gluten free granola bars

The PB&J of life and Pantry Granola Bars

This is not a post about the most epic peanut butter and jelly you've ever laid eyes on. If you want that, check out this recipe. It's about being in between two things, like (Justin's) peanut butter and jelly between (Udi's Gluten Free) slices of bread.

I am in between two races, recovering from Tussey, getting ready for TNF 50 in just three weeks. The amount of time between the two races is a strange amount and therefore makes me feel a little weird, a little off and a little bit like a slacker. I definitely wanted to recover throughly from Tussey. Even though I was feeling good after the race, I definitely didn't want to push it and get hurt. But in the back of my mind, I also knew that I wanted to keep working on my speed (for Houston in January) and maintain my fitness for TNF. The week after Tussey, I ran just over 50 miles for the week. The next week 85. Last week, I did a righteously hard week (but still lower mileage) and finished it off with doing Lithia Loop as a hard training run. I've been working out with my trainer Josh and am feeling strong and healthy and my running is going great. I can't complain, but I do feel a bit stuck in the middle. For most of the year, my peak training has included several double workouts a week and I've gone over 100 miles a lot this year. I like running over 100 miles per week. And I feel like I haven't done that forever. Woe is me right? No, that's not what this is about. That type of intense training helps you feel and stay sharp. I trained really hard and smart for Tussey and had a phenomenal race. So I feel stuck between trying to pursue that level of training with my physical limits (aka staying healthy and not overtraining). I definitely don't want the wheels to come off and crash and burn before I even get to the starting line at the beginning of December. Thankfully, I have been resolute about keeping my mileage moderate (80-90 miles), I have an amazing coach who challenges and pushes me and found other things to entertain and distract me (like my new obsession with True Blood).

I guess, in the end, stuck is the wrong word because I do not feel bad, I am just in between two things that precipitate and influence my behavior. I like to run and run and run and run some more. So sticking to a plan is definitely a good idea. There will be plenty of time for crazy high mileage, epic runs and training.

Speaking of things that stick together. I just threw together some amazing granola bars. I call them "pantry" granola bars because I went and scrounged around in our pantry, came up with a small bag of seedy trail mix and a large bag of standard trail mix and went to town making some seriously good granola bars. These can really accommodate any number of different combinations of trail mixes, though I highly recommend one nuttier version and one seedier version. And of course, chocolate never hurts either.

2 cups gluten free oats (or regular, if you are one of those people)
2 cups nutty (mine had date pieces and banana pieces along with nuts) trail mix
1/4 cup peanuts (or any nuts)
1/4 cup peanut flour (optional)
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp cacao nibs
1/2 cup seedy trail mix
1/2 cup dried fruit (mix or single variety, I used sour cherries)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup honey
4 tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Toss together oats, nutty trail mix, peanut and peanut flour. Place on a baking sheet or in large baking dish. Toast in oven for 10 minutes or until starting to get a little golden (watch it, don't burn it!)

While the oat mix is toasting, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the honey, dark brown sugar and salt. Heat until the mixture is fully incorporated and the brown sugar is melted (2-3 minutes), stir often. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

When the oat mixture is done toasting, remove from pan/sheet into a large mixing bowl. Mix together oat mixture, butter/sugar mixture and seedy/fruit mixture. Stir until completely incorporated.

Turn oven down to 300 degrees. In a large baking dish (can be the same one, just be careful not to burn yourself), place a piece of parchment paper that hangs over the ends (helps with getting it out of the pan later!). Pour the mixture into the baking pan and tamp down in a wooden spoon until even. Bake for 25-27 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely in the pan before removing and cutting. The bars must set, so let them cool completely!! Enjoy!