It seems I am surrounded by family who have made, and so far kept to, New Year Resolutions. My sister is running in the London Marathon, and has persuaded Dad to train with her for a couple of half-marathons along the way. They both kept to their Dry January resolution – I’ve never seen Dad enjoy a beer as much as he did come February. Mum has an exercise and dog-walking schedule that makes Toffee (the athletic retriever) very happy. Only the lazy retriever, Mango, seems content to curl up in a warm kitchen (I find myself leaning toward the Mango party). So as the humans begin to run longer they need good nutrition both during and after those exertions.
Raiding Dad’s triathlon magazines has provided lots of recipe inspiration for the active vegetarians. Chickpea Burgers from 220Triathlon magazine were a nourishing fuel for after winter runs. An area we experiment with quite often is fuel during runs or cycle rides. Last year Dad was taking part in our local charity ride for Walking with The Wounded. It’s a 75 mile ride and he wanted some healthy snacks to keep him going. As a triathlete he has already been used to riding and running without sugar-based nutrition in training to promote fat-burning. In fact he does much of his training with just chia seeds, water, lemon juice and salt as his fuel. But for the long ride, with some intense hills along the way, he needed something more. And he wanted a snack that he could manage to eat whilst cycling. So no wrappers to try and open with your teeth and preferably something that you don’t have to bite off and hold on to. So I started making ‘Chia Bombs’, a bite sized energy explosion that Dad now takes on all long cycle rides. I’m sure you will have seen them in lots of health food cafes sitting on the counter and covered in sesame, cacao or coconut. This version is designed to give lots of fast release energy. We have also experimented with versions that provide slow-release energy, or protein packed bites to take before and after a work-out.
To make 12 small bites:
50g raw dates
40 g cranberries
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp linseeds
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin + sunflower seeds (you can use either one or both)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp brown rice puffs
2 tsp chia seeds
pinch of salt
1 tsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
20 g of coconut (for coating)
In a food processor blend up the dates, cranberries and coconut oil until combined. Add in all the seeds and 1 tsp of the coconut and blend again for a minute or two. This time it should look like a slightly crumbly dough, but when you squish some between your fingers it should hold together well. You don’t want this to be crumbly and fall apart!
Using a 1/2 tablespoon measure take out spoonfuls and roll between your palms until they form a tight ball, then transfer to a bowl with the rest of the coconut. Roll them between your palms again to make sure the coconut is really embedded in the mixture. The coating stops them from sticking together and melting into a mess during the race.
Keep them in the fridge or freezer to harden.
Note: This recipe is versatile, and while Dad doesn’t like eating chocolate or extremely sweet things whilst exercising, you could change the flavours in this very easily. We have made choc-coconut (with raw cacao powder), blueberry-almond, apricot-sesame, and lots of other flavours based on what we find in the cupboard. So experiment however you like, the only important part is to create the right consistency. If you keep the ratio of wet (dried fruit/coconut oil) and dry ingredients the same then they should hold together well.
My very dedicated sister is running the London Marathon this weekend and is raising money for two amazing charities, very close to our hearts: Alzheimer’s Research UK and Prostate Cancer UK – if you are interested in donating even a couple of pounds why not donate here!?