The Minnesotan spring is finally upon us! In the past few weeks we saw the outbreak of shorts and flip-flops on campus that tends to occur each time the temperature tops 50. Now, highs have jumped into the 70s, and the spirit of campus has leapt right along with them.
It’s no wonder our campus community is so excited for spring. St. Paul and Minneapolis are two beautiful cities for outdoor exploring, and I’ve already captured some gorgeous sunrises on my morning bike rides this season (check out the Admissions Instagram if you don’t believe me).
I, for one, am hoping this warmth persists. Not only is this the best-case scenario for my Mac baseball buddies as they start their Minnesota season, but I’d also like to be able to ride without fear of turning into a pedaling snowman.
As my friends know, barring other responsibilities, I would ride until my butt was too sore to stand, but I understand that many Mac students are fond of the classic run to the river bank. Whatever your outdoor workout of choice, I’m a big proponent of bringing along a healthy, energy-loaded snack to help keep your muscles working and fight back that dreaded “hitting the wall” feeling.
Some grocery stores have an entire aisle dedicated to these snacks, but why not make them yourself? They’ll be very delicious, you’ll feel even more accomplished after working out, and they’ll almost certainly be cheaper than buying individual Clif bars. I featured something similar in this column last fall, but this recipe might be even better since it comes from a seasoned professional. Allow me to explain:
Being a huge bike nerd, my favorite YouTube channel is called Global Cycling Network. Basically, it’s four goofy British guys who talk about all things biking, from interviewing pro riders to advising what to wear (and what to definitely NOT wear) when you’re out riding. A few years ago, they did a series of videos with Hannah Grant, the head chef of a pro racing team called Tinkoff, to find out what sorts of things she cooked to fuel a team of hungry bike racers. This is the recipe she shared for homemade energy bars to keep you going mid-workout.
It should be noted that Tinkoff is also the team of my favorite pro rider, Peter Sagan. I’m currently a happy fanboy, since he recently took back-to-back wins at Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders. Clearly, his team is doing something right as far as nutrition is concerned. If these bars can fuel Sagan to go hard for 160 miles, they can sure as hell do the trick for mere mortal bikers or runners like you or me.
As we move into the spring weather, I’d encourage you to get out there and have fun in the sun! Just remember to bring a snack. As always, bon appetit.
Mid-workout energy bars
- 4 – 5 bananas
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¾ cup dried fruit (of your choice)
- 2 cups rolled oats
- ½ cup flaxseeds
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup chopped almonds
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 340 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas into paste with a fork or your clean hands. You want it as smooth as possible, without lumps. You can even use a blender if you have one.
- Dump in the rest of the ingredients and mix with your clean hands until it all sticks together.
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper or tin foil. Press the mixture into the pan to an even thickness of one inch.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Carefully slide the parchment paper out of the pan and cut the mixture into bar-sized pieces. You can discard the ends if they are burnt.
- Store bars in a refrigerated, airtight container, and take them in your pockets on your runs and bike rides!