Whether you are getting ready to get on the treadmill, go for a hike or maybe just need a little sweet, these are the cookies – a satisfying bite packed with flavor! Good-bye chocolate chip cookies, hello packed oat cookies!
There is something quite inspiring in completing a major fitness challenge. Jack and I returned home from our 1,300 mile bike trek in Hokkaido revved and looking ahead to The Next Big Thing. With roads outside often treacherously icy and the fact that wild animals in these parts make the whole village nervous if anyone is seen going for a run, we’ve pieced together a gym in our living room. (By the way, all ice is definitely not created equal. Chignik Lake has the slickest ice we’ve ever experienced).
Our gym which is comprised of a treadmill, a stationary spinning cycle, a set of Powerblock dumbbells, and a TRX resistance band. These four pieces of equipment take up very little space and gives us plenty of variety with which to accomplish our fitness goals. Plus, a spin on a bike or a run on a treadmill goes by fairly painlessly with a view of the lake out the window. (Yesterday a group of river otters was playing and fishing on the ice.)
Of course, when we work out, we have to eat – a golden opportunity to get in the kitchen and bake something. In Point Hope, I baked us batches of homemade granola bars to fuel us. During our bike training last year, I made little bites of tahini fudge speckled with coconut and chocolate chips. This time, I wanted to try a granola type creation that would be more like a cookie. These two-bite cookies are packed with oats, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, and almonds -and no processed sugar. They have the texture of a soft cookie and tons of flavor. Better still, they are easy and super quick to make. I’ve been making batches and keeping them in the freezer. After they thaw, they have the same texture and flavor as when they’ve cooled out of the oven. Perfect!
Chocolate Cranberry Almond Oat Bites
- 1 cup quick oats
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup coarse-chopped almonds
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, egg, vanilla and maple syrup.
- Pour maple syrup mixture into oat mixture. Stir until combined.
- Fold in cranberries, chocolate chips and almonds.
- Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop out dough and place balls on prepared baking sheet. The cookies will not spread much. Slightly flatten cookies.
- Bake cookies for 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to wire cooling rack.
- Store cookies in airtight container for a few days. Cookies will freeze well.
Fueling up with fudge. These tasty snacks helped us through today’s 3½ hour bicycle training ride. Sixteen days till we arrive in Hokkaido!
We are beginning to wrap up the preparation for our 3-month bicycle adventure in Hokkaido, Japan. Our home looks like an outdoor store that has barely survived a tornado attack. Bicycles with halfway-packed panniers are leaned up against walls, an assortment of bags are strewn about having either passed or failed packing tests, and there are a number of items that have not quite yet found a home in our portable summer transportation scheme. If anyone were to peek into on our home, they would surely worry for us. Will we really be ready to start sending our gear on this Wednesday’s flight out of Chignik Lake? In reality, this light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel mess is absolutely normal for us right before everything comes together.
Along with the flurry of final packing, we still are relentlessly adhering to our fitness-training schedule. We both have a lot of experience with preparing for running events, but a bicycle adventure is new. It turns out that prepping is not as simple as setting up a beginner, intermediate or advanced program as we would for a running event. We’ve had to take into account that we need enough “seat time” to avoid sore rear ends. We also factored in our ages and an overall goal that emphasizes endurance over speed. Our Hokkaido schedule will be very flexible. Free from the pressure of reservations (we’ll be tent camping throughout the summer), we’ll be able to ride very short days if we want to stay in a particular location – but we also want to be in shape to put some serious mileage behind us when we want to get somewhere.
After doing quite a bit of research, we settled on a training program called “Sofa to 50k.” With an 8-week schedule culminating today with a 3½ ride, this program is set up similarly to a marathon running schedule. Yikes! Did I say 3½ hours? OK, saddle up!
We usually start our Sundays – the day of our long rides – with steel cut oatmeal. We like to add homemade yogurt and homemade jam for extra flavor and calories. As the long ride days grew longer, we’ve needed to add additional mid-ride calories. Trail mix, nuts, or Figgy-pops have been our go-to snacks. But with a 3½ hour ride looming, I wanted some kind of a nutrition-packed snack that we would look forward to. We couldn’t be more sick of Figgy-pops! With half a jar of tahini left over from a previous recipe, I had an idea for a fudge-like confection packed with protein and energy. After sharing an entire batch today on our longest ride, we both agreed these little treats were fantastic! One tip: You’ll want to keep these in the fridge till you’re ready to eat them. They get sticky at room temperature.
Coconut Chocolate Chip Tahini Fudge
- ½ cup tahini
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
- ¼ cup semi sweet chocolate chips, chopped
- pinch salt
- Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
- Place tablespoon-sized scoops in a silicon ice cube tray.
- Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
- Pop frozen confections out of tray and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.