the taste space

Spiced Acai Energy Bars

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on May 4, 2013

Spiced Acai Energy Bars

It is with a heavy heart that I have abandoned ship for the Rideau Lakes training, but that hasn’t stopped me from making cycling snacks for Rob. Energy nibbles are definitely one of the perks of long-distance cycling. Never wanting to run out of glycogen stores during long rides (aka bonk), snacking on homemade sports drinks and energy bars are a fun way to fuel a long cycle.

In addition to high carbs for quick absorption, whole foods are good options due to their beneficial nutrients. Vitamins and antioxidants can help rebuild your body as they repair from your exercise. And because I am a sucker from trying new things, especially when heralded as a leading source of antioxidants, this is how I stumbled upon acai berries (pronounced ah-sigh-ee, btw).

However, the powdered acai berries left a bit to be desired. They didn’t add much to my morning oats. Flavour-wise at least. I needed a new strategy. Because if I am going to shell out the big bucks for acai, I may as well taste it and enjoy it.

Packed with a a medley of dried fruit (dates, raisins and apricots), almonds, vanilla and cinnamon, this is a delicious treat. Not as mono-dimension as some no-frill date-heavy energy bars, I really liked the fruitiness that the acai imparted. Could you skip it? For sure, but then I’d add something like unsweetened dried cranberries or goji berries to replace the berri-ness I enjoyed.

These nibbles have been christened ‘the pepperoni’, because Rob thought I had made pepperoni during its initial phase, rolled up as a long cylinder in the fridge. Surprises abound in the fridge, but I can assure you that these do not taste like pepperoni. However, a savoury energy snack sounds like a great idea. Dried tomatoes in a pizza-like ball, anyone? :)

I also wanted to highlight a new book for any readers interested in cycling. I know I’ve recommended Every Women’s Guide to Cycling before (although I can’t find my own post, here is a good review). I read it a few years ago when I first became interested in long-distance cycling. I felt like she was whispering and guiding me through the ins-and-outs of cycling. It seems so simple to get on a bike and pedal, but it is so much more than that. Have you ever wondered whether to wear underwear with your padded cycling shorts? And what the heck is chamois butter? Just a few of the tips I garnered from the book.  I really should re-read it when I resume long distance cycling again, because it is not geared solely to novice riders. And to be honest, if studying for my exam has taught me anything, it has reinforced that if you don’t use it, you will lose it. I haven’t really looked at cycling tips and tricks for a while.

However, I recently read through Bicycling Magazine’s 1,100 Best All-Time Tips.  I haven’t read the previous editions, but this version highlights quick easy-to-read tips about many different areas in cycling: traffic safety, riding positions, skill builders, training techniques, distance riding, mountain biking, racing, health and fitness, nutrition, equipment and bike care and repair. Most of the tips resonate with me as I figured them out myself over the years: there is less wind in the morning so start riding earlier (there is also less traffic), why to avoid riding through a puddle (there is probably a huge hole there, too), and the best communication during group rides (we are a very vocal bunch of cyclists).

It includes tips that reinforce aspects I need to continue to remind myself: don’t train hard more than twice a week, take at least one rest day a week and it reminds you of the signs of over-training. They even suggest that cyclists who work full-time (or go to school), should limit their training to 10-12 hours a week: protecting your time for what matters most while still giving you the most amount of benefit (something I remind myself daily). For more serious cyclists, they have tips like shedding water bottles during long climbs if you can refill shortly afterwards (because one should never sacrifice hydration).

The tips are very practical, with suggestions on how to plan your training year, how to structure a training camp, and how to be your own coach. I appreciate the short and to-the-point nature of the tips, but at times, I wish there were more references for the scientific advice –but that’s the doctor coming out in me. Not all techniques are so obvious and straight-forward. Building strength, endurance and muscle, can be accentuated from different angles, but make sure you figure out what works for you. So, if you are searching for the best energy bar, the ratio of carbs:protein is one thing, but taste matters, too. Too sweet? Easy to chew? Or not chew? Start experimenting now, instead of whipping up a new recipe the day of your event.

Here are some of my other favourite cycling-friendly energy snacks:

Chocolate Mint Protein Hemp Bars

Raw Lemon Barley Energy Chews

Raw Cinnamon Raisin Balls

Maca Chip Raw Energy Balls

Chocolate Brownie Power Nibbles

Cocoa-Almond Mint Nibbles

For those who prefer videos, Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Forward is a great resource, too. I enjoyed watching some of his videos from his latest module about enhancing sport performance.

Spiced Acai Energy Bars

Have you tried acai berries yet? Any favourite recipes?

Spiced Acai Energy Bars
Adapted from Navitas Naturals

3/4 cup almonds
3/4 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup dried apricots
2 tbsp raisins
3 tbsp acai powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
tiny pinch salt

1. In a food processor fitted with its S-blade, place all ingredients and pulse until a dough has formed. If it is crumbly, drizzle in some water until it hold together well. A ball will form as you process the mixture.

2. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface and place dough in the middle. Mold dough into a 1.5″ wide cylinder and wrap tightly with the plastic wrap. Allow to refrigerate at least an hour, before cutting into smaller pieces.

Makes 16-18 small bites.

12 Responses

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  1. Mary Romaine said, on May 4, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    Anyone with a high sugar, metabolic syndrome , or insulin problem, Pre diabetic cannot eat many dates. Since more than half adults fall into this category, our recipes need to be healthy. I eat organically, don’t eat junk, and have my own gardens but still showed up Pre diabetic. I have to say, I was eating these desserts that I thought were healthy. They are deadly and cause diabetes. Please respond.

    Sent from my iPad

    • janet @ the taste space said, on May 4, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      Hi Mary,

      It is true that dates (and other dried fruit) pack a lot of concentrated sugars. Even pure fruit and veggie juices are filled with sugars. If one has diabetes, a spike in glucose levels is not recommended, and I would not recommend these treats. However, for normal people, especially people who are partaking in endurance cycling, it is important to replenish glycogen stores, and consume glucose. Now do treats like this cause diabetes? Probably not, but I would still consider them as treats and not eat them all the time.

  2. Jackie Johnson said, on May 4, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    looks delicious : ) Will have to make for some long bike tours around Amsterdam : )

  3. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts said, on May 5, 2013 at 4:52 AM

    These look really fantastic Janet – I think I can substitute in running for cycling, or, to be honest, just eat them whenever ;)

  4. [...] left for Kitchener yesterday and left me alone to study. I was so close to joining them. The reduced distance was a draw, but [...]

  5. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on May 5, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    These look great Janet! Packed with superfood goodness!

    I actually have a recipe for “raw pizza bites” on my blog, sounds prime for a savoury energy bite ;)

  6. Joanne said, on May 6, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    I’m sorry you won’t be doing your ride :( But at least you have these energy bites to munch on and perhaps more time to create new ones? I will definitely be using these during my long runs this summer!

  7. […] he thought they were better than my typical date balls I bring cycling. At first, I felt bad for my date balls, but then took it as a compliment that these were just really […]

  8. […] I am certainly no runner. Cycling is my sport of choice. However, his story echoes my own. While learning to best prepare my (formerly?) non-athletic self to cycle a double imperial century ride (361 km/224 mi), I discovered the benefits of vegan foods. I fell hard for the advantages of regular exercise (no pun intended on my knees). At the time, I cobbled together bits and pieces of my culinary and cycling journey through books mainly by Brendan Brazier with a shout-out for women’s cycling guides. […]


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