Saturday, September 1, 2012

Savory Inspiration

 Are you sweet or savory? 
You know what I mean.  When cravings strike, we tend to be either sweet or savory types.  I think I fall somewhere in the middle...well...ok...if you know me you know I LOVE natural baked goodness so I suppose I swing more towards the sweet end of the scale.
However, during long workouts, rides, runs and races my taste buds switch teams and all they can think about is salty... savory... salty... get the picture!  Endurance exercise lasting longer than 1.5-2hours can leave you soaked in sweat and salt as your body works to cool it's internal temperature through this amazing mechanism.  The hotter the day and the higher the intensity, the greater the rate of sweat output.  My theory is if your body is screaming at you for salt then you need more of it- listen to that voice!
Don't get me wrong- I love me some sweet energy bars and balls.  If you have been reading my blog for any period of time, you will surely know that by now:)  Peanut butter and chocolate balls, granola bars, coconut cream pie balls, chocolate chili balls.  Most of my ball recipes are made with a base of dates which are packed with quick release sugars that will flood your blood with glucose and rapidly pump your starving muscles with the rocket fuel they are begging for during endurance exercise.  Fast fuel makes happy muscles during long hard workouts.
But after years of epic adventures requiring constant fueling for hours at a time it is impossible not to get absolutely sick of sweet.   A few years ago my taste buds revolted and I stopped consuming energy powders and drinks.  Probably turned out to be a good thing- my taste buds have saved me from consuming litres of extremely highly processed sugars, additives and impossible to pronounce chemicals. 

I changed from consuming primarily sports drinks for fuel to drinking pure water and eating quick energy snacks.  There are a few very healthy store bought options such as sunripe fruit bars and Larabars which I enjoy along with all of my homemade balls, bars and natural snacks.  Last year I discovered S-caps which allowed me to increase my electrolyte intake during longer, harder or hotter workouts as well. 

Nutrition is an evolution...a journey you might say.  Just as taste buds can change, so can our values, knowledge, opinions and ideas about food.  We pick up new pieces along the way and create our future of nutrition as we go along.  I still throw a bottle of e-load on my bike now and then for epic adventures to add some variety, but in general my fitness fuel as evolved to match my daily fuel.  Real food, close to nature, as often as possible.  After all, shouldn't we be giving our hard working bodies the highest quality fuel when they need it most?
Back to my sweet and savory thing. 

So, I love my 'Sarahbars' but maaaaaan is it nice to have some savory on the long days!    My go-to unsweet snacks have been:
  • Boiled potatoes with olive oil and salt.  New potatoes are the best:)  Toss with a bit or Parmesan and increase the yum factor.  Peel them first if you don't want to deal with the benefits of fibre out there:)
  • Tamari almonds mixed with pretzels.
But what about energy bars and balls that are savory instead of sweet?  You can't buy any that I am aware of.  So I have gone back to the drawing board recently to try and create some savory energy snacks to itch that salty scratch when it arrives.

I found some great inspiration from two new books:
Scott Jureks Eat & Run and Allan Lim's Feed Zone Cookbook.  Both of these authors have extensive experience with food and endurance training and racing.  Awesome resources  that I have just begun to explore.

This morning my Saturday foodie inspiration struck and I hit the kitchen to play with some new ideas.  I made up a few of Jureks 'Eat & Run' Rice Balls which layer sushi rice with salty miso and are wrapped in nori seaweed sheets.  I experimented with his recipe and made them into balls stuffed with miso and wasabi then rolled in sesame seeds and soy sauce...yum!  I can't wait to try these on my next long trek.  They are in the freezer and we shall see how they withstand the icebox experiment...

Next I played with Lim's Bacon & Egg Rice cake recipe.  You can see a video of him making them here.  He worked with elite tour cyclists as an exercise physiologist and nutrition guru.  He has some awesome ideas for simple, natural, real fuel...that have been tried and tested by the best.

Here is my twist on his recipe...

Savory Breakfast Rice Cakes
  • 1 cup sushi rice cooked with 1.5 cups water
  • 4 eggs scrambled with salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of diced smoked salmon
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Yields 10 cupcake sized cakes

  1. Cook rice and scramble eggs.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Mix all ingredients well and press into a greased muffin tin.  I thought this idea would be easier for creating individual cakes- and it worked great!  Just press them in firmly using a jar or glass to ensure they are packed together well. 
  3. Remove, wrap individually and store in the fridge for a delicious mobile, savory snack! 

Note: Eggs and cheese probably shouldn't be out of the fridge too long for food safety reasons unless you have a strong stomach lol.  These will be best eaten within a couple of hours of leaving the fridge.  You could stash them in a cooler if you have access to drop spots during your long training sessions as well.

What are your favorite salty savory fueling snacks?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Cheers and happy trails,

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