Friday, September 10, 2010

Fruit and Nut Energy Bars

We’ve gone out to the desert again. When we plan a vacation, more often than not we choose to go back to the desert to hike in the rocky landscape and snap photos of saguaros from every angle and play as many of the hundreds of golf courses as we can. We like it here. This time, we decided to add something new to our itinerary. We’d never been to Sedona, Arizona despite how many times we’d been told we should see it. Sedona is north of Scottsdale, where we usually stay, and it’s also at a higher elevation at around 4500 feet. We drove up from Scottsdale and eventually realized that the saguaros disappear at around 3000 feet and are replaced by scrubby shrubs and short trees. Shortly thereafter along the drive, you begin to see the amazing red rocks. I knew we’d be hiking for several hours in those rocks, and when we got back to Scottsdale, we’d be hiking in the brown rocks there as well. So, I planned ahead and packed these homemade fruit and nut bars so we’d have healthy snacks whenever we needed them. These are from the June issue of Food and Wine and were included in the article about visiting America’s national parks.

The first ingredient in these bars is kamut flakes, and I really tried hard to find them. I put forth a thorough ingredient hunt complete with multiple grocery store visits and phone calls around town. When none were to be found locally, and I’m still considering opening my own shop to sell every ingredient I haven’t been able to find, I used a grain blend with oats, barley, and rye flakes instead. Those mixed grains were combined with pecans, cashews, honey, peanut butter, dried figs, flax seeds, canola oil, and lemon zest in a food processor and were coarsely chopped. Then, dried cranberries were added and pulsed just to combine. The mixture was formed into twelve bars on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and they were baked at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes.

The bars were packed with chewy, crunchy goodness with great flavor from the nuts and peanut butter, and wrapped well in foil or packed in an airtight container, they last for several days. Now that I know how easy they are to make, I’ll be trying all sorts of grain, nut, nut butter, and dried fruit combinations. I may never buy a pre-made granola bar again.

We brought these along as we hiked to Devil’s Bridge in Sedona. When we arrived at the top of the trail above the red stone arch, Kurt was crazy enough to walk out on it. I sat watching nervously, taking photos, and yelling ‘get back here.’ Then, we drove over to Boynton Canyon which offered an easy walking trail with incredible red rock views.

Later, in Phoenix, we hiked the summit trail at Echo Canyon which eliminated any need for time on a stairmaster that day. It’s straight up for just over a mile with stairs built into the trail in places, a couple of steep rock sections that require handrails, and a few places where you have to clamber over rocks. Last, we jogged at Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale which is a smooth trail with both uphill and downhill sections, and it proved to be another good workout with a great view. Now, it’s almost time to leave the desert and return to reality. We’re taking home lots of new desert photos, and we’ll be back soon enough to discover other trails and hike our favorites all over again.



29 comments:

  1. I've always heard how beautiful it is in Arizona, and your pictures confirm it. I will have to get myself out there someday. For the time being I will definitely try this homemade granola bar recipe.

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  2. Great energy bars! Perfect to take on a hike.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. These sound delish. Perfect to take to school for snacking because I don't go anywhere nearly as fun as you do.

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  4. Those bars would be just the perfect snack to make for my daughter! And perfect to take on a hike!

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  5. We just returned from Scottsdale on Monday. We love the landscape down there and have hiked Echo canyon too! Our favorite is the Superstition Springs Mountains. (Lost Canyon State Park) I blogged a bunch of restaurant reviews last week. Ooohhh some really good eating down there. Thanks for the recipe...bookmark it for our next hiking escapade!

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  6. Awesome photos, we've got friends who have a place in Scotssdale & they rave about the scenery. I would have been the same as you... way too unadventurous to walk out on that rock bridge, would have been full of "what if...?"
    Nice energy bars there, they would be just the thing for hiking.

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  7. Great energy bars and great photos!

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  8. These bars sound wonderful, and so does your trip to Sedona. I was there years ago, and ate a a place called (I think) the Coffee Pot Cafe. It's at the base of a rock formation that looks like an old coffee pot, and if I remember correctly, they have something like 50 different omelettes...

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  9. I've been to Echo Canyon and man it IS steep. My roommate in college grew up in Scottsdale and we spring break-ed there one year. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. I'm glad to see you had an awesome vacation!

    These fruit and nut bars look perfect for fueling you during arduous hikes. I'm going to make them while training for my next marathon!

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  10. Hope you're enjoying your trip- the pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing. I've been making my own granola for a few years now but never even thought about making granola bars. I may have to give it a try- your bars look delish!

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  11. Scrumptious and definitely give you a lot of energy to get going :)

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  12. Homemade energy bars are awesome. Definitely perfect for outdoor activities. I feel like going hiking now.

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  13. We love Sedona! It is so beautiful there. We visit Telluride, CO often & I always make bars similar to these. They are great for hiking!

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  14. These bars -- and I mean it as a compliment -- look commercially made. I bet these homemade ones are fresher, more delicious, more nutritious, and less expensive to make.

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  15. I prefer the homemade energy bars..and you definitely would need some when you went hiking!

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  16. These energy bars look like they could be taken on a hike across the Sahara desert, let alone the Arizona canyons~ one of my close friends is from Arizona, so I am eager to find out more about it. It does look so beautiful; she was only complaining about the heat! So I am assuming these bars could be made with oatmeal ? No chance I will find these ingredients here.

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  17. Joumana: It is hot in Arizona! But, we don't mind it. You can definitely make these bars with just oats rather than a mix of grains.

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  18. What gorgeous views! And perfect treats for the trail!

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  19. I love Sedona so much, one of the most beautiful places I've seen. Those yummy bars seem to be perfect for a dessert hike :)

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  20. what a great snack to bring on your road trip. The scenery looks beautiful :D

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  21. I love your homemade power-packed bars. Perfect snack to boost your energy during outdoor activities. Great dessert photos! ;)

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  22. if you can find the time, energy, and money to open your own specialty ingredients store, you TOTALLY should! you'd be my hero. :)

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  23. Great energy bars idea! Thanks for sharing!

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  24. You were totally prepared for your hikes with these energy bars. They look so delicious...don't think I need a hike to convince me to try them?
    ronelle

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  25. Wow, homemade energy bar...it sure sounds great when for a hike...the pictures of the canyon are awesome!

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  27. These look like super fuel -- and way better than store-bought. ;)

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  28. What incredible photos and what a super treat to bring along. The hike sounds amazing, and looks just awesome from the photos. My husband is I think a lot like Kurt, I have a nickname for him "Billygoat" as he just takes off and makes it all so effortless. Me on the other hand, I am prone to sprained ankles.

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  29. What a fabulous trip Lisa. Seeing as our summer never really happened, I am especially jealous of your sunshine! I am so far behind on my food magazines and I'm thankful that you bring great recipes to my attention. This is the kind of thing that I would love to make for my kids but worry that they will prefer store-bought. More for me, I guess.

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