Spring Team athlete Amanda Presgraves shares with us how to fuel on and off the trail in unique ways, the importance of savory food to combat flavor fatigue, and a “NonRecipe” to inspire your creativity and fuel your process.
Friday, it’s usually late morning, when I begin tinkering with the routes and ideas of what adventures the weekend may stew up and what I can cook in preparation. This one crisp afternoon I found a zucchini from the farmers market on the corner of my kitchen counter. Banana bread is a natural and effortless go-to for many athletes when you see the browning bananas slowly withering away in the corner of the kitchen. The zucchini was begging the same for me
Drawing from The NonRecipe Book (Nov 2022) - the process of finding inspiration, ideating and implementing helps with meal creativity!
Initially I was going to make zucchini oat cookies - the sweetness was nailed, texture was supreme, and the process was simple. They had been on repeat since the first harvest. It wasn’t until a can of tuna fell from the cabinet onto the cutting board, splitting the shredded zucchini in two. This initial inconvenience pushed me in a new direction, and so I ran with it - “what if I tried two different options.”
I quickly whipped up a batch of the zucchini oat cookies, and then got experimental with a savory version.
To me when designing a “NonRecipe” (a recipe without the rules) there are a set of loose and ever-changing qualities to it:
- It needs to work for YOU.
- It’s not constrained by meticulous rules and measurements.
- The process of making it FEELS as enjoyable, supportive and nourishing as that moment the food meets your lips.
- It doesn’t need to be perfect or precise, but perfectly precise for you.
- It is designed around what you have, where you are and what you need.
- Our mindset around it: Eating isn’t just about what we eat but how we do it, and we can do it in a way of self-compassion and kindness toward ourselves. We can do it in a way that is resourceful, nourishing and connecting.
These Savory Fall Trail Cookies are a NonRecipe that set you in a direction, not force you down a set path. Many times, that’s where life starts. Stepping forth on the trail, and charging boldly. It takes knowing what ingredients you have, the outcome you desire, and showing the utmost love to yourself. The thing is, there is no one direction, and there is no set path—so why do we expect that to be made easy for us?
I find the kitchen is a great place to start experimenting and to take the path less traveled. I hope that by sharing this process it encourages you to begin, and perhaps it can set you in a new direction. With Spring Energy and homemade fuel in tow, you can forge your own trail, starting with this Savory Fall Trail Bread Bites.
Amanda cruising down the trail. Photo by Andrew DeVier-Scott
THE IMPORTANCE OF SAVORY FOODS FOR ENDURANCE ATHLETES:
As endurance athletes, we are pushing our limits for hours upon end. If you’re stashing Spring in your pack for those limit-pushing moments, you already know the importance of whole-food nourishment and how these are kinder to our gut, and most importantly ensuring we are eating consistently and tolerating our food.
Many of the snack options designed for us tend to lean on the sweeter side, and they serve a valuable place in getting essential sugars and glucose into our body for easy utilization. Eventually though, many of us have experienced the detriments of “flavor fatigue” - especially when we need food most.
When you get deep into a long endurance event, your body begins to crave more fats, proteins and salts” (Inverse, 2019).
- The longer you’re out there, the more likely it is that you will overwhelm your digestive system’s ability to tolerate sugars.
- Your energy stores are depleting, which is inevitable as you're simply burning more calories than you can digest per hour. A savory option can increase carbohydrate availability, and contain greater relative amounts of fat and salt (Tiller, 2019).
- Our taste buds beg for a change of flavor (and so does our stomach!). These savory options are better for later stages of racing/training (Moran, 2011).
- As the temps are dropping, longer runs on the trail are more inviting, whole food options pair and supplement great for those lower intensity days (hiking, multi-hour bike rides where you need meals)*
*At higher intensity I lean on the easier-to-digest, higher moisture content options (basing it on my breath). If it is too hard to chew and swallow real food (or if I’m in a pinch), it’s time for Spring Energy. For lower intensity sessions, these cookies are great when you have time to pull out a sandwich bag and enjoy the views.
SAVORY FALL TRAIL BREAD BITES
Set oven for 350F
- 2 handfuls of shredded zucchini (about half a large zucchini)
- 2 local eggs (can swap for flax eggs)
- 1c coconut milk, with a spoonful of miso mixed into the milk
Mix in dry ingredients:
- 2c flour (I used blended oat flour, but regular works)
- A little shake of baking powder, garlic powder, umami seasoning, salt, nutritional yeast
Other fun, flavorful mix-ins:
- Vegan cheese
- Cooked mushrooms (I added foraged Chicken of the Wood, that I found on my run the night before!)
Mix together (if too dry add olive oil), shape into cookies and bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes.
These are BEST as soft, cheesy, salty, savory goodness bombs that can easily melt in your mouth when on the go. Shaped like cookies but with the texture of pillowy bread.
Pairing perfectly with the nutrient-packed Banana Nut Butter bar, I enjoyed these bites on a 50mi country-side gravel ride in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (and what’s an adventure without your bike cable snapping!?). My fellow taste-tester/ride-buddy popped one of these in her mouth at our stop, exclaiming their softness was reminiscent of a pancake. There ya have it!