James, this one is for you.
Last June after UT110 I promised a friend I’d post the recipe for these – along with a few other bits. Apologies it has taken so long! Better late than never…apparently.
These bars are a sort of hybrid between banana bread and flapjacks.
I shall call them: nanajacks.
These flapjacky-banana-bread-oaty-bars used to be my go-to for long bike rides for Mary’s Ironman training last summer.
‘Used to’, urgh, that phrase makes my tummy turn.
Truth is, I’m desperate to get out on the bike again, but I’m such a wimp in London when it comes to cycling. And let’s not get started on clipping in and out of the pedals…
I think I’m going to have to take Ro – my trusty steed – to the lakes soon!
Anyway, I digress.
So perhaps these aren’t the prettiest of bars, but…
- they hold together well
- they can take being shoved in the back of a cycle jersey. Or a handbag.
- they don’t dry your mouth out
- they contain no added sugar, so no big energy spikes and sugar crashes on the bike
- use whole-foods
- are vegan
- are easy and cheap to make
They are, in essence, my perfect bike food.
I’ve also eaten these on longer runs.
On both the bike and on the run, I’d make a bar last for 45-60 minutes.
Bite. Chew. Swallow. Pedal/run.
Repeat the same cycle every 10 minutes or so until the bar is gone. You do not want to be eating the whole bar in one sitting. Unless you want a stitch, or a megabloat. Always little and often! For me anyway.
So a quick confession.
I would always make these bars by eye, and didn’t ever write the recipe down at the time.
I often tinker with the mixture as I go, adjusting if it feels a little sloppy or a little dry.
Tinker tinker tinker.
Too dry? Add more mashed banana or a splash of water.
Too sloppy? Add some more oats.
You can add into this any dried fruits or nuts that you like. I seemed to always use cranberries, because for some unknown reason I had about 5 bags of cranberries in the cupboard!
Going long oat bars
Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes
Serve with: 80 miles in the saddle
Freezes well? Aye.
- A cup of dates, softened in a cup of boiling water
- 2 ripe bananas
- A few cups of rolled oats (jumbo don’t stick together too well)
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarb
- Teaspoon of vanilla extract
- A pinch (or eff load) of cinnamon
- A pinch of coarse sea salt
- A handful of add-ins: nuts, dried fruit, chia seeds, determination, will-power…
- Soak your dates in boiling water for 5 minutes until soft.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C.
- Tip the softened dates – along with the water – into a blender or food processor, along with the bananas, vanilla, cinnamon and bicarb. Blitz until a paste has formed.
- Tip the paste into a big bowl, then add the oats – a cup at a time, mixing in between. Keep adding oats until you have a reasonably stiff flapjack-type mixture – remember, you want this to hold together! If it’s too sloppy it won’t hold.
- Add in any extras you fancy.
- Put into a square, pre-greased tin. Level it out. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until firm.
- Allow to cool. Slice into bars. Wrap them in cling-film. Freeze what you’re not going to use.
- Get on your bike!
The prod test
I actually once forgot that I’d put these bars in the oven, and they were in there for well over an hour: they were still fine! They are reasonably forgiving when it comes to the cooking process thankfully. I would always just give the bars a prod to see if they were cooked: if they feel reasonably firm, that’s when I’d take them out.
The taste test
Since these bars have no added or refined sugar, they aren’t going to be like biting into a sugary breakfast bar. Don’t expect that same initial rush as when you bite into your normal candy bar. These are not going to taste like dessert in a packet! If that’s what you’re after, stick with your sugary goods…I’ll give you a wave as I pass when you’re hanging out your arse an hour later..!
Like all of the food I eat in endurance activities, I consciously avoid sugar for the most part. If you’re out for 3, 4…18 hours, the last thing you need is big spikes and crashes in your sugar-levels: it will never end well. I’ve been there, and it ain’t pretty!
So here you are, some steady-eddie, sustainable, whole-food bars that won’t send your energy levels on a roller-coaster.