The meandering early-season base miles have segued into focused, interval-heavy training, and as such I’ve reinvested myself in nailing down the perfect ride/race foods. It’s incredible how much the DIY whole performance foods movement has gained traction since my last contribution to the dialogue, what with the invaluable inspiration that the Feedzone cookbook has provided. After a winter of culinary laziness (read: buying big-brand packaged bars at the grocery store), it’s time again to bust out the food processor and allow my body what it needs to perform. Nothing more, nothing less.
Like my last bars, you will need precious few ingredients to make these little blocks of fast happen. The idea is as simple as the recipe: the fewer items that the body has to worry about breaking down, the quicker they can be converted into energy. Here’s what’s what:
1 cup Dried Pineapple
1 cup Raw whole Cashews
8 oz Dried, pitted Dates
1/2 cup Coconut Flakes
(and later, 1/4c more of the Cashews, for the powdered coating)
The kitchen implements you will need are a food processor, parchment paper, non-stick aluminum wrap (Reynolds makes an aluminum wrap with one non-stick side, thanks to reader George Berger for the crucial heads-up on that), a sharp chef’s knife, and some form of blender or nut & spice grinder.
So I choose to buy sugared pineapple rings from Whole Foods. These are nice because they don’t have any added sulfur dioxide, which can exacerbate asthma-like reactions in some people. Further, it’s one of those chemicals which might increase the risk of developing cancer with prolonged exposure. In any event, I don’t want potentially sketchy chemicals and neither should you, so I avoid it. These pineapples don’t totally need to be cut up, but for the sake of my wheezing, tired food processor, I cut them up into bite-size chunks.
Add the remainder of the ingredients to your food processor. Take care to ensure that your pitted dates actually are pitted. I was hasty with this once and ended up biting into a rogue pit at Battenkill last year. Unpleasant!
Process it until it’s wanting to stick together in big clumps. The cashew chunks should be small & well-integrated. This took me about two to three minutes using primarily the pulse button on my processor.
Roll out a piece of parchment paper and shovel the contents of your food processor onto it. Using your hands, flatten the gooey mass into a rectangular shape & cut into your desired shape using a knife.
At this point, these bars are going to be super sticky because of the consistency of the pineapple. What I do to keep them from tediously clinging to the Reynolds wrap when I’m trying to get at them on the bike is to coat them in a fine powder of cashew or almond. So, using a blender or spice grinder, powder some raw cashew. Apply to both sides of the bar, rubbing it in with your hand. A lot will end up on the parchment paper afterwards – I end up keeping it around in a sandwich bag for future use.
Now to wrap them up. I cut my Reynolds wrap into roughly 6“x6” squares and fold them up kind of like I’m gift-wrapping a box. Works out reasonably fine, but there is definitely room here to improve & streamline.
This recipe yields about 10 bars, give or take. As with the last bars, it’s super easy to adapt this recipe to work around your preferred fruit. Try swapping the pineapple for apricot, papaya, etc; Creativity brings about some great combinations.
Thanks for reading. See you out there!