While bars and gels have their place in outdoor excursions, real foods—as close to their natural state as possible—are often more nutritious, satiating, and palatable than their highly processed peers. These simple meals can help you bag a summit or set a PR.
Adventure food should check three boxes, according to Lauren Ross, a former college downhill skier and a registered dietitian in Portland, Oregon: it should be filling, packable, and easy to grab. Her go-to for skiing is a bagel with cream cheese piled high with veggies like sprouts and cucumbers. It can be stashed in a pocket and provides plenty of energy (plus a satisfying crunch) without making you sluggish.
Whole-grain berry pancakes are Ross’s snack of choice on a trail run, thanks to their high fiber content, which keeps you feeling full longer. They’re easily digestible at slower speeds, too. The quick energy and sweetness from the fruit—blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are all fair game—let you leave the sticky syrup at home.
New York triathlete and nutrition coach Lottie Bildirici likes to bring her triple-coconut bread (see recipe below) on rides. The coconut provides healthy fats along with manganese, copper, and iron—good for bones, heart health, and oxygen transport, respectively—while the oat flour delivers long-lasting energy and slow-digesting, soluble fiber.
For trail outings, Bildirici prefers a more portable snack, like her cinnamon-oat no-bake cookies. After pulsing dates, raisins, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and walnuts in a food processor, she shapes them into discs and stores them in the freezer. The fruit is rich in vitamin B, which helps convert food into energy, while antioxidants and omega-3 fats from the nuts are anti-inflammatory. For the full recipe, visit her blog, Running on Veggies.
For Any Adventure
Bildirici likes her coffee-date bites (recipe also on her blog) for pretty much any outdoor activity. She combines high-protein nuts and dried fruit with roasted coffee beans (for a caffeine kick), vanilla, and cinnamon, then blends them in a food processor, rolls the mixture into one-tablespoon balls, and freezes them for storage. She describes it as “the perfect bite of energy,” suitable for both a before-hike snack and a midday pick-me-up.
Lottie Bildirici’s Triple-Coconut Bread
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- ¾ cup coconut sugar
- 2½ cups oat flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs or flaxseed alternative (see below)
- 1 cup canned coconut milk (full fat or light)
- Salt to taste
For flaxseed alternative:
Mix two tablespoons of flaxseeds with five tablespoons of water and let sit ten minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a four-by-eight-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs or flaxseed alternative with coconut milk. Fold that into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Add batter to prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.