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Posts Tagged ‘trail food’

gluten-free backcountry power bars

Sunday was closing day for Winter Park/Mary Jane Ski Area. I posted season-ending party pictures on my Facebook page, but now that the snow is slowly melting, the focus has shifted from skiing to mountain biking. The Winter Park crew will soon be working on single track trail expansion and the construction of Trestle Bike Park. Plus, there’s climbing, hiking and backpacking. I love Colorado, no season left behind!

Okay, so what does that have to do with a food and nutrition blog, you ask?

Time for homemade power bars!

backcountry power bars
what you need

1 cup pecans
1 cup almonds
1 cup chopped dried apricots, unsulphured (I used organic Turkish apricots)
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped, 55% cocoa content or higher
1/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/4 cup Pamela’s GF Baking Mix
2 tablespoons ground chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (I like organic, grade B)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

what you do
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread the pecans and almonds in a single layer on the prepared cookie sheet and roast for 6 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. They burn easily, so watch them and stir once or twice if needed. Let cool.
2. Place flour, ground chia seeds, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add nuts and pulse until they are coarsely chopped and well blended with the other ingredients.
3. Add oats, apricots and dark chocolate and pulse several times so everything is mixed together.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, maple syrup and vanilla. Make sure these ingredients are well blended. Add the nut and fruit mixture to the bowl. Using a fork, mash and mix them all together, breaking apart clumps of dried fruit and chocolate.
5. Spread the mixture over parchment paper onto the cookie sheet. Either flatten the mixture with your hands or place another sheet of parchment paper on top and roll out into a flat sheet, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Remove the top piece of parchment paper and bake on center rack of oven for 24 to 28 minutes until nicely browned. Don’t over-bake them. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 dozen bars.

Happy trails!

mountains, butterflies and power truffles


This is a photo I took of a well-worn benchmark atop a peak in Colorado’s highcountry. Benchmarks are U.S. Geological Survey summit markers and are found on the high-points of many of our mountains. They document the elevation.

I spent yesterday out in the backcountry, energizing my body and reloading my spirit. There’s nothing like a day in the mountains to diffuse everyday stress and shift things back into perspective. Nourishing the soul is just as important as nourishing the body.


Sometimes the higher you go, the better the weather. Yesterday was foggy, rainy and cool. Perfect hiking weather, but the clouds were low and thick, obstructing the view until we were above them. If you look closely at this photo, you can see a range of snow-covered mountains in the distance and a beautiful butterfly in the foreground. I’m thinking this might be a Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, but I don’t know. If anyone knows, please leave me a comment.

Now, on to the other good stuff — trail food. How about the best of all worlds? Breathtaking views, butterflies and chocolate truffles? I’m such a girl. Although I’m not exactly Backcountry Barbie, I do have my moments, especially when they involve butterflies, flowers and chocolate.


I make different versions of these little power balls and cart them around with me on day hikes. They’re a touch smaller than a golf ball, freeze well and make for a good power snack. I pack two or three of them, along with the rest of my lunch, in a small tupperware container to keep them from getting squished. Sometimes (especially when space is tight) I pack my food in an empty tea box or something similar. That way the food stays intact, but when lunch is over you can collapse the box and stuff it down into your pack.

Melissa’s power truffles
8 mejool dates
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup almond butter
3/4 cup pecans
3/4 cocoa powder *
2 small individual packages of stevia *
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Pit and chop dates. Place in small bowl and pour the orange juice over the dates. Do the best you can to cover the dates without adding more juice. Set aside and let soak for 30-60 minutes.

Pulse pecans in food processor until finely ground. Add stevia and cocoa powder to dry blend. Pulse and mix well.

Add mejool dates along with the orange juice they have been soaking in, almond butter and peppermint extract and pulse food processor after each addition until mixed well.

Roll into balls and dip in ground coconut flakes. Refrigerate or freeze.

* I like Dagoba organic cocoa powder, but substitute as you choose.

* Stevia blends well in this recipe, but you can substitute another sweetener. I’ve used maple sugar before, not maple syrup. Honey and syrup make them too sticky.

* For a more detailed post I did on backcountry nutrition needs, check here.

Go forth and explore, but eat good food in the process!

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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