Long miles of running call for good food and lots of it. Thus, I'm on a quest to free myself of pre-packaged energy bars and gels and make my own delicious & nutritious trail foods.

Since this is a new adventure, I am taking baby steps and will keep adding to this list as I have time to experiment.

Brown rice-Cocoa-Cherry Energy Bar
Pinole - A Modern Twist
Mulberry-Chocolate Protein Bars
Chocolate Pinole
Quinoa Cranberry Bars


First experiment - Brown rice & Cocoa-Cherry Energy Bar.

I was pleasantly surprised by how this turned out. With no recipe to follow, I was just adding and mixing things in a bowl, until it got to a workable consistency.

The goal was to use minimal amounts of added sugars but keep it yummy, easily digestible, antioxidant/mineral and energy-dense.

First, I cooked the brown rice, and "fluffed" when ready to get it to a stickier consistency...

Then I mixed in all the ingredients. I like simple things so yes I mixed it all in (minus the dried cherries).

Since I wanted to keep the final product a little chewy, I just mashed with a fork and used an immersion blender to get it a little smoother.
Then I added the dried cherries.

There may be better ways to do all this, but it was quick and worked for me. I spread the mixture, which was pretty gooey and sticky, into a rectangular glass dish and stuck it in the oven at 350F for about 45 minutes. I don't think the glass dish was a fantastic idea, since the top got crispy and really brown before the bottom was anywhere near done. I flipped it out of the dish (barely stuck at all) and onto a baking sheet for another 10 minutes. This is what I ended up with.

Once cooled, I cut it into 1/2 inch thick slices to make "bars". Yumm, sooo good. Chewy like a Clif bar, but without all the sugar and unnecessary ingredients. 

What I used:

1 cup cooked brown rice
1 medium banana (ripe)
1/4 cup raw chia seeds
2Tbsp rolled oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp raw cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tsp vanilla powder
2 tsp agave nectar
1/3 cup dried, unsweetened cherries (no oil added)
Little bit of salt (might add more for very long, hot trail running food)
Option: could add chocolate protein powder instead of the cocoa for a protein boost. Maybe next time. 

Nutrition per slice (40g): 115kcal, 21g carbs, 4g fiber, 3g protein, 3.5g fat

Pinole - A Modern Twist

Next up, I wanted to try a new twist on Pinole, aka the stuff that fuels those Tarahumara runners for days of running. In addition to beer, of course. This mythical food was made popular by the ever-so-famous book Born to Run, but you can't just buy a Pinole bar, even in Whole Foods...yet. 

Traditionally, as this post on NoMeatAthlete (my source of inspiration) explains, this is made out of a specific type of corn, that is ground into a fine meal. 

However, I wanted to use what I had on hand, so plain yellow corn meal was my base of choice.

Then I added cinnamon, vanilla powder, a little sugar and chia seeds.

...and mixed it really well.

Since this was all dry, I started adding liquids a tablespoon at a time, until the consistency thickened up a bit. I started with a tablespoon of lemon juice, then added water. I also added a half of a mashed banana to bind the mixture. Next, I laid it on a baking sheet as a really big cookie and in the oven at 350F it went for about 15 minutes. Easy does it.

The finished product looks pretty good. It's tasty, but not sweet at all. A little like a dense, yet moist savory corn bread. Adding some agave could be a good option to make it more like dessert. Right now, it's simple, portable, good enough to eat on the run and easy to digest...

What I used...
1/2 organic yellow corn meal
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla powder
1 Tbsp raw chia seeds
1/2 banana, mashed
1 tsp raw sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Water, as needed (I used about 1/4 cup)

Nutrition for the entire "cookie", makes about 8-10 portions: 445kcal, 91g carb, 13g fiber, 7g fat, 9g protein. Lots of vitamins and minerals and sustained energy!

Mulberry Chocolate Protein Energy Bars

I love dried mulberries. In addition to being an awesome snack, they pack a ridiculous amount of iron, which, if you are a female endurance athlete, you definitely want on board. Not to mention, they are full of vitamin C as well, so the iron is better absorbed.

So, the idea was to make something amazing for recovery - a protein bar of sorts.

Since whole dried mulberries would be difficult to incorporate, I ground them in a small food processor. Not to a fine powder, but well enough. I then mixed this with the cooled brown rice. Since I wanted to use chia as a binder, I whisked the seeds with the water (ratio of 1Tbsp chia to 3Tbsp water) and let it sit and gel.

The chia takes about 7 minutes to gel well enough to incorporate. I mixed it in and mixed the whole thing in a food processor to get a better consistency. I added some So Delicious Almond Plus milk to help blend. 

The "blended" mixture was a bit more watery than I would have liked, but that was okay given the best ingredient was yet to come. Enter the Vega Sport Performance Protein, chocolate flavor (my favorite). Sure, I will lose some of the enzymes with the baking process, but it's still better quality ingredients that most other protein powders. 

One scoop helped pull together the consistency just perfectly. (I added a teaspoon of oil to it too but thankfully it didn't need more) Bingo!

In the spirit of simplicity, I made a giant, 1/2 inch thick cookie out of this one, too. I love cinnamon, so I sprinkled some on top for the fun of it.

After about 45 minutes in the oven at 350F, this baby was ready to come out. It stuck to the sheet a little, so I had to wait for it to cool a bit before transferring to a cooling rack. The longer it sat, the less mushy it got, so it's best to give it a little time before you devour.

Mmm, so good. I'm thankful for tasty protein powder, because you can definitely taste it. 

What I used...
1/3 cup dried mulberries 
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
2 Tbsp chia seeds (whisked with 6 Tbsp water)
1/4 cup Almond Plus milk
1 tsp olive oil
1 scoop Vega Chocolate

Nutrition for the whole thing (makes 8-10 servings): 553kcal, 69g carbs, 20g fiber, 37g protein, 17g fat. Great source of iron, antioxidants, vitamins/minerals and the protein powder gives it 500mg sodium too - which, if you've just done a multi-hour trail run, you will want. 

Chocolate Pinole

The simple pinole I made the other day was okay, but it needed an extra kick. Enter the genius idea of adding cocoa nibs. Not only does this boost the nutrition, but it satisfies the chocolatey craving...without the junk. Cocoa nibs are essentially roasted (sometimes raw) cocoa beans that have been ground up into small chunks. They are incredibly nutrient dense and full of antioxidants as well as minerals that become extremely useful for endurance training.

First off, I followed the traditional way of toasting the corn meal. I was able to do this in a simple pan, stove top. It took a few minutes and the smell (not bad!) and color of the corn meal definitely signaled that the toasting was complete.


While the corn meal was being toasted, I prepped the binder - aka the chia seeds and water, letting it gel. I also took my culinary staple, the banana, and mashed it well. Once all that was done, I combined the cocoa nibs and latter two ingredients with the toasted corn meal, then mixed.

The consistency was pretty good. A little less thick than cookie dough, but that's okay. Speaking of cookies, I made this one into a giant cookie too. It makes it easy to create an evenly thick substance to put in the oven.

This baby went it at 350F for about 40 minutes...I actually forgot to look at the time, so I am not sure exactly how long it took.

Once cooled, I cut it into bars, like so. This is pretty dense and has a tendency to dry out quickly. I would not make them in large batches, unless I was sure they would be gone within a day or two. The cocoa nibs give it a nice kick, but given the obvious lack of added sugar, don't expect anything sweet. Of course, that's always an option if you so prefer. I think I might take this on my next long run and see what happens!

What I used:
1/2 cup cornmeal (yellow, organic)
1 Tbsp chia seeds, raw
2 Tbsp cocoa nibs (1oz)
1 large banana, mashed
1/2 Tbsp vanilla powder
cinnamon to sprinkle
optional: salt

Nutrition for the whole recipe: 599kcal, 111g carbs, 24.5g fiber, 14g protein, 19.5g fat. Definitely something for sustained energy that is rich in complex carbs (74% of Calories come from carbs), minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Pretty functional trail food.

This recipe is a perfected version of what I took with me on my monster runs this past weekend. Despite the heat and long hours of running, my stomach loved these bars, so I simply had to share. 

I love quinoa for its great balance of amino acids, but I figured it would take some extra binders to make a cohesive bars with this grain (well, technically quinoa is a seed but that's beside the point). 

I cooked it a little longer than I usually do, a little past the 15 minute mark. I also used about a 1/4 cup of almond milk with the water and "fluffed" the cooked product. Not as sticky as rice can become, but close enough. Success.

While the quinoa was cooling, I got to work on my chia egg (1 Tbsp chia seeds mixed with 3 Tbsp water). Once that got to a gel-like consistency, I mashed a medium banana and combined these with a tablespoon on pure orange juice and agave. This produced a pretty thick (and, um, delicious!) binder. 

In a separate bowl, I mixed the quinoa with the other dry ingredients. (the dried cranberries, Vega Protein powder, oats, vanilla powder, cinnamon)

Then, obviously, I mixed it all together. The "dough" was a little wet, so I added some gluten free flour (technically a baking mix but it isn't sweetened), a tablespoon at a time, working it in by hand. 

It took 3 tablespoons to make me happy. I formed a large rectangular loaf, and popped it in the oven at 350F for 40 minutes.

It came out perfectly. Crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. Great consistency for long running food :) I cut them into bars so they fit easily in small snack bags and in a running pack.

I will definitely be making these, again and again...and again.

What I used:

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 Tbsp chia seeds (plus 3 Tbsp water)
3/4 scoop Vega Sport Chocolate Protein
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 med banana (mashed)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 Tbsp agave
3 Tbsp GF flour/baking mix (I used Arrowhead Mills)
1 tsp cinnamon

Makes 6 bars. Nutrition for the whole batch: 890 kcal, 170g carb, 20g fiber, 36.5g protein, 13g fat
Nutrition per bar: 148kcal, 28.5g carb, 3g fiber, 6g protein, 2g fat. 
Makes it perfect both for recovery and endurance food for long workouts when you crave something solid. Nutrient-dense and satisfying.

No comments:

Post a Comment