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Hungry Inspiration

Big Spoon Roasters Apricot Pepita energy bar is perfect for hiking

Mark Overbay from Big Spoon Roasters pens this guest post for Trailfoody about how he discovered the secret behind his signature rich, fragrant, hand-roasted nut butter. It’s a key ingredient in the Apricot Pepita Nut Butter Bar, which is featured in May’s Trailfoody.



I had the idea for Big Spoon Roasters on a crisp fall day in October 2010. It was a Saturday. After a bike ride across the rolling hills of Durham and Orange counties, I was in the backyard of the house I had just bought (my first) sanding pieces of quarter-round to match the finish of the house’s original 1950s hardwood floors. I had eaten a good pre-ride breakfast and a filling post-ride lunch, but all that sanding with a revved up metabolism made my stomach growl with hunger around 3 o’clock.

I craved exactly one thing – my favorite snack – freshly sliced apples generously spread with peanut butter. By volume, the peanut butter to apple ratio is approximately 1:1. The best.

Big Spoon Roasters nut butter with climbing and hiking gearA Craft with Roots from Zimbabwe
For some reason, I didn’t automatically go into the kitchen, slice an apple, and spoon out a dollop of the “all natural,” organic peanut butter from the local natural foods co-op in my pantry. Instead, I thought about the delicious, fresh-roasted, handmade peanut butter I had learned to make as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zimbabwe some ten years earlier. I thought about its roasty intensity and perfectly coarse texture; about the care that went into selecting and preparing the ingredients; and the craft of making it, passed down for generations.

After harvest, peanuts were roasted over open backyard fires and crushed by hand between stones as coarse salt was added to taste. Some families added a touch of local honey and fresh coconut oil to complement the salt and smooth out the texture. The rich, fragrant, mouthwatering result was a revelation to me, a lifelong peanut butter lover.

“The rich, fragrant, mouthwatering result was a revelation to me, a lifelong peanut butter lover.”

Giving Birth to Hand-Crafted Peanut Butter in the U.S.
That flavor, though. That’s what I remembered the most and, at that moment, craved more than any food I had ever craved before. I remember thinking, in the middle of the craft food explosion that was happening in the U.S. at the time, someone must be making fresh-roasted, handmade peanut butter; I just hadn’t discovered them yet.

But, not a single business in the country was roasting, milling, and mixing nut butters to order. Marketing terms like “small batch,” “natural,” “gourmet,” and “delicious” abounded, but everything was being made on a huge, industrial scale and chock full of sugars, stabilizers, and in many cases, the environmental catastrophe that is commercial palm oil.

Big Spoon roasted nut buttersA Reflection of Values
We would focus on the craft of making the absolute best possible version of nut butter, no matter how long, painstaking, or costly the process of doing so might be. It would set new, higher standards for ingredient integrity, flavor, and freshness. Every ingredient would be the best in class, no exceptions, and every ounce of nut butter would be made to order. We would never compromise on quality or sustainability. We’d put the food first and package only in jars made of glass and steel. We’d use biodegradable paper labels with non-toxic inks. When we hire people to help me, we’d pay them living wages and offer robust benefits. We’d guarantee satisfaction. We’d give an increasing percentage of profits to charities every year. We’d offer a safe, welcoming environment to all people. We’d partner only with wholesale customers who share our values and treat them like partners.

In short, we’d be the change we want to see in the world.

A Nod to Dad; A Mind Toward Health
The business would also be an homage to my dad, Gary “Big Spoon” Overbay, who has battled with type 2 diabetes for more than two decades. One day when I was six years old, I walked into the family kitchen to find my dad having one of his favorite snacks – a big spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar. I blurted out, “big spoon!” and the nickname stuck.

To help him manage his diabetes, I sought out to become an amateur nutritionist and even spent years working at the American Diabetes Association’s national office helping translate clinical research into consumer-friendly information. In many ways, my initial interest in nutrition, food, and cooking stemmed from a desire to help my dad, and Big Spoon Roasters is a direct extension of that aim.

hand crafted, hand roasted nut butter for energy barsNut Butter to Energy Bars
My wife and partner, Megan, and I love nothing more than being outside on trails, beaches, and playing fields with our dogs, and as former competitive endurance athletes, we have spent much of our lives looking for the tastiest, most nutritious portable snacks.

In other words, we were early adopters of Powerbars, Clif Bars, and the like, and we’ve since bought and tried every bar out there. While lots of bars offered the basic nutrients we needed to curb hunger on the fly, we found most of them to be either packed with sugar, made mostly of the same 2-3 dried fruits, and lacking in texture and flavor. We wanted something that was not only delicious and nutritious, but also low-glycemic and packed with complete protein and heart-healthy fiber.

Big Spoon Roasters Apricot Pepita energy barMegan is a talented baker, and before we even started Big Spoon Roasters, she had been making homemade energy bars from scratch using peanut butter as the main ingredient, primarily just for us, as well as some close friends who became obsessed with them. She started using Big Spoon’s Peanut Butter as the base for her bar recipes, and the people who tasted the new Big Spoon Nut Butter Bars basically lost their minds about how good they were and inspired us to figure out how to scale up their production and sell the bars, as well.

We’re honored that Trailfoody has included one of our Handcrafted Nut Butter Bars in this box. Born from the same hunger for real, fresh, and wholesome food that created our nut butters, our bars represent the kind of homemade quality and ingredient standards that we simply couldn’t find anywhere else. They are truly a labor of love, but we think the quality is worth every ounce of effort.

We hope you agree!

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How This Energy Bar Perfectly Captures the Spirit of Arizona

The Huppybar AZT Wild Mesquite is the official energy bar of the Arizona Trail. Huppybar’s Lyndsay Hupp pens this guest post for Trailfoody about how this bar reflects Arizona’s beauty, history, and natural resources.

 

Sometimes you can’t choose where you live, it chooses you. In the same way my dog, Dahli, of 16 years, chose me as her owner, I think Arizona chose me as a resident. What started off as a reluctant relationship with the state (not enough water, mountains aren’t big enough), has since blossomed into a life intertwined. Now, 17 years later, I have a budding business, partner, family, friends, my playground, and my sanctuaries in all directions around me. We call our AZ home the “Shire” with endless outdoor recreational opportunities of all varieties in all directions in all months of the year.

The Grand Canyon had something to do with it too…a lot to do with it. Once that Canyon sinks its teeth into your soul, you can forget about ever really leaving it. So I always returned. Down the River—the Colorado River—all spring, summer, and fall for over a decade.

When the Executive Director of the Arizona Trail Association first contacted me about partnering with them to create an Arizona themed bar to celebrate the AZ Trail, Huppybar was barely crawling as a company. I was mostly busy “field testing” my products: on my bike, in my boat, on a hike, or down a canyon formulating the Huppybar vision.

Nonetheless, I was intrigued and honored that he would ask Huppybar to be a part of the endeavor and I was excited to take it on. The AZ Trail through Flagstaff is one of my favorite rides, and being a Long Trail thru-hiker alumni, I am a big fan of long, continuous trails.

“Once that Canyon sinks its teeth into your soul, you can forget about ever really leaving it.”

Choosing the right ingredients and their sources to represent AZ and the AZ Trail was paramount. I consulted all my savvy friends on native plant options, but it was quickly apparent that mesquite would be the feature.

Mesquite trees are ubiquitous in the desert regions of the Southwest. It is a plant I had become well acquainted with as a river guide in the Grand Canyon: we used them for shade, to tie up our boats, or chew on a pod occasionally while on a hike.

Beyond my personal connection with the tree, mesquite lays its roots deep in the cultural history of the Southwest. For thousands of years, native people have used the ground bean pods to sustain their families. The Tohono O’odham Nation of Southern Arizona are still doing this today. They wild-harvest in the late summer, and take the ground meal to market at the San Xavier Co-op and Farm. We are excited to be sourcing our mesquite from the San Xavier Co-op and to be supporting the traditional farming practices of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

In addition to mesquite, we feature AZ-grown pecans, AZ-harvested honey, and cayenne chiles from the nice folks at Whipstone Farms who booth next to Huppybar every Sunday at the Flagstaff Community Market. If you don’t feel the energy from the nutrition itself, you will feel it from the hard work and love that has been put into these locally sourced ingredients.

When you bite into an AZT Wild Mesquite Huppybar, you’ll notice it’s not as sweet as most bars you’ve tried. We kept it low on the sweet and high on the flavor. Some have likened it to cookie dough and many say it is the best bar they have ever tried. The AZ Trail Association loved it so much, they’re calling it the Official Energy Bar of the Arizona National Scenic Trail and a portion of the proceeds from the bar will go to help protect and maintain this amazing 800 miles of trail from Utah to Mexico!

Wherever your trails lead, Huppybar adventure-inspired nutrition will get you there!

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How They Pack This Jerky With so Much Flavor

We reached out to Lawless Jerky to find out what goes into making super flavorful jerky, like the Japanese Curry flavor we’re including in the next Trailfoody. Here’s what they said:

 

Our jerky starts with 100% grass-fed beef. We source our beef from New Zealand where the law outlaws GMOs. We hate to say it but, when companies don’t identify the provenance of their meat you have to assume the worst. From there, we use only all-natural ingredients, eschewing the artificial preservatives that had been standard in our industry for time immemorial.

We call ourselves “America’s Craft Jerky,” reflecting our shared values and similar approach to craft brewers and distillers. We, too, combine traditional, artisanal methods with modern creativity. We, too, handcraft our product in small batches. And we, too, incorporate the best ingredients available. In fact, a number of the ingredients we source from around the world, have never before been used in jerky.

An excellent example of Lawless Jerky’s commitment to ingenuity is our Japanese Curry jerky. That variety, adored by foodies, was actually the first we perfected. The story goes back to founder Matt Tolnick’s days in law school at UCLA when he roomed with a pair of Japanese students. Already a jerky hobbyist, Matt connected his avocation to the unique flavors of his roommates’ unique culinary creations. Japanese Curry was an umami-packed flavor unlike any he’d ever tasted. It had elements of Indian and Thai Curries but was very much its own inimitable taste sensation.
As we sought to perfect and commercialize our Japanese Curry jerky, we worked with a spice supplier in Japan, tweaking individual ingredients and proportions. We sampled each blend on its own as an initial screening, then transformed it into a marinade to see how it would translate to jerky, amplifying some flavors while dampening others. The complex blend we ended up with features Turmeric, Coriander, Fenugreek, Cumin, Cinnamon, Ginger, Star Anise, Cloves, Cardamom, Fennel, and Allspice, among other exotic components.

Even among our more common flavors, like Aloha Teriyaki, we bring unconventional elements to the table. Our Teriyaki is more of a Hawaiian teriyaki flavor than a traditional Japanese teriyaki, adding ginger, garlic and onion in place of the sake component. On top of that, we incorporate sesame seeds into our recipe, which add an additional layer of flavor and texture to the jerky.

So, what’s the story with the name, Lawless Jerky?

That’s an easy one! Founder Matt Tolnick started the company after he concluded that, as an attorney, practicing LAW was making him decidedly LESS happy. Matt knew that he could do more good in the world with his jerky than his lawyering.

Lawless also reflects the company’s unconventional approach to everything we do, from our ingredients and recipes to our approach to business. It was important to us that we bring something new to the jerky space, or else, why do it?

We are pleased to share our Japanese Curry jerky in this month’s Trailfoody, and look forward to incorporating other “Braver Flavors” in the future.

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In-depth Review of Trailfoody by Hiking For Her

Here is an excerpt from the review posted on Hiking For Her:

Why Trailfoody is such a great idea for hikers

At least 4 reasons:

  • Thoughtfully selected trail food by a company who “gets” what trail food should be
  • The element of surprise: new flavors and brands in each box
  • High quality food with ingredients that work with, not against, your hard working muscles
  • Convenience

Read the full review at Hiking for Her to learn more about first impressions, nutrition details, calories, flavors, taste, and more.

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Rugged Living & Love of Outdoors Inspire this Indulgent Energy Bar

Enjoy this guest blog post about the inspiration behind BGood Bars, written by Katy Nesbitt. We are excited to include BGood’s Peanut Ginger Bar—a very special find—in January’s Trailfoody.


BGood Bars were born from a combination of practicality and indulgence – a healthy snack with delicious ingredients that fits easily in a pocket. This combination was designed by Judy Goodman – a woman who knows how to live well out of a backpack or in a cabin on a remote cattle ranch.

Judy says she grew up in Central Washington with a love of the outdoors and the opportunity to cook and garden with her mother and her grandmother.

BGood Bars
Making these rugged, yet indulgent energy bars.

“Living on a farm, they taught me how to improvise in the kitchen by substituting for things we didn’t have on hand.” My grandmother used to say, “You can always make something out of nothing.”

When she was 27 years old she was backpacking in the Wallowas and devised her first trail bar, primarily comprised of nuts, dried fruit, eggs, whole wheat and chocolate.

With 20 years as a fisheries biologist and 15 years living on a remote Idaho ranch where the best means of transportation for many months of the year was a snowmobile, Judy lived her grandmother’s mantra—maybe not making something out of nothing—but, a rugged lifestyle doesn’t have to mean “roughing it.”

Judy and her husband, Bob, left the Sawtooth Mountains and moved to the base of the Wallowas in Joseph, Oregon, where she was trained as a chocolatier by a retired fish biologist in a Main Street shop. There, she came up with recipes for a snack similar in taste to a fine chocolate truffle with the energy boost needed to finish the hike, bike or ski.

Now, Judy runs her own kitchen making fine, hand-crafted products on Joseph’s Main Street making BGood Bars from a special formula of the highest quality ingredients wrapped in recyclable packaging – energy bars for active people with a conscience.

When not making and shipping bars to customers around the U.S., Judy joins Bob on a ski out the back door of their log cabin with a BGood bar in each pocket and up to the top of Wallowa Lake’s east moraine. From the top of the ridgeline, they can take in the view of Chief Joseph Mountain and the lake in one direction and Idaho’s Seven Devils Range to the east – a perfect opportunity to enjoy a bar made with nuts and fruit and hand-dipped in the finest dark chocolate.

“Ultimately the best food choices are always those closest to their original forms in nature. BGood Bars are a sophisticated great tasting snack that is healthy enough for the athlete and outdoor enthusiast, or decadent enough to serve for dessert,” says Judy Goodman.