Recipes for the Runner: Quick Energy Bites

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As an early-morning runner, I find that there’s just never time to eat breakfast before I run. I always say that my [first] breakfast consists of some sort of energy chew, whatever brand or flavor happens to be available at a moment’s notice. It gets old though, you know? Every morning, choking down a super sweet, candy-like chew day after day….

So, the other day I was browsing through recipes on Runners World, trying to find a pre-workout energy bar made with “real” food, and I stumbled across what looked like a great starting point. The recipe looked so simple, and something I could easily adapt for my sometimes-quite-sensitive tummy. Adding white rice, taking out some of the dates, adding salt (because…SALT), and suddenly I realized that my creation was very closely resembling a recipe from Skratch Labs, which usually works great for energy during my long runs.

That being said, this recipe is infinitely adaptable, and can be eaten before or during a workout. For a during-workout energy bite, the ginger helps soothe the stomach, and white rice provides a great source of carbohydrates with no risk of unpleasant GI issues for pretty much everyone. For those of you sensitive to fiber, you can leave out the dates entirely, and add a touch more syrup to keep it slightly sweet.

Makes 1 8×8 inch pan, 16-30 servings depending on bar size


  • 1/2 cup uncooked sticky rice
  • 1/2 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 2 tsp maple syrup (or more, to taste)
  • 1/3 cup Almond butter
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • Dark chocolate
  • Unsweetened coconut (flaked or shredded)


Combine the sticky rice, oats, and salt; cook in a rice cooker or on top of the stove until done. Let cool.

Finely chop the dates and ginger, smash together with the maple syrup, and the almond butter. I blended these ingredients in a small blender, but it was too thick for mine and things got ugly. If you have a fancy blender, this might work well for you.

Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl, and add the rice, oats, and dark chocolate. Blend until combined, then transfer to a parchment-lined 8×8 inch pan. Sprinkle with coconut, then cover with plastic wrap and chill until set. You can also use a couple of spoons or a small cookie scoop to roll the mixture into small balls and then roll in coconut.

Cut the bars to desired size and cover individually with plastic wrap or place in an air-tight container. I cut mine into about 1 inch squares or smaller if I plan on taking them on the trail, but a little larger works great for a quick pre-run bite.

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