Simple Cereal Bars

To improve at a sport that requires little more than a decent pair of shoes, runners tend to find a way to complicate things.  From $600 multi-data-point watches, to scientific socks that squeeze the blood out of your calves, to space-age food that could be straight out of an episode of the Jetsons, there is always something new and better and shinier that promises to make you a better runner.

But sometimes simple is better.

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m addicted to my GPS watch, own lots of compression socks, and eat strange space-age goos on long runs (homemade, of course).  But I don’t like to rely on packaged food and prefer to make my own.

There are lots of whole-food bars out there and they are undeniably convenient.  But they are also incredibly easy to make.  One of my favorite bars is  LaraBars.  Their cashew cookie bar is made of two ingredients:  dates and cashews.  Throw some dates and cashews in a food processor and shape into bars.  Done.

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But, of course, as a runner, I need to complicate things a little bit, right?  So I came up with a new variation that you can’t buy in stores.  My motivation?  Cheerios.  Too many Cheerios, to be more specific.  Cheerios were on sale a few weeks ago and I bought several oversized boxes, precisely at the time my kids started not wanting to eat Cheerios anymore.  So now we have enough Cheerios to last through the apocalypse and no one will eat them.

Time for a new recipe.

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The Cheerios in the homemade LaraBars add a nice little crunch to each bite, not to mention a few vitamins and minerals.  The bars are easy, iron-rich, portable, and delicious!

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A double batch of cereal bars

 

Serves 12

Simple Cereal Bars

10 minPrep Time

10 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 10 soft medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup peanuts, cashews, or sunflower seeds
  • 2 cups dry cereal
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste, more if nuts are unsalted)

Instructions

  1. This recipe works best when your dates are soft and squishy. If yours need a little help, soak the pitted dates in hot water for ten minutes, then drain.
  2. Pulse dates in a food processor until they are finely chopped.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients until they become a fine crumble.
  4. Taste and adjust salt, if necessary.
  5. Shape into 12 balls or press firmly into a lightly greased 9x9 inch pan and cut into bars. These can be individually wrapped to take on the go or simply left covered in the pan in the fridge.
Cuisine: Energy Bars |

Notes

The peanut version with Cheerios has 122 calories, 23.1g carbs, 3.2g fat, 2.5g protein. This is also great for those wanting to increase iron with a whopping 10.3% of RDA!

7.6.4
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http://theplantedrunner.com/simple-cereal-bars/

 

Honey Stinger Fails

I spent a large part of yesterday eating cookies.  And waffles.  And cookies shaped like waffles.  In other words, a typical rest day. (Just kidding.  Maybe.)

When a friend pulled out a Honey Stinger Waffle on our trail run the other day, I remembered that I wanted to figure out a way to make those myself.  If you’ve never had one before, they are a commercial version of a Dutch treat called a stroopwafel:  thin layers of waffle cookie with a sticky spread of sweet honey or sugar syrup smooshed in between.  In a brilliant stroke of marketing, they are packaged for runners, cyclists, and other endurance athletes for a convenient snack of simple carbs and fat.  Not only is the word stroopwafel fun to say (go ahead, say it out loud), they are delicious. (Some are accidentally vegan, others aren’t.  I’m not particularly picky about honey mostly because I don’t love the taste.) So I started researching.

The first issue with making my own Honey Stingers is that you need a pizzelle maker.  This is a specialized kitchen gadget that is only good for one thing (two if you count turning the cookies into homemade ice cream cones) and runs at least $50.  Who the f%*k owns a pizzelle maker?  The answer is no one.  No one normal owns a f%*king pizzelle maker and if you do and you are not a professional baker or ice cream shop owner, you spend way too much money on single-use specialty kitchen items. (Do you own one?  If you do, I really wasn’t talking about you just now.  You are fabulous and can I borrow it sometime?)

The next problem with stroopwafels is that the recipe is basically a very rich sugar cookie sandwich smeared with buttery syrup. Flour, a couple (!) sticks of butter, eggs, sugar, yeast, and syrup (golden, corn, maple, or even molasses).  It’s easy to veganize by subbing margarine for the butter and aquafaba or flax for the eggs, but that doesn’t really make it much healthier.  It’s still a cookie.  A delicious, admittedly junk-food, cookie.  If I’m going to eat sugar cookies on the trail, I’m just going to eat sugar cookies.  I’m not going to roll them into little balls and press them into lovely shapes with my fancy first-world pizzelle maker and then coat them in buttery corn syrup. And most likely, neither are you.

But that didn’t stop me from trying.

First I tried modifying my favorite waffle recipe to make the batter thicker and more cookie-like.  They still turned out like waffles.  I suppose there’s nothing wrong with taking some waffles on the trail.  Maybe they are a bit bulky, but the idea of an almond butter waffle sandwich on the trail sounds great to me.  But that’s not what I was after.

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Then I tried cookie dough.  I had a stash of dough in my freezer leftover from an animal-cookie-making session with my daughter so I tried that.  I was too impatient to make little individual stroopwafels and thought, why not fill the whole waffle maker and just break off pieces?  I opened my waffle maker and looked at my huge, puffy waffle sugar cookie.  What would happen if I turned it 45 degrees to try to squish some of those puffs out?  Ooh, pretty!  Pretty, but still puffy.

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After turning the cookie 45 degrees and pressing down the lid

How about another turn?  Hmm, less pretty, but getting closer to a stroopwafel.

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I needed kitchen shears to cut the cookie into wedges while it was still warm.  After cooling, the cookie crisped up quite a bit.  It tasted like (drum roll, please) a hard sugar cookie.  Okay, but not worth the effort.  I never got around to making it into a syrup sandwich.

Stroopwafel wedges? Pizza pizzelles? I give up.
Stroopwafel wedges? Pizza pizzelles? I give up.

So I don’t think that I’ll be venturing into the stroopwafel business anytime soon. I might keep working on a better recipe that actually uses whole ingredients, but I might just call it good at the regular cookie stage.

Unless you have a pizzelle maker I can borrow?

 

Gingerbread Truffles

I wish I could say I loved dates.  They are simple, portable, perfect ratio of carbs for endurance running, and have lots of potassium, an electrolyte that needs to be replaced after long runs.  Unfortunately, snacking on them on their own is just not enjoyable to me.  But an amazing thing happens when medjool dates (the big squishy ones) are mixed with other ingredients.  Dates transform themselves into caramel, fudge, and even gingerbread when paired with the right flavors.

So when my daughter asked to make gingerbread cookies after school (even though it’s May!), we created these raw, vegan gingerbread truffles.

The best part about vegan cookies is that you can eat the dough!
The best part about vegan cookies is that you can eat the dough!
Tess rolling the dough in cocoa
Tess rolling the dough in cocoa

Adding blackstrap molasses adds iron and calcuim, two more important minerals for runners. They are the perfect trail food, pre-workout bite, and post-run snack .

Serves 2 truffles

Gingerbread Truffles

10 minPrep Time

10 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almond meal or ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashew meal or ground cashews
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter or peanut flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon black strap molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-4 tablespoons water (as needed)
  • cocoa or cacao powder for rolling

Instructions

  1. If you already have almond and/or cashew meal (Trader Joe's sells them), add all ingredients except the water and cocoa to a food processor and blend until you achieve a cookie dough consistency, adding water one tablespoon at a time if needed to make dough (if you use peanut flour--I like PB Fit--you will need to add a couple tablespoons or more of water). If you are starting from whole nuts, grind those first into a fine meal before adding the other ingredients, being careful not to over-process into nut butter.
  2. Once you have a sticky dough, dust your clean hands and a plate with cocoa powder. Roll the dough into bite-size truffles coated with cocoa.
  3. These keep best in the fridge, but should be fine without refrigeration for several hours on the trail.
Cuisine: Sports Nutrition | Recipe Type: Energy Bites
7.6.4
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http://theplantedrunner.com/gingerbread-truffles/