When it comes to fuelling with carbohydrates, we often think it’s all sugar and sweet things, and forget about the savoury options. When you have to push through hours and hours of training each week, you can get over foods pretty quickly. I mean, no one likes to have 6 energy gels in one long ride!
To prevent this from happening with my athletes, we work together to create a list of nutrient and energy-packed foods they enjoy, feel comfortable eating, and can easily take on long training sessions. It means their nutrition will never slip.
Some of their go-to savoury snacks include: peanut butter or vegemite sandwiches; baked potatoes with salt, herbs and lemon; and roasted chickpeas. By far though, the most popular pre and during-training snack would have to be our Rice Cake Energy Bars. We adapted this recipe from the cycling pros - Team Sky, because if anyone knows how to get the most bang for your buck in an easily transportable and consumable way, it’s them.
The best thing about these bars is their versatility - savoury, sweet, or in between. There’s a flavour for everyone. I love to make a big batch, portion them into squares and then freeze them in foil or air tight containers. It means they last longer, and you always have a back-up ready to go!
RICE CAKE ENERGY BARS
Makes 12 bars
● 250g or 1 cup aborio rice
● 1 cup apple juice
● 1 cup light coconut milk
● 1/4 cup water
● 1 Tbs chia seeds
● ¼ tsp salt
● ½ cup mixed dried fruit (sultanas, dates, cranberries, figs, apricots)
● ¼ cup honey or sugar
● Cinnamon, to suit taste preferences
● Mixed herbs, to taste (about 1-2 tsp)
● Salt and pepper to taste
● Optional lemon juice
● 3-4 Tbs peanut butter
● ¼ cup honey or brown sugar
1. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, mix rice, apple juice, coconut milk, chia seeds and salt. Stir well.
2. Bring to the boil, and then gently simmer. Stir every few minutes so it doesn’t stick.
3. After 10 minutes, add water. Stir well and continue simmering for 10 more minutes, or until rice is alt dente and super gluggy and sticky. NOTE: continue stirring from this stage as rice will get gluggy and stick to the plan, but still needs to cook. Aim for sushi rice consistency. It should take 20-25 minutes total.
4. Remove from heat and spread on a large plate or chopping board to cool for 10 minutes.
5. Stir through mix ins. Taste and add extra of anything if needed. NOTE: if the fruit mix version becomes soft and won’t stick together, place back over heat for a few minutes. Stir constantly until sushi-like consistency is achieved again.
6. Line a lamington tray with baking paper, and pour mixture in. Press down firmly into 1.5 cm thick. It’s okay if it won’t fit across the whole tray.
7. Cover with cling wrap and freeze for 1.5 hours.
8. Remove from freezer and cut into 12 squares.
9. Store in freezer.
10. Wrap in foil or place in ziplock bag to take with you out riding, or eat before training.
Accredited Practising Dietitian & AG AUS Triathlete