Allow me to introduce you to my new favorite training companion: the Feed Zone Portables cookbook. If you’re weary of processed bars and gels and the same old pasta, there’s a good chance it’ll soon become your BFF (that’s Best Fueling Friend), too.
After my ultra pacer Jamie had success with the rice cakes during her Born to Run 100-miler, I jumped aboard the bandwagon and tweaked one of the recipes for my own race. It worked perfectly — not only is the rice-based treat quickly-digestible, but its mild flavor is also easy on a tender mid-event tummy.
Raspberry Mint Rice Balls (adapted from Feed Zone Portables)
- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
- 1 pint fresh raspberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, minced
- 1/4 cup finely-shredded unsweetened coconut
- Aluminum foil, cut into small squares
- Olive oil spray
- Combine rice, water and a dash of salt in a rice cooker and let cook.
- When rice is finished cooking, transfer it to a large bowl and add brown rice syrup, lemon juice and coconut. Mix thoroughly.
- Coat hands in olive oil, and place a spoonful of rice in the palm of one hand. Place a raspberry and a sprinkle of mint on top of rice, and then place another spoonful of rice over that (to encase raspberry and mint in rice). Roll gently between palms to form a ball.
- Place ball on foil wrapper (also sprayed with olive oil) and seal tightly. When finished forming and wrapping balls, store them in the refrigerator.
A few tips: First, make sure you prep all the ingredients ahead of time because forming the balls can get messy!
Although the book calls for flat “squares” or “cakes,” Jamie and I found that the balls are quicker to make. Plus, they tend to get squished around in your bento box or hydration pack anyway.
Second, I did experience some trouble with the foil wrapper disintegrating during my trail race, which I attribute to the acidity of the lemon juice.
Next time, I may just try leaving it out, or I’ll look for an alternative wrapper (wax?) if I want to keep that nice citrus ‘bite.’
The balls held up great, though, despite getting jostled around over the course of six-plus hours in my hydration pack on a hot day.
And the fresh fruity/minty flavor was a welcome change from the heavy nut butters I’m usually consuming, so I’ll definitely be relying on them again.
Finally, I try to make them the day or evening before my race. Sure, it’s a little bit of last-minute race prep work, but it ensures that the fruit is at its freshest and that the rice stays nice and sticky for when you want to pop one (or 10) during your race. Bon appétit!
What’s your go-to fuel for training and racing?