When skiing with a pack of 10- and 11-year old boys, it is good to have a supply of energy bars along, not that they need any more energy.
Homemade chewy peanut buttery bars fortified with crunchy granola and drizzled with dark chocolate are perfect for replenishing big appetites on a snowy winter day.
This is what PE class looks like in Jackson Hole.
On a special Journeys School Physical Education class celebrating winter sports, we outfitted the kids in nordic gear and headed out to the Park, Grand Teton National Park that is. Racing across the snowfields to Cottonwood Creek, they discovered a local secret: in the winter, the meandering creek freezes to form the perfect natural terrain half-pipe.
Alex dips over the cornice, with a daffy that is very reminiscent of the tricks my husband used to throw bump skiing in the 80s.
Instantly the silent winter sanctuary of the Park turns into a backcountry version of the X-Games.
Reed waits for the sign that "all's clear" before he executes his jump. His hat shows evidence of his last head plant.
Duncan just goes for it, while Trevor looks on.
After an hour or so of this, snacks must happen. A thermos of hot chocolate, another of Chai tea, some oatmeal cookies, and the Backcountry Bars come out.
Making your own snack bars at home from ingredients in your pantry is fast and easy, not to mention economical. And it's good to know exactly what's in your bar. As you may suspect, most health bars on the market are anything but healthy.
I was tempted by the grooves in my Made in the USA pan to call these Groomer Bars, after the perfectly groomed corduroy runs at the Jackson Hole Ski Resort.
Creamy peanut butter serves as the base for the Backcountry Bars, and crushed up cereal or granola gives them their oomph.
Dress them up with a swerve of dark chocolate, or spice them up with chopped crystallized ginger. Add chopped figs, cherries or currants. Throw in some nuts. This is truly an any-way-you-like-it recipe.
Our favorite Backcountry Bar is made from The Bunnery Natural Foods Original Granola. I’m not one for store-bought granola, but I make an exception for the Bunnery brand. Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almond slices and toasted oats add just the right crunch to these otherwise chewy bars.
You may have seen these bars out and about town this year; they first appeared as Art Bars at the Center for the Arts Scarecrow Festival last fall. The Art Bar was made chewy with chopped figs and spicy with chopped crystallized ginger.
Call them what you will and make them with whatever you have on hand. These wholesome peanut buttery bars will disappear quickly if you have active people around.
Heading back to school after PE class, Shannon points out animal tracks, terrain features, and examples of snow science in Grand Teton National Park.
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
If you are from the South, you may recognize these as a distant cousin to the Swag Bar, made famous by the Swag Country Inn in Waynesville, North Carolina. I've replaced the corn syrup with brown rice syrup, and reduced the sugar. Still, these bars are packed with energy, and well suited for replenishing calories spent out playing in the snow.
Yields 24 2-inch bars
Original Granola from The Bunnery can be found at local grocery stores, at the Bunnery restaurant in Jackson, and on Amazon.com.
- 1 3/4 cups creamy peanut butter (such as Jif)
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 1/2 cups crushed whole wheat cereal, like Total, or granola
- 2 ounces (1/3 cup chopped) dark chocolate for drizzling, or 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips for glazing
Variations I have tried:
- Rice Krispies cereal (or gluten-free crisped brown rice cereal) + 1/2 cup chopped dried figs + 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
- crushed Total cereal + 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
- crushed Total cereal + 1 cup chopped roasted peanuts + 1/2 cup currants
- substitute Adam's Natural Peanut Butter for Jif; the texture will be a little more grainy
- substitute light Karo syrup for the brown rice syrup
- Note: when I make these with granola, I don't add anything else; the granola provides everything they need.
- Mix peanut butter, brown rice syrup, and sugar in a large saucepan over low heat. When the mixture starts to bubble, stir continuously for about 4 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Add crushed cereal (fill a large Ziploc bag with cereal and crush with a rolling pin) or granola, and additional ingredients, if using.
- Mix well so all ingredients are uniformly distributed throughout the peanut butter base.
- Pour onto a 13 x 9 inch rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking oil. Press evenly throughout the pan. It helps to cover the top of the bars with wax paper, and then press down with a metal spatula or another pan.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- If drizzling with chocolate, microwave chopped dark chocolate on low power at 15 second increments until melted. Stir to smooth, then drizzle over the top. Cut into bars or triangles once chocolate is set.
- If you want your bars smothered in chocolate, pour 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips over the top of the bars. Set in a warm oven just until melted, then spread the chocolate in a thin layer. Chill and cut into bars.(This is how they do it at the Swag Country Inn.)
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