Energy Food: 5 of the best Natural Cycling Snack Recipes


Packaged energy bars can be bland and unappetising, so power up your training rides with these delicious and easy-to-make natural snacks.

In recent years cycling nutritionists and chefs have helped to transform mid-ride cycling snacks from boring energy fuel into delicious and nutritious gourmet treats. Packaged energy bars and gels may be convenient during races, but nothing beats a homemade energy snack packed with natural ingredients and tasty flavours. Natural snacks are easier on the stomach, they are much cheaper, and they taste sensational. From apple and cinnamon rice cakes to cheese and apple quinoa bites, we reveal five of the best easy-to-make natural cycling snacks to fuel your training rides.

Super Speedy Bars

These deliciously nutty and seedy energy snacks, created by nutritionist Anita Bean, are packed with enough energy to fuel tough training rides. But unlike packaged energy bars, they are also dense with high-quality natural nutrition. “I wanted to create a snack bar that delivered maximum possible nutrition plus fantastic taste,” explains Bean, the author of The Vegan Athlete’s Cookbook ( “And here is the result: super seedy, crunchy, nutty, heavenly bars that are high in fibre, omega-3 fats, protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and zinc.”

(c) Anita Bean – The Vegan Athlete’s Cookbook

Nutrition data (per bar)

266 calories

8g protein

18g fat (4g saturates)

16g carbs (12g total sugars) 

Ingredients (Makes 8)

125g mixed seeds (or any combination of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flax seeds)

100g mixed nuts (or any combination of almonds, cashews, Brazils and pecans)

25g ground flaxseed

25g rolled oats

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp cinnamon

75ml golden, agave or maple syrup

50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

How to make them

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-assisted). Line a 900g loaf tin with baking paper. Place the seeds, nuts, flaxseed and oats in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon and syrup, and mix together. Spoon into the prepared tin. Press down firmly and bake for about 30 minutes until lightly golden but not brown.

Take out of the oven and press down again using a large spoon. Allow to cool completely. Now break the chocolate into small pieces, place in a microwavable bowl and heat on full power for 2-3 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals until almost molten. Stir and leave for a few moments until completely melted, then drizzle over the nut mixture.

Place the tin in the freezer for the chocolate to set, or just leave to cool in the kitchen. Slice into 8 individual bars. They will keep in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Endurance Energy Bars

This chewy oat and banana energy bar is perfect for big endurance rides of 90 minutes or longer. And it comes from a man trusted by professional cyclists: Will Girling ( is a nutrition and performance coach who has worked with elite Tour de France cyclists and Olympic athletes.

(c) Will Girling

This endurance bar combines two different sources of energy – glucose and fructose (26.75g glucose and 10.3g fructose per bar) – which makes it easier for your body to absorb all the energy. “It is the perfect combo of glucose and fructose to make it easy to digest,” explains Girling. It also contains zingy orange zest, which tastes refreshing but also helps to prevent dry mouth – a common problem on cold winter rides.

Nutrition data (per bar)

168 calories

36.75g carbs

2.5g protein

0.3g fat

Ingredients (Makes 8)

150g oats

180g banana

50g raisins

160g golden syrup

zest of 1 orange

1tbsp of squeezed orange juice

1 or 1/2 tsp cinnamon

How to make them

Mash the bananas and add the golden syrup, zest and juice. Mix together, add the oats and raisins, then mix again. Place in a baking tray and cook at 180°C (fan-assisted) for 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool then cut into eight slices and wrap up ready for your rides.


(c) Dr. Gemma Sampson

Refreshing and satisfying in equal measure, these apple and cinnamon rice cakes will keep you fuelled and happy during your training rides. This recipe was developed by Dr Gemma Sampson (, an Advanced Sports Dietitian based in Girona who regularly works with elite athletes.

As she explains: “I am forever encouraging cyclists to fuel their training, and I find rice cakes one of the simplest, tastiest and most GI-friendly ways to do this. These apple cinnamon rice cakes are easy to cook up and pop in the fridge ready to wrap and grab before your next ride.”

Nutrition data (per rice cake)

98 calories

0g fat

22g carbs

1.8g protein

Ingredients (Makes 9)

1 cup uncooked risotto/ arborio/ sushi rice

2.5 cups water

1 apple, cored and chopped finely (Gemma leaves the skin on)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp brown sugar

How to make them

Combine all the ingredients in a pot, bring to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes until the water is absorbed and you have a very thick and sticky rice consistency. Now spread the rice mixture into a lined baking tray and press it down well. Refrigerate until cold and then cut into nine individual rice cakes. Wrap in foil ready to eat on your next ride. These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.


These light and fluffy energy snacks are packed with energy and are easy to digest before or during a challenging bike ride. They were created by Kitty Pemberton-Platt, author of Eat, Bike, Cook ( “These are light, fresh tasting and so simple to make,” she explains. These snacks draw on the power of quinoa – a healthy, protein-packed grain which is rich in fibre, minerals, antioxidants and all nine essential amino acids. “Pre-cooked quinoa is sold in pouches or you can simply cook your own,” explains Pemberton-Platt.  The apple provides a refreshing taste, while the cheese provides a satisfying hit to keep your taste buds happy.

Ingredients (Makes 12)

200g cooked quinoa (or 70g uncooked)

1 apple, grated

90g cheddar cheese, grated

1 egg, beaten

olive oil, for brushing

(c) Kitty Pemberton / Eat Bike Cook

How to make them

You can buy pre-cooked quinoa in a packet, but if you’re cooking your own quinoa, rinse 70g under running water then tip into a saucepan with a pinch of salt and 210ml water. Place over a medium heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. The quinoa is cooked when the liquid has been absorbed and each grain shows a little white tail. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.

Now preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan-assisted). In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, apple, cheddar and beaten egg and stir. Use your hands to form the mixture into balls, place on a baking tray, brush with olive oil and bake for 30 mins.


Make yourself the envy of your cycle companions with this elegant Japanese-inspired rice ball snack. The creator is Nigel Mitchell – a highly-experienced nutritional consultant for pro cyclists and the author of GCN’s (Global Cycling Network) popular The Cyclist’s Cookbook (, whose 67 recipes have been a big hit with amateur riders. “Like all good recipes, I developed this by borrowing ideas from people I met on my travels around the world, and this is a real East meets West fusion,” explains Mitchell. “I make these as a travel snack but they’re also great as a savoury option for big days out on the bike.”

Nutrition data (per rice ball)

131 calories

22g carbs

5.6g protein

1.8g fat

Ingredients (Makes 6)

100g short grain rice

100g quinoa

100g tofu

10g dried Nori seaweed sheets, raw

1 tbsp soy sauce

200ml water

(c) Nigel Mitchell / GCN the Cyclist’s Cookbook

How to make them Add the rice, quinoa and water to a pan (or a rice cooker) and cook until ready. When cooled, add the soy sauce. You can also add a dash of Tabasco. Chop the tofu into small pieces and add it to the rice and quinoa mix. Make sure your hands are clean and gently mix together with your fingers. Shape the mixture into an egg-size ball and lay out a sheet of the seaweed. Place the ball in the middle and wrap with the sheet of seaweed. Finally, wrap the balls in foil ready to take them on your next ride.

by Mark Bailey