Build Your Own Healthier S'mores
Aug. 10 is National S’mores Day, a day to celebrate one of summer’s iconic foods. The Physical Health and Wellness staff at Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) encourage warriors to eat healthily, but this does not always mean missing out on delicious celebrations. In honor of National S’mores Day, we compiled a list of recipes and a guide to making a healthier version of one of America’s favorite treats.
The history of s’mores dates back to the early 1920s to a recipe published in a Boy and Girl Scouts cookbook. But marshmallows, a core ingredient of the beloved snack, date back to ancient Egypt and were used for medicinal purposes. Today, s’mores are known as a “healthier” dessert thanks to marshmallows containing no fat. Like many desserts, s’mores can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want them to be. With a few additions and substitutions, you can have a great-tasting snack you can feel good about.
Gluten-free and Vegan Almond “Graham Crackers”
Although these crackers are gluten-free and vegan, they do not compromise on flavor. Warm nuttiness from the bitter almond flour balances well with natural sweetness from honey. And with only five ingredients, they cook up in a snap.
Makes about 24 squares, enough for 12 s’mores.
3 cups blanched almond flour, plus more for rolling (coconut flour also works well)
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a food processor or medium-size bowl, combine all ingredients until a ball forms. Dump contents of the bowl onto a large piece of parchment paper dusted with almond flour. Roll half of the dough between two sheets of parchment paper into a rectangular shape 1/4 of an inch thick.
Remove top parchment sheet and transfer dough-lined parchment to a baking sheet.
Cut dough into 12 squares*. Repeat with second half of dough.
Bake for 6 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven, place onto a cooling rack, and let cool completely.
*If desired, cut dough into shapes with cookie cutters and remove excess dough. Roll excess on a separate piece of parchment.
Mixing in dried fruit powders give marshmallows flavor while adding vitamins and minerals from the fruit. As an added bonus, homemade marshmallows do not contain preservatives like many store-bought brands.
Makes about 20 large marshmallows
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup water, divided
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Desiccated unsweetened coconut (optional)
Dried strawberry powder (optional)
Spray a 9x13x2-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with a piece of parchment or wax paper. Spray paper with cooking spray. Combine confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, and use to coat the inside of the baking dish. Tap out the excess sugar and cornstarch mixture into a bowl and reserve.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, combine gelatin and 1/2 cup of water. Mix to incorporate and let sit.
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine remaining water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cover with a lid and heat mixture on medium high heat for 4 minutes.
Remove lid and place a candy thermometer into the pan, making sure that the bottom of the thermometer does not touch the bottom of the pot. Cook mixture until it reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Immediately remove from heat.
Turn the gelatin and water mixture on low speed. Carefully pour hot sugar syrup down the sides of the mixing bowl; the stream should be a little bit less than the width of a pencil.
Once sugar syrup is poured into the mixing bowl, increase mixing speed to high and whip 12 to 14 minutes. Mixture should start out a caramel colored syrup and finish when mixture is white and fluffy.
Add vanilla and any mix-ins (coconut or strawberry powder), and whip for another minute to incorporate.
Pour whipped mixture into prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Dust top with reserved sugar and cornstarch mix. Save remaining sugar and cornstarch and allow to cool for 4 to 8 hours.
Once set, use a sharp knife to cut marshmallow into 20 pieces, making 4 rows of 5 marshmallows. Remove from pan and toss into remaining sugar and cornstarch mix. Store in an airtight container.
Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Chocolate Coating
Once you’ve placed a marshmallow between two graham cracker squares, you can add a chocolate coating. Protein powder in the chocolate coating adds a healthier boost without the extra fat from peanut butter. Although this peanut butter chocolate topping tastes great on s’mores, dipping in fresh fruit makes another healthier snack that is still indulgent.
1/2 cup quality dark chocolate
1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon peanut butter flavored protein powder
In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine peanut butter and dark chocolate. Microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is fully combined. Stir in protein powder. Once combined, dip the marshmallow and graham cracker sandwich right in, letting any excess drip off before adding toppings.
Substituting dark chocolate in place of milk chocolate boosts the vitamin and mineral count in your decadent treat. Dark chocolate has a significantly higher iron count, making it the better choice for s’mores, along with fewer carbs and less sugar. For an added boost, swirl in one part peanut butter to two parts dark chocolate and a scoop of protein powder for a tasty treat that will help curb hunger.
Using Toppings to Add Both Crunch & Health Benefits
Nuts and fruits add a delicious crunch and even more health benefits. Pistachios and almonds contain good fats that help lower bad cholesterol. Both have fewer calories than other nuts.
Crunchy toppings like cacao nibs do more than add to the chocolate flavor. Cacao nibs come from the raw cacao bean and do not contain sugar or fats. High in antioxidants and excellent in lowing blood pressure, cacao nibs bring both texture and health benefits to ordinary s’mores.
Keep these tips in mind when building your own s’mores, and feel good about indulging. After all, National S’mores Day only comes once a year.
About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connects, serves, and empowers wounded warriors. Read more at http://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/about-us.