Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE — Granola bars and gorp — typically a mix of dried fruits and nuts — are mainstays of the hiking culinary world.
However, hikers who want to add more flavor to their treks can take to their kitchens and prepare other snacks before they head out on the trails.
Some of those snacks were created in the Marquette Food Co-op kitchen on Sunday’s “Do-It-Yourself Trail Snacks” workshop put on by instructors from Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Becoming an Outdoors Woman program.
Instructors Tara Gluski and Danielle Steffey taught the participants how to make mango fruit roll-ups, no-bake energy bites, sesame brittle and peanut butter chia Rice Krispies bars — all of which can be put in a backpack.
“We got together and we’re just like, ‘What can we do in the winter that’s fun and different?’” Steffey said.
So, they picked a couple of their favorite recipes they’ve taken on trips — and probably had been inspired by some friends too, she said.
Marquette’s Teri Rockwood took the class to add to her hiking experience.
“I decided about adding some snacks to my day hikes,” she said. “I like to go day hiking.”
The instructors got a head start on mango fruit roll-ups, the puree of which had to be baked for three to four hours before they were removed from the oven, peeled off the wax paper, cut into long strips and then rolled up.
The strips can last for up to a week when stored in an airtight container.
Steffey recommended they use fresh or thawed fruit; if it’s not thawed, it ends up chunky and doesn’t dry as well.
“We use frozen fruits — very easy to get your hands on frozen fruits at all seasons,” she said.
Healthy ingredients, healthy snacks
To make it easier for the participants, dish ingredients were placed on separate trays.
“You literally take everything on this tray and you put it in the food processor,” Gluski said about the no-bake energy bites, although she suggested putting in the chocolate chips last so they aren’t blended into small pieces.
The recipe calls for a cup of dry oatmeal, 2/3 cup of toasted coconut flakes, 1/2 cup of peanut butter, 1/4 cup of ground flaxseed, 1/3 cup honey or agave nectar, a tablespoon of chia seeds, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and — last but maybe not least — 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
Steffey made a quip about that last ingredient.
“Dried fruits also count if you don’t want to do any chocolate chips,” Steffey said. “I’m sorry for you if that’s your choice.”
The ingredients are stirred until thoroughly mixed, covered and put in the refrigerator to chill for half an hour. Once chilled, they can be rolled into 1-inch balls and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
The sesame brittle, which Steffey noted is not a “break-your-teeth” snack, is made with 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of honey, a pinch of salt, a 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, a tablespoon of water, a cup of raw sesame seeds, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.
The sugar, honey, water, salt, nutmeg and water are heated in a small, thick-bottomed saucepan on medium heat until a smooth slurry — a semiliquid texture — forms.
The sesame seeds then are stirred in and the mixture is cooked for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until it turns amber. It then is removed from heat, with the butter and vanilla extract then added. Once the butter has melted, the baking soda can be added.
A fun part ensues with the slurry foaming a bit after the baking soda is added as it reacts with the acid from the sugar’s caramelization.
The mixture is poured directly to a silicone baking mat, parchment paper or directly on a metal baking sheet, which should be tapped on the counter several times to allow it to spread. It then is cooled for about 15 to 20 minutes. A spatula might be needed to separate the brittle from the pan.
Once the brittle is removed, it can be broken into pieces — which don’t have to be in exact rectangles to be edible.
“It’s not a perfect size as far as shape goes,” Gluski said.
Peanut butter chia Rice Krispies bars are made with 4 tablespoons of salted butter, 5 cups of miniature marshmallows, 2 to 4 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter and 5 3/4 cups of Rice Krispies.
A casserole dish measuring 9 by 13 inches is sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, and in a 4-quart saucepan, butter is melted on low heat — slowly so the butter doesn’t burn or brown. Once the butter is melted, the marshmallows are added while the heat is kept on the low setting.
The marshmallows are stirred constantly so they melt evenly, which takes about 5 minutes. The peanut butter then is stirred in until evenly distributed.
Once the mixture is combined and melted, the heat is turned off and the pan removed from the stove. This is when Rice Krispies and chia seeds are added to the saucepan, again stirred until evenly coated.
The final steps involve pouring the mixture into the casserole dish, spraying a spatula or scraper with cooking spray and patting down the mixture until firmly compacted. The mixture can rest for 30 to 45 minutes before it’s cut into squares.
The participants worked together to create the dishes, using the proper utensils in a clean atmosphere and receiving tips from the instructors along the way.
A spatula came in handy when Anita Vickstrom of Marquette licked some of the tasty mixture off it.
“That’s the best part,” Vickstrom said.
To keep up with future BOW events, visit Michigan.gov/BOW or follow it on Facebook.
Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is [email protected]