Without doubt, one of the hardest challenges regarding nutrition and triathlon is how to consume ‘quality’ energy while actually racing or training. For sprint distances, the short duration of the race means this isn’t absolutely necessary, as long as you’ve eaten sensibly prior to the event, but for the longer distances it definitely is, especially in half and full Ironman.
Consuming energy drinks and gels is easy enough while running or biking but ‘actual’ eating is another matter entirely. Gels provide an almost instant burst of power as and when needed, but because they give energy through sugar-based carbohydrate, it’s not a long-term solution for energy renewal. Gels can also become monotonous and sickly if you’re going ‘long’. You also need multiple hits to get through the many miles of road ahead. So wouldn’t it make a pleasant change to get some energy from a more savoury source, even if it’s just for variety?
In an ideal world the sandwich would solve our problems. But if you’ve ever witnessed a bike feed bag full of rain-soaked BLTs, then you’ll soon understand why they’re not really feasible. So I’ve designed some easily digestible, savoury, portable recipes, which are perfectly sized to pop in your bike feed bags or pre-prepared goody bags during longer events.
Peanut clusters (makes approx eight pieces)
These have a real moreish-ness to them; the breadcrumbs provide some carbs and the nuts protein. They’re also very quick to make.
Equipment A blender or food processor
75g smooth peanut butter
40g Brazil nuts, coarsely chopped
20g pumpkin seeds
28g fresh, brown breadcrumbs
1 Make the breadcrumbs by adding sliced bread to a food processor – should take about 20secs. Alternatively, if you’ve got one solid loaf, use a grater.
2 Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir until well mixed.
3 Using your hands, mould the mix to your desired shape and size. These can be squares, sausage shape or balls, as I’ve done here.
4 Wrap in cling film or foil and keep in the fridge until your next session or race.
Toasted oat, chickpea and apricot shots (makes approx eight pieces)
Using chickpeas as a carb and with the addition of apricots, these are an ideal mid-race pick-me-up.
Equipment A food processor and a frying pan
200g tinned chickpeas, drained
15g Dijon mustard
15g clear honey
45g apricots, dried and chopped
45g fresh, brown breadcrumbs
4tbsps toasted rolled oats
1 In a dry non-stick frying pan, toast the oats on a low heat, stirring occasionally for 2mins until lightly coloured. Allow to cool.
2 Blend the chickpeas with the mustard until a coarse texture has been reached. If you don’t have a blender, mash with a fork in a large bowl.
3 Make the breadcrumbs by adding sliced bread to a food processor – should take about 20secs.
4 Add the chickpea and mustard mix together with the crumbs, honey and chopped apricots. Stir well.
5 Using your hands, mould the mix into your desired shape and size.
6 Roll them in the oats for an even, outer coating.
7 Wrap in cling film or foil and keep in the fridge until your next session or race.
Carrot, sesame, cranberry and Marmite bites (makes approx eight pieces)
An indulgent hit of naturally sweet carrots, cream cheese and, optionally, Marmite. The couscous boosts the carb count to help with endurance.
Equipment A food processor and a frying pan
75g carrots, finely grated
75g low-fat cream cheese
25g hot water
15g dried cranberries
25g sesame seeds, toasted
20g fresh, brown breadcrumbs
10g Marmite, optional
1 In a dry, non-stick frying pan over a low heat, toast the sesame seeds until light brown. This normally takes 2mins so be careful not to burn them.
2 Make the breadcrumbs by adding sliced bread to a food processor – should take about 20secs.
3 Boil the water and add it to the couscous. Allow it 5mins to absorb.
4 Now add all the ingredients, except the sesame seeds, to a bowl and mix well. Using your hands, mould the mix to your desired shape and size.
5 Roll each bite in the cooled sesame seeds until lightly coated.
6 Wrap in cling film or foil and keep in the fridge until your next session or race.
Make them a size that’s easy to pop into your mouth in one or two bites, and that will also fit well in your feed bag.
Prepare ahead – they’ll keep chilled for three days, or you can freeze.
As with all new kit, try it out in training first and see if it works for you.
These recipes can be adjusted to suit your taste; vary the type of nuts used or swap for seeds, such as sunflower.