Ella Eats: date-licious snacks
The more you ride, the more food-conscious (read: obsessed) one becomes. This makes complete sense because you’re burning a lot of fuel, you’ve learned bonking is no fun, and you’re probably always hungry.
From pre-ride fueling to on-the-bike nutrition and post-ride café stops, food is an integral part of a cyclist’s life, and our kitchen cupboards reflect it. Oats, dried fruits, bars, gels, drink mixes, nut butters, protein powders – chances are, your pantry gives away your active lifestyle. And that’s a good thing!
While avocados, chia seeds, almond butter and insect protein (yes, really) are grabbing all the headlines, I think dates are some best and underrated fruit for endurance athletes.
Calorie-dense and packed with glucose and fibre, dates are a simple carbohydrate that easily digestible and a perfect energy food before or during a ride.
There’s a reason so many energy bars use dates as their base, and while it’s easy to grab a couple of bars or gels and shove them in your jersey pockets on your way out of the doors, date-based snacks are super easy and wallet-friendly to make at home.
Here are a few ways to fuel up on dates.
There are over a dozen different types of date, with Noor and Medjool being the two more common ones. I personally like the Medjool variety as they’re fairly large, sweet, moist, and easy to work with.
Many stores will carry dried dates in their produce sections, but be sure to check your bulk section first for wallet-friendly pricing. After sending us some to try, I have grown very fond of Bard Valley’s Natural Delights pre-pitted Medjool dates. Working with dates can sometimes become a bit of a sticky mess, so the convenience of having them pre-pitted and ready to eat, serve or use is great.
Classic Date Bars
Larabar, RX Bar, Natural Delights, Hammer Bar –they’re all simply a take on the classic date energy bar. You start with dates as the base and add whatever seeds, fruits and spices you like. Classic combos include peanut butter and chocolate, almond coconut, and oatmeal -raisins.
Here’s one with a tropical flare, but be sure to play around with flavours to suit your palate.
Coconut Mango Energy Bar
- 12 medjool dates (pitted)
- 1 cup unsweetend shredded coconut
- 1 cup of dried mango, chopped
- Place all ingredients into a large food processor/blender
- Pulse ingredients a few times, then blend until ingredients begin to form a large ball
- Once you have a good consistency, remove the ball from the processor and spread out in a plastic wrap or wax paper lined rectangle baking dish. You’ll want the bar to be 2 centimetres thick.
- You’ll want the bar to be tightly packed and around 2 centimetres thick
- Cover and chill until the ‘dough’ is no longer sticky
- Cut into squares and wrap in wax paper for a mid-ride or on-the-go snack
Loren Rowney’s Date Balls
- 20-30 dates (pitted)
- LSA (ground linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds)
- Dried coconut flakes
- Shredded oats
This is super duper easy to make. The dates are the binding factor in this recipe, instead of honey.
- Boil some hot water
- Place the dates in a big bowl and begin to stir in the hot water. Stir and soften with a fork or spoon. You want to make a nice paste.
- Once you have a good consistency (so the mixture is solid enough to make a ball), add desired amounts of LSA and shredded oats to the date mixture.
- In a separate bowl have some desiccated coconut ready to roll the balls in. Roll the date balls in the coconut.
- Pop them in the freezer for a couple of hours until they’re not sticky anymore.
Two-minute peanut butter stuffed medjools
As easy as it is delicious. If I’m headed out for an after-work ride, I’ll often eat this before I head out to fuel my ride without spoiling my dinner later.
- 2 dates
- 1 tbs chunky peanut butter
- Pinch of coarse sea salt
- Cut the date in half one and remove the pit if not pre-pitted
- Spoon a little bit of peanut butter into the middle of the date, where the pit sat
- Sprinkle with a teensy bit of coarse sea salt
Date Nutrition facts
For Bard Valley’s Natural Delights Medjool Pitted Dates:
137 calories per 46 grams (about two dates), 0 grams fat, 30 grams natural sugars, 3 grams fibre and 1 gram protein.
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