Keto Nut & Seed Energy Bars

I know I’ve been extremely neglectful of my blog lately and I do apologize! I’ve been so busy preparing for my hike that I’ve really let things slip elsewhere and this blog is one of those “elsewheres”. I’m working hard on upcoming posts, which I will be adding soon, but for now I’d like to share with you all a recipe I developed that several people have been asking for. Ironically, I won’t be taking these on the AT with me for several reasons. First, I just couldn’t find the time to make enough of them. Secondly, they are more suited to cold weather backpacking because they do tend to soften quite a bit in warm temps. They ended up becoming the inspiration for my Keto Energy Butter, which I will be taking with me and which I will share in a future post.

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Those of you who are eating keto and who are also hikers and backpackers know how difficult it is to find shelf stable keto-friendly food for the trail. Seems like everything out there is loaded with sugar and refined carbs, which is what fuels the vast majority of the hikers out there. This left me with quite a dilemma and I saw no other recourse but to develop my own recipes. This is the first one I tried. I was pretty happy with the results except that I got my first batch too sweet and they were so rich I couldn’t begin to eat an entire bar in one sitting! Everyone’s tolerance for sweetness, especially when on keto, varies a great deal so you will sweeten these to your own taste with your choice of a keto-friendly sweetener.

You can also customize this recipe by adding dehydrated berries, sugar free dark chocolate chips, cocoa powder, etc. I even dehydrated bacon crumbles to use in a future batch but they didn’t last long enough and were gone before I could get to it!

Well, let’s not waste anymore time! Here’s the recipe.

Keto Nut & Seed Energy Bars

Ingredients

½ cup almond butter

¼ cup grass-fed ghee (I used a wonderful vanilla flavored one)

¾ cup coconut cream / coconut manna

Keto sweetener of choice to taste (I used Lakanto Golden Sweetener – similar to brown sugar)

2 tsp vanilla extract or to taste

2 tsp cinnamon or to taste (optional)

Salt to taste (I used pink Himalayan salt)

1-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

2-1/4 cups raw nuts & seeds (I used chopped almonds, macadamia nuts, hemp hearts, and pumpkin seeds,)

Directions

Place first 5 ingredients in large saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring well until they are thoroughly mixed. The coconut cream will scorch easily so use low heat and stir often. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Then stir in the nuts and seeds until well mixed. Pour into a pan lined with parchment paper and spread out evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to firm up. Once cooled, cut into bars or into smaller sized “fat bombs”.

Nutrition

Bars average 3.5 ounces and have 416 calories each with 38 grams of fat, 9.5 grams of protein, 11 grams of carbs and 6 grams of fiber (only 5 net carbs per bar) and 3 grams of natural sugar from the coconut cream. Your values may vary depending on the types of nuts you choose, and ingredient brands.

All of the ingredients are shelf stable and okay to take on the trail but I would still keep them stored in the fridge when at home. These will be soft at warmer temps but stay firm in cooler temps.

Until my next post, I hope you all are enjoying these last wonderful days of summer and finding ways to get out there an explore this beautiful world!

 

 

This post contains links to the ingredients I used to make my bars. These are affiliate links which means I will earn a small commission from any sales these links may generate but this in no way affects the price you pay.  Proceeds help to support my blog and my AT thru hike. Thank you so much for your support! 🙂

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What’s in a (Trail) Name?

So, what is your trail name, if you have one?  If not, what trail name would you choose if you could and why?

I recently came across a post in one of the hiking groups I belong to on Facebook asking about trail names. This gal had chosen one for herself and was wondering what others’ trail names were. It didn’t take long for someone to “inform” her that trail names are supposed to be given by others while on the trail, not something we choose for ourselves. Well, I have to say that I disagree with that statement. Granted, many, if not most, trail names are acquired on the trail and provided by others who have usually seen the hiker in question do something either stupid, amazing, or funny and a trail name is born. I’m not likely to get an impressive or noble name like some have and I really didn’t want to end up with a name that announces to the hiking community how clumsy or inexperienced I am. I won’t need a trail name for them to know that!

One of my favorite current thru-hikers that I’m following, “Brave” (YouTube channel Happy Hikers), got her name because she wandered away from her tent in the middle of the night on top of Blood Mountain to use the “bathroom”, but then she couldn’t see well enough to find her way back (I forget why she didn’t have her headlamp on). She ended up walking around until she found the trail then walked all the way down the mountain in her bare feet until she came upon a hostel. She went inside and someone heard her and got up to see what was going on. When he saw the condition she was in, especially her poor feet, and heard what she’d been through he was shocked and amazed. He later spoke to the girl’s mother and told her over and over how brave her daughter was to have done what she did. And so now her name is “Brave”. Such a great story!

But others are not so fortunate to get a name that highlights their more admirable qualities. You could end up with a name like Butt Crack, Sir Trips a Lot, Buzz Saw, Zombie, or Stench… see what I mean?

Some of the most well-known thru hikers chose their own names or had them chosen by close friends or family. The legendary Jennifer Phar Davis gave herself the name Odyssa (her book “Becoming Odyssa” is a must read for trail enthusiasts).  Skywalker chose his name because of his over 7-foot height.  Bigfoot (YouTube channel Follow Bigfoot) got his name from his brother because they’d both been fascinated by the mythological creature since childhood. Dixie (YouTube channel Homemade Wanderlust) was fortunate to have a strong southern Alabama accent so she got the name Dixie instead of making a fool of herself and ending up with something far less endearing. One of my favorite current thru hikers right now, Early Riser (YouTube channel Early_Riser_71), gave himself his name because he’s, well, a very early riser! He’s also the first thru hiker to garner over 5,000 subscribers to his v-log on YouTube during his hike. You get my point.

As for me, I decided to choose my own trail name. At first I wanted to go with something to do with my gray hair or being a grandma or a homesteader but then I decided that I didn’t want to be labeled on the trail by anything that defined my current life. The trail has a way of redefining you if you let it. Not that I won’t still be very much a wife, mother, grandmother and homesteader. But I want to focus on the person I am inside that the trail will help me discover along the way. So I chose the trail name Fly Away.

Why did I choose “Fly Away”?  Well, I’m glad you asked! You see, I love geese. I mean, I really, really LOVE geese, especially Canada geese. Seeing them in flight is enough to bring tears to my eyes. I can’t fully express how truly and deeply they stir my soul. I love that they are always going someplace better and that they never give up until they get there. I love the way they work together and when they choose a mate it’s for life. I think this is why Fly Away Home is my favorite movie.  I cry every time watching them as they are flying south and getting closer to their new home after such a difficult and arduous journey. And I smile through tears when the little girl wakes up and hears them honking outside and joyfully realizes that they’ve returned. So I chose “Fly Away” because, like the geese, I will head north in the spring to Katahdin, to something better, hopefully a better me. Like the geese, I hope to befriend and help my fellow hikers along the way and let others (Trail Angels) help me. And like the geese, I won’t give up until I reach the finish line. And when it’s all over and I’ve climbed that mountain and kissed that sign at the northern terminus, I will turn and head south again, back towards home, having accomplished an incredible journey that will leave me forever changed.

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Sacred Ground

In August 2014, my amazing family surprised me with a trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for my 50th birthday. They picked out a beautiful mountain cabin where we would all stay and enjoy some wonderful time together. We had a blast at DollyWood and visiting Gatlinburg. But the most memorable part of the trip for me was the visit to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the state of Tennessee. I was quite overweight at the time and the walk up to the lookout tower was very difficult. I had to stop often for a breather but I was determined to make it up there. Partway up the paved path leading to the lookout I noticed a small sign to my left that said Appalachian Trail. I gasped. It was like turning around and suddenly seeing your favorite movie star or something. This was the trail that I had been dreaming of hiking for I don’t know how long. The trail I’d read numerous books about and watched so many documentaries about. And there it was in front of me, a narrow gravel covered path disappearing into the dense woods. I walked over to it slowly and touched the sign. My husband snapped a picture of me with the sign. I smiled as he took the picture but could feel the tears sneaking up on me as I stood there looking at that tiny bit of a very big dream that would never come true. I took a few timid steps down the trail and felt like I was walking on sacred ground, and like I didn’t deserve to be there. The thought that I could actually be able to someday hike the AT felt so utterly impossible in that moment and I could feel my heart breaking. I couldn’t hold back the tears. The view from the top of the lookout added salt to my wounds. I thought of all the breathtaking vistas I would never climb to and sighed. Happy birthday to me…

But that was then and this is now. Thanks to finally being able to lose the weight and regain my health I’ve been able to not only dust off my dream but can now pursue it with my whole heart. I’m going to spend the next year doing everything I can to prepare for this journey. I’m going to read the books, follow the blogs, watch the vlogs, research the gear, practice those hikes, and pray, pray, pray.

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The Resurrection of a Dream

katahdinIt’s a horrible feeling to wake up one morning, look at yourself in the mirror and realize that the biggest dream you’ve ever had in your whole life is now impossible and will never, ever happen.

I had a moment like that two years ago when I realized, as much as I wanted to and as much as I had always dreamed of it, that I would never complete a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. I don’t even remember the first time I heard about the 2,189-mile trail that stretches from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. All I know is that from the moment I learned about it I had a burning desire to hike the entire trail. I can’t explain what it was about hiking the trail that stirred me so deeply and tugged so heavily on my heart. It just became something that I knew I had to do or else my life would never feel complete. But there I sat staring at myself in the mirror, realizing that it was never going to happen. It was a devastating realization.

I was staring at a woman who at 50 was suffering from numerous health issues, arthritis, carpal tunnel, severe body aches and pains, incredible fatigue and weakness, terrible inflammation, and who was also more than 50 pounds overweight. I felt like a very old woman and I was filled with hopelessness. Flash forward to the fall of 2016 shortly after turning 52. I don’t know how I discovered Dr. Jason Fung’s book, The Obesity Code, but that was the beginning of a new beginning for me. That book introduced me to the Low Carb High Fat way of eating. It made a lot of sense to me and also sounded like a way of eating that I could actually stick with so I thought, why not? I decided to give it a try.

In the five months that followed I lost 50 pounds and watched in amazement as my many health issues began to disappear. Arthritis pain gone. Carpal tunnel pain gone. Fatigue gone. Inflammation gone. Insomnia cured. Hot flashes gone. Energy level increasing. I felt like I was a butterfly breaking free of a cocoon (more like a mummification) of illness and old age.

I was so surprised and overjoyed at the results of this way of eating that that was all I was thinking about. But then one day I found myself standing in front of the mirror after having just completed the longest walk I’d taken in twenty years and it hit me… I just might be able to hike the AT after all! The thought washed over me like a trickle at first then quickly became a torrent of hope. I thought about all the reasons why that dream had been so out of reach just a short while ago and realized that those reasons were all fading away. There is nothing like the feeling of losing all hope of achieving the biggest dream of your life and then later discovering you’ve been given a second chance to pursue it!

Once I fully realized that “yes, I can do this” I became a woman obsessed! I began reading so many AT books and blogs, watching YouTube videos, researching gear, and buying my first pair of trail runners. I even found current thru hikers to follow on Instagram and YouTube so I could cheer them on and be inspired in return.

My family, in varying degrees, has been very supportive. My oldest daughter is very supportive and happy for me but she also worries about my safety. My son, in true (former) Marine fashion has been extremely supportive and motivating by discouraging even the tiniest of my doubts and questioning whether I can do this or not. When I express those doubts or questions he says, “You can do this, Mom!” My youngest daughter is just plain supportive. She’s not worried about how I’ll do but neither does she try to motivate me like a drill instructor. My husband is being as supportive as he can, bless his heart. The thought of my being away for 5 months or more weighs heavily on him and of course he worries more about my safety than anyone but he knows how much this means to me, even if he can’t understand why, and he’s determined to support me in this as best as he can one way or another. I know this isn’t easy for him, which makes me appreciate his support all the more.

I’ve set a goal to be ready for the trail by March of 2018. I want to be in the best shape I can be so that I can finish it as quickly as I can. I’ve been a stay-at-home wife and mom since before my daughter was born 31 years ago, and am now Grandma to four precious little ones, so being away from my family for an extended period is not going to be at all easy… but it’s also one of the reasons why I feel I have to do this. I’ve been living with and taking care of others forever and have never once in my life been independent or on my own and I just really, really need this. I need to know what I’m made of. I need to get up everyday and walk towards a seemingly impossible goal, in a world very much outside my comfort zone where I am forced to grow, to face my fears and overcome them, to suffer everything from pain, exhaustion, cold, heat, and hunger to incredible loneliness and yet not give up. I want to reach the top of Katahdin and know, for perhaps the first time in my life, that I CAN do whatever I set my heart and mind to do.

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