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Monday, April 23, 2012

Trail Bars

Initially I was going to call these granola bars; however, I decided that doesn't do them justice. They are not to be clumped into the generic category of "granola bar" which has the Quaker Oats granola bar image attached to it. No, no, no. This recipe was designed as an uber healthy alternative to a store bought granola bar.

I made these bars for the trail. Garrett & I hiked Hillary Peak, one of the Mt. Princeton peaks, this weekend with our dear friends Caleb and Em in celebration of Caleb's 30th Birthday. These bars supplied us with necessary fuel. Alas, the trail bar has been born. These are gluten free, dairy free and vegan. Literally every ingredient is some kind of nutritional superstar in it's own right. Except for the 1/3 cup brown sugar, but they have to have some kind of sweetner. I haven't made them enough to experiment with completely removing the sugar and using a 100% alternative sweetner - such as brown rice syrup or maple syrup. I am sure it can be done. As is, the recipe calls for 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup brown rice syrup. To me, this is acceptable as the sugar is immediately burned as an energy source for us while hiking and engaging in outdoor activities.

First: make a chia egg
This is done by mixing 1 tablespoon chia seed to 3 tablespoons water, allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes and it will turn into a nice thick gel.

The chia gel is used in place of an egg. If you aren't into chia, you can substitute a real egg. In chia's defence, I'd like to say how easy it is to use, works really effectively as an egg replacer, has no noticeable taste, and is extremely healthful. Dr. Oz has referred to chia as the Ultimate Superfood.

In large bowl, combine:
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup rolled barley
1/3 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup hemp protein
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped or sliced almonds

On stovetop in small sauce pan over low heat, gently melt:
2/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup brown rice syrup

Stir them together until they being to meld and the coconut oil has almost completely liquified. Remove from stoptop, add 1 Tablespoon real vanilla extract and 2 Tablespoons water. Stir until mixed.

In a blender, Vitamix or food processor, blend the coconut oil & rice syrup mixture with the chia egg on low. You are simply ensuring that the chia egg is evenly distrubuted throughout the liquid that will hold the bars together. 

Lastly, pour the liquid from the blender into the bowl of dry ingredients, and stir well to coat.

Gently press the trail bar mixture into a lightly oiled 8 X 8 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. They are done when the edges are lightly brown and bubbling, the center still slightly soft. They may look undercooked, but they will set up as they cool. Allow them to fully cool before handling.

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