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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 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

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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