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Granola bars are basically cookies except that you can pawn them off as healthy energy food. In other words, the ideal trail treat.

While tasty (and practical), packaged granola bars have the problem of wrappers to pack out. And if you’re not careful, you’re stuck with a bar whose ingredient list barely even fits on the wrapper. There’s no need for unpronounceable ingredients-make your own granola bars and keep things simple.

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A lot of bar recipes use brown rice syrup, but few people have that in their pantry, and no one wants to buy a bunch of special ingredients. If that’s what’s required, you’re simply not going to make a recipe. And while there are many ways to make granola bars, one of the easiest is to put some nut butter to good use, and I know of very few kitchens that don’t have even a little bit of peanut butter laying around. Mixed with honey, peanut butter (or almond butter if your budget allows) becomes an excellent granola bar glue.

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Lots of bar recipes stop there for a “raw” version of a granola bar, but I like mine baked because they hold their shape a little better and don’t get soft if you’re adventuring in warm weather. These granola bars are dense, so they are easy to throw in a backpack or in the back of your bike jersey pocket.

You can change up the base recipe depending on what extras you like. Almonds or hazelnuts are good replacements for the walnuts and dried apricots or figs for the raisins. You can also play around adding additional spices as you see fit. Whatever is going to give you the ultimate cookie, er, energy food.

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Peanut Butter Granola Bars with Walnuts and Chocolate

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Ingredients

2 cups (7 ounces, 200 grams) rolled oats

1/2 cup (3 ounces, 85 grams) chocolate chips

1/2 cup (2 ounces, 55 grams) chopped walnuts

1/2 cup (3 ounces, 85 grams) raisins

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (4.75 ounces, 135 grams) peanut butter

1/2 cup (120 milliliters) honey

Optional:

1 tablespoon orange zest (or crushed dried citrus peel)

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Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, combines the oats, chocolate chips, walnuts, raisins, salt, and cinnamon (along with orange zest or citrus peel if using). Stir together.

In a saucepan on medium heat, melt the peanut butter and honey. When they have melted together, whisk together with a fork. Pour over the oat mixture and mix together with a large wooden spoon until well blended. Towards the end, this can get a little hard to mix together, be sure to crush any clumps with the wooden spoon to mix in any dry oats that may be left.

Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Spread the mixture into the dish, using your hands or a spatula to evenly spread it out. Once spread out, firmly press the mixture down. I find that it’s easy to fold down any extra parchment paper on top of the mixture and then press with your hand, as it keeps your hands from getting too sticky.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, gently remove the entire block from the pan by lifting the edges of the parchment paper. Place on a cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut into small bars. Store in an airtight container.

Now, pack up, take on the trail and enjoy!

Camp Notes is a big high five to the fun of sleeping outdoors and all that comes along with it. You know, camping and stuff.

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