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Regular physical activity is so important for many aspects of health, whether it’s a daily morning walk, run in the park, 20-minute HIIT or a weights session, but so too is the nutrition that accompanies it. No matter what your movement of choice you will get so much more out of your workout if you eat well. Here’s a few recipes designed to inject some optimal nutrition into your workout and recovery. Ready, Steady, Go!

Pre-Exercise Meal

Overnight Oats

This is a great pre-workout meal.  Oats and strawberries provide carbohydrates for energy. 

You will need:
50g oats
150ml unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp unsweetened peanut or other nut butter
3-4 strawberries

• Combine the almond milk, nut butter and mix well (don’t worry if the nut butter doesn’t disperse well).
Add the oats to a sealable jar and add in the almond milk, nut butter mixture.  Stir well.
Seal the jar and place in the fridge overnight.
Just before you eat, chop the strawberries, add on top and enjoy!

Pre or Post Exercise Snack

Power bars are packed full of nutrients and provide a great pre or post exercise snack, or blood sugar balancing snack anytime. You can make the bars in a big batch in advance and freeze so you always have a nutritious snack handy. They thaw in about an hour so just remember to take them out before you need them.  Great to take to work with you if you know you’ll be exercising later in the day. 

Chickpea Champion Bars

Makes 20 Bars
Nutrients per bar: Calories 221, Fat 10.7g (saturated 2.3g), Sodium 38mg, Carbs 26.3g, Protein 7.7g

You will need:
2 cups old fashioned or quick-cook rolled oats
1 ¼ cups nuts, seeds, or a combination
1 cup dried fruit, chopped (eg. raisins, dried apricots, apples, cherries)
3 tablespoons flaxseed meal
½ cup milk – you can use dairy or non-dairy versions such as soya or almond milk
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup natural, unsweetened nut or seed butter (eg. peanut, cashew, sunflower seed, hazelnut)
½ cup packed pitted, soft dates
¼ cup agave nectar, honey, or pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ tsp fine sea salt

Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper and rub a small amount of olive oil onto the paper to cover.
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
Spread the oats and the nuts or seeds on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven for 6 – 8 minutes, shaking halfway through, until golden and fragrant; transfer to the bowl of a food processor and let cool.
Process the oats mixture, using on/off pulses, until the nuts and seeds are coarsely chopped; transfer to a large bowl. Mix in the dried fruit.
Meanwhile combine the flaxseed meal and warm milk in a small bowl until blended. Let stand for 5 minutes before using. 
Place the chickpeas, nut or seed butter, dates, agave nectar, cinnamon, salt and flax mixture in the food processor (no need to clean bowl); process until the mixture is smooth.
Add the chickpea mixture to the oats mixture, mixing with a spatula until coated.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Place a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper on top of the bar mixture and use it to spread and flatten the mixture evenly in the pan. Discard the paper or plastic.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the top appears somewhat dry. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Using the liner, lift the mixture from the pan and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into 20 bars.

Bar Keeping:
Tightly wrap the bars individually in greaseproof paper or plastic wrap.
Room Temp: 2 days
Fridge: 1 week
Freezer: 3 months in airtight container (thaw for 1 hour)

Banana Split Bars

Makes 16 Bars
Nutrients per bar: Calories 143, Fat 4.4g, (Saturated 1.1g), Cholesterol 12mg, Sodium 82mg, Carbs 23.9g (Fibre 2.3g, Sugars 11.3g), Protein 3.4g

You will need:
1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
½ cup water
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ½ cups mashed, very ripe bananas
1 large egg
¼ cup honey, pure maple syrup, or agave nectar
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
¼ cup miniature cocoa nibs

Line a 9 x 13 inch baking tray with foil or baking paper and grease.
Preheat oven to 325°F/170°C.
Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 9-13 mins or until liquid is barely absorbed. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 5-6 mins.  Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
Mix together the oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
Add the bananas, egg, honey, oil and vanilla to the bowl of cooled quinoa, stirring until well blended.
Add the banana mixture to the oats mixture and stir until just blended. Mix in the raisins, walnuts and cocoa nibs.
Spread the mixture into the lined tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Using the liner, lift the mixture from the tray and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into 16 bars. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Bar keeping:
Tightly wrap the bars individually in greaseproof paper or cling film.
Fridge: 1 week
Freezer: 3 months in an airtight container (Thaw for 1 hour)

Post Exercise Snack

Coconut & Chocolate Bites

These coconut and chocolate balls are a great post exercise snack and will keep nicely in the fridge for a few days. Adding a protein powder provides support for muscle recovery.

You will need:
1 serving

1 serving of your chosen protein powder such as whey, soy, rice, pea, hemp
½ cup ground almonds
1 tbsp cacao powder
¼ scoop almond & coconut butter (or your chosen alternative)
1/8 cup maple syrup

Mix together the protein powder, ground almonds and cacao powder until completely combined
Add the nut butter and maple syrup until it forms a cookie dough consistency
You may need to add more of the wet ingredients to get the mixture to bind better
Roll the mixture into 8-10 balls and keep in the fridge

Recipe Sources:
Power Hungry: The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook by Camilla V Saulsbury – I highly recommend this book; it is packed full of brilliant energy boosting & protein repair bars that are full of natural ingredients, can be made in advance & are really portable.

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