Strawberry Basil Rice Cakes

2 04 2014

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I am IN LOVE with The Feedzone cookbook and Feedzone Portables.

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If you’re unfamiliar, both cookbooks are co-written by Allen Lim and Biju Thomas. Lim has his doctorate in integrative physiology and Thomas is a chef, and both share a passion for fueling athletes with real, fresh, whole foods. They share a love of cycling and have spent many days together on the road, cooking up delicious meals for pro cyclists and triathletes. I first heard about these two from my friend Jess, who introduced me to Skratch, which was my go-to hydration mix last season. Skratch is also the brainchild of Lim and Thomas, and since I love Skratch so much, I figured I’d give some of their recipes a shot. By the way, I still LOVE Skratch (especially PINEAPPLES!), and will use it occasionally on a shorter run in the heat of summer, or throughout the day before an evening workout.

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The Feedzone includes recipes for simple meals to eat before, during, and after a tough workout. My interest was definitely piqued when I read through the “Portables” chapter, or recipes for hand-held snacks that are meant for eating while riding. Um, what?

My mind was blown by the fact that I could eat a rice cake or muffin while I’m in the middle of my long ride instead of shoveling down some chews, a protein bar or a gel. Well, why not?  In my “regular” eats, I follow a similar “eat real food” philosophy, so why shouldn’t I maintain that while I’m working out?

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So, pretty much every weekend since the beginning of this year, I’ve spent Friday night prepping some kind of “portable” for my weekend’s ride. (Yes, I’m that cool that I spend my Friday nights in the kitchen- they actually don’t take that long to make.) And, you know what? I am hooked.

Bacon muffin

I’ve become a firm believer that real food is the way to go. I’ve had no bonking on rides (well, except that one where I was riding my heart out so we didn’t have to leave Jess and Courtney by the side of the road for hours), and I feel stronger on the bike than I ever have before.

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My go-to is still Allen’s Classic Rice cakes, but the banana and rice muffins are coming in at a close second because they are super easy to make (as are all the recipes, but some are a little more involved than others).

A few weekends ago, I decided to put my own spin on one of the layered rice cakes in the Portables cookbook. The original recipe calls for raspberries and mint, but because it’s strawberry season in Florida, I decided to use those instead. I also had some basil on hand, so I made that swap as well.

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The result was a sweet, refreshing, chewy rice cake which was perfect for the ride in the Florida heat. I loved they flavor, and I thought they were so pretty, I’d serve them as a dessert sometime!

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I do find that the layered rice cakes are a bit more crumbly/don’t stay together as easily as some of the others (maybe it’s my technique), but I was able to eat them pretty easily on the ride, so long as I didn’t take the entire thing out of the wrapper at one time. Side note: I took the book’s suggestion and bought Martha wrap (well, actually Courtney bought it for me since I’ve been sharing the spoils of my kitchen escapades with her), and it has been life changing. Well, maybe not life changing, but it certainly is the best way to wrap these babies!

Anyhow, I thought I’d share my recipe in case you’d like to start experimenting with rice cakes on your next long ride. Or, just because- since these things taste so darn good!

Recipe:

Adapted from Raspberry and Mint Rice Cakes, Feedzone Portables

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked sticky rice
3 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
juice of 1 small lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
about 1 heaping cup of strawberries, chopped into small, bite size pieces
1 TBS fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

How to:

Cook the sticky rice in a rice cooker or on the stove. When the rice is done, add it to a large bowl and stir in the sugar, lemon and vanilla. Stir until blended well.

Spread half the rice mixture into a square baking pan.

Spread the strawberries and sprinkle most of the basil on top of the rice.

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Cover with the remainder of the rice and garnish with the last of the basil.

Let stand for a few minutes and then cut into squares and wrap.

Note: these don’t last more than a few days because of the fresh fruit. I tried to eat one after about 5 days in the fridge and the juices from the strawberries just dripped out everywhere!

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Fuelng for Long Rides

12 03 2014

If you’ve seen my weekly workout recaps, you’ll notice that I’ve been putting in a lot of time on the saddle. This year, particularly in the early season, the XP crew is working on getting in some miles on the bike so that we head in to Ironman training strong.When you’re riding that much, you get time to start playing around with your nutrition plan.

One of my goals for 2014 is to really master my nutrition on the bike. I know how crucial this will be in November when I’m biking for 112 miles before I stumble off and then go run a marathon.

IMG_4147(will I be that happy when I start the run of my Ironman? Doubtful)

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I definitely struggle with headaches caused by electrolyte imbalance during/after hard workouts or races. Salt tabs have typically been what’s worked for me, taking them at regular intervals while on long rides or runs; however, there’s definitely been times where I’m so focused on moving my feet that I forget to take them. So, I wanted to come up with some kind of plan that allowed me to only take salt if it was really hot and needed it as a last resort, rather than needing to take it on a regular schedule.

drinking cokeCoke is also good perfect after a long ride.

The caveat here is that it hasn’t been super hot here yet- I’m really interested to see how this plan works through the heat of summer. But so far, this is what’s been working for me:

Several hours pre-ride: We typically don’t ride until late morning, so I have plenty of time to get up and make myself some pancakes. I don’t have a go-to, just whatever flavor combination that comes to my head, but it typically has yogurt in it.

Just before we start:

Depending on how long has passed since I’ve eaten breakfast, if I feel like I’m just starting to get hungry, I’ll eat a Feedzone Rice Cake. My favorite has been Allen’s Rice Cakes. We call them “breakfast sushi”.

Allen's Rice Cake

During ride:

Every 45 minutes to an hour I’ll eat a rice cake or some other “portable”. Allen’s rice cakes have approximately 225 calories in them. The first time I ate a rice cake on a ride I thought it was so weird that I was eating “real food” while cycling. I was afraid I’d get an upset tummy, especially because those rice cakes have bacon in them, but they’ve worked tremendously well. I LOVE having real food now, and now I only bring a bag of gummies as back up.

Bacon muffin(bacon chocolate chip muffins anyone?)

As far as fluids go, I’ve made the switch to Osmo, and let me tell you friends that I am hooked! I first heard about this awesome hydration product system through Katie, and after exchanging a few emails about it, I decided to take the plunge and I haven’t looked back since. I love that it is specially formulated for a woman’s physiology! #womenarenotsmallmen (Learn more about the science behind it here.) The flavor of the Active Hydration is great- the mango flavor is light and refreshing. It’s not too sweet and not too salty. It’s not made to be concentrated, so I’ve been following the mixing instructions to a T. It’s also not meant to be a source of calories- which is why I’m eating real food! I typically go through one of my bike bladders (20 oz I think) and then my 24 oz bottle over the course of a 2-3 hour ride. I actually think I should be drinking a bit more…

Osmo Nutrition(Osmo offers three products for women: PreLoad, Active, and Recovery. I’ve used the Pre-Load once or twice, when I knew it would be hot and we’d be going long. I don’t feel like I can give a full report on it just yet, but what I can say is that at first, I did NOT like the taste. It’s starting to grow on me, and it is most certainly better as cold as you can make it. I’ll give a full report once I’m using it more frequently when summer hits.)

Post Ride: As soon as I get home from the ride I make myself the Osmo Recovery. If you like horchata, this is a great drink for you. (Unless of course you consider yourself a horchata snob, you might find this to be too powdery.) The flavor is great mixed with rice milk (or any kind of milk and/or water), and it’s also light enough that you could blend it into a smoothie with just about anything in it. I’m a big fan of this mix. It’s got protein and glucose, and helps to:

  • Promote Muscle Synthesis
  • Reduce Hormonal Influences on Recovery
  • Optimize Training Adaptations

Since I’ve been using Osmo Recovery, I’ve definitely been capable of riding long on both Saturday and Sunday, as well as comfortably add on a run too.

Based on my performance so far this season (in training), I’d say that I’m definitely on the right track in terms of food and fluid intake during and after workouts. So far (knock on wood) I haven’t had a dehydration headache! Weather will certainly be a factor, so as temperatures rise, I’ll need to adjust as necessary. But, right now, this is what is working for me, and I’m going with it. Real food + women-specific hydration has been my key so far!

Question of the day: How do you fuel for a long ride or run?

**Please not that I’m NOT a nutritionist, I have NO degrees in any of this. I’m just sharing what has been working for me!