My capability in the kitchen is of a similar level to those on the bike.
I’m no Michelin starred chef, but I’m more than competent. I enjoy cooking, embrace faffing in the kitchen, and pay attention to what I eat and understand nutrition.
So, as with my saddle skills, where I tend to find myself loitering in the fringes of the top 20%, I’m knowledgeable and capable in the culinary department, but no masterchef winner (partly because I’d punch John Torode and Greg Wallace in the face and then get thrown out).
I’m a big fan of making my own energy food as it’s more satisfying to eat than pre-made stuff, cheaper, and it’s an enjoyable and relaxing process. It’s also good to know what’s going into your food, as shop-bought bars can be made of ingredients that read like they should belong in a science lab rather than your stomach.
My ride food creations include date and chocolate brownies, cashew energy balls, rice cakes, and my staple: mulefuel; the fuel of a stringy mountain mutton like me. I tend to find mulefuel is the most effective energy source of the things I make, the most failsafe in its preparation, and the most tasty.
Nutritionally, it’s a pretty powerful bar, with a solid dose of quick release carbs coming from dry fruits, bananas and honey, and slow release energy from oats. Also, the fat content from peanut butter keeps you ticking over for a long time and means you get a mix of energy sources. Seeds add more assorted goodness.
The bars are sweet, but not overly so, and the peanut butter gives a really satisfying salty twang. Coconut and vanilla gives them a light flavour and easy to eat. When you get the bake just right, they’re a touch crunch outside but slightly moist inside. And most importantly, they don’t crumble into the equivalent of a bowl of cereal in your pocket if you opt for a two bite attack
So, coz I’m a legend, I’m going to tell you how I make them. The recipe is based on a few different sources and tinkered with here and there.
It’s dead easy and you could have the equivalent skills of the lantern rouge to pull these off without any dramas . The only difficult bit is not eating all the mix before you’ve got it into the oven.
Stuff that goes in:
- 3-4 overripe bananas (if you don’t have any just soften up some ripe ones a little in the oven)
- 3-4 tablespoons peanut butter (crunchy or get out)
- 2-3 tablespoons honey
- 300g muesli mix, or just oats (I use a combo of both as the bits and pieces of nut and fruit in a muesli mix are ace)
- 200g chopped dates
- A few handfuls of whatever seeds you have. I normally use pumpkin and chia (for their omega threes)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Optional extras: Chunks dark chocolate, dark chocolate coffee beans, any other dried fruits, nuts, extra salt
What to do with it:
Preheat the oven to c.200deg (c.180deg if a fan oven)
Put the hammer down on the bananas (i.e., mash them). Try not to strain your pathetic cyclist bicep whilst doing so
Chuck in all the meusli and oats
Add in the peanut butter. Ensure the spoon is thoroughly licked clean after, because… umm… you don’t want to cross contaminate with something else? Yeh, that reason.
Add in the honey. Again, you should probably lick the spoon clean after. Y’know, cross-contamination etc. Add in the coconut oil (probably best you don’t lick that spoon). Add in the other stuff (dates, seeds, vanilla powder)
Mix – hopefully your fragile arms have recovered from the banana mashing ordeal
Taste – Just to check
Put in more of the wet stuff if it’s too dry. Put in some of the dry stuff if it’s too wet (sorry, you may need to apply your mind here)
Taste again. Just in case.
Grease some baking paper with coconut oil and use it to line a baking tray (about 20cm square) with it.
Chuck the mix inLick the spoon clean
Bake for around 30-40minutes til golden brown on top (the time will depend a little on how moist and dense the mix is, and how deep the pan is that you use)
Leave to cool for 20 minutes (at least) before cutting into jersey pocket friendly sizes.Eat one immediately just to be sure they’re ok. Maybe eat a second if you’re unsure.
Wrap in foil. I have a special method for doing this to make them easy to open on the move. (I say ‘I’ have a method… it’s stolen from skratch labs – follow this guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQicUM2c3N4
Maybe go for a ride to burn off all the tasters. Or just don’t bother and put on Eurosport.
- You can prepare the mix in whatever order really. I just listed it here in the order I happened to do it this time around. It probably makes more sense to mix up all the dry then add the wet, but i did it the other way coz i’m a berk.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try ‘themes’ rather than just the ‘throw everything in’ approach I took here. For example, an almond butter, cinnamon and dried blueberry variant would be awesome (the amount of almond butter required may necessitate you re-mortgaging your property however), and I’ve made a dark chocolate and coffee bean variety.
If wrapped immediately on cooling, the bars stay good for 5-7 days inside a Tupperware box in the fridge. I tend to freeze them straight away however – pull them out once you’ve pumped your tyres, polished your sunglasses and strapped on your helmet pre-ride and they defrost within about 30 mins in the jersey pocket.
So there you have it! That’s how you make Mulefood!!