Healthy summer snacks for hiking

With Estes Park’s easy access to a variety of trail systems, it’s no surprise that hiking is a number one activity around here – for both locals and visitors alike. Luckily for us, we can just stop down at Sundeck Restaurant for a hearty and healthy breakfast before hitting the trails, but many of our guests enjoy getting an early start when there’s still parking, so we’ve compiled a list of our favorite healthy, portable snacks for your next hiking adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park!

When selecting a hiking snack recipe, it’s important to look for a good balance of protein, fat, and complex carbs to keep you satisfied and fueled up for the trek back down. There’s a reason so many hikers bring nuts and dried fruit on the trail as these foods have the right balance to keep you energized without the burnout later. Try some of the recipes below or bring a mix to see what works best for you.

Spicy turkey jerky will add some zing to your workout as you take in the stunning views from the summit. Jerky can be made at home ahead of your trip and stored for about a month in an airtight container. What you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless turkey breast
  • 3/4 c. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. chile-garlic paste
  • 2 tsp. dried red chile flakes

Lay the turkey on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for about two hours. Cut any fat away from the turkey and slice into ¼-inch thick strips or keep them an even thickness if you want a thicker slice. Mix up the remaining ingredients and toss turkey strips in to marinate. Coat the strips and then place in the fridge overnight. Line the bottom of your oven with foil and put the turkey in a colander to drain excess marinade. Pre-heat to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and spray the racks with non-stick cooking spray. Place the strips on the racks and dehydrate for about two hours.

Cinnamon and pear fruit leather is a fresh fun way to welcome the fall season and enjoy a tasty treat on your route. You will need a nonstick silicone baking mat for this recipe and it can take a whole day of baking, so it’s perhaps a weekend endeavor. Fruit leather will keep for about three weeks in an airtight container. Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 lbs. ripe pears
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit as you peel and cut up the pears. In a medium saucepan you’ll add the water, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Turn the burner to medium heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer and add the pears. Cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the pears are tender. Transfer the mixture into a blender and add the lemon juice and puree until smooth. Pour the puree onto the baking mat in a zigzag pattern to spread out the mixture evenly. Bake for about six to seven hours until the leather is slightly sticky.

No bake peanut butter balls are an easy to prep option with the bonus of creamy peanut buttery goodness on the trail! This recipe makes about 12 balls and should be refrigerated to help keep their shape. Ingredients:

  • 1 c. old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 c. ground flaxseed
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/4 c. almond butter
  • 1/4 c. peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp. honey

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and combine well. Roll the dough into balls and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for about an hour so the dough holds firm.

Banana oat bars are an excellent option for breakfast on the go and only take four ingredients with optional add-ins! These bars only last for about five days at room temperature, so make them right before your trek. What you’ll need:

  • 2 large, very ripe bananas
  • 2 c. rolled oats
  • 1/4 c. pitted, chopped dried dates
  • 1/4 c. chopped nuts – walnuts or pecans
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
  • Ground cinnamon (optional)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9 x 9-inch square baking dish. Peel the bananas and mash in a mixing bowl until no chunks remain and it’s almost liquefied. Here you can add the vanilla and stir in the oats. Add the salt, dates, and nuts of your choosing. Pour the mixture into the pan and pat down so it’s evenly distributed. Sprinkle cinnamon on top if you wish. Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool completely before cutting or serving.

Finally, a classic snack for your adventure: Trail mix! This grown-up GORP is a fun blend with:

  • 2 Tbsp. large walnut halves
  • 2 Tbsp. whole roasted almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. dried cherries
  • 1 oz. of semisweet chocolate

Hopefully these recipes can get you started with some snacking ideas for your next adventure in Estes Park, though we’re not afraid to point you in the right direction of our great restaurants or breweries if you need to cool down after your mountain excursion. Or, perhaps you’d rather just relax and take a nap in one of our rooms.

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