Once or twice a year, Daren and his buddies pack up their things and head off into the wilderness for a 4 day guys-only camping trip where they can relax and do “man things” (as anyone whose husband goes on these trips knows, the words “wilderness” and “man things” are used pretty loosely here – on one trip they went wine tasting, and another time they ate at the Cheesecake Factory. You didn’t hear that from me.)
As with most events, when the yearly camping trip rolls around, I look at it as an opportunity to test out some fun new recipes! On more than one occasion, I’ve sent the guys off with a big batch of these triple chocolate cookies – they’re small, they’re sturdy, they contain 3 kinds of chocolate; what more could you want on a camping trip? Last year I also tested out this recipe for homemade Clif bars, and they were a huge hit with Daren. These bars mimic the Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch flavor. Actual Clif bars are great for camping/hiking/backpacking, as they are small, nutrient and calorie dense, and a pretty good source of protein. There probably isn’t anything “bad” about the store bought ones, as they contain mostly organic ingredients and don’t seem to contain preservatives (don’t quote me on that; that’s just what I can tell based on the packaging). That being said, we all know my mentality is: if you can make something from scratch, why not? I also didn’t do a cost analysis on these or anything, but they’ve GOT to be cheaper than the ones in the store.
After I made these last year, I was all psyched up to make them regularly so we would have them available for breakfasts and for on-the-go snacks… and then I didn’t make them again until this year’s camping trip. Fail. They’re so simple to make (no baking required) and take very little time/effort, so hopefully this time around I’ll remember that and make them a little more frequently!
Quick note about the ingredients – this recipe calls for brown rice syrup to be used as a sweetener/to help hold the bars together. Brown rice syrup was an unusual ingredient for me, but it’s a nice alternative to honey or maple syrups as it is less sweet and has a low glycemic index. The low glycemic index is perfect for camp activities like hiking, as it will help keep your blood sugar stable and keep you from crashing. I was able to find it at Whole Foods, or you can of course check Amazon; if necessary, you can probably use honey instead (although bear in mind your bars will likely taste sweeter).
I made a few other things to send along with the boys in addition to these bars, so over the next few days I’ll be sharing some Camping Essentials for your next trip!
- 1 cup dates (pitted)
- 1¼ cups crisp rice cereal
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped peanuts
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Spray an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray (or line with parchment paper, allowing some to hang over the sides like a sling). Set aside.
Place the dates in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the rice cereal, oats, peanuts, flaxseed, cinnamon and salt to the bowl of the food processor, and continue pulsing briefly until the ingredients are combined (there should still be chunks of all the ingredients; using the food processor will just help smooth everything out). Transfer the ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
In a small saucepan, combine the peanut butter and brown rice syrup and heat over medium-low heat until melted and fully blended. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir until well combined. If still warm, allow to cool slightly then mix in the mini chocolate chips.
Pour the mixture into your prepared baking pan and press down firmly to pack it into place. Allow to cool completely, at least 1 hour, until set. Cut into bars (I cut mine into 9), wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
*Quick note about storage – for camping, Daren will bring these up in a cooler with the rest of their perishable food. We try to keep them cool, but I’m sure they would be fine at room temperature for a while!
Yield: 9 bars
Source: Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker