The summer season always has plenty of outdoor activities to offer. From hiking, to water skiing, to playing a pickup game outside at a local park, there are so many ways for everyone to stay physically active while taking in the sun and enjoying some downtime with friends.
Recently, I had the opportunity to go hiking with my friend, Hilary, along the Potomac River on the Billy Goat Trail in Montgomery County, Maryland. The moderate four mile hike, with its breathtaking view of the river’s power cutting through the hard rock of the Great Falls and flowing into the Potomac Gorge, is a site of natural beauty that everyone deserves to experience.
Located on Bear Island, the Billy Goat Trail (along with other marked hiking terrain) is managed by the National Park Service as part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, and is co-owned by the Nature Conservancy. The hiking trail is one of the most popular attractions to explore on Bear Island, with the Potomac Gorge providing an unusual meeting place for plants and animals from different places and altitudes. According to the Nature Conservancy, approximately 15 globally rare species, 100 state-rare species, and 30 different plant communities exist in the gorge. In other words, the Potomac Gorge has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of globally rare natural communities.
If you ever have the chance to take this adventurous trip into Maryland’s wild terrain that is conveniently located near our nation’s capital, the Nature Conservancy advises you to call ahead to see if the trail is open, not to bring any pets, and to bring plenty of drinking water, sun protection (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses), rain gear and bug protection. What the Nature Conservancy forgot to mention; however, is that you will need to pack some snacks to stay energized for the hike. Scrambling up rocks and between trees along the Potomac demands a vigorous effort, and Frank wants you to be fully charged for the experience.
Here’s a peanut butter granola bar recipe, courtesy of Chef Emeril Lagasse and foodnetwork.com, that is sure to put a bounce in your step as you hike along the Billy Goat Trail. When the opportunity presents itself, we always use Frank Organics extra virgin olive oil as a replacement for butter in our baking recipes, being that one of our goals over at Frank is to cut back on the cholesterol and fat content in our snacks. You will find the recipe’s directions easy to follow below, and we hope that you will try out this delicious snack on your next hike or outdoor adventure!
Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, via foodnetwork.com.
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 10 bars
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or substitute w/ 3 tablespoons of Frank)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup hulled green pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 by 8-inch baking dish and set aside.
In a small saucepan melt butter (or Frank) with honey over low heat, stirring.
In a large bowl stir together oats, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and salt. Pour butter (or Frank) mixture over oat mixture and stir until combined well.
On a large baking sheet, spread the granola evenly in a thin layer. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes to keep from sticking or burning, until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. (Do not overcook; the granola will crisp more when cooled.)
Cool the granola in the pan on top of the stove and stir in the raisins. When the granola is completely cooled, place in a large bowl.
Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and peanut butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is at a boil. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the granola, stirring to coat well. Cool slightly and press into the prepared baking dish and let cool completely and harden. Cut the mixture into ten 1 1/4 by 4-inch bars and serve at room temperature. (The bars may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.)