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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Trail Chef: In Search of the Perfect Trail Bar

Three do-it-yourself energy bar recipes for discriminating tastes

One of my summer resolutions this year is to start making my own trail bars. There are some delicious store-bought options out there, sure, but there's just something so Betty-Crocker-satisfying about unwrapping a creation from your own kitchen when you're out in the wilds. So, readers, I need your help.

I'm heading out for a weeklong tromp through the Canadian Rockies very soon, and I want to bring the very best homemade trail bars with me. Not just any trail bar, mind you. The very best. I have a few options to consider, but I'll bet some of you have tried-and-true, crowd-pleasing bar recipes that can top my list. So, I propose this: I'll share three tasty recipes here if you guys will contribute your own. Post 'em in the comments or email them to recipes@backpacker.com. And thank you, from the bottom of my granola-loving heart.

Cherry-Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Adapted from A Fork in the Trail, by Laurie March (featured in our May 2008 Summer Fitness Special)

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups flake cereal (I used Safeway's O Organics Honey 7 Grain cereal)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Heat the honey and brown sugar in a large pot and simmer one minute. (Don't boil too long, or the bars will be brittle.) Remove from heat and stir in PB. Add remaining ingredients and combine well. Note: This results in chocolate-coated bars, because the chips will melt as you mix. If you prefer solid chips, let the mixture cool, then add chips.)

Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with vegetable oil. Scoop the mixture into the pan and pat down evenly. Freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer the pan contents to a cutting board and allow to return to room temperature. Cut into 10 bars. Wrap in waxed paper and store in zip-top bags.

Banana-Nut Energy Bars
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine's October 1998 issue.

1/2  cup  mashed ripe banana
1/3  cup  packed brown sugar
1/4  cup  honey
1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
1/2  teaspoon  vanilla
1  large egg
1/2  cup  all-purpose flour
1 1/4  cups  multigrain hot cereal (such as Quaker) or quick-cooking oats
1/4  cup  chopped pecans
1/2  teaspoon  salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the first six ingredients (banana through egg) with a mixer on medium speed until blended. Gradually add flour, cereal, pecans, and salt, stirring to blend. Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 25 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 12 bars and store in zip-top bags.

Coconut-Apricot Trail Bars
Adapted from allrecipes.com.

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 eggs
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup jumbo chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix butter, 3/4 cup of the honey, and lemon juice until well-blended. Combine flour, oats, and wheat germ, then add to honey mixture. Spread evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9"x13" pan. In another bowl, beat eggs while gradually adding remaining 1/4 cup honey. Stir in remaining ingredients until they're evenly distributed and well-coated. Spread over the flour layer in the pan. Bake 30-35 minutes, until set and top is browned. Cool, cut into bars, and store in zip-top bags.

—Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Image credit: manray3

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Jenny
May 03, 2011

I love your recipies but have a bit of a challenge. I have Scouts of all ages that we take on day trips. Where can I get recipies that have alternatives for food alergies???

Mark Blanchfield
Nov 02, 2009

Threw a batch of the Cherry-Choc-PB bars together yesterday.

Very good...and super easy !

Laurie Ann
Aug 11, 2009

I love your adaptation of my recipe. When traveling in hotter weather I use dark chocolate chips (or cut up my favorite Lindt bar) because dark chocolate doesn't melt as easily and it cuts a bit of the sweetness too.

amyBOSWORTH
Aug 09, 2009

I must say that I completely agree with you about unwrapping a homemade delight on the trail, which too sent me delving into internet blogs for the best homemade granola bars. Cliff Bars are my absolute favorite, but with little money in my pocket, and a strong distaste for packaged food, I turned up a blog with a replica recipe for these heavenly squares. Check out the site, posted below, and save yourself some extra coins along with a few unneeded chemical preservatives. Enjoy!

http://enlightenedcooking.blogspot.com/2008/06/homemade-cliff-bars-no-bake.html

Sarah Kirkconnell
Jul 30, 2009

This recipe is one that many people have tried out and adapted to their tastes (you can swap in and out items). It is simple and quick and carries well in the pack.
http://www.trailcooking.com/recipes/you-can-make-them-your-way-bars

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