Monday, 25 May 2015

Cycling Food - DIY Energy Bars

Lets keep this simple: We all need energy of some sort to fuel our rides and the simpler the better. Those right there are two pretty good facts. Another fact is that many of us will spend a lot of money fairly frequently on various branded products, but what are the other options? What can be done in your own kitchen and at what cost?

I generally eat some form of high carb, low GI cereals with a slice of toast or malt loaf to fuel a half decent ride (be this pace or distance or both), along with a gel if I'm working hard. Gels are great but after a while they become a bit much and I often feel empty and want to feel like I've eaten something solid. This is easily solved by eating some form of energy bar, flap jack or even a wedge of malt loaf but I find this hard to eat on the bike whilst working hard and panting in a way similar to child-birth.

For me, I want something with a bit of substance, it has to be moist but not messy and easily stored and accessed. Some pretty basic research brings up lots of options but I wasn't always convinced by the ingredients or the potential energy values so decided to have a play around. In the end after a bit of experimenting the following works really well - just throw it all in your food processor:

  • 300g stoned dates
  • 300g prunes
  • 5 x dried whole figs
  • 150g mixed nuts (almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts
  • 150g whole oats (more or less if you want to play around with the consistency)

I then just pressed this into a baking tray and put in the fridge to harden a little before  cutting into squares and wrapping in foil. This lot makes approx 16-18 'shots' of a reasonably sized portion. These are more like little squares or 'shots' than bars.

These then get stored in the freezer until I need them but given that we're working with largely dried ingredients - these things last a very long time just in the fridge. I wrap them in the same way I saw a chef for a pro cycling team do hers - you simply fold the foil back on its self to create a little tab that can be pulled to started easily unwrap the shot using just 1 hand.

There's a fair amount of carbs and protein in these little guys but bear in mind that nearly all the carbs is from sugar so I prefer to limit my intake if I'm out all day. You can play around with adding more or less oats, more berries or other dried fruits. The trick though is to get the consistency just right because too soft makes them hard to eat without making a mess and too thick or dry makes it a chore to eat. The ideal consistency is squidgy when pressed but holding its shape.