In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Zen Bars

ZEN BARS: the next generation of backpacking energy bars coming out of my kitchen! See earlier posts for a progression of recipes so far.

Why ZEN? Well, Eldest asked for the TaoTe Ching, a book by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, and right next to it, at the used bookstore where I like to shop (and get credit for reselling our own books) were lots of these tiny books: The Little Zen Companion. Several Christmases ago, everybody probably got one in their stocking -- now they're practically free if you have paperback credit! Perfect wrapping material for a girl who's studying Taoism while munching on my bars along the PCT, I'd say.

Sooo, we're wrapping each of our little bars in cling wrap, and identifying ingredients on the back of a nice little Zen quote!

Here's my newest invention, inspired by Larabar's "Jocalat", subtitled "German Chocolate Cake", containing dates, nuts, coconut, and cocoa powder. DIGRESSION: I never got why Americans call a Chocolate-Coconut cake "German" -- it was probably all the rage around 1900 when many German immigrated here, but certainly today it's not particularly German (E.O.D.)! So, I'll probably call mine:

Mock German Chocolate Cake Bars

1/2 c honey
1/2 c peanut butter
2 c dates, and/or raisins
1 c walnuts
1.5 c shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened, either works)
2-3 T dark cocoa powder (unsweetened, I used Droste)
optional: ground flaxseed, wheatgerm, oats, or other, esp if need to thicken

Melt the first 2 ingredients, and then blend everything else in. I like to add flaxseed or other until stirring gets really difficult -- so my bars don't melt on the trail!
Press into greased pan (I use a bread loaf pan) and refrigerate overnight. Cut into bars (makes 8 4-oz bars). You probably can hardly believe that I actually measured and weighed something (!), but I was curious how my bars compared price-wise to Larabars -- I still need to calculate it, but my guess is that mine cost a third or a quarter of theirs...

Chewy Cherry Garcia Bar
7 oz marshmallow cream
3 T Peanut Butter
1 T butter
1/4 c honey
2 c oats
2 c dried cherries
1 c pecans
1/2 c chocolate chips, if desired
optional: seeds (for coating), such as sesame, flax or sunflower

Warning, this is messy! Melt the first 4 ingredients, stir in the rest, and mix by hand (oil them first!). Then press into pan, coat with seeds, and refrigerate overnight, or alternatively, bake to make firmer bars.

East Meets West Granola Bars
1 can sweetened evaporated milk
2 T Tahini (sesame paste)
2 c oats
2 c almonds
1 c pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 c dried mangoes
1 c dried cranberries
2 T candied dried ginger
2 T+ sesame seeds

Heat milk in pan, add tahini and blend. Add dry ingredients. Press into greased pan and bake at 250 for 30-45min, until lightly browned. Cut into bars while still warm.
Note: if you want these really crunchy, bake longer (1 hr+)

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