Chocolate Mint Brownie Hemp Protein Bars (and Hiking in the Colombian Jungle)
Rob and I did a 5-day hike to La Ciudad Perdida while in Colombia. You need a guide and we picked Magic Tours since they responded to our emails and assured me I would have vegan options on the trek. We started off with 4 other hikers, our guide, a cook and a porter (with 2 mules) for our 5-day 44-km hike.
We hiked through the Colombian jungle, with a well-delineated path, up and down many hills and through a river quite a few times! Gorgeous scenery with a great ruined city at the end. An unparalleled experience, to say the least.
I won’t lie. It was hard. We hiked in hot and humid weather, over 30C with at least 80% humidity. Shade from trees was a welcome treat after hiking in open sun. I also found the terrain difficult with many river crossings and steep hills. I wish I had had better ankle support on my hiking boots! By the fourth day, we reached The Lost City. There were 1200 steps to climb to reach the actual Ciudad Perdida with a further 800 steps within the ruined city, itself. Going up those stairs was not so bad; going down was worse! If you don’t like heights, this also won’t work well for you. :P
Before I left, I made a few energy snacks. This was one of them which was a great source of protein when all I had to eat was fried rice and avocado for dinner (only once).
I was drawn to this recipe immediately after Cara posted it. It reminded me of a souped up Raw Brownie with a heavenly base of walnuts, dates and cocoa. However, to make this a protein power star, there are hemp seeds and protein powder as well. I ended up increasing the mint extract and substituting agave for the brown rice syrup. Absolutely delicious straight from the mixer. I dehydrated them at 110F for 7-8 hours hoping to make them more portable. The sharp flavours diminished slightly but my snacks were now able to come with me to the jungle! Sadly, I didn’t wrap them individually so they kind of smooshed together towards the end of my trip. Still good, though.
I will admit that Rob and I overpacked for our hike, but I would still travel with my snacks again. I still need to share the winner of the energy snacks, so stay tuned. I had some bona fide Larabars as well, which also seemed to ooze some oily stuff under the heat of the jungle. If you are planning for a similar trip, definitely consult your tour operator to see what they recommend you bring. While Magic Tours had an extensive list of stuff to bring (sunscreen, hat, water bottle, clothes, etc), this is what I also found useful:
Foot talc powder- We didn’t bring any but if you are prone to sweaty feet or slipping into rivers, this is for you!
Sanitizer- We didn’t bring any, but considering the lack of soap and toilet paper, this would have been great to have to not get traveler’s diarrhea.
Compact camera- You do not want to bring a big D-SLR with you on this hike. We actually don’t have too many photos because we were more focused on hiking then taking photos.
After bite & antihistamines- We had deet (although only 30%), and were still bitten by bugs. Lots of bugs. This helped.
Ibuprofen- You may be sore. You may get a headache.
Travel pillow- On the hike, you sleep in hammocks and the occasional bunk bed. No pillows. I am VERY picky about my pillow. I often travel with my day-to-day feather pillow because I have a hard time sleeping without it. This pillow, albeit not exactly what I am used to, was a godsend, even outside the trek in other B&Bs.
Hiking poles- I love my collapsible hiking poles.
Non-cotton clothing- Want your clothes to dry? Make sure they are not cotton.
Water purification tablets- You want to make sure you are drinking potable water. These tabs add no taste to the water.
What else do you like to bring with you on long hikes?
Chocolate Mint Brownie Hemp Protein Bars
Adapted from Cara’s Cravings
1 cup (114g) walnuts
2 cups (280g) dates (I used honey dates)
3/4 cup (90g) hemp seeds
1.75 tsp mint extract
1/2 tsp liquid vanilla stevia (20 drops)
1.5 cups unflavoured protein powder (I used Hemp Pro 70)
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon agave nectar, or your choice of sweetener
1. In a food processor fitted with its S-blade, process the walnuts for 2-3 minutes, until pastey and relatively smooth. Add the dates and hemp seeds, and process again until the mixture forms a thicker paste, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Once completely smooth, blend in the mint extract and stevia. Next, add the protein powder and cocoa powder and process until fully incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed. Finally, blend in the agave. The mixture should hold together when pressed.
2. On parchment paper or a Teflex sheet, press the mixture into a square or rectangle (mine was around 8×8″ but it depends how thick you would like your bars). Dehydrate at 130F for 1 hour, then decrease to 110F for a further 5 hours. Flip onto a mesh and continue to dehydrate for another 2-6 hours at 110F. Cut into bars. (If you don’t have a dehydrator, simply place the bars in the freezer to firm up.)
3. Store in the fridge or in the freezer.
Makes 16 bars.