CTS Dover Ultra Raw/Baked Treats
I recently ran the Endurancelife CTS Dover ultra marathon. I am always excited to run an ultra, but for this one I was extra excited as I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it without purchasing any 'Sports Nutrition'. By sports nutrition, I mean anything that is marketed as performance enhancing or somehow necessary for optimal performance. Basically, I wanted to go all natural, if anything was prepared, I prepared it, no gels, electrolytes, or purchased bars. I also wanted to rely solely on what I carried, with the exception of water.
Based on past performances I tried to estimate the time I would be out on the run. I hoped that I would be able to complete the 35 miles in under 7 hours (I finished in 7hrs 15min). I would need between 250-300 calories per hour and wanted to be sure that towards the last couple of hours I would still eat what I took even if I didn't want to. I also had to make sure that what I did take was easily digestible, accessible and most importantly, nutritious.
So I decided to give a go at making my own energy bars. My experience with energy bars is limited, however I find those that I have tried do not taste good, especially after a few of them, are too sweet, and have a lot of ingredients that are too processed for my liking. My aim when exercising is not only to compete the activity, but to finish it knowing that I have also supplied my body with what it needs to sustain itself and what will minimise the pain I will endure once my body recovers and rebuilds itself. An ultra is an extreme example of exercise, but if it worked here, then I would be able to rely on my concoction for my more regular endeavours.
I wanted to pack as much as I could into this bar and I wanted to keep it raw so that, with all enzymes intact, it would be easy to digest, and dehydrated (but have included baking time and temp, also much better than store bought) so that it would be easier to chew, more palatable and lighter to carry. The recipe below is the one that I ran with and that I will inevitably change as I get bored with it, so, like all recipes on this site, please feel free to substitute whatever you want, just keep the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients the same. I have added some suggestions alongside what I used. I also included electrolytes in this version as it would force me to eat them rather than to rely on a liquid that I would find more tempting as the run went on.
Life, parenthood, work, stress, travel... are all endurance sports, so I do not see why this treat should be limited to just our physical exercise pursuits.
- 3 X cups oats/buckwheat flakes
- 1 X cup pistachios, or whomever nut you like
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds, or seed of your choice; chia, pumpkin, sunflower...
- 3 tbs raw cacao powder, regular 100% cocoa would work
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbs ground dry kelp or other sea vegetable; wakame, dulse...
- Wet (date paste):
- 250g pitted medjool dates (aprox. 15) or other date
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Place all wet ingredients into a food processor (blender doesn't work too well) and let soak for an hour, then blend till smooth. I have made the paste without soaking and it works just as well, but probably better to let the dates soften, your food processor will thank you.
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the date paste and stir until mixed well, you may need to roll up your sleeves and clean under your finger nails and get your hands in there for this one.
Spread the mixture onto a a paraflexx sheet and roll flat to about 2cm thick with a rolling pin and shape. Place on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate for two hours then flip onto a mesh sheet and dehydrate a further 4 hrs or until desired consistency. Allow to cool before slicing.
Preheat oven to 160F
Press mixture into a lined baking tray/sheet and smooth out with a rolling pin. You can go thicker with the baked version so tray size can vary according to what you have.
Bake for 30 min, then check and bake for a further 5 minutes if needed. Allow to cool for 15 min before slicing into desired size.