Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars! Salty meets sweet in this week’s portable treat. Positively packed with healthy fats and good carbohydrates (a mix of both quick-release AND slow-digesting carbs) that you can use to fuel all those outdoor adventures.
This no bake recipe comes together quick and makes twenty bars. TWENTY. A whole tray of happy grab-n-go treats.
Crunchy toasted almonds and crisp little pepitas are mixed together with sweet dried cranberries and tart dried cherries. Folded together with brown rice cereal, melted peanut butter, coconut oil, and some unbeatably gooey, sweet MARSHMALLOWS.
Yep. You read that correctly. Because this treat is as sensible as it is downright shameless.
I will admit that this recipe essentially consists of my favorite trail mix ingredients and a few big spoonfuls of peanut butter combined with my go-to rice krispie treat recipe. Mixed together, pressed into a sheet pan, and then cut into rectangles so that I could call it a bar. Merging dessert and semi-sensible snack all into one.
Yes, I did that. And I liked it. A LOT.
Perhaps on the verge of too much. As in the batch did not last far from when these were made and photographed, to when I wrote this post. All gobbled up in the name of blog research.
You see the things I do for you? That’s some love right there. It was tough, but I did it. There were no survivors. Not even a single solitary fallen crumb.
Half sensible trekker treat and half celebratory, unapologetically sweet & delicious, totally road-trip ready snack. These bars felt like just the perfect thing to bring with us for the quick out-of-town trip we had to make this weekend. So with a little wax paper tucked in between each bar, they got shoved into a container, nestled safely in the truck, and off we went.
RELATED: Cardamom Rice Krispie Treats
On Saturday, we got to have a tour of our wedding venue and I felt ALL the feels. In the middle of a gorgeous and green clearing surrounded by towering trees. Seeing that whole “I do” space even without any chairs or the people we love standing in it already got me well on my way to being misty-eyed. It felt right. Like no other place would do.
Cue the moment where Lauren gets overly-emotional around strangers in the middle of the day. Just another day in the life of being the designated weepy friend.
Visiting a national park in August (or really anytime you can squeeze in) is lovely. But as any avid park-goer will tell you it also means it is packed to the brim with people. Bus-loads of snap-happy tourists, rogue sprays of not-your-sunscreen shooting through the air, bicycles zipping past you, smiling kiddos and dogs running around, and minivan // suburban // RV traffic jams galore. So come lunch-time, every deli and general store comes with its own theme-park length line if you want to snag yourself something to eat.
A little preplanning and packing of turkey sandwiches and sweet snacks helped us avoid an otherwise cranky filled afternoon. Because who wants to spend time waiting in line instead of enjoying the setting we drove so many miles to reach?? Nobody. A semi-comfy granite boulder + a shady spot + these bars = my happy place amidst the crowds.
And that, dear readers, is why this week’s post is reaching you so late in the game. Because I went somewhere this weekend without my beloved laptop in tow and the time got away from me.
Hopefully the sweetness and relative ease of this treat makes up for that in some part!
A few recipe notes before I send you on your merry way into your week…
This was a classic “hmm, what’s in the pantry?” style recipe, created out of whatever we had tucked behind cabinet doors. Some leftover dried fruit, nuts, and seeds from recent salad recipes and a whole lot of marshmallows from our extended camping vacation this summer. They all went to work in this bar.
I used cranberries and cherries but whatever dried fruit you have on hand would work great here – raisins, dried blueberries, chopped dried apricots // figs, pieces of dates, you name it. If it’s dried, chewy, and sweet you can trust that it will work here!
RELATED: Cranberry Maple Trail Mix
The same goes for the nuts and seeds combination. Almonds and toasted pumpkin seeds were what my cabinet had in store for me, but macadamia nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and cashews would have all been amazing additions too. If raw nuts are more your thing, feel free to swap them out. I just find toasted nuts to be a nicer bite and a little gentler on the jaw. If you only have raw on hand, pop down to the “notes” section of the recipe card below for a quick how-to on toasting nuts quickly in the oven.
Just the scent of warm coconut oil, vanilla extract, melting marshmallows, and peanut butter together on the stovetop was enough to tell me this had some promise. When all was said and done, the whole making-things-at-home trick turned out pretty tasty. And pretty cheap too. Whenever we head out of town it’s nice to bring a little slice of our home kitchen along with us (plus it helps to keep food costs low so we can put a little more towards the experience part of the trip)!
Are you guys squeezing in any last minute weekend trips before summer wraps up?
Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars
- 3 tbs coconut oil*
- 4 tbs creamy peanut butter
- 4 c marshmallows
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 5 cups brown rice cereal
- 1 c whole toasted almonds roughly chopped**
- ¾ c dried cherries
- ½ c dried cranberries
- ½ c toasted pumpkin seeds pepita
- PREP TRAY & MIX-IN’S: Line a 9 x 13” sheet tray with parchment paper. Place rice cereal, chopped almonds, dried cherries, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.
- MELT MARSHMALLOWS & PEANUT BUTTER: Melt coconut oil in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Once it has melted and begun to warm, add the marshmallows and peanut butter. Stir constantly using a nonstick spatula until melted down into a homogenous mixture. Should take only a few minutes or so. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
- MIX THE TREATS: Pour sauce pan contents over bowl with cereal and mix-ins. Working quickly, stir until evenly coated. Use a spatula to pour out the cereal-marshmallow mixture onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Press lightly to distribute evenly to corners of tray, use a second sheet of parchment paper on top to press down with your palms and prevent getting the sticky mixture on your hands.
- EAT THE TREATS: Allow to cool and set before cutting into 5 columns by 4 rows to create x20 rectangular bars. Store at room temperature in an airtight container, taking care to place a piece of parchment or wax paper in between any treats before stacking on top of one another to prevent sticking.
Lynne Curry says
Perfect timing, Lauren! Today is the first day of school, and I am "starving" for good school/soccer treats. I sure hope mine come out as pretty as these!
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. It's okay to get a little teary!
Lauren Kenson says
Lynne, these would be such fun soccer practice treats, I really hope you and yours enjoy them! I have no doubt, yours will come out even better looking than mine - especially since I just ended up haphazardly pressing them in the pan with some parchment paper on top 🙂
And thank you so much for your sweet congrats, I'm sure it won't be the last time I get a little misty-eyed over the wedding.