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Make your own trail treats

Sarah L. Stewart
Dominique TaylorMark Strickland, owner and baker of the Avon Bakery & Deli, adds a mix of dried fruits to his freshly made granola mix.
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Peter Davis knows all about pushing his body to the limit: In his professional racing days, he would bike 300 to 400 miles per week, training for hours at a time. Though 46-year-old Davis now limits most of his rides to an hour or two and most of his hikes to a pace his wife and two young children can enjoy, he hasnt forgotten the lessons he learned in keeping his body nourished and hydrated while on the trail.So whether hes climbing a fourteener with his family (his 8- and 10-year-old bagged their first last summer) or hitting the backcountry for a bike ride, Davis brings plenty of snacks and water to fuel the fun. Though he sometimes packs Clif Bars and PowerBars, Davis and many of his fellow mountain-tacklers have also come to rely on homemade treats.If you just have purely sugar-based food, it gets kind of tiresome, Davis says. His solution for extended hikes and rides include peanut butter-and-jelly tortilla wraps and a home-mixed gorp bag of raw nuts, raisins, M&Ms and dried fruits.Sally Connelly, a certified clinical nutritionist in Vail, thinks its a good idea for adventurers to make their own trail treats, and often does so herself.Theres certainly a plethora of so-called energy bars, Connelly says. I would say 90 percent are nothing more than a candy bar.She highlights one big plus of do-it-yourself trail food, other than saving money on specialty bars and gels: You know what youre putting in your body.Brian Martinson, manager of Venture Sports in Avon and an avid road and mountain biker, often uses his own honey-based energy gel instead of commercial gels that often have added caffeine and salt to get a boost when hes on the move and doesnt want to stop.Its natural that way, Martinson says. Its a natural sugar high to help out your body. Homemade snacks arent a new concept, however. Barbara Patai, owner of Vail Gourmet Cookie Co., makes and sells a granola recipe that belonged to her grandmother and that her own sons thrived on as kids running from one after-school sport to another.Yet food has evolved since Patais grandmother first crafted her granola recipe, and cooks like Connelly have given road snacks a modern twist, using organic ingredients whenever possible. She also cautions against any products that contain high fructose corn syrup, trans fats or preservatives. Sulfur dioxide, a common preservative in dried fruits such as apricots, can be potentially harmful, Connelly says.But perhaps most importantly, consider making a munchie that has a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and high-quality fats, she says.Youre looking at it as a meal replacement.Want to try making your own trail treats? Read on for some road-ready recipes from local bakers, athletes and nutritionist Sally Connelly.

Mark Strickland, owner and baker at Avon Bakery & Deli, offers his popular granola recipe. With the addition of the orange zest, it will smell unbelievable while cooking, he says.2 pounds rolled oats (not instant)1/2 pound sliced almonds1/2 pound toasted walnuts1/2 pound brown sugar1 teaspoon cinnamon1/2 teaspoon allspiceZest of one orange1 pound butter1/2 pound honey1/2 pound raisins1/2 pound dried cranberries, apricots or other fruitCombine dry ingredients in bowl. Melt the butter and honey together and mix in with dry ingredients. Spread mixture onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes, until moisture is absorbed. Mixture should not be browned. Let cool on a counter overnight until completely dry, then crumble by hand or in mixer. Toss in dried fruit.

Sally Connelly, a Vail certified clinical nutritionist, often makes her own trail treats. Here, she shares two of her recipes.3/4 cup liquid sweetener (rice syrup, agave nectar or Fruit Sweet)1 cup organic pumpkin seed butter1 teaspoon vanilla1 cup organic semi-sweet chocolate chips3 cups organic brown rice cereal1/2 cup organic raisins or organic pumpkin seedsCombine liquid sweetener and pumpkin seed butter in large saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until smooth (five minutes). Add vanilla extract, chocolate chips, cereal and seeds or raisins. Continue stirring until well mixed. Press into a greased 8- by 9-inch pan and chill for one hour. When solid, cut into bars.

6 ounces organic semi-sweet chocolate1/2 cup organic apple juice1/2 cup liquid sweetener (rice syrup, agave nectar or Fruit Sweet)1 cup chopped apricots (with no sulfur dioxide)2 1/2 cups organic flake cereal with raisins1/2 cup powder xylitol (optional)Unsweetened cocoa powder, siftedMelt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Stir in apple juice and sweetener. Set aside. In a food processor, add apricots, cereal and powdered xylitol and process until finely chopped. Mix well with the chocolate mixture. Let cool for 30 minutes. Form balls with a small spoon and roll balls in cocoa powder. Store in covered container in refrigerator; flavor develops over several days. Makes about 48 1-inch balls.

Owner Barbara Patai sells her grandmothers granola through her companys Web site, http://www.vailgourmetcookieco.com, but it takes more than four hours to make. Here, she shares a simpler recipe that shes adapted for her own family.1 1/2 cups brown sugar1/2 cup hot water4 teaspoons vanilla extract1 teaspoon salt8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats2 cups chopped nutsDried fruit Heat oven to 275 degrees. Combine brown sugar and water, and allow sugar to dissolve completely. Add vanilla and salt. In large bowl, thoroughly mix oats, nuts and brown sugar mixture. Spread onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and bake until golden brown (45 minutes to one hour). When cooled, add dried fruit and store in an airtight container.

Brian Martinson, a dedicated valley road and mountain biker, makes his own energy gel for quick pick-me-ups while riding. He mixes the ingredients in a plastic gel flask, available at sporting good stores.1/2 teaspoon cinnamon1/4 teaspoon nutmeg6 to 8 ounces honeyMix cinnamon and nutmeg in flask. Fill with honey and combine.

Believe it or not, popcorn is a whole grain. This recipe, courtesy The Popcorn Board, has plenty of it.10 cups popcorn3/4 cup dried cherries3/4 cup sugar1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water1/2 cup sugar-free apricot preserves1/4 cup light corn syrup1/2 teaspoon lemon juiceCombine popcorn and cherries in a large bowl. Combine sugar, water, preserves, corn syrup and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Cook until mixture forms thick, rope-like threads that drip from spoon. Pour slowly over popped popcorn and mix thoroughly. Spray 9- by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Press mixture into baking dish and cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.


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