Ever since training for the California Coast Classic last summer, I have turned to eating real food during long days on the bike (and trail or climb). I learned long ago that you need to eat your way to the summit, the finish line, or whatever your end goal may be, and even though I still chomp on energy chews and the occasional bar, it's hard to do so for hours and days on end.
Written by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim of Skratch Labs fame, Feed Zone Portables is a follow up to their popular The Feed Zone Cookbook. Their first book listed just a few portable ideas and after numerous requests for more on the go recipes, the duo came out with a dedicated portable book.
Allen argues that the biggest difference between a real food portable (like a rice cake) and an energy bar is the water content. This may explain why even though the occasional bars and gels are perfectly fine, their density and dryness makes them hard to eat, digest, and absorb enough for the calories required in a full day outing. Not to mention the possible digestive distress. Regardless the science (the book goes in to quite some detail), I just feel better when I eat real food.
Feed Zone Portables offers up 75 different recipes, both sweet and savory, that taste great, are easily digested, and will keep you going on whatever your adventure. The majority of recipes call for at most 6 ingredients, so are pretty simple to make. There are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options for those following a certain diet.
Most of the recipes are divided into portions that will more or less sustain one hour of effort. So you know if you are going to be on the bike or trail for 7 hours that day, you may want to bring 7 different portables.
By far my favorite portables are the rice cakes, with egg and bacon at the top of the list. I have been known to eat an entire bowl of the mixture before it even makes it to the portable stage. Cinnamon rolls, pizza rolls, and banana waffle sandwiches follow close behind.
None of the recipes are too time consuming to make, so you can whip up a batch on the weekend to fuel all your adventures the following week. The portables keep pretty well in the fridge if you individually wrap each portion (the book shows you how to wrap for easy eating on the go) and store in an airtight container.
If you want to add some real food into your training or adventure fuel repertoire, check out Feed Zone Portables. This is all not to say that energy gels, chews, and bars are bad per se – sometimes it's just nice to add some real food in the mix. It ultimately comes down to what makes you as an individual feel and perform best.