Easy and Healthy Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan and gluten-free too!)

If you're looking for a quick and easy breakfast-on-the-go, look no farther! These crunchy breakfast bars are brimming with the flavors of chocolate and peanut butter in every mouth-watering bite. They taste like sinful candy bars, but they're far from it. And, they're super simple to prepare - no baking required! The whole family (and visiting friends) will adore them. 

Looking for a vegan option? I've got you covered. By using coconut oil instead of butter and maple syrup instead of honey, these bars are completely free of animal products. 

They're gluten-free too! Puffed rice cereal is naturally gluten-free! If you have a gluten sensitivity, make sure you choose a cereal that's manufactured in a plant that's 100% gluten-free.  

Easy and Healthy Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan and gluten-free too)

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
5 cups puffed rice cereal 

Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing some of the paper to come up the sides so you can remove the bars once they've cooled. 
Combine the coconut oil and maple syrup in a large bowl (preferably glass). Set the bowl over a medium saucepan that contains about 2 inches of water. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the water to a simmer (we're basically creating a double boiler). 
Whisk until the coconut oil is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the cocoa. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla. 
Fold in the cereal. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Spread out evenly, pressing down gently, and smooth the surface with a spatula. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. 
Cut into 24 bars and serve. Refrigerate leftovers until ready to serve. 

Makes 24 bars