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.