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my world — part 1

This post is for Miles and his bright and entertaining blog mates.

Normally I focus on nourishing food, but sometimes there’s nothing more nourishing than fresh air and the great outdoors. In his journal entry dated January 7, 1857 Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful.”

Enough said. Enjoy a big, virtual gulp of Colorado’s crisp mountain air!

* These photos were all taken by me with my inexpensive little Canon camera (copyright applies, no lifting my photos, please).

Go forth and explore.

I’m ready for my close-up

Is this pup cute, or what?! Seriously, have you ever seen a more adorable face? I don’t think so. This is my guy, Fairbanks. Actually, this is his “before” picture. See below for his “after” picture (after adding over 100 pounds). First cute, then handsome — what a guy.

Fairbanks is an Alaskan Malamute, a breed evolved as freighting dogs among the native Alaskan Eskimos, the Mahlemut tribe (hence the name). Because of the harsh winter conditions, these people depended on the dogs for their very survival. As hunting partners, they were able to help take down large game, often located far from home, and then haul it back over the frozen tundra. They had to be strong, powerful and able to withstand long days of hard work in frigid temperatures with little fuel. These dogs aren’t built for speed, they’re built for stamina and endurance. Their efficient metabolisms require far less food than you’d expect from an animal this big.

Descendant from the northern wolf, Malamutes are rugged dogs who thrive on hard work. In 1984 at the Winter Ski and Sports Show in Portland, Oregon, a big Malamute named Mack pulled record weights of 3570 pounds on snow and 6900 pounds on wheels. You can understand how the native Eskimos needed these dogs to survive. Hauling a caribou back home over harsh terrain for days on end couldn’t be done without them. Having said that, Fairbanks prefers hanging out, doing his dog thing, going for his daily walk, and enjoying a rather cushy life compared to his ancestors. He does sleep outside though and had no problem with our recent record cold nights (19 below zero). It’s where he wants to be, but he does have a well-built dog house with a nice fleecy bed inside. Aaah, and he deserves it.

One more thing and I’ll get on with the food part to this post (yes, there is a food connection). My dad was an Arctic Survival Specialist for the Air Force and spent time during WWII in Alaska and Canada teaching potentially “downed” pilots survival skills. He traveled by dog team and his favorite buddy and lead dog was named Fairbanks. I named my guy after my dad’s dog. See Fairbanks #1 and Fairbanks #2. (This brings tears to my eyes. I’m such a sap.)

Okay on to the food part. My last post with the companion dog doing his job (sleeping while officially off-duty) inspired me to do this one. I’m always ranting about people food (what to eat, what not to eat, what to eat in moderation — blah, blah, blah). I decided I needed to do a “what NOT to feed your dog” post. Some of these foods might surprise you. I tried to get Fairbanks to eat a grape one time and he gummed it up and spit it out, hilariously so. I had no idea grapes were toxic to dogs. Yikes! Thank goodness he did. He’s not only handsome, he’s smart.

The following information came directly from my vet. Some of these foods are so toxic to dogs, they not only endanger their health, they may cause death.

Harmful foods (don’t feed these to your dog and store them where the dog can’t get to them)
• avocados
• chocolate (all forms)
• coffee (all forms), tea, energy drinks
• onions and onion powder
• garlic and garlic powder
• grapes
• raisins
• macadamia nuts
• all alcoholic beverages
• moldy/spoiled foods
• salt
• gum, candies, and other foods sweetened with xylitol
• tea leaves
• raw yeast dough

Good treats for dogs are baked potatoes and green beans (see, I told you Fairbanks had a cushy life). He also has a taste for wild-caught salmon.

Go forth and scratch some tummies!
P.S. Check out Liz and Henry for another food and dog blogger.

no excuses

I took these photos at the base of Winter Park Ski Area in the mountains of Colorado. No thought went into it, no positioning myself for optimal light, no effort to get the right angle. I had my little point and shoot camera in my jacket pocket and as I was taking my skis off to go inside and eat lunch, I saw this wonderful dog on duty. Although he was doing his dog job, he was also taking full measure of the fact that his owner was off tearing up the slopes and he could take a break and relax in the sunshine.

Whoever owns this dog skis at Winter Park and if his (or her) wheelchair is any indication, he (or she) is out and about regardless of what some might call a “limitation.” Winter Park is home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled and is known internationally for the caliber and dedication of its athletes and participants. That includes the hundreds of volunteers who are committed to helping people with disabilities learn to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, climb and enjoy the outdoors. The program also includes the Disabled Competition Center and the NSCD Alpine Ski Team. The Competition Program has placed dozens of racers on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. At the 2006 Paralympics in Turin, Italy, NSCD worked and trained 16 of the athletes who were representing the USDST.

Miles from England and Xenny from South Africa inspired me to do this post (although they don’t know it). Long story, but Xenny is an amputee and plays on the beaches in South Africa. When I saw a photo of “Xenny’s Beach” on Miles’ blog and read how newly installed stairs gave Xenny access to the beach, it made me smile and think of my own stomping grounds. I’ve spent my life skiing at Winter Park (and Mary Jane) and the base area is home to wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and the occasional dog companion. The scene always inspires me.

Do you ever talk yourself out of doing something because you think it will be too much effort? Convince yourself you don’t quite feel good enough? No real reason, you just can’t seem to muster up what it takes to get off your bum and go move about? We all do that on occasion. I did it yesterday and skipped one of my favorite yoga classes because I was — lazy?

Okay, no excuses.

Imagine what it must take for this guy (or girl) to get up skiing. Or the access needed for Xenny to get to the beach and have fun. I’m grateful to have these folks around for inspiration and I thank them from the bottom of my whiny (occasionally) little heart.

If you need more inspiration in the coming year to celebrate life and movement, check out this video of one of my all-time yoga heros, Matthew Sanford.

Go forth and play. No excuses!

goodbye 2008, hello 2009

Rather than obsess about health, resolutions, clean living, nutrition, exercise, or food, I’m just going to send you my warmest wishes from colorful Colorado. There will be enough time for all the other stuff later.

Thank you, everyone. It’s been a good year, despite this mean spirited economy. I appreciate your comments, support, good humor and knowledge and am grateful to all of you for being such an important part of my little blogging world. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and adventure-filled new year.

Onward and love to you all,
Melissa & Fairbanks

seasonal foods for october, recipe included

P.S. Yes, I know the postscript normally goes at the end, but just in case you don’t make it that far, I want you to know there’s a great recipe awaiting you. Yum!

As seems to be my pattern, I’m barely getting my October post of seasonal foods in under the wire. I figured since tomorrow is Halloween, I’d start with pumpkins, which are incredibly nutritious. However, we all have our culinary limits and one of mine is that I refuse to wrestle with a pumpkin. I’m over it. I organized and managed too many pumpkin carvings when my kids were little. Now I prefer using organic canned pumpkin. It’s so much easier to open a can than it is to dig out the flesh from a whole pumpkin.

Most (99%) of pumpkins used in the US are for jack-o-lanterns. These are those big stringy-type pumpkins that work best as a launching pad for little-kid art. Or big-kid pranks. The smaller “Sugar Pumpkins” are a much better choice for cooking (if you really want to do that). I spend a lot of time in the kitchen because eating healthy gluten-free food is a priority to me, but in this case, I’m going for quick and easy, especially since many of the canned choices are so good. (Recipe for pumpkin buckwheat pancakes to follow.)

Pumpkin is rich in fiber and full of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene can be found in orange colored veggies like squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. It supports eye health and may even help protect against cancer and heart disease.

Raw pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite things to add to granola, trail mix, hot cereal, power bars, wild rice, or to toss on fresh salads. They were considered a medicinal food by Native Americans and although the Indians didn’t know the sciency details, they were right — the seeds are a rich source of zinc, which supports healthy immune function and promotes bone mineral density.

Hey guys, pumpkin seeds also contain phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which help keep your boy parts running smoothly. Studies show this substance to be beneficial to prostate health, so keep that in mind next time you reach for a snack. And get this, pumpkin seeds are also a concentrated source of protein, so skip the high-fat, high-sugar candy bars and go for a handful of pumpkin seeds instead.

More seasonal foods for October
Apples (for more information on the health benefits of apples, check this post).
Lima beans (butter beans) are an excellent source of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and promote balanced blood sugar levels. For more information on fiber and the gluten-free diet, check this post.
Onions are a staple in my kitchen. I love grilling onions, which have been a regular part of my CSA box of veggies lately. Onions are a true super food as they’re an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, fiber and contain an important phytonutrient called allicin, which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Plus, onions add wonderful flavor to almost any dish.
Kale (for more information on the health benefits of kale, check this post).

GF/DF Buckwheat Pumpkin Pancakes

what you need
• 1 cup gluten-free buckwheat flour*
• 1 & 1/2 tablespoons pure maple sugar*
• 1 & 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon allspice*
• 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 &1/3 cup brown rice milk
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (no sugar added)
• small amount of coconut oil for cooking

what you do

1. Whisk together buckwheat flour, maple sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and salt. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, whisk together rice milk, eggs, and vanilla.
3. Pour liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and blend until combined. Don’t overmix.
4. Gently fold in pumpkin.
5. Pour about 1/3rd cup of batter onto preheated and greased griddle. Flip when the edges of the pancakes fold in and the bubbles pop. Cook until each side is golden brown.

* Make sure your buckwheat flour is GF. Lauren (see comment below) from daringtothrive is right about Bob’s Red Mill. They don’t advertise their buckwheat flour as gluten-free because it doesn’t test out as gluten-free. Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, but make sure the source you use guarantees that it has not been contaminated.

* I added the maple sugar the first time I made these simply because it was sitting on the counter and there was about 1 & 1/2 tablespoons left in the jar. I add a little to the mix when I make up my own pre-packaged hot cereal for backpacking. It’s great when you’re out in the wilderness and you want a nice sweet bowl of hot cereal before you hit the trail. Maple sugar is expensive, so don’t run out and buy some just for these pancakes. Leave it out or substitute something else.

* If you don’t have allspice, use a pinch of nutmeg.

These pancakes are so good! You can save the extras, freeze and pop in the toaster later. They also make great hiking snacks.

Happy Halloween!

In good health,

an apple a day for heart health

Autumn is harvest time and I’m getting a load of wonderful fruits and vegetables with my weekly CSA delivery. This time of year also ushers in change, and what better way to embrace this change than to focus on nature’s abundance and our own health. Michelle at theaccidentalscientist is hosting this month’s Heart of the Matter blogging event (HotM). The fall theme is Protecting Your Heart While Preserving the Harvest. Check Michelle’s blog next week for a round-up of recipes from this tasty little subculture of heart-healthy food bloggers.

I love having nutritious snacks on hand when I’m out on the trail, but it’s next to impossible to cart around fresh fruit in a backpack. Plus, I like to bring food that is light-weight and easy to stuff into a pack.

Dehydrated apple slices have become a favorite of mine. Remember that old saying — an apple a day keeps the doctor away?

Well, your grandmother was right. Apples are full of antioxidant flavonoids, boasting a very high concentration of quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, vitamin C, and chlorogenic acid. Trust me, those are all good things. Apples also contain both insoluble and soluble fiber (for a detailed explanation of fiber, check here). The insoluble fiber in apples helps ferry out the bad cholesterol (LDL) hanging out in your digestive tract. The soluble fiber helps get rid of LDL produced by the liver. Both of these actions reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering total cholesterol levels. Studies show people on high-fiber diets have less coronary artery disease than people on low-fiber diets. If that’s not enough, the flavonoids (especially quercetin) demonstrate significant anti-inflammatory ability that protect our arteries. Many of these heart-healthy substances are in the skin, so eat the whole thing, skin and all (not the seeds as they contain some toxic compounds).

Don’t substitute apple juice for the real thing or you’ll lose the majority of antioxidants. It’s always best to go back to the source. Fresh is better, but when you have an abundance of apples and you want to save some for later, dehydrating is a good way to do it. This method doesn’t subject food to the same high temperatures that canning or processing does, so the nutrient value is much better.

dehydrated apples
* These dehydrating times and temperatures are based on my store-bought Excalibur Dehydrator. Times and temperatures may vary.

what you need
several washed, cored and thinly sliced apples
lemon juice or vitamin C ascorbic acid to prevent over-browning (this isn’t necessary, but it does make the apple slices look a little better)

what you do
soak apple slices in vitamin C bath for 10 to 15 minutes
drain and place on dehydrator trays according to manufacturer directions
temperature: 135 degrees
time: 7 – 8 hours until leathery
place in tightly sealed ziplock bags and store in cool, dark place

Stick to that apple a day rule and you’ll cut your risk of heart disease.


the Colorado Trail — part 3

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? — Mary Oliver

I definitely plan to finish the second half of the Colorado Trail. That is at the top of my “things I absolutely HAVE to do during my one wild and precious life” list. Hopefully I can finish it next summer as work and family responsibilities have put completion of our journey on hold for now. My son and I recently finished the first half of the CT — from Denver to a trailhead between Buena Vista and Salida. We backpacked close to 250 miles and trudged up (and also down) some 37,000 feet of elevation gain.

That’s a lot of ups and downs. In a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. Our trek took us through four different wilderness areas and over several mountain ranges. In addition to a variety of terrain, we experienced all kinds of weather as well — including sun, rain, sleet, hail, and even snow. We also inadvertently timed our travel through the Mt. Massive Wilderness area during the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race and ended up having to spend the night at a hotel in Leadville (aaahhh, nothing like a warm shower and a soft bed). Lance Armstrong competed in the event, which is intense to say the least. It’s a 100 mile off-road mountain bike race with what is described as “steep climbs and serious descents.” No kidding! The start and finish is in the heart of the small mountain town of Leadville, CO (elevation 10,200 feet). Fifty miles out and back with a turnaround point at 12,600 feet makes this race pretty dang extreme. After 100 miles, Lance was second by less than 2 minutes! How does that happen? Two minutes after 100 miles of mountain bike racing? And there were hundreds of entrants.

There’s also a Leadville 100 Ultra Marathon which is billed as the “Race Across The Sky” and considered one of the toughest distance races on the planet. It was held the following weekend. Starting at 4 AM, with most of it on the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, it’s a true high-altitude, hard-core distance race. To make it even more interesting, this year runners experienced rain, wind, lightning, marble-sized hail, and snow during their 100 mile marathon. Almost sixty percent of the entrants didn’t finish. They’ve been doing this race for 26 years now and they never cancel because of the weather. Hardy souls indeed.

But I digress…

We experienced some of the same weather during our journey, but at least we were in our sleeping bags and tents at 4 in the morning and we didn’t have to cover more than about 12 to 15 miles a day. Some longer days, some shorter days.

Spending that much time in the wilderness allows for hours and hours of time to think, reflect, figure things out, day-dream, re-figure things out, make up endings to stories, sing Johnny Cash songs, wonder what that noise was, think about food, learn to whistle, re-re-figure things out, and have long annoying conversations with yourself. And on it goes, day after day. No money to deal with, no bills to pay, no TV to watch, no phone to answer, no email to check, no newspaper to read, no gas to pump, no purse to dig through, no mirror to look into, no BlackBerry to obsess over (not that I have one). Going back to the basics is incredibly cleansing. I highly recommend it.

Now I’m in the midst of putting together my backpacking meal recipes, sport-specific nutrition information, dehydration tips, and instructions on how to prepare and pack your own food for the backcountry. Most prepackaged backpacking foods contain gluten or other allergens and most companies can’t guarantee that their food is gluten-free, even when there are no obvious gluten-containing ingredients. Most of those foods either use gluten as a filler or prepare their foods on equipment that also processes foods containing gluten. The last thing I want is to get sick while backpacking. No time to have stomach issues. Or achy joints. Or be overly tired. Or have trouble sleeping. Or have headaches.

Well, you get the idea. That’s why I felt it was important to make and prepare all my own food. That way I was able to balance my nutritional needs for exactly what I was doing — this means eating strategies for all-day energy, what to eat when you need a boost to make it up and over the pass, and how to adequately recover so you can start all over again the next day. I’m interested in sport-specific nutrition and how to maximize performance and stay healthy at the same time. I’m thinking a book is in my future. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, here’s a photo wrap-up of our trip, with a reader contest to top it off.

Next week I’ll get back to regular posting with nutrition tips, recipes, and whatever else comes to mind. Does anyone have a topic they’d like me to focus on? Something you might be confused about or interested in? Leave me a comment indicating what’s on your mind and I’ll pick one of the topics and write a specialized post on it.

Sugar? Omega 3s? Antioxidants? Caffeine? Coffee? Sports drinks? Boosting immunity? Strong bones? Wine?

Let me know.

Photo #1 — Melissa filtering water (a wilderness woman’s job is never done).
Photo #2 — Columbine, the Colorado state flower.
Photo #3 — Breckenridge Ski Area way in the distance.

Photo #1 — I became obsessed with taking pictures of signs along the trail. Some were interesting, some informative, some just plain funny. These little “thumbnail” versions of my photos aren’t great, so I doubt you can see this very well, but it says, “Colorado Trail & Tennessee Pass” with an arrow one direction, then it says “Old Mine” with an arrow the other direction. Who knows where the old mine is as we had just come from that direction and never saw one. Hmmm?
Photo #2 — Very old CT sign, with an awe inspiring back-drop.
Photo #3 — Big mountains.

Does anyone know what this is? Keep in mind, this “find” was out in the middle of nowhere along the Colorado Trail. The first person who knows the answer gets a prize. Take a guess!

And don’t forget to get out there and enjoy your one wild and precious life!

In good health,

The Colorado Trail – part 2

One-hundred and sixty miles down. Three-hundred and forty to go.

We’re one-third of the way through our trek of the Colorado Trail. Depending on what you read, the trail covers anywhere from 485 to 500 miles — from Denver to Durango — with a total elevation climb of 77,690 feet. As I said in the first post I did on the Colorado Trail, that’s a LOT of uphill. We’re now on a 200 mile section of the CT that shares the same footpath as the Continental Divide Trail, so we’re spending more and more time above 10,000 feet, often in alpine zones above timberline.

I’m cooking and dehydrating all our dinners and we’re eating well. And gluten-free, of course. In fact, I have chicken, quinoa noodle, and veggie soup in the dehydrator as I type. With chile con carne waiting in the wings.

Rather than ramble on about the trip, I’ll share some photos with you instead. I’m in a pinch for time, but when things slow down, I’ll get back to posting on a more regular basis. For now, here’s a preview of where I’m spending so much of my time lately. Although the days are long and tiring, there’s nothing more rejuvenating than spending time in the wilderness. No phones, no money, no traffic, no silly TV shows. I love it!

If that waterfall hadn’t been so dang cold, I would have taken a shower — with all my clothes on. They needed washing as much as I did. I won’t even mention how my hair looks after a week of backpacking, although bad hair days aren’t a big deal when all you see during the day is your hiking partner, a few marmots, and a couple of deer.

Onward . . .

The Colorado Trail – part 1

Seventy-five miles down. Four-hundred and twenty-five to go.

The Colorado Trail is our state’s premier long-distance trail. It wanders 500 miles from Denver to Durango. Trekkers experience eight mountain ranges, seven national forests, six wilderness areas, and five river systems while on their journey. There are 28 segments with a total elevation gain of 77,690 feet. Yes, you read that right. Seventy-seven-thousand. That’s a lot of traipsing uphill. There’s also 76,210 feet of descent, so it’s an up and down journey, to say the least.

There are 54 “official” peaks in Colorado that rise above 14,000 feet in altitude and almost two-thirds of them are within a 20-mile radius somewhere along the CT. That makes for some awe-inspiring vistas while pounding out the miles. Much of the trail is at or above 10,000 feet, with two-hundred miles of it skirting the Continental Divide. The trail highpoint is above 13,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains, where we’re likely to find snow well into August this year. We got dumped on this past winter and the snow lingers long into summer in many places.

On July 12th my son and I started our hike of the CT at the Waterton Canyon trailhead, southwest of Denver. We emerged 5 segments later at Kenosha Pass. It took us 6 days to travel 75 miles. I’ve always wanted to thru-hike the CT, but family commitments and personal responsibilities take priority to wandering the wilderness. We plan to piece together as many segments as we can this summer. In a perfect world, we’ll get all 28 in by mid-September.

Oh? There is no perfect world?

Well, we’ll do what we can and be grateful for the opportunity. I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s a brief rundown of our adventure so far, complete with our own version of “Backpacker’s Pantry” foods. We prepared and dehydrated our own nutritious gluten-free dinners, skipping all the additives, preservatives, and gluten fillers that often accompany prepackaged backpacking food. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful my GF bison chile mac was after a long day of hiking with a backpack that somehow managed to gain weight with each mile.

Day 1 (segment #1)
Waterton Canyon trailhead to South Platte River
17 miles, 2160 feet of elevation gain (most of it within a 5 mile section)
Dinner: Brown rice with dehydrated pinto beans and green chilies

Day 2 (segment #2)
South Platte River to Colorado Trailhead (FS-550)
11.5 miles, 2200 feet of elevation gain (most of it in the first 5 to 6 miles)
This segment of the CT wanders through an area that was part of a 1996 human-induced wildfire that burned nearly 12,000 acres of the Pike National Forest. The small mountain town of Buffalo Creek was partially destroyed and the natural landscape was changed forever. Twelve years later this once-lush pine forest is home to only a few surviving trees. But life goes on and the emergence of new grasses, small plants, and wildflowers is taking shape in a magical way. It’s actually quite beautiful.
Dinner: Bison chili mac and cheese (YUM!)

Day 3 (part of segment #3)
Colorado Trailhead (FS-550) to FS-560
10 miles, 1520 feet of elevation gain
Dinner: Garlic mashed potatoes with spicy chile verde

Day 4 (the last 3 miles of segment #3 and 9 miles into segment #4)
Segment 3 to Lost Park
12 miles, 2800 feet of elevation gain
At about mile 4 we joined an old logging road that was originally built by W.H. Hooper in 1885. He owned a sawmill out in the middle of nowhere. This old rugged logging road went uphill through the forest, making me wonder how the heck these guys were able to manage things like this back in the early days. I found it a grind just hiking up the old rocky dirt road. I can’t imagine actually building the thing. It must have taken a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. And a s**t-load of dynamite!
We entered the Lost Creek Wilderness area and camped along the North Fork of Lost Creek. Beautiful country!
Dinner: Corn chowder, brown rice and red beans

Day 5 (finished last of segment #4, which is about 17 miles total)
Segment 4 to Long Gulch
8-9 miles, some up and down, not sure about the total elevation gain
Since we were only planning to hike around 9 miles on day 5, we decided to take the time to make gluten-free pancakes for breakfast. Plus, we had such a lazy and serene campsite, it felt like the right time to treat ourselves to a nice start to the day. I even made maple syrup out of water and maple sugar crystals. I know, these photos aren’t exactly Gourmet Magazine quality and please just ignore the fact that the small Nalgene bottle holding the maple syrup is filthy.
Dinner: Spaghetti and meat sauce with CSA onions and garlic

Day 6 (Segment #5)
Long Gulch to Kenosha Pass
14.4 miles, 1600 feet of elevation gain
It rained most of the day, which didn’t bother us at all. It made for nice hiking as it was much cooler and the rain kept the bugs away. Our final descent down into South Park (yes, that South Park — the one on TV) and the Kenosha Pass trailhead was wonderful. We were ready for a shower, a beer (not me), and a glass of nice red wine (me). We ended up making chicken noodle soup at the Kenosha Pass Campground while waiting for our ride back to Golden. It was a nice start to our journey.
Dinner: Chicken noodle soup with all kinds of CSA veggies

Onward . . .

Go forth and explore,

Melissa’s mile high energy bars


I’m an outdoorsy girl and creating healthy, gluten-free food that travels well in the backcountry is a passion of mine. This energy bar recipe is a take-off from the granola I make, but with several variations.

You can substitute any of these ingredients for something similar. This recipe is just a “launching pad” for whatever you want to come up with. Be creative and play with your food. That makes life more fun, don’t you agree?

Melissa’s Mile High Energy Bars

What you need

• 1 tablespoon coconut oil, olive oil, or butter (to grease the pan)
• 1/2 cup chopped almonds
• 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
• 1 cup GF rolled oats (I use Gifts of Nature’s certified GF rolled oats) * (see below)
• 1 cup Erewhon Organic GF Crispy Brown Rice Cereal (make sure it’s the GF version)
• 1 cup Arrowhead Mills Organic GF Maple Buckwheat Flakes (pulsed in a food processor to a medium chop)
• 3/4 cup finely shredded coconut (I use Let’s Do Organic unsweetened organic coconut)
• 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
• 1/3 cup raisins
• 1/4 cup lightly ground flax seeds (I pulse them a couple times in a small coffee grinder I use
exclusively for seed and spice grinding)
• 1/4 cup honey or agave (agave isn’t as thick, which works better – but either one is okay)
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
• 1/4 cup almond butter
• 2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

What you do

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with oil.
Mix chopped nuts, oats, shredded coconut, sunflower seeds, and lightly ground flax seeds and spread out on rimmed cookie sheet. Put in the oven and set timer for 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully as this stuff can burn in no time. Stir and reset timer for another 3 minutes. This mixture should be a nice toasted golden color. Adjust according to what works best for your oven. Remove from oven and cool. Mix in a large bowl with the rice cereal, chopped buckwheat cereal, raisins, and the cocoa nibs.

Combine honey (or agave), maple syrup, almond butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in saucepan and bring to low boil over low to medium heat. Stir constantly and let boil for 3 or 4 minutes. You want this thick enough to hold the energy bar ingredients together, but not so thick it’s hard to work with.

Pour over the cereal mixture and stir well to mix it all together.

Spread into your prepared 9 x 13 inch pan, cover, and cool in the fridge before cutting into bar sizes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. These make great treats for hiking, backpacking, skiing, and life in general!


* According to the Celiac Sprue Association, oats should be considered with caution. I have used the GF options with no problem, although I don’t eat a lot of them. Apparently some people can’t tolerate even small amounts of GF oats. Here is some current information to help you make an informed decision regarding what would be best for you. If you don’t want to try oats, just substitute something else for that ingredient – no problem.

In good health,

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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