Category Archives: Training snacks

Recipe: Cyclists’ chewy granola bars

I don’t know about you, but there are only so many gels that I can handle whilst out on a long run or bike ride before I start to feel queasy. They have their place, as do handfuls of jelly babies when a quick hit of sugar is needed to keep the wall at bay, but when I’m wanting something a little slower releasing to stoke the engine, I’ve increasingly found myself reaching for proper food to nibble on instead, like chewy granola bars and flapjacks.

Energy bars from companies like getbuzzing are really nice- they’re palatable, easily portable and full of slow releasing goodness to keep me pedalling or running. Unfortunately they’re also pretty expensive, so after some extensive research into how to make that perfect sticky texture that will stay portable and not crumble all over my handlebars, I present my cyclists’ chewy granola bars.

cyclists' chewy granola bars

The recipe is a super adaptable formula, to use up whatever you like your fuel to taste of, or whatever you happen to have in the cupboard. It also doesn’t matter what size cup you use, as long as it’s the same one to measure all of the ingredients in! I used a standard size coffee mug, but if you go bigger, just use a slightly larger cake tin.

Ingredients:

1) Rolled grains  –  2 1/2 cups
I used jumbo porridge oats for the bars above.
2) Nuts, seeds & spices – 1 cup
    I used a mixture of milled linseed, chopped brazil nuts and walnuts and a spoonful of sunflower        seeds, with a teaspoon of ground cinammon.
3) Sticky sweetener – 1/3 cup + 1/4 cup
I used honey, but other ideas include maple syrup or molasses.
4) Dried fruits – 1 cup
Here is where you can empty the cupboard- I used chopped dates, raisins & cranberries.
5) Binder – 1 cup
I used half apple sauce and half almond butter here, but pureed dried fruit or other nut butters          would work too.

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 23cmx23cm brownie tin.
  • Pop all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and the sweetener and binder in a saucepan.
  • Warm through and stir together the binder and the sweetener, and then pour over the dry ingredients.
  • Flex those guns and give the ingredients a really good mix- the oats, fruit and nuts should just be sticking together, and the mix should feel quite ‘stiff’ to stir.
  • Pop the mix in the lined tin and press it down firmly and levelly with the back of a spatula, then bake for 25 minutes.
  • Allow to cool at room temperature until the tin is cool to the touch, and then transfer to the fridge for an hour to finish setting.
  • Remove from the tin and cut into whatever size bar best fits your snack preference and pocket size, and devour on your next adventure 😉

Recipe adapted from the excellent Brown Eyed Baker website.

Stollen & solo adventures- the #Festive500

After posting about taking on the Rapha #Festive500 challenge here, it’s since been time to actually get out on my bike and put my money where my mouth is. On Christmas Eve I clocked up 44.5 miles split into two rides, to make them seem more approachable, but I wanted to crack 50 miles on Boxing Day- the furthest I’d ever cycled in one go since a coast to coast effort on a hybrid when I was 17.

#Festive500

I arranged a ride with my friend Dan, and after looking at the route he’d prepared, was more than a bit nervous. He’d planned a route to Beacon Fell, a random hill on the edge of the Forest of Bowland that involves some pretty tasty climbs- it would be fair to say, not my forte. Still, I prepared to employ a decent dose of Rule #5 and do it anyway, since the #Festive500 was all about me getting out of my comfort zone.

#Festive500

Then Dan either came down with food poisoning or a massive hangover, but wasn’t leaving his bathroom either way. I thought of doing 50 miles alone, after the sufferfest that my first few club rides have been, and it was enough for me to nearly tuck my bike back away and retreat to the sofa with a Baileys, but I decided not to. You don’t get better at something by not doing it, so I decided to woman up and head out alone. I replanned a flatter route, remembering that half the suffering on club rides has come from Yorkshire being ‘undulating’ to say the least, and got ready to set off, feeling a little like this…

#Festive500

I loaded up my jersey pockets with Christmassy nibbles, and set off, reminding myself to actually eat before I started to bonk, rather than cramming in emergency Haribo when I was already suffering. 20 miles in, sitting by the side of the road, I nibbled a wedge of Christmas cake and marvelled that I’d made it up hills I used to stop and walk when I was 17, without even using the little chainring at all.

#Festive500

I whizzed around the lanes of Lancashire, through some I knew, like Weeton and Out Rawcliffe, and some I’ve only ever driven to in the past, like Inskip and Broughton. I laughed, I sang Christmas songs, and when the going got tough, I chilled. I sat up, and with one hand on the handlebars, and gently spun along, eating Percy Pigs and relaxing, with no pressure that I was off the back of a group and needed to get back to them. I even had time for a photo stop at this rather amusingly named lane in Nateby, 35 miles in.

#Festive500

Whilst cycling in a group is great, with the feeling of whizzing along in your very own peleton, calling out ‘car back’ and generally feeling pretty pro even when you’re actually a total newbie, I loved my solo adventure. I got to take the ride at my own pace, without worrying about being left behind, and I returned home a little bit more in love with cycling; my hands and feet frozen, my cheeks flushed and my quads tired to say the least. I rode the furthest I’ve done in one go, and I did it completely on my own. I’m pretty proud of that.

#Festive500

Job done. #Festive500

Free your mind and your legs will follow.

[If you’re a Strava nerd and want to follow my #Festive500 efforts, you can do so here, if you want to marvel at just how slowly it is actually possible to cycle.]

Festive fuelling: Christmas flapjacks

Never one to shy away from a baking experiment, I have to say I’m quite proud of how this one turned out- flapjacks crammed with Christmassy goodness that are passably healthy and far less guilt-inducing than mince pies.

Ingredients:
100g dried cranberries
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2-3tbsp runny honey
25g demerera sugar
125g butter
1 tsp almond extract
75g of nuts (I used a mix of flaked almonds and chopped hazelnuts)
1tsp mixed spice
150g-200g porridge oats
Icing sugar (optional)
Zest and juice of half an orange (optional)

Method:

  • Grease and line a 20cm ish square tin and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Pop the cranberries and bicarb soda in a saucepan and just cover with cold water. Bring them to the boil and let them simmer until the juice starts to go pink and a bit syrupy. I mashed some of the cranberries with the back of a spoon and left some whole.
  • Melt in the honey, demerera sugar and butter until you have a pan of syrupy pale red weird-looking stuff (stick with me here) and take the pan off the heat.
  • At the same time, in a non-stick frying pan with no oil in, gently toast the nuts until your kitchen smells positively delightful (no burnt nuts though. Burnt nuts are never good).
  • Stir the now toasted nuts, the mixed spice and the almond extract into the pan and then add the oats. Start off with 150g and then judge from there if more oats are needed- the mix needs to be holding together okay but not runny- it should be pretty hard to stir when it’s right.
  • Tip into the tin and bake for 20 minutes.
  • For an extra festive touch and if you can resist scoffing them all from the oven, leave them ’till they’re cool and make a simple icing by mixing the zest and juice of half an orange with some icing sugar until nice and thick, and drizzle it over the flapjacks.
  • When the icing has set, dig in and devour whilst listening to The Pogues and pondering if it’s acceptable to have eaten most of your advent calendar by mid-December (shut up, you all do it too).

Recipe: date and walnut flapjacks

I’m in the process of trying to use up the contents of my cupboards before I leave uni for the summer, and had an abundance of walnuts (god knows why I buy such random things). After a spot of googling and discounting a Nigella recipe, I found this recipe for date and walnut flapjacks, and it seemed perfect- crammed full of yummy goodness to fuel me up for running.

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter/Flora
1 tbsp runny honey
25g caster sugar
100g chopped dates
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
50g walnut pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g (ish) oats

Method
Grease and line an 8″ ish square tin. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Put the chopped dates, bicarb soda and just enough water to cover them in a saucepan, heat gently and simmer for about 5 minutes until they go all syrupy and make your kitchen smell of toffee.

Add the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla extract to the pan and allow to melt until you have a big sticky pan of gooey temptation- but if you can avoid dipping fingers/spoons/biscuits in this, it’ll be worth it.

Stir in the walnuts and then the oats. If the mixture seems too gooey, keep adding oats until it’s the right sort of consistency.

Pop the mixture in the tin and bake for around 20 minutes, until firm and golden.

They don’t set quite as hard as normal flapjacks, but are absolutely yummy- and also taste slightly like sticky toffee pud, which is a big win in my book.

(Recipe source: here)