Running/Cycling Food

My Favorite Running Food

I started running a little over a year ago. I quickly learned that what you eat right before, and right after, a run makes a world of difference. Though I’m still learning and experimenting with running food, here are my favorite things so far:

  1. Oats. I first fell in love with oatmeal as a cyclist. I now eat it a big bowl every morning for breakfast. A large bowl will get me started on a 30+ mile bike ride or a long run. Energy bars and granola made with oats also gives me a huge energy boost midway through a bike ride (I have yet to try it while running, though).
  2. Bananas. I sometimes joke that I eat as much local food as I can to make myself feel less guilty about the number of bananas that I eat. Bananas are perfect for runners, though. It gives you a burst of energy before a run, and it’s easy to carry to work or on the road. Plus bananas have a ton of potassium, which helps prevent leg cramps.
  3. Peanut Butter. And I’m not talking about just any peanut butter. I’m obsessed with the freshly ground peanut butter that you can get at places such as Whole Foods. Unlike the jar peanut butter you can get at any grocery store, this peanut butter has one ingredient: ground peanuts. It’s an excellent pre-run or post-run snack, and it’s an excellent source of protein. I love it on toast, celery, apples, or sometimes I’ll just eat it right out of the container. The downside: it’s not cheap.
  4. Potatoes. I don’t know what happened to the reputation of potatoes. I blame french fries and potato chips and those low carb diets. Potatoes are actually really good for runners, though. A simple plain white potato has vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and potassium. More importantly, potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin B6, which is an important vitamin for athletes. So eat your potatoes! I love all potatoes, but yukon gold are my favorite.
  5. Pasta. This one is kind of a no-brainer for runners. Even white pasta, which has a bad rep this days, has it’s place. It’s gentle on the stomach the day before a big race or run and helps store energy for the long term.
  6. Black Beans. I love black beans. I prefer to buy dry beans and cook them myself, but I have found lately that sometimes, after running, I need something that I can prepare as quickly as possible. Canned black beans aren’t my favorite thing in the world, but they are fast and simple after a long run. Also sometimes I will cook a bunch of beans at at time and freeze them for fast dinners. Just don’t make the mistake of eating beans before a run. That’s a mistake you only make once. Save the big bean burritos for post-run.
  7. Chickpeas. There’s so much you can do with chickpeas! You can roast them and put them on salads or just snack on them right out of the bowl. You can make hummus and falafel. I don’t eat a lot of meat, so I’ve found that chickpeas are the perfect way to sneak extra protein into my diet.
  8. Fruit. Orange slices or a blueberry smoothie makes for a wonderful pick-me-up after a long run. Apples are also an excellent snack, but are best after a run (too much fiber for before a run).
  9. Greek Yogurt. Dairy and I don’t always agree, but boy do I love greek yogurt. Add some garlic, herbs such as chives or dill, maybe a teensy bit of mayo, and you have an excellent dip for veggies. Perfect for post-run recovery.
  10. Eggs. I go through phases with eggs.  Sometimes I eat too many of them and get tired of them, but I’m currently in the “I love eggs” phase. Hard boiled eggs are the perfect post-run snack, scrambled are creamy and comforting, poached are a healthy addition to a veggie meal. And eggs are a complete protein, so bring on the eggs!
  11. Hot Tea. A glass of hot tea after a cold winter run does wonders. I wouldn’t have made it through the winter without it.

So runners, what are your favorite running foods?

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Falafel

I love falafel but until now, I’ve never been able to make it. This recipe is perfect.

I got the recipe from The Shiksa in the Kitchen. I hope you don’t mind that I repost it here!

Here is the recipe, but I recommend you follow the above link because she gives a lot of good tips and easy to follow instructions:

  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3-5 cloves garlic (I prefer roasted)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • Vegetable oil for frying (grapeseed, canola, and peanut oil work well)

I didn’t use as much oil as she did, so as you’ll see in the photos below, my falafel are not as evenly fried. I also used safflower oil, because that’s what I had on hand.

My tips:

  • You absolutely must use dried chickpeas. Soak them overnight or during the day while you’re at work. Canned won’t give the right texture.
  • Also, don’t skip the fresh parsley. Just don’t do it.
  • I used my cast iron skillet to fry them, which worked perfectly.

And my photos:

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Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

I can’t stop eating these.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Use cooked or canned chickpeas. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Toss with olive oil and spread the chickpeas onto a cookie sheet.

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Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until brown and crunchy. (Be careful. They go from crunchy to burnt very quickly!)

These are the perfect protein snack or salad topper. And they are so addictive!

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Banana-Oat Energy Bars

Sometimes before a run or during a long bike ride, I need an energy boost. Store bought energy bars often have ingredients I don’t like to eat, so for the past few years I’ve tried to find various energy bar recipes to make at home. This recipe is based off of one found in the Runner’s Word Cookbook, and it is delicious and gives me enough energy to make it through a run or bike ride. It’s a strange cross between banana bread and a granola bar. The only downside, though, is that it is so moist that I’m afraid it’ll crumble when I store it in the back of my cycling jersey (I haven’t had a chance to try it yet).

The original recipe can be found in the Runner’s World Cookbook, which I highly recommend to any runners. Below is my modified recipe:

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Ingredients:

2 very ripe bananas (defrosted if using frozen)
Slightly less than 1/2 cup of safflower or canola oil* 
1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 Medjool dates, pits removed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup of dried cranberries**
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts**

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 8×8 baking pan (or a round cake pan works too).

Mash the bananas. Stir in the oil, syrup, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda.

Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and mix. Next fold in the chopped dates (make sure the pits have been removed!), the cranberries and walnuts.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Now you’re ready for the 30+ mile bike ride. Enjoy!

*why slightly less? The original recipe used sugar instead of maple syrup, so I cut back on the oil.

**if you “accidentally” add more than 1/2 a cup, that’s okay. Accidents happen.

 

 

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