I would like to posit that the snack needs of your average park-going mother of small children are the same as those of the wilderness guide leading a group into the backcountry. With either a well-stocked multi-day pack or a well-fed baby strapped to her back, she's looking for nutritionally dense snacks that won't weigh down the pack (or purse) and will keep the troops going, if not all day, then at least until they stop for lunch.
When I received Laurie Ann March's new book, Another Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry, I pored over the sample meal plans and tips on organizing your food and equipment on long hikes. I read through enticing recipes like Five-spice Pineapple Slaw and Harvest Hummus with Roasted Pepitas. I studied instructions for dehydrating meals and reconstituting them in camp.
But for me, right now, this was mostly fantasy reading. I am not actually doing any of this at the moment. I don't think I told you about the hike we took on my birthday last spring? It was beautiful. The boys cried and/or demanded to be carried the entire return trip. We're staying indoors for awhile.
Desmond and I made the cherry almond energy bars in all of about 5 minutes, including the time it takes for a 4-year-old to very thoroughly crush two cups of cereal in a ziploc bag. (It is a pretty fun job.)
The bars are chewy and crunchy, sweet and tart and even a touch salty. They’ll be perfect to throw in my purse tomorrow with a water bottle and a sand shovel. Packed and ready.
Desmond’s verdict? “After this I’m going to have another one. Are you?”
I did. (We cut them much smaller than the recipe calls for. We netted 20 small bars which I guess is pointless if we’re eating two.)
Next up are the Garam Masala Roasted Chickpeas and the Almond, Carob, Flax Balls, and then, a ways down the road perhaps I'll be dehydrating some Butter Bean and Kale Ragout - before reading this book, this possibility never even occurred to me - that's where those backpacker meals come from! I like this book. It's inspiring. Maybe one day these recipes will even make it farther afield than the wilds of the preschool play yard!
Cherry and Almond Energy Bars
From Another Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry by Laurie Ann March and published by Wilderness Press
Makes: 10 bars
Author's Note: There is something I find very comforting about the flavor of cherries and almonds together. This recipe was a happy accident that happened when I thought I was using cranberries. These bars pair well with a hot cup of chocolate in the evening. If you have celiac disease, look for a gluten-free cereal with a heavy flake.
- 1/3 cup agave nectar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 2 cups cereal made of strong flakes, crushed
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
At Home: Heat the agave nectar and brown sugar in a large pot and let simmer for 1 minute. (Boiling too long will make the bars brittle and sugary.) Remove the pan from the heat and add the almond butter. Stir until the almond butter is well incorporated. Add the crushed cereal, dried cherries, and slivered almonds. Combine well.
Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with vegetable oil. Scoop the mixture into the pan and pack down evenly. Freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer the pan contents to a cutting board. Allow to return to room temperature and then cut into 10 bars. Wrap the bars in waxed paper and store in ziplock bags. The bars will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.