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Make Your Own Trail Bars

March 25, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Make Your Own Energy Bars

I like to make my own energy bars. Not necessarily because I have a disposition against pre-packaged energy bars. Many of them are good food, not much more processed than what I make. But what they don't always offer is the option of choice ingredients, at least not to the degree that I prefer. I like to hand-select my own ingredients to ensure I'm getting the best quality and the ingredients I enjoy.

One great benefit is the cost savings of making my own. I cut my food costs approximately in half by making my own. This includes my own dehydrated meals, which is a blog for another day.

Today I'd like to take you through the process of making my energy bars. 

Here are my ingredients:

  • Steel cut oats
  • Rolled oats
  • Puffed millet
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Mixed unsalted nuts
  • Unsweetened coconut
  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Unfiltered honey
  • Organic light corn syrup
  • Course salt

You can include whatever ingredients you like. For instance, you may like other types of dried fruit; you may like only peanuts; you may want M&Ms instead of chocolate chips; you may prefer pine nuts instead of sunflower seeds. If you look at the ingredients of the energy bars you like, pick out the ingredients you like and substitute as you wish. The point is to make something you will enjoy eating. Essentially you will have grains, nuts, and fruit. 

The binder (what holds it all together) is the honey and organic corn syrup. You may want to pick up some local honey to help support your community. The organic corn syrup is not clear, it's unfiltered and slightly darker. 

Why unsalted nuts? I prefer to control the amount of sodium. Processed foods typically have gross amounts of sodium. However, you want some salt because sodium is important to replace electrolytes while on the trail. The course salt I use is natural Himalayan kosher certified salt.  

I pick up most of my ingredients at my local natural food store.

What are the proportions? I start with an equal portion (one cup) of steel cut oats, rolled oats, puffed millet, nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut, raisins, cranberries, and chocolate chips. I put in a half portion (half-cup) of chia seeds.  If you want a double batch or half batch, proportion the amounts accordingly.  Mix all these together until evenly mixed. Dried fruit tends to clump, you may spend some time breaking them apart. Also, you may want to chop the nuts into smaller pieces with a knife or in your food processor. If you do it in your food processor, use the pulse button as you probably don't want it to be chopped into dust.

Then add equal amounts of honey and corn syrup, a couple squirts at a time while you stir with a wooden spoon. Add until the mixture starts holding together. Too much or too little and it won't hold together quite right. This will be sticky.

Then I line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (up the sides too) and press down the mixture in the sheet until it is firm, about the depth of the sheet (or whatever thickness you like). Sprinkle the course salt over the top. Put the cookie sheet in the oven at 250 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand until room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 30 min before cutting into bar shapes.

These will be chewy bars.  If you like crunchy bars, don't add chocolate and keep in the oven for 30 minutes (or longer), or make them thinner.  

To store the bars, cut squares of parchment paper to place between stacked bars in a plastic bag or plastic container. Refrigerate or freeze until needed. 

That's my simple recipe. If I take one or two bars with me on each hike, one batch will usually last me all year. Sometimes I'll make smaller batches to keep the bars more fresh.

I'd like to hear about how you modified this recipe, or one of your own.  Please comment. 

Enjoy!


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