5 Trail Approved Snacks To Raise The (Granola) Bar

You never know when hiking hunger might strike and if you are anything like myself, direction impairment and the longing for new paths may find you stranded in the woods for hours. Though foraging is a breeze in the season of black caps, whose bushes line our local trails, with these berries gone for another year, scavenging in the wilderness may not be as easy and so we never hit the paths without a few stashed snacks!
Mounstburg
Yesterday my mother and brother and I packed up a lunch and hit the road for a day trip to Mountsberg conservation area. Home to wilderness walks, raptor shows and my favourite birds; Bald Eagles!! Approximately 80% of the birds found in the sanctuary are rescued from across Ontario and well looked after in captivity as they can no longer survive in the wild. It was just our luck that as I had to sneak another peek at these majestic creatures before we flew the grounds, it was their feeding time and we watched as they ran and flew around their spacious cages and feasted on the fresh meat.
bald eagle
We, ourselves, feasted on a picnic of egg salad sandwiches. I made mine using avocado instead of mayo and wrapped it with fresh spinach in a gluten-free rice wrap. For dessert we had my Raw  Cranberry Chocolate Macaroons: https://lifeofeden.com/2014/07/11/raw-cranberry-chocolate-macaroons/
dessert
And then came the snacks!
  • The criteria; quick, light, easy and energizing.
  • The common contender; grab and go granola bars. But is this the healthiest option?
The next time you go to grab a box of these from your local market, give the nutrition a once over. What has long been promoted as a healthy food option sporting refined oats and roasted (oxidized) nuts and seeds may have a little more unwrapping to do behind its shiny, enticing packaging. Conventional granola bars are hidden sources of sneaky sugars, preservatives and other less than ideal ingredients that counteract much of the beneficial health properties a walk in nature provides.
Instead? Take a cue from nature’s finest and come back to 5 real, whole foods that meet all of our hiking needs; quick, light, easy and energizing!
1) Trail mix / Nuts / Seeds
  • Pack raw, unsalted nuts and seeds which provide high nutrient density, protein, complex carbohydrates and energizing fats to keep you satiated and boost your stamina. Yesterday I packed a few raw brazil nuts, a more expensive option but one of my favourites with the selenium being praised for giving you a subtle skin glow and improving its elasticity. Though high in calories, you will only need a few to reap the selenium benefits and satisfy you for the remainder of your hike.
  •  Always combine your own trail mix to control what goes into it. To do so, simply mix nuts and seeds together with dried, crunchy coconut chunks and perhaps a few pieces of dark chocolate or gogi berries for a sweeter treat.
Brail nuts 
2) Veggies
  • Carrot sticks, sweet red peppers, snap peas etc. Eat plain or pack a mini container with humus or pure nutbutters for a more satiating snack.
  • NOTE: Support organic as much as possible here. One of the major factors responsible for the decline in Bald Eagle populations was the use of pesticides such as DDT. Since the use of these pesticides has been banned and/or restricted, the populations are recovering but they are still a concern for these birds and supporting organic growers helps to ensure these chemicals aren’t used to grow your fruits and vegetables and that equates to happy birds 🙂
3) Fruit
  • Locally grown grapes were my personal favourite yesterday! Fruit is both hydrating on long hikes and hot summer days (though yesterday was anything but hot). Bananas, apples, pears, etc. are all fantastic grab-and-go options.
grape snacks

4) Crunchy crackers & kale chips

  • Craving a crunchy snack? Look for gluten-free brown rice crackers or nut and seed crackers such as Mary’s brand.
    • Holistic Life Hacks: depending on where you go, one box of Mary’s crackers averages around $6-9, which is a bit of a pricy snack to munch on. However, packed with fibre and wholesome, less refined ingredients, these are my go to and can be much cheaper when bought from bulk food stores.
5) Granola
  • The typical graNOla packs around 15-20 grams of sugar in the average bag and is mixed with gluten and preservatives. Unlike granola bars that use sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, dates etc.) as partial binding agents, granola can go without it, the key is to find the right brand. Look for one that’s unsweetened or very lightly sweetened and made with all wholesome ingredients. You’ll be able to bypass much of the sugars this way and can add your own fixings of nuts, seeds or coconut chunks as you please. Better yet? Make your own!

granola lotus

Healthy snacks are wickedly simple, delicious and leave you energized rather than depleted for the hike ahead! Finding out that this conservation area offers private tours for those who want a closer encounter with the birds, may just have me taking another trip back if Bald Eagles are involved. 🙂 And may I point out that with their bird adoptions from Pip the Kestral or Echo, Jazz and Chomper the owls, the Bald Eagle I want to adopt has to be named: Pawgwashiing Migizi! So while I wrap my tongue around that mouthful, I’ll be packing up the last of my brazil nuts to head out for another rejuvenating hike tonight.

Happy snacking!

Suzanne Eden

 

Sprout Your Way to Wellness with Live Buckwheat Granola!

Liven up your kitchen this month with sprouting! It’s simple, you don’t need anything fancy (though a sprouter will be on my Christmas wish list this year) and it’s a fantastic way to turn your favourite foods into superfoods. This simple and delicious recipe for raw sprouted buckwheat granola is the perfect way to sprout your way into this wholesome habit. Buck up and try it!
Brunch
From Food to Superfood
When you sprout a seed, you activate it to begin growing into a plant. Buckwheat, by the way, is not a grain at all but a seed and though named buckwheat, it is entirely gluten-free. Just think, taking a dormant food that’s been sitting on a shelf and sprouting it to life? That’s bound to be good for you! And you’re right, sprouting:
  • Activates the enzymes

The more enzymes in the food, the easier it is for your body to digest and the less energy spent digesting means all the more energy for you!

Holistic fact: experts say there may be up to 100x more enzymes in sprouts than raw fruits and veggies!
  • Makes the nutrients more bioavailable 
A fancy way of saying your body will obtain more nutrients from sprouted buckwheat than non sprouted. And supplying our body with the most nutrients possible is the key to our health.
  • Power up the protein!

Already a fantastic source of protein (being a complete protein like its cousin quinoa),  sprouting enhances this protein profile! In fact, lysine (one of the proteins most abundant in buckwheat) is significantly increased and this protein boosts the immune system making it a powerhouse as we head into winter. Note: the same happens for the vitamin and fibre content too!

  • Incredibly alkalizing to the body

This will significantly reduce inflammation; the underlying cause of most pain and illnesses.

Want to feel energised and alive? Eat live foods!
buckwheat granola
Where to begin: 3 Steps to Get Going and Get Growing!
Step one: Something to Groat About
The search begins in your local health food store where you’ll find organic buckwheat groats. These will be light in colour as opposed to brown which means they have been toasted, this is Kasha and won’t sprout.
Holistic life hacks: finding them in bulk will save you money and time running to get more when you become addicted to the granola! (I admittingly have to hide it from myself to avoid going through an entire batch in one day)
Step two: From Seeds to Sea Monkeys
Now you’re home and ready to take those  gluten-free seeds and bring them to life!
Simply submerge your seeds in water for an hour, then drain them, rinse them, and set them in a strainer with a plate underneath to catch any water, covering the strainer with a nut cloth so they can breathe. Don’t own a nut cloth? Use a thin dish rag, cover the entire top, but leave a side exposed so that they can breathe without drying out.
Now watch the magic happen!
What to look for? They sprout little tails ( just like growing a plant) and start to resemble something along the lines of sea monkeys. It’s a proud moment.. and then you eat them.
Sea Monkeys
Step 3: TLC
A couple of times a day, rinse your buckwheat as the seeds will get slimy and to keep them from drying out. In about 48 hours you will have beautifully sprouted live buckwheat ready to dehydrate! Don’t own a dehydrator? Neither do I (and though I’d LOVE to have this on my wish list, they are very expensive) so I’ll show you how I use my oven to dehydrate instead.
Why not bake them? 
Cooking kills your live food, destroying the enzymes and nutrient value you just cultivated. Dehydrating keeps all it’s benefits alive!
granola
Live buckwheat granola 
This recipe is low glycemic and a fantastic blood sugar stabilizer. It has the sweet, cinnamon spice taste and wholesome crunch of regular granola while being :
Dairy free
Gluten free
Refined sugar-free
Vegan
and wholesomely energizing
Recipe
Ingredients
3 cups sprouted buckwheat
1/4 c coconut nectar
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp alcohol free vanilla extract
Sprinkling of Himalayan salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to the lowest setting possible
  2. Mix all ingredients together and adjust flavours as desired.
  3. Spread mixture out evenly on a sheet of parchment paper.
  4. Pop in the oven and prop the door open with a wad of tin foil. Note: setting a fan up in front of the door for circulation will better mimic a dehydrater but isn’t necessary.
  5. Leave to dehydrate for 2-3 hours. This depends on the temperature your oven is set to, how open the door is, etc. Flip them gently with a spatula about every half hour, give or take, to ensure even dehydration.
  6. Remove while golden and crunchy but not entirely brown, you don’t want to keep them in there so long that they cook. Allow 5 minutes to cool (if you can) and enjoy!
The switch up: 
I wanted to give you a super basic recipe with as few ingredients as possible but you can customize this recipe in all sorts of wholesome ways:
  • apples
  • different spices including ginger
  • some carob or raw cacao for chocolate granola
  • soaked nuts and seeds (most only need to be soaked overnight)
  • berries
Enjoy with almond milk, over smoothies, as a salad garnish or in a trail mix (a superfood indeed!)
You name it! So many possibilities to enjoy!
Happy sprouting and wholesome crunching,
Suzanne Eden