As I continue on my quest to be a serious road rider, I struggle with keeping myself well-fed with interesting, nourishing and non-packaged food. Okay, I’ll do one of those squishy gel things if I really need to, and I’ll definitely munch on a LUNA bar, especially since they’re made with 70% organic ingredients and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Check out their 5 bottom lines! But what about some just plain old home-made favourites that you can just stuff into a (reused and reusable) baggie into your jersey instead of consuming more single-use packaged snacks? I asked some of my long-time cycling friends and here are some of their favourites:
- Bananas! Bananas provide a range of nutrients, electrolytes and are an excellent source of potassium – important for muscle health and function.
- Peanuts and good old peanut butter on whole wheat bread. Raw almonds and almond butter too. Even better: toast your own raw almonds by sticking them into your toaster oven for a few minutes and then sprinkle with seasoning – try curry, smoked paprika, a bit of salt. The roasting brings out a delicious flavour.
- Trail mix / GORP (good ol’ raisins and peanuts) – or your own combination of nuts and dried fruit. I always add some chocolate :).
- Cooked potatoes! Full of healthy nutrients including potassium, iron and vitamin C, potatoes (skin on) are a complex carbohydrate that your body can digest easily, therefore using it for energy. Just don’t deep fry them!
- Homemade granola bars – I’m sure everyone has a favourite recipe but here’s one I just tried and really liked made with peanut or almond butter:
2 ½ cups crisp rice cereal (try to get organic brown rice cereal)
1 ¼ cup rolled oats
1 cup chopped mixed dried fruit
1 cup chopped nuts
½ cup raw sugar
¾ cup peanut or almond butter
¾ cup honey
¼ cup cocoa
Combine first 4 ingredients. Heat sugar, peanut/almond butter and honey together over low heat until melted and smooth. Stir in cocoa and dry ingredients. Mix well. Press firmly into pan. Chill until set. Cut into bars.
- And finally, the night before the big ride, treat yourself to a high protein chocolate cake – yes, high protein! Made with chick peas, this cake is easy to make and delicious!
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
1/3 cup orange juice
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
Process chickpeas and orange juice until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. In medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda until just blended. Pour batter into plan and bake 50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!
While we may never completely replace the packaged energy bars, gels and drinks, we can substitute some of them for foods we prepare ourselves, therefore selecting organic, high quality ingredients, and reducing waste. In the meantime, we should encourage our favourite energy snack provider to develop minimal (i.e. thinner) and compostable packaging for all products.