My experiments with healthy "sport" foods

As a longtime vegetarian (18 years and counting since my last hamburger), I’ve done a lot of experimenting with "alternative"


As a longtime vegetarian (18 years and counting since my last hamburger), I’ve done a lot of experimenting with "alternative" foods. I tried being vegan’it’s hard!’and have settled into a low-dairy vegetarian diet with a focus on whole foods. I put soy milk on my cereal and real milk in my coffee; I eat cheese, but not all the time and not a lot; I put yogurt in my smoothies but water it down. And while I do eat eggs, I try hard to buy them at the market from farmers instead of from the store, and I even tried duck eggs this week. (They were good! And they poach up real nice.)

One of my challenges has been "sport" foods: energy drinks, gels and bars. I really dislike any that taste chemically, and I don’t know that the processed ingredients many include are all that good for you. I used to buy Larabars, which are made of all-natural ingredients, and while I still do occasionally (they taste good!), I always found that an entire bar was too big for me, so I wasted a lot by eating half and leaving the rest in my gym bag to go stale.

One of my saviours has been Brendan Brazier’s book Thrive Diet (and the sequel, Thrive Fitness, pictured). (I interviewed Brazier recently’click through to learn about his views on whole foods and healthy eating.) Brazier also prefers to eat whole foods and has developed his own recipes for performance foods. The books include recipes for energy bars and gels and sports drinks that are made from real ingredients.

I haven’t tried the drinks, but I’m addicted to the bars. Basically, they’re a combination of fresh dates and a selection of other ingredients: fruit, nuts, seeds, sometimes coconut. You grind them up in a food processor to your preferred consistency and form them into balls or bars, then keep them in the freezer until you need them. I make the energy balls’I’ll often roll them in coconut or hemp seeds so they’re easier to handle’and put them in a container in the freezer, pulling them out as I need them. A batch usually lasts me a few weeks, and they taste great!

My favourite is the Spicy Chocolate energy balls (click through for the recipe, which they were kind enough to share with us)’I love the extra kick from the jalapeño, and using raw cocoa nibs makes it easy to get your chocolate fix without eating too much fat or sugar.

Next step, as I increase my mileage (I did 13 km on Saturday), is to try the gels. Apparently you can get reusable gel flasks at running stores to hold them in’has anyone tried them?

What are your favourite pre- and post-workout snacks?

View all of Kat’s running posts on the Half-marathon diaries home page.

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