Fuel for Thought

Trail snacks

Budget-friendly trail snacks.

We’ve all been there during a big day in the mountains—rummaging, frantically, through a backpack, looking for something to eat. One bite of sugar, a boost of energy—anything! But all that turns up is the gross end of a half-eaten protein bar, shoved into your pack months ago because it was so dry and disgusting you couldn’t stomach another bite. The bonk is inevitable... it’s a matter of minutes now.

Fortunately, if you’re sick of this recurring narrative, there’s an easy alternative to the expensive, oft-inedible gels, bars, and energy chews. With a couple of simple recipes, you can save a pile of money on superhero foods and fuel up on real, nutritious treats in the mountains. I present to you: two homemade, whole-food-based trail snacks.

Berry Energy Gels

1/3 cup berries (frozen or fresh)
4 pitted dates
1 1/2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. lemon or lime juice
1 pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. almonds or cashews

Soak the dates in water until they’re soft, then rinse and toss them into a blender with the other ingredients. The consistency will be a bit liquidy, so if you want it thicker, toss in one or two more dates. Pack into reusable plastic food pouches or a soft-sided flask.

Energy Gummy Chews
3 cups fruit (fresh or frozen)—personal favorites are mango or mixed berries
1/3 cup lemon juice
4 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey
6 Tbsp. gelatin

Blend everything except the gelatin into a smooth puree. Then sprinkle gelatin on top of the mixture in a saucepan, and let it chill for five minutes. Simmer on low heat for two minutes or until the gelatin blends in. Mold into silicone shapes or spread evenly in a pan, then refrigerate for two to three hours. Cut into individual chews, and store in the fridge.

Rachel Nawrocki is a Registered Dietitian and fitness trainer at the Mountain Project in Bozeman.

trail snacks

Energy Gummy Chews