Trail Bar Recipes for Long-Distance Walks

DIY Trail Bars

by Sarah Rowell

Alongside a few trusty butties, fruit cake and the bar of chocolate, among the most convenient things to snack on when out on the trails are energy bars. For those who run or cycle over any distance, current trends seem to make the use of commercial energy bars de rigor.

Energy bars as a term can cover a range of products, from the so-called breakfast bars made by Alpen and co to the more ‘health-focused’ ranges from Naked and Nature’s Valley. Then there are those made by companies such as SIS and OTC, which are intended for top-end sportspeople.

This raises a question.

As a walker, what is the benefit in using trail bars and what are the alternatives?

While there is good reason for professional sportspeople such as cyclists and ultra-runners to make use of energy bars, the performance benefit is not as relevant for those of us who explore at a more leisurely pace. The body is not under such physiological stress when walking. It can get the energy is needs from ordinary foods.

The great advantage is in the ease and convenience of these bars. Ready wrapped, easy to carry, and unlikely to melt in the heat or freeze solid in the cold, they even tend to taste good too – especially compared to those of twenty years ago!

However, there are those who baulk at the price and the commercialisation of these bars, and turn instead to the DIY versions. If you are this way inclined, there follow three recipes to try…

Something chewy

The first was perfected for a friend taking part in the European Duathlon Championships some years ago, when the commercial energy bar market was much more limited and she wanted something easier to chew.

50g dried dates 50g dried apricots 50g raisins 80g plain flour 150g oats 60g pear and apple spread 30g brown sugar 30g maltodextrin (or just use all sugar) 50g Rice Krispies 100g runny honey 100g golden syrup

  • Put the chopped fruit into a saucepan with 4tbsp of water and simmer until most of the water has gone and the fruit is tender.
  • Add the honey, golden syrup and pear spread; heat gently until runny.
  • Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl; add the fruit/honey mixture and mix.
  • Pour into a greased baking tin and cook in the oven for 30 minutes at gas mark 4.
  • Take out, cool, cut and eat.

The above contents and ingredients are by no means based on an exact science. Any mix of dried fruit could be used, and the amount of flour, oats and Krispies could be altered to taste. Similarly you could use more honey and less golden syrup.

Chocholics energy bars

This one seemed just made for me and my love of chocolate. The recipe was adapted from Delia’s Chocolate Collect for Comic Relief.

150g dark chocolate in small pieces 150g while chocolate in small pieces 100g pecan or walnuts 110g dried apricots chopped or other dried fruit 75g raisins
150g oats 50g Rice Krispies/Bran Flakes or similar 1 teaspoon golden or molasses syrup 150ml whole condensed milk

  • Toast the nuts on a baking sheet for 5 minutes and then chop finely.
  • In a large bowl mix the nuts, dried fruit, oats and cereal.
  • In a saucepan heat the condensed milk and syrup together until fully blended.
  • Pour the mixture into the bowl, mix well with a wooden spoon and tip the mixture into a 15x25cm baking tin and press down.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven at gas mark 4, 180 C for 25 minutes.
  • Leave to cool and then turn out onto a board, loosening the edges first.
  • Melt the white and dark chocolate separately in heatproof bowls over simmering water.
  • Using a spoon, cover the block with alternative dollops of white and dark chocolate, swirling it together as you go.
  • Chill in the fridge and cut into squares.

Working fuel

Saved until last, this is my not-so-secret recipe that has fuelled mountain marathons, long bike rides, days on skis and long walks in the hills…

250g butter 2 tablespoon golden syrup Pinch of salt 75g caster sugar Oats Plain flour Nuts, seeds, dried fruit and berries, desiccated coconut

  • Melt the butter with the golden syrup, and then add the salt and sugar and everything else. How much you add is open to personal preference. I tend to give a good bulk with the oats and flour, but also make sure there are plenty of seeds, dried fruit and berries and coconut as well.
  • Add ingredients until you have a firm consistency.
  • Place in a 15x30cm baking tin and cook for 15 minutes at gas mark 4, 180 C – I tend to turn it around half way through.
  • If feeling decadent, when you take it out of the oven, press a mixture of milk, white and dark chocolate chips into the mixture.
  • Once set, cut into squares and eat.

Originally published 03/07/15

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