Granola, bars and trail mixes are easy to make, and even easier to pack for your next summer adventure.
During the summer months, healthy portable snacks are called into service to provide energy for all kinds of outdoor activities. When you’re away from home, particularly with kids in tow, you need something that travels well without breaking, getting soggy or spoiling in the heat. Trail mix and granola are compact, keep well, and are great sources of fibre and protein (from the grains, nuts and seeds) and complex carbohydrates (from the grains and dried fruit). They’re perfect for activities with high energy requirements, such as hiking, camping, paddling and biking.
Isabella, 4, and Sadie, 2, were our junior cooks and taste-testers for these grainy granolas, bars and trail mixes; they helped choose ingredients, then stirred and baked them at their home in Tofino, B.C., then put them to the test on a hike.
If you make them yourself you can customize the ingredients to your family’s taste. Kids will love to help choose ingredients, then get in on the cooking action. Whole grains include all parts of the grain: the bran, or outer layer, which is rich in fibre; the endosperm, making up the bulk of the grain in the middle; and the germ – the nutrient-rich inner bit at the base. Refined grains include only the endosperm. Whole grains add more than just fibre; they contain more vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals than refined grains. They’ll provide a steady stream of energy, something kids need to power through their summer pursuits. When choosing whole grains for your bars and granola, think outside the oatmeal box; barley, amaranth, kamut, buckwheat, quinoa (keen-wah), spelt, hemp, millet, rye and triticale (trit-i-kay-lee) can be found in flour or flake form at health food stores and some large grocery chains.
Chewy Granola Bars
These thick granola bars can be customized with any kind of nuts, seeds and dried fruit your kids like, in any proportion. They’re delicious with the addition of chocolate chips. If you don’t have oat flour, make some by processing oats in a food processor until powdery, or try substituting brown rice or quinoa flour (available at most health food stores).
1 3/4 cups (620 g) quick rolled oats, barley flakes, or a combination
1/2 cup (110 g) packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (75 g) oat flour
1/2 tsp (2 g) salt
1/4 tsp (1 g) cinnamon
2–3 cups (450–600 g) chopped dried fruit, nuts or seeds
1/3 cup (70 mL) canola oil
1/3 cup (68 g) peanut butter, pea butter or another nut butter
1/3 cup (70g) liquid honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tsp (9 mL) vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8”x8” pan with non-stick spray.
- In a large bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, oat flour, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, nut butter, honey and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended and crumbly. Press into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden around the edges. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into bars
Per bar (including raisins, apricots and walnuts):
353 calories, 9.9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 4.8 g polyunsaturated fat, 3.6 g monounsaturated fat), 12.5.5 g protein, 55 g carbohydrates, 0 mg cholesterol, 6.6 g fibre.
The combination of whole grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruit make granola a great balance of complex carbohydrates, protein and heart healthy fats. Customize according to your taste, then stash resealable bags in kids’ backpacks, lunch bags, camp coolers, even the glove compartment
– anywhere you might find yourself in need of an energy boost.
5 cups (1.1 kg) old-fashioned oats and/or barley flakes
2 cups (450 g) chopped or sliced almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, or a combination
1/2 cup (110 g) sesame seeds
1/4 cup (55 g) ground flax seeds
1-2 tsp (4–8 g) cinnamon
1 tsp (4 g) ginger (optional)
1/2 tsp (2 g) salt
1/2 cup (115 mL) unsweetened applesauce (a lunch box snack pack works)
1/4 cup (55 mL) maple syrup
1/4 cup (55 mL) honey
2 tbsp (28 g) canola or flax oil
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1/2–1 cup (110–220 g) raisins, cranberries, dried blueberries, chopped figs or apricots, or a combination
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, spices and salt.
- In a small bowl, stir together applesauce, maple syrup, honey, oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until well combined and clumpy.
- Spread the mixture out onto a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 35–40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until pale golden.
- Cool completely on the sheet before stirring in any dried fruit. Store in resealable bags or airtight containers.
Makes 8–10 cups.
Per 1/4 cup (55 g) serving:
190 calories, 7.9 g fat (0.9 g saturated fat, 3.7 g polyunsaturated fat, 3.3 g monounsaturated fat), 6.9 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 0 mg cholesterol, 4.3 g fibre.