To call this recipe a healthy snack would probably fall somewhere in the same category as calling that strawberry whipped cream pretzel Jello creation, a salad. But I'm pretty sure I recall my sixth grade home economics teacher, Judy Ludy, pronouncing this treat a healthy after school snack.
I do remember it was the first thing I brought home from that middle school kitchen, found deep in the belly of the building, covered in orange and brown laminate everything. Three kitchens, divided by rolling worktables and a row of stoves, we were set free in the land of open flames and sharp knives. A group of five chefs, in royal blue aprons, elbow to elbow in each kitchen. We shared the work, fought over the most exciting parts of the recipe, and whined when someone didn't wash their own dishes.
It the end, we each sampled a small square, divided up the rest and tucked it in a flimsy plastic sandwich bag, that we shoved inside that outside pocket of our backpacks, among pencil points and tiny spiral notebooks.
By the time we got on the bus, it was a warm misshapen mess that we had to peel from the wrapper, but the joy of tasting that peanut buttery goodness was worth all the wait–while others peeked over green vinyl seat backs to see what they were missing, and what they'd be making when their turn came at the kitchens.
Judy Ludy's Healthy After School Snack (with revisions)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup*
1/2 c. + 2 Tablespoons creamy peanut (or a heaping half cup)
3 scant cups of cereal**. (the original calls for Corn Flakes, which is really the best for a simple crunch. When I made this batch, I only had multi-grain cheerios on hand. It was pretty darn good, too.)
* The old-school recipe calls for corn syrup. However, I often swap it out for honey. This makes for an equally gooey, sweet result, with slightly more "teeth stuck together, chew for one minute before swallowing" end results.
Stir together sugar and corn syrup (honey) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the mixture begins to bubble (just a nice easy boil around the edges, not a rolling, aggressive boil) remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until melted and smooth. Pour over cereal. Stir to coat and press into an 8 x 8 pan. Cool and cut into bars. It can be stored in the refrigerator, if you want, but I find it best to bring it back to room temperature or else it is really difficult to cut (and chew, for that matter).
If you're really wild and crazy, you can melt chocolate bits over the bars.
**One more thought: now, after years of making this recipe, I often add the cereal directly to the peanut butter mixture and play with the amount I add. Adding less cereal will obviously give you more of a soft, candy-like result, which is sometimes kind of yummy, too.