Two months ago, when Ashley and I met for the first time at Panera, I convinced her to come to the annual BlogHer Conference, explaining that at least four other ladies from our area planned on going too, so there’d be lots of friendly faces to hang out with. She agreed, and shortly after, we decided to be roommates. (Even with BlogHer’s discount, California hotels can be expensive!)
Early Thursday afternoon last week, Ashley and Karen knocked on my door, and we loaded my bags into the trunk of Karen’s car. As I settled into the backseat and Ashley offered us gum, it almost felt like the “girlfriends college road trip” I never took, even though I barely knew these two ladies in real life!
When our two-hour drive ended in the parking garage, we checked in at the front desk and maneuvered our bags into the elevator to ride up to the ninth floor. After dropping off our lugging and taking a selfie (always required at a blogging conference!), we set off to meet the other Northern California ladies for dinner and wandering around the Expo.
When we flopped onto our beds after our long evening out, Ashley and I started chatting about the free samples, blog post brainstorms, Pinterest, photography, and almost every other blogging topic that came to mind. Although not exactly the cute clothes and boy crush topics of our teenage years, it still felt like a slumber party, just without the nagging mothers and sugary snacks!
To fix that, I made a batch of this Skinny Peanut Butter Muddy Buddies as soon as I got home. Also called “Puppy Chow,” this sweet snack mix is perfect for sleepovers or after school munchies! With its lightly nutty taste and soft powdered sugar coating, these crunchy cereal squares are practically irresistible. Thank goodness they’re naturally gluten-free and contain almost 50% less fat than regular muddy buddy recipes!
Compared to the typical muddy buddy recipe, mine differs in 3 ways…
Milk. To cut down on fat and calories, I reduced the amount of chocolate and peanut butter, but I still needed more liquid to fully coat the rice chex cereal. I opted for skim milk because it’s fat-free, low-calorie, and snuck in extra protein too!
Cornstarch. Now let’s think about this… Adding milk to cereal and letting it sit results in a rather soggy breakfast. The same thing would happen to our muddy buddies unless we thickened the milk, and that’s where the cornstarch comes in! It helps create an almost pudding-like consistency, which coats the cereal a little better and doesn’t soak in as much.
Baking. Even with the cornstarch in the milk, the cereal still gets a little too moist. If we popped the coated cereal straight into the bag of powdered sugar, it’d be about as chewy as a soft granola bar—not the crunchy texture muddy buddies are known for!
So for these healthier ones, we’ll bake the muddy buddies low and slow to get rid of that soggy texture. It’s the same concept as granola: you put the pan of syrup-coated oats into the oven, stir every once in a while, and end up with crunchy clusters. By baking our muddy buddies, they get that totally addictive crisp texture too!
I used half white chocolate and half peanut butter since chocolate helps a little bit more with the crunchiness. The resulting peanut butter flavor is slightly more subtle, not quite so in-your-face. I haven’t tried it, but you could probably skip the white chocolate and replace it with peanut butter instead for a more pronounced flavor. Just remember that the Nutrition Information will change!
Sweet and crunchy, these Skinny Peanut Butter Muddy Buddies won’t stand a chance in your kitchen! With their familiar nutty flavor and soft sugary coating, they’ll practically disappear right before your eyes as your kids dart in and out during their play dates and slumber parties. Unless you don’t have any little ones running around, in which case…
Better give half of it away to avoid going through the entire bag in one sitting!
If you like this recipe, then be sure to follow my Healthy Baking board on Pinterest!