A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Feeling Snacky: Crunchy Stalks and Branches


[Before I delve into today’s snack post, I want to send out a heartfelt “thank you” to each and every one of you who responded to my last post. I was bowled over by the outpouring of kindness and support that you folks displayed.  And thanks to all of you who shared your own story or struggles with food issues, whether dietary restrictions or your own food addictions.  I’ve said this many times before on the blog, but really, I can’t say it enough:  you people are remarkable!  Thank you, all, for visiting, for reading, for commenting, and for your thoughtful responses and ideas, which all add their own kind of sweetness to my life. Without you all, this would be a very lonely (not to mention unrewarding) endeavor, indeed!]

And now, on to the food!  A while back, I promised a post on anti-candida snack foods along with the breakfasts and desserts. (And even though I’m assuming the anti-candida diet will be temporary for me, as it is for almost everyone, it’s amazing how my blog has suddenly morphed into a “candida” blog.  Most of the searches that lead people here involve the words, “anti-candida” or “candida diet.”  Except, of course, for those that involve the words, “dogs girls sexy” or “dogs girls dessert.”  Don’t worry, though–I don’t let the real Girls see any of these–it would be too traumatic for them.). 

Over the past few months, I realized that most of my snacks don’t actually require a recipe:  baby carrots (in moderation–they are pretty high in natural sugars, after all); grape tomatoes; celery sticks; hummus and any of the previous veggies; roasted chick peas; cucumber rounds; kale chips (and have you seen this recent iteration?  They sound great!); or, most recently, fresh berries (yay! fruit–though limited to berries and a few others–has made its triumphant return to my diet!).  Although I was never a “potato chips” kind of gal (I think you can be one or the other: salty-snack person or sweet-snack person.  I always leaned toward the chocolate bars, cookies, cupcakes, etc. rather than the salty snacks), I have been craving something snacky recently.  Something crunchy. Something salty. Something portable that isn’t nuts or seeds. 

And so, on a whim a couple of weeks ago, I visited our local health food store in search of snacks.  My encounter with the cashier went something like this:

Scene:  small, family-owned health food store tucked in a local plaza not far from where Ricki lives.  Reminiscent of old-time general stores that you see on reruns like The Andy Griffith Show * or Green Acres.

Ricki  [browsing around. She approaches the affable, somewhat retro-looking cashier.] “Say, do you have any snack foods for someone who can’t eat gluten, sweeteners, refined anything, eggs, or dairy?” 

(Actually, I never begin sentences with the word, “Say,” but it does make the dialogue sound much more as if I really live in a small, close-knit neighborhood like Mayberry, doesn’t it?). 

Young Cashier:  “Why, yes, Ma’am, yes, indeed, we do.” (Okay, she didn’t really start with, “Why, yes,” either, and didn’t say “indeed.”  Another attempt at 1950s-era verisimilitude.  She did, however, actually call me “Ma’am,” which made me feel very authentically 1950s). 

Young Cashier: [Leading Ricki to a shelf containing Mary’s products.]  These are all gluten-free and sugar free, made with whole foods ingredients.  You might like to try some of these. The Curry flavor is my favorite.

Ricki: [Speechless. Her mind is reeling]: Wow! You mean there are actually snacks I can eat on this &*%$#! regimen that I don’t have to make myself?? Okay!  I’ll take ten bags! 

(All right.  I admit that I didn’t really say THAT, either.  But I wanted to.  Perhaps realistic dramatic representation is not my forte.)

Well, if you live in California–or anywhere in the US, really–and are either (a) on a gluten-free diet; (b) into healthy foods; (c) the owner of a health food store; or (d) named Mary, you have most likely already heard of or tasted the Mary’s Gone Crackers product called “Sticks and Twigs.”  On the other hand, if you live in the Distant Far Northern Canadian Outpost that is Toronto–as I do–the discovery was a revelation.  (Do you think perhaps I should stop making tongue-in-cheek comments about how far north, how cold, and how polite it is here in Canada? After all, there are some people out there who might actually think I’m being serious!). These snacks resemble pretzels but are crunchier.  They’re a whole foods, no-added-fat snack with little pellets of baked amaranth and quinoa scattered throughout. They come in flavorful choices such as Curry or Chipotle Tomato.

And they are mighty addictive.


Only one problem:  at $5.99 per 8-ounce (about 250 g) bag, they really did leave me speechless.

In recent months, I’ve noticed a few bloggers playing a game that involves listing the ingredients in a processed “food” and having readers guess what it is (such as this one on Meghan’s blog).  For instance, did you know that “Wheat Flour, Sugar, Dextrose, Vegetable Oil, Glucose Syrup, Milk Whey Powder, Invert Sugar Syrup, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Wheat Starch, Salt, Raising Agent (Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, Diphosphates), Dried Egg White, Beef Gelatin, Stabiliser (Xanthan Gum), Vanilla Extract, Modified Wheat Starch, Colour (Caramel E150d, Titanium Oxide) and Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin)” is actually a Pop Tart? (Yep.  Titanium Oxide–often used in paint, or as a sunscreen--is a bonus ingredient in your breakfast “pastry.”  Eat up, everyone!).

Well, I decided to turn that game on its head. I took a food I like, namely the Sticks and Twigs, studied the ingredients, and then attempted to reproduce it at home.  The result was better than I could have expected.  I daresay, I like my version better than the original!

Mine are surprisingly like Mary’s, but a bit thicker, and–most important–at a fraction of the cost.  They are, however, still exceedingly crunchy, so if you’re in need of some elective dental work, don’t eat these until after the filling has been replaced. (Just kidding.  But they really do snap, crackle and pop in your mouth).

And, if it turns out they’re not to your taste after all, they make excellent dog biscuits.

With all the healthy whole-grain ingredients in these, I thought they’d make a perfect contribution to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays, showcasing real food.  Take a peek, or submit your own healthy recipe!


[“Mmmm, nice and crunchy, Mum, just like real sticks and twigs.  But what was that you mentioned before about not letting us see something–?  You’re not hiding other snacks from us, are you?”]

*For those of you young enough that you can’t remember a time before computers: yep, “Ronny Howard”–ie, Opie–is the same person as director Ron Howard.  Wasn’t he a cutie when he still had hair?

Crunchy Stalks and Branches Snacks


A perfect take-along snack that’s crunchy and filled with real nutrient value: with amaranth, millet, quinoa  and rice, these savory treats contain a fair portion of vitamins, minerals, and protein in each serving.

3 Tbsp (45 ml) amaranth, dry

1/4 cup (60 ml) quinoa, dry

1/4 cup (60 ml) millet, dry

2 cups (480 ml) cooked brown rice (I used brown basmati)

1/4 cup (60 ml) finely ground flax seeds

2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground chia seeds

2 tsp (10 ml) mild curry powder

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt, or more, to taste

2 Tbsp (30 ml) sesame seeds

1/2-1 cup (120-240 ml) water, as needed

In a small bowl, soak the amaranth, quinoa and millet for about 2 hours (up to 6 hours).  Drain in a very fine sieve.  Remove about 3 Tbsp (45 ml) of the mixture and set aside.

Preheat oven to 325F (160C).  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.

Place the remaining amaranth, quinoa and millet mixture into the bowl of a strong blender along with the rice, flax, chia, curry powder and salt.  Add 1/2 cup (120 ml) water and blend to a paste; stir in the sesame seeds.  If the mixture is too thick, add a little more water until you have a mixture the consistency of a soft cookie dough. It should be soft enough to pipe but firm enough to hold its shape if you scoop some out and place it on the cookie sheet.

Scrape the mixture into a bowl and then stir in the 3 Tbsp (45 ml) whole seeds that have been set aside.  Using an icing gun or cookie press, press out the mixture in long, thin logs across the cookie sheet (or make into any shapes you like).  I used my icing gun without a tip to create logs for this, but you could use any shape you like.  If you have neither an icing gun nor cookie press, you can shape the “dough” into disks or logs by hand, or simply spread the mixture into a large rectangle and then bake as crackers.

Bake the snacks in preheated oven for about 30 minutes before checking.  Turn them over and continue to bake, another 30-45 minutes, until they are very browned, dry and crisp.  (If baking as crackers, remove from oven after 30 minutes and cut into desired cracker shapes; then turn each cracker over individually and continue to bake as above).

Allow to cool before storing. Makes 4-8 snack-size servings, depending on how hungry you are.  If sufficiently baked, these will keep for at least 2 weeks at room temperature in a covered container (ours only lasted a few days, but they were clearly sturdy enough for the long term).


57 comments to Feeling Snacky: Crunchy Stalks and Branches

  • Another great snack, story, and shot of The Girls.


  • Eve

    Oh excellent! I recently tried a bag of sticks and twigs, and loved them – but the price IS prohibitive! My reasoning was that they are crunchy enough to have at least $6 worth of ‘chew’ in them. Homemade (and cheaper!) sounds even better! Thanks! -Eve


  • oooh, nice! I’ll definitely give these a try. My cousin recently had to go GF, so maybe I”ll make some up and send them to her as a little treat. 🙂 thanks for sharing your recipe!!


  • Haven’t tried sticks and twigs but I am addicted to Mary’s crackers. Indeedy! Your version of the S&Ts (that should get you some web traffic) look especially crunchy and delicious.


  • I love Mary’s crackers too! I think I’ve mentioned I’ve never made crackers so maybe I’ll not be as intimidated to make sticks.

    I am very much looking forward to your blog’s *new* direction and more healthy and budget-friendly recipes.


  • Yours look better! 🙂


  • These look great! I haven’t tried making gluten-free crackers yet, but this has inspired me to give it a shot!


  • Okay, that’s it. It is official. You are seriously BRILLIANT! This was such an amazing post, I can’t believe that you made those yourself! How rewarding that must be. I can understand why you would need to, talk about sticker shock, those little goodies are so pricey! I love crunchy snacks so I know these would be perfect for me on movie night. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this awesome recipe!


  • Well done! I recently did a post on homemade “Larabars”, but these definitely have a higher degree of difficulty. I’ll totally be trying these!

    I also like the new name you gave them.


  • Ricki, you are rocking my world with these. I am going to make them this afternoon. I have wanted to eat the Sticks and Twigs but can’t because of the sesame – I am totally making your recipe, but making it sesame free and subbing for curry powder (I’m allergic to some of the spices in most curry mixes – major BUMMER). Hooray, hooray, hooray, I can’t wait to try these!


  • I’ve been baking mostly sweet lately and keep meaning to bake savoury but I just love fresh bought bread – I should be like you and save money and have the fresh aromas of savoury baking


  • What a great recipe! I hope to make these soon!


  • Ricki, you constantly amaze me with your creative ingredients! I have been looking for some recipes for good/cheap/healthy snack foods, and this seems PERFECT. I have a bunch of your recipes printed out to test out but this one, I think, is going to be at the top of the list. Now if only I would have put the amaranth in my cart last week instead of saying “oh, I have too many grains at home, maybe when I clean out the pantry” – darn.

    (Speaking of funky ingredients, I found a boxed cake mix with PROPYLENE GLYCOL in it. Yeah, the same stuff used in lighter fluid! And people wonder why I prefer to make everything from scratch? Yeesh.)


  • Oh that’s a fun game! Fun, but kind of depressing, I can’t believe that list of ingredients was a poptart! I could probably find some crazy lists in my kitchen, I think I’ll have to give that game a try. Your crackers look great, and I’m sure there aren’t any crazy ingredients in them, score!


  • Those sound awesome! I have *almost* all those thing in my pantry. I made amaranth once, probably almost a year ago, and found it so gross I just threw out the rest. And it is NOT like me to throw out things.


  • That’s my kind of snack! I can always count on you Ricki! I’ve seen that brand in the store before btw, I think they were crackers though. Same sticker shock but it is nice to be able to find SOMETHING that fits your dietary needs!


  • Mom

    Sticks & Twigs are great crunchy snacks except for the price so usually I only buy them when traveling. This is even better – thank you soooo much for this brilliant healthy solution! I can make my own and bring them from home.


  • Those look great! I have some amaranth I’ve been meaning to use for about a year so I’ll try these.


  • Too cool! I recently got to try a sample of these new snacks at the Fancy Foods Show, and was quite impressed. However, I’m even more impressed that you managed to make a formidable copycat recipe. I’ll have to try it next time, those things are way too expensive to by on a regular basis!


  • Claire

    God Bless You! I am starting grad school this fall and need healthy, CHEAP take alongs and i think this will do wonderfully. what a great weekend recipe to stock up for the week.


  • Hey now, I remember a time without computers (I was small,) and knew that Ron Howard was Opie!

    Maybe I’m older than I realize . . . !!!


  • Wow Ricki,
    These are so healthy and they look so good!
    I am definitely going to make them; I think I’ll do them as a flat cracker though.
    Yum as usual- I love all of your creations!


  • ooh! i managed to pick up some sea salt ones, but didn’t see any of those other neat flavors 🙂 now i’ll have to try your version cause i can afford those!


  • I’ve passed Mary’s Stigs & Twigs a few times with interest but passed on them because of the price.

    I also love finding a store bought product, studying the ingredients, then attempting to reproduce them! I’m a closet mad scientist (complete with, on some mornings, the hair)

    Thank you so much for this recipe! It looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it!


  • kitchenspoon

    Yummm, Ricki–your version looks super delicious. I also love the dog biscuit idea….


  • Brandy

    I actually bought them because they were at The Big Carrot here in Toronto, for 4 dollars and something(on sale!!) I have to say that I can only eat them with hummus, the crackers I like better than the sticks.
    I think I’ll take a spin at making them from your recipe! Maybe I’ll even eat them sans hummus!


  • Those sticks and twigs look so good. Great recipe. i will have to try these out.


  • you’re most welcome, Ricki!

    might i add that you’re also brilliant!?! fo ‘sho! your stalks ‘n branches are most stellar, and you know i’m gonna have to try them. i’m a salty-crunchy kinda girl myself (although cookies are my exception) – so these are absolutely perfect! thank you! i have tried the black pepper and original mary’s crackers – but never the sticks ‘n twigs. i’d say i’ll try ’em out, but with your recipe – there’s no need to buy them – i’m making them! superw00t!


  • […] Crunchy Stalks and Branches – Ricki of Diet, Dessert & Dogs has made her own version of a popular Mary’s snack. […]

  • Staring at ingredient lists and than working out the recipes is one of my fave experimental games. Thanks so much for working this on out. I have heard about these sticks but had yet to see them anywhere. You’ve just saved me the search (and the 5.99). Also funny about the search terms that get people to your site. I am sure you can imagine mine are not at all related to food 🙂


  • That is one seriously creative and hearty snack! Love the 1950’s dialogue, it definitely ads to the nostalgia-factor of the your blog.


  • Here I was at the start thinking you were going to tease me with some foreign snack I would never be able to get my hands on and then you go ahead and figure out a recipe so I can have them after all! Amazing!! (Plus…delicious!!)


  • Jes

    Love the conversation–everyone needs a little more 1950s vernacular in their diet 🙂

    The recipe looks so good! I love homemade snacks and I can’t wait to try this one out!


  • These sound lovely – and *full* of good things! How nice to have made your own version of an expensive treat as well! (Loved the story as well…)


  • Wow, wow and again wow! This looks sooo delicious!You say it must be a strong blender- do you think my 200W one could do the work? I’d so love to make them too.


  • Fabulous! I’m always on the lookout for recipes for food that I can take with me when I’m going away, and this one sounds great! It will also make for a nice change from sweet stuff such as granola bars (why, yes, I am indeed one of those few who are both a salty-snack and a sweet-snack person!). Thank you for this wonderful addition to my repertoire of snack recipes.


  • this is such a great idea!! i am so impressed! i love mary’s twigs but they are expensive!


  • Yes! I love when people replicate processed snacks! These look awesome.


  • What a timely post! I have just been lamenting the lack of easily portable savoury vegan snacks. I don’t mind the sweet stuff, but would probably be more of a savoury person and sometimes I just can’t face the thought of another sweet snack bar!


  • Andrea,
    Thanks for the traffic boost. 😉 I’m keeping my eyes peeled for those wacky search terms!

    Voracious Vegan,
    I’d say more like “desperate.” But thanks anyway! 😉

    Thanks! I saw your “Lilybars” and they looked great!

    So glad you can have these! I think you could sub for many of the ingredients, as long as the rice is the main binder. I’ve also made these with some finely chopped kale thrown in–very nice!

    I think you could sub another grain for one or more of the ingredients, as long as the rice is used. And lighter fluid? SCARY!

    catherine (FOOD SNOB),
    Okay, maybe I was exaggerating. . . a little! 😉

    Love the hair image!

    We should compare search terms some time!

    I’m not sure how strong 200 watts is, but I first made these in my regular Osterizer blender. In a regular blender, you just need to work with smaller batches. . .maybe divide the mixture into 4 parts and then put them all together in the bowl. The second time, I used my spanking brand new VitaMix (whoo hoo!) and it blended up in a matter of seconds. So it just depends on how much time/patience you have!


  • Wow how insanely awesome are you for creating a homemade version of these!! I haven’t tried the sticks and twigs yet but I’ve tried the crackers.


  • Ricki, thank YOU for your insights and inspiration! I just read and commented on your previous post (catching up at last :-), and I am still in awe of your journey and your wisdom.

    Oh WOW, your stalks and branches look SO yummy!! Hmmm, sounds like the perfect, energizing, take-to work snack… AKA sounds like I should fix these sooooon! Thank you for another amazing, healthful recipe!


  • Wow wow wow! I’m a crunchy-salty snack kind of girl for sure, and I’m in love with sesame sticks. I’ve never had the Mary’s twigs (love their crackers), but I bet I would absolutely love this snack! Maybe a little too much I think…


  • These look so great, I think I’ll make them this weekend. Quick question – is the measurement on the flax and chia seeds taken before or after they have been ground?


  • Metta,
    The flax and chia are both ground before measuring. Usual recipe format puts the “ground” first if it’s to be measured that way, but after if it’s to be measured whole. For example, “1/2 cup ground flax seeds” means to measure after they’re already ground, but “1/2 cup flax seeds, ground” means to measure them whole, then grind them. Similarly, “1/4 cup mint, chopped” means to measure the mint first, then chop. Hope this helps! 🙂


  • These look amazing! I am a huge fan of Mary’s Gone Crackers Sticks & Twigs though only buy them as a special treat because of how expensive they are. I think it is absolutely amazing that you figured out how to make them. I am in awe and can’t wait to try making them myself. Thank you!



  • […] The crackers didn’t persuade me either. Too much work for too little crackers, I’m used to cook simpler. The taste was ok. I adapted this recipe. […]

  • I made these tonight. I don’t think they came out just like yours, but good just the same. Not sure how long they will last, as I’m looking for excuses to eat them all up!


  • […] – On Food & Personal Responsibility16. Garlicky Summer Squash Fritters / This Primal Life17. GF Crunchy Stalks and Branches snack/Diet Dessert and Dogs18. Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS (Creamy Salad Dressing)19. Shannon (what causes adrenal fatigue?)20. Dr […]

  • Dee

    These look so good – I’m definitely going to try them. Mary’s Organics are SO expensive. I’ve yet to try them out of sheer unwillingness to open my wallet!

    I’m finding the resources here in Atlantic Canada limited for a lot of things (ie: can’t find Greek yogurt to try anywhere so far).



  • […] For some seedy recipes, check out my amazing gluten-free, yeast-free bread (with sesame, pumkin, sunflower, AND chia seeds!) and Ricki’s adorable crunchy snack (with chia, flax, and sesame seeds) “Stalks & Branches”. […]

  • […] Amaranth Soufflé at Pink Stripes Ottolenghi’s Potato and Amaranth Cakes at The Guardian Crunchy Stalks and Branches Snacks at Diet, Dessert N […]

  • […] a similar addiction to Mary’s crack, then I encourage you to check out Ricki’s recipe here.  Because it might just be better than the […]

  • Andrea

    I just found this awesome recipe! Quick question – when is the sesame added? When stirring in the whole seeds? I read and re-read but either I am blind (not a stretch :O)) or it isn’t there. Thanks! I am looking forward to making these, just waiting for my stuff to finish soaking!


    Ricki Reply:

    Hi Andrea,
    Sorry if you’ve been waiting for this reply! But yes, you add the seeds AFTER grinding to a paste, when stirring in the whole seeds. I must have missed them when I was typingn out the recipe. Hope you guessed right and that it worked out for you!


    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Ricki! Thanks for the reply, that’s what I did! They are awesome. I am eating them right now. I put the dough in a baggie and snipped the corner off to use as a makeshift piping tip – that worked great.


    Ricki Reply:

    Yay! Glad they worked out. Great tip regarding the baggie tip! 😀


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>