Trying to eat healthy and pack on the energy while on the trail can be quite hard to do, and most hikers, paddlers, and outdoor enthusiasts get stuck in a rut of not mixing up their choices, leaving them unfulfilled, bored, and possibly not eating regularly to sustain the energy boost they need to complete the trek. I have found that the key is to keep you taste buds guessing and try new snacks, ones that not only give you the satisfaction of great taste but add to your quiver of unique sharing experiences. I have also found that if you coordinate with other hikers you can almost do a potluck snack offering while on the trail and you will never get bored with what you are fueling yourself with. Below is a small rundown of some of my favorite sharing foods.
Processed snack bars and energy bars
These recipes are not to replace energy bars or ones you can get in the store. The fact is some of them are darn good, and they will last close to a century in your pack and are great for emergencies or extended trips. They are also very lightweight. For example, there are Kind Bars, Larabars, Clif Bars, Bonk Breakers, fruit squeezes, Cave Man, Tonka, and varieties of jerky. These I have found to be quite good and of course there are many B-side brands that make bar options. However, with that being said, after a long day on the trail I need a change, and even over the course of a season my craving for these becomes less and less.
Secret Granola Bars and Crumble (Gluten Free)
I guess it’s not really a secret, but I have called it this for some time and it has taken me a bit of time to get it down. I change this up all the time but I use this base, and the optional ingredients make it different and don’t affect the base results. Choose your optional ingredients and add to the dry mix before you combine with the wet mix.
Mix together dry ingredients
4 cups of gluten free quick oats
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1.5 cups of gluten free baking mix
1 cup of brown sugar
Mix together wet ingredients
1 cup of canola oil
1 cup molasses
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 large eggs, beaten
Peanut butter drizzle (after baking)
Nutella drizzle (after baking)
Almond extract instead of vanilla
This tends to vary depending on the optional ingredients you use.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Spray and flour a pan.
Spread your mix in a pan — I prefer a 2-inch pan to make more of a moist bar rather than a dry, crisp one. Spread it out more for a crispier bar or crumble on a cookie sheet.
Bake for as long as it takes. I hate to put it that way but truly it does differ quite a bit, even from oven to oven. Typically, around an hour for the bars and a bit less for the thin crumble. Look for the edges to be a nice golden brown. They should pull away from the pan easily.
Let cool slightly before cutting.
To make a nice drizzle just warm the ingredients in a small sauce pan with a teaspoon of butter.
Brigadeiros (Brazilian Chocolate Fudge Balls)
These should be illegal, that’s how good they are. Three ingredients, that’s it! I don’t make these that often but when I do I am the life of the party. The catch is they need to be carried in a hard container and they are best on a cool day. Save these for a short hike, or maybe the fall when temps are cooler.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 3 tablespoons of cocoa, 1 tablespoon of butter, and one 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk.
Cook, stirring constantly until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. The mixture when stirred should take a few seconds before coming back together.
Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle.
Form into small balls and roll in some sort of goodness like coconut, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, or sprinkles.
Place each ball in small mini cupcake paper or wrap in wax paper to hold shape.
Store and carry in a tightly sealed container and separate layers with wax paper.
Oven dried jerky
Meat is everything, and protein on the trail will give you a nice energy boost. Like the granola above you can mix up the flavors as you like. Maybe you want a salty jerky, use a Montreal seasoning or just S&P. Maybe you want savory. Use some soy sauce, garlic, and steak sauce. Sweet is easy too: Use some brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, molasses, or other sweet ingredient. You can even do plain. To tenderize the cuts of meat you can pound it with a meat hammer, or add beer or another carbonated beverage to your marinade. I have found Coke actually works well for breaking down tough meat fibers.
Choose lean cuts of beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, bacon, ham, or wild game—1 pound sliced no more than 1/4 inch thick
Marinate 24-48 hours.
When ready, preheat oven to 175 degrees for pork, chicken, turkey, wild game, and beef; 200 degrees for fish.
Layer meat on a rack placed on a cookie sheet to avoid having to flip it, otherwise directly onto cookie sheet and flip two times through the drying process. If using a rack spin it once or twice during the process.
The drying process will take several hours, 5-6 hours is a good guideline, but the thinner the meat the quicker it dehydrates.
The meat should be a bit tough but not brittle.
Easy, and makes for a great breakfast while traveling to your recreational destination. The oatmeal bar is soft and only slightly sweet, makes for a great coffee companion.
1 can sweetened, condensed milk
1 can pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix
2 cups quick oats
2 large eggs
1 tsp of nutmeg
1 tbsp of cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix all the above together.
Poor in greased and floured 9-inch pan.
Bake for one hour; watch for edges to become a nice golden brown.
Cool before cutting unless you can’t wait to try it. In that case, go for it.