Monday, June 28, 2010

Cranberry Almond Chocolate Trail Bars

After I finish up a quick trip to nyc today, I'll be this close to heading West on a real vacation. By which I mean no internet, no emailing, no checking my blackberry. Just meeting new family, seeing new sites and enjoying a bit of R&R—plus a 7 day backpacking trip.

Since I can be a little picky about food, I though it would be nice to have something homemade along, so I made these trail bars to take along. The recipe is from the April/May issue of ReadyMade from Louisa Shafia, the author of Lucid Food, and I love them because they are completely customizable and full of wholesome ingredients including nut butter, seeds, dried fruit, oats and some chocolate thrown in for good measure. It's all bound together with brown rice syrup, which gives them a rice krispy treat texture.

They are a bit messy to make, and the ingredients can be an investment, but I realized that since the recipe makes 18-20 bars if you cut them into sizes like I did (meant to be eaten for breakfast or a hearty snack) and twice that if you cut them smaller, they are really an economical alternative to buying Cliff Bars. Plus, I got to put in exactly what I wanted and they are delicious. We're still debating about whether we want to bring the whole batch, but after I ate one for breakfast on the plane yesterday.

Click here to see the original recipe.
Here is what I did—the biggest difference is that I cut out the cup of evaporated sugar that was called for. I loved the taste of the original bars, but they were a little sweeter than I prefer. I think I got a good balance with just the brown rice syrup.

Cranberry Almond Chocolate Trail Bars

3 c rolled oats
4 c puffed flax cereal (I used Perky's Nutty Flax for the fiber and the crunch)
2 c dried cranberries
1 c raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 c raw sunflower seeds
1/2 c walnuts
1 1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips
2 c brown rice syrup
1 c almond butter
1 t vanilla extract
1⁄2 t salt
  1. Line a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cereal, dried fruit, and nuts ; set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Add brown rice syrup, nut butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir the mixture until smooth and heated through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a spatula. Mix with your hands until the dry ingredients are fully coated with the chocolate.
  4. Pour the mixture into baking sheet, cover with a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, and press the mixture down. Use a rolling pin to press it out to the corners of the baking sheet.
  5. Allow to cool, then slice into bars. Wrapped well or stored in an airtight container, the bars can last for up to a month in the fridge.

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