Food. Food is very rarely just fuel, it’s quite an emotional facet of life:our best friend and sometimes a bit of a Frenemy! Like most people, I celebrate by eating, some mope and comfort eat or abstain altogether, I have been known to “overeat”. My working days were moulded by the ritual of coffee breaks and by the etiquette of taking lunch. Going without it or not eating enough of the right stuff, is not a great idea. I’ve done that too. Sometimes food defines us – vegetarianism, veganism, fruititarians, people on the “face type” diet’. For others, it ‘confines’ for health reasons – coeliacs, diabetics, intolerences and allergies. It certainly makes life interesting and as an erstwhile distance runner, I’m always on the quest for palatable energy whilst avoiding tummy issues (ahem!). Of course, food is an industry whether it’s the growing, sourcing, preparing, eating or writing about it 🙂
So! How fantastic to be emptying the food cupboards, in preparation for renting the house out and finding all sorts of wonderful and out-of-date dried goods, cans, spices and basically just ingredients to experiement with.
DRUM ROLL! Where chemistry and imagination meet a 10-year amalgamation of ingredients, there are bound to be some new “species” of food types created. The fact that I am a trained chef AND a chemist should not deter anyone from trying out their own concoctions! I should probably insert some kind of disclaimer about the recipes herein, but…….
I posted a picture of my’ alternative to wheaty buttery flapjacks’ on FB a few weeks back and after a threat and a couple of nudges, I produced a few of my “nutty balls” (cue numerous childish innuendo) and even organised an exchange on the Formartine & Buchan Way (a popular local distance runners route) with some friends. Dodgy passing of tin-foiled balls were followed by texts saying yum-yum-what’s the recipe? and I didn’t really know what the recipe was. Cos it was basically just a whole heap of “stuff” in random quantities and, like the best nights out always being the unplanned ones, I hadn’t recorded any details. Bad scientist, no method, no utensil list.
Blast some popped popcorn & rice cakes with the hand-mixer, then add room temperature crunchy peanut butter (I used no salt, no sugar organic Whole Earth brand), add some runny hunny (preferrably acacia or off the comb). Keep adding and tasting until (1) it’s yummy and (2) all the dry stuff sticks together. Form into mitt-sizes balls and leave in the fridge overnight. Then wrap a few balls up in foil, stick in your run-bag and hand them out to grateful friends when you meet them out and about. I got a little sick on eating more-than-my-fair share but have learned my lesson and they really are an excellent alternative to flapjacks or carb gels, both of which I have problems stomaching for any length of time.
A variation on the theme and this time, with added flavour balancing to knock out some of the sweetness from the last lot, in the shape of cracked pepper and salt! I’m not talking vast quantities, season to taste, being the operative phrase.
- 50g plain popcorn (popped,stale & mashed down)
- 50g dessicated coconut (vintage from 2008 or in date, if you prefer)
- Honey, melted in micro – or if you wanna make the balls vegan, use algave nectar (from a flower nae from a bee)
- Golden syrup melted in micro
- Cinnamon, ground black pepper and table salt
TIP: Mix the salt in with the syrup after it’s come out of the micro, for better distribution when adding into the dry ingredients. It’s simple really and you can add any dried fruit or seeds as required. I’ve made a nice spicy batch with carob, sugared ginger and a hint of nutmeg. Go mental, get designing….and remember to share with and experiment on running friends.
I was however a bit miffed to see that popcorn use is ‘in vogue’ and Grazia mag have listed a popcorn biscuit in their latest issue. Pah! I was there first, eh?
And a link for an article about whether we should/ shouldn’t eat before a long run HERE
Lastly, a wee gallery of other stuff I regularly eat which doesn’t seem to mess with exercise done immediately before or after. Try Dole fruit sachets (Ella Oragnics are good too) for upt to 25g of easy-carry, easy-quaff carbs, with no additive nonsense.