Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Raspberry whole wheat bars

In a constant effort to perfect camping, hiking, and road trip food, I'm always focused on the snacks. When taking to the road and spending hours romping in the splendid outdoors, quality snacks are a must. I love snacks. Especially sweet ones, which are more like dessert, but sort of healthy.

Right now I'm testing out recipes for our annual Utah desert road trip in May. This time we will be exploring Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, and diving further into the San Rafael Swell. The desert is calling and we must go. 

We have already planned the menus. The first night, in celebration of Blake's completion of law school, we will be making camp beer cheese fondue. That's right you can have fondue and all the fixings while camping or so says Sunset's The Great Outdoors Cookbook. There will also be camp pesto pasta, thai red peanut coconut curry noodles, frittata, and pancakes. We will snack on M&M cookies, homemade chex mix, beef jerky, nut butter, Annie's cheddar bunnies, and these bars. These snacks are becoming tradition and traditions make camping under the stars all the more special. 

The reason for these bars is a childhood love of Nutri-Grain bars. As with all food things in life now, I believed a version of Nutri-Grain bars could be homemade with less unpronounceable ingredients and more whole food ingredients. I'm talking whole wheat, oats, raspberries, sugar, and butter. That list right there makes for an energy filled food, maybe a little decadent, but a great tasty hiking snack. These bars revived me after a 20 mile training run this morning and they will revive me after hiking miles in the desert in May. And darn are they good and easy. Good things in life should always be embraced. 

Raspberry whole wheat bars
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pods

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 
1 1/2 cups thick rolled oats 
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted) or canola oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2" cubes 
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup raspberry jam or any favorite fruit jam 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, oats, brown sugar, and salt, about 3-4 pulses. Add the coconut oil, butter, and water and pulse until the dough holds together when pressed. If dough seems dry, add water a tablespoon at a time until it holds together. Alternatively you can whisk the flour, oats, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and add oil, butter, and water using a fork to combine and break up pieces of butter into the dough. 

Grease a 9" by 13" baking pan with nonstick spray, cover the pan with parchment, and spray the parchment with nonstick spray. Pour half the dough mixture into your baking dish and use your hands to press it into a layer. Using a spatula spread the jam over this layer. Sprinkle the other half the dough over the top and use your hands or the spatula to press into a layer. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.

Let cool before cutting into whatever sized bars you please. 

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