This is a great recipe to know, because there are so many trail bars out there in supermarkets. And a lot of them are expensive, they have lots of sugar or lots of preservatives. But you can make them really easily, yourself. Watch my video here and follow these simple steps.
Step 1: What I’m going to start out by doing, is making a glue to stick all the ingredients together. My first ingredient, is some bitter-sweet chocolate. This is chocolate with a very small amount of sugar in it. Why? Because I want to keep the amount of sugar in these trail bars, as low as possible.
Step 2: So, I have my chocolate in there and this is a double boiler that I’ve put together. This pot has water in it, and this is just a glass bowl that can withstand a lot of heat. So, you don’t need to have a real double boiler to do this, just set up a bowl and a pot.
Step 2: The chocolate’s melting, I’m also going to add some sugar, this is organic sugar. I try to keep my own sugar intake low, but you do need to have some sugar in this recipe, because the sugar will melt.
Step 3: And then, when it crystallizes at room temperature, it will help to hold the trail bars together. I’m also going to add some peanut butter to my glue mix here, this is a healthy peanut butter. You could also use almond butter, you could use cashew butter, any nut butter that you like. But what the nut butter does, is it helps to make this mix really rich and flavorful. And it also helps to stick everything together.
Step 4: The last thing that I’m going to add to my glue mix, is some brown rice syrup. Now, this is an ingredient that you might not know about. It’s a sweetener made from fermented brown rice, and it has a light caramel-y taste. It’s really delicious, you might just want to eat it plain. But you can use it anywhere, where you would use maple syrup or sugar. And this is readily available at health food stores,
Step 5: I’m putting everything in this bowl, this is going to melt together, this will take a few minutes. And I’ll just stir it occasionally and keep an eye on it. So, while my glue is melting together, I’m going to mix my dry ingredients. I’m starting out with three cups of rolled oats, I’m going to add some puffed grain cereal. But what this does, it’s going to give a little bit of volume to my trail bars. So, they have a nice texture and a nice crunchiness, and a little bit of airiness throughout.
Step 6: Add a mix of coarsely chopped nuts. I have some almonds in here and some cashews, you could really use any nuts that you like. You could use pecans, you could use pine nuts, anything will work.
Step 7: Use a mix of dried fruit. I like some prunes and also some dried apricots. Again, you could use anything you like, if you want to put dried cranberries in here, dried cherries, currants, anything will work. So, now, I’m going to mix my dry ingredients together. The best kitchen tool, is your hands. So, just get right in there, mix it around until everything is well distributed.
Step 8: Check the mix and if the chocolate looks melted and the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat. Pour this nice chocolate mix over my oats, my puffed kamut, dried fruit and chopped nuts. Stir this together, I’m mixing my wet ingredients into my dry. And this takes a little bit of elbow grease, as they say, but it’s good work, you’ll earn your trail bars. Okay, so, I do as much as I can with my rubber spatula and then, I go back to my favorite kitchen tool, my hands. So, I’m going to just oil my hands a little bit, just any no taste oil will do. And I’m going to go in and mix with my hands. And the oil helps the mix from sticking to my hands. Yeah, so now, I can really get in there and make sure that every bit of the dried grains gets coated with this nice, hot mix of chocolate. And it’s not too hot to handle, the chocolate cools off pretty much, as soon as it touches the oats. I kept this mix pretty simple, but if you want to add seasonings to this, like cinnamon or nutmeg or a little bit of cloves, you can go ahead and do that. You can also add more grains in, you could add some wheat germ, you could add some flax seeds, really anything that you like. And that’ll be healthy and that will give you lots of energy and protein, if you’re out on a day of hiking.
Step 9: Take my trail bar mix and press into a pan. First, I’m going to lightly grease the pan, so you don’t need much oil, just enough to coat. Okay, now, I’m going to transfer the trail bars into the pan. Again, a little bit of a workout here, alright, that looks good. I’m just going to press out the mix into the pan. And I want to try and go over to the edges of the pan and press it out into the corners. So that I have a nice, even layer of trail bar mix, when I go to cut these. Okay, so, press it out as much as you can with your hands.
Step 10: For the final touch, I’m going to spread a sheet of plastic wrap over my trail bar mix. And I’m just going to roll this with a rolling pin, just for that extra insurance that’s it’s going to be flat and evenly distributed throughout the pan. And that’s done. I’m going to put this in the fridge to cool and solidify, for at least two hours. Okay, my trail bars have been sitting in the fridge for two hours, they feel solid enough to cut. They’re really solid now, but they’re still easy to cut into and they’ll hold their shape really well. Oh, these look great, you can see all the nuts in there, and the whole grains, excellent, these are ready for the trail. Now, once you have these cut, you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a month. There’s really nothing in here that’s going to go bad, but they are best when they’re fresh.
- When preparing healthy lunches for you kids put a healthy but fun snack in your kid’s lunch box–such as fat-free popcorn, made with a little salt but no butter. They will enjoy seeing and sharing something fun to eat.
- If your child has a peanut allergy or they don’t allow peanuts in the school, try sunflower butter as a healthy alternative or hummus and carrots for a nutritious and satisfying snack.
This is a guest post from Louisa Shafia, Rachael Ray Buddy on eHow Food
Bio: Louisa Shafia, Rachael Ray Buddy on eHow Food is the IACP Award–nominated author of Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life, a collection of seasonal recipes and tips on eco-friendly cooking. A former editor for National Public Radio’s Fresh Air, Louisa has cooked at noteworthy restaurants in New York and San Francisco, including Aquavit, Pure Food and Wine, and Millennium, and in 2004 launched the eco-conscious catering company Lucid Food. Louisa teaches cooking classes, gives lectures across the country, and writes about food and healthy living for publications including rachaelray.com, ReadyMade, and Whole Living.