Sunday, June 21, 2009

Road Warriors

My task this week:  Make goodies for a road trip to the Grand Canyon.  My parents and grandparents are packing up and heading to the Grand Canyon on Thursday.  I'm jealous of the trip, but not of the 16+ hours in the car!  My mission, should I choose to accept it (which, obviously, I did!) is to make filling, delicious, and healthy snacks for their ride.   I want to steer clear of junk food and empty calories, because, let's face it... long road trips and the digestive system are typically not best friends.  I don't want to be a contributor to anyone's inability to go number two.  Yep, I just said that!  We all know what I'm talking about, so don't pretend you don't!  

My first thought is to make a trail mix.  Nutty, sweet, salty, satisfying and fits perfectly with the theme of the vacation... a sure hit.  Now I just have to decide on the ingredients.  I'm thinking yogurt covered raisins, almonds, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate covered peanuts.  Antioxidants, check.  Yum factor, check.  Hunger conqueror, check.  Now, something's missing.... Ah yes!  I'll toss in some granola bites with flax and pumpkin seeds.  Omega 3's and DHA, check!  We're good to go.  (I'll list recipes at the end)
My second idea (well, my sister actually suggested this one) is a homemade granola bar.  I have never made granola bars, but my sis (the pastry chef) swears they are simple.  We'll see.  Since I have no experience with these, I've scoured the internet looking for recipes.   I've come up with one that appears simple and and delicious.  Hmmm, this could end in disaster.  It could also be fantastic.  I'll have to get back to ya on this one!

Trail Blazin' Trailmix
3 c. granola of choice
1 1/2 c. yogurt covered raisins
2 c. dark chocolate covered peanuts
1 10oz. can sea salt mixed nuts
1 6oz. pkg craisins 

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and enjoy!  

Note:  I just finished making this recipe and its delicious!  So crunchy and sweet and salty...just what I was hoping it would be.  I divided it into two big ziplock bags and added a handful of toasted coconut to one batch, and I think its even better!

Homemade Granola Bar
2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, blueberries, or other of your choice)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or spray at 9 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.
Spread oats, sunflower seeds, almonds and wheat germ onto a sheet pan.  Place in oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  While you're waiting on the oat mixture to toast, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.  Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.  Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees.  Immediately add the oat mix to the liquid, and add the dried fruit and stir very well to combine.  Turn the mixture out onto the prepared 9 x 9 baking dish and press down.  Make sure the mixture is evenly spread and tightly pressed into the dish.  Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove and cool completely.  Cut into squares or bars and store in an airtight container or individually wrap in plastic wrap.  These will stay good for up to a week.  Enjoy your healthy snack!

Note:  Whew!  I just finished making these, and it WAS easy, as promised.  They turned out great.  Chewy, filling and just the right amount of fruit.  I think for my next batch, I may drizzle chocolate over some for a variation.  Hey, any excuse to justify eating more chocolate, and I'm all over it!