about nutrition). There was something about the silky chocolate taste contrasted by the crunchy puffed rice texture that I loved. While I don’t really eat traditional candy bars anymore, it has always been my favorite. What is interesting, is that I don’t think I was thinking about this memory when I had the craving – it kind of came out of nowhere (although pregnancy could have something to do with it). But the craving then triggered my remembering these pools-side moments, and the craving got stronger. Because I knew what was happening, I was able to pause, take a step back, and make a more conscious choice on how I wanted to respond. Usually whatever Healthified sweet treat I have on hand will do the trick, but in this instance, I really wanted the taste of puffed rice surrounded by chocolate. I realized that to make a healthier version wouldn’t take much – a small handful of ingredients at most. Lucky for me, I had puffed rice in my pantry. And I always have chocolate.

Ingredients in Healthy Crunch Bars

At a bare minimum, you will need only three ingredients:

I love the taste of pure, dark chocolate, so I keep Pascha’s unsweetened dark chocolate chips on hand. Because the chocolate is unsweetened, I used liquid allulose when I made mine, and I offer the sweetener as an option; if your chocolate is already sweetened, the added sweetener is probably not necessary, unless you want your bars on the sweeter side (see recipe note below). Honey, maple syrup, or coconut nectar would also work, but remember to allow your melted chocolate to slightly cool before adding it in as outlined in the directions. Otherwise, it will thicken too quickly and won’t mix well.

How to make these healthy crunch bars

Because I wanted to satisfy my craving for crunch bars sooner rather than later, I wrote this recipe to be pretty simple and straightforward. All you will need is a couple of mixing bowls, a baking pan, and a large spoon or spatula. I always melt my chocolate in the microwave because it takes one minute, but feel free to do so using a saucepan or double-broiler on your stovetop. Once the chocolate is melted, pour it over your puffed brown rice, press it into the pan, and voila! It’s ready to chill. The hardest part of this recipe is the patience required while it sets in the fridge.

Healthy Homemade Crunch Bars

A healthy version of the traditional Crunch candy bars. Made with only a handful of ingredients, these will satisfy your sweet tooth (and nostalgia) in a more nutritious way. Gluten-free and vegan
Prep Time 5 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 8 servings


  • 8×8 baking pan
  • Mixing bowls


  • 2 cups puffed brown rice
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons liquid sweetener optional


  • Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Add the puffed brown rice to a large mixing bowl.
  • In a separate small microwaveable safe mixing bowl, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil. Microwave on high for one minute. Stir together until creamy and fully melted. If using a liquid sweetener (see note), allow the chocolate to cool about 10 to 15 minutes. Once slightly cooled, add the liquid sweetener and stir to combine.
  • Pour the melted chocolate mixture over the puffed rice. Use a large spoon or spatula to stir until fully coated. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan, using your spatula to press the mixture into the bottom of the pan in one even layer. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator to set, at least 1 hour. Once set, remove and slice into bars of desired shape and size.


Liquid sweetener: I used unsweetened Pascha dark chocolate chips and liquid allulose. If you are using already sweetened chocolate, the liquid sweetener is probably not necessary, unless you want your bars on the sweeter side. 
Storage: Keep bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. 
Keyword Dairy-free, Egg-free, Gluten-free, Soy-free, Tree Nut-free, Vegan