Nothing is more appealing than a day spent on the water, either in a canoe or a kayak. And along with that comes the expectation of a well-deserved rest and a snack, three hours or so away from your launching site, when you know you can expect to find the most gorgeous spot to stop for a pause on a favorite flat rock overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic or of Lake Superior. That's why I usually put a lot of thinking about the preparation of the mini-meals we call snacks. For some reason, they inspire me and I find them more appealing than the planning of a big meal, which will often leave me too full to really enjoy the following paddling session.
That shouldn't come as a big surprise, though. Because as I stated in a previous column ("Of Snacks and Men"), food is the fuel of the human body and our performance and stamina are directly dependent on the quality of that fuel we feed our engine in order to activate its fuel injectors in the most efficient way. And fuel should be supplied on a very regular basis. So when practicing a demanding sport that requires a constant and steady effort (like cycling or kayaking, for instance) it's a good idea to plan for 5 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day instead of a big lunch because the digestive process will be much easier.
A little bit of everything It is clever to eat a mix of proteins, carbs and a tiny bit of fat every two to three hours to keep your energy level high. One easy way to do that is to simply cut the traditional lunch meal in two: let's say that you stop at 11:00 am to stretch your legs after a two-hour paddling session and you eat one half of your 6-inch submarine with a small plum and the other half two hours later in your boat, with a few pieces of veggies. Or you split your ham and pasta salad into two portions and complete it with one apricot instead of two each time. But you get the picture; it's easy and simple and you really don't need my expertise or suggestions. Let's put it this way: eating smaller portions more frequently can provide just the right amount of energy your body needs to operate at peak efficiency. The only thing is it's boring, isn't it? So maybe you can opt for this method for at least 2 of the 5 mini-meals you need for an entire day of paddling and will switch to the sexier approach for the 3 other snacks.
Snacks outside the box
The other way to plan a more interesting snack time is to take it as a challenge to make something different and seductive by creating a small meal that is just that: a snack, but a complete snack, one that is both filling and delicious; a snack that is also unique and different. Why? Well, to avoid boredom and because we are all "gourmands": most of us like to eat tasty, interesting food. And a snack allows you to fulfill your cravings…
A few suggestions to satisfy sweet and savory cravings
Zucchini and Carrot Bread
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5" loaf pan with butter and line with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. Set aside.
In another bowl, using a whisk, combine brown sugar with beaten eggs. Stir in zucchini and carrots. Add the flour mixture, with the almonds. Mix just enough to combine ingredients.
Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a cake pick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool 30 minutes, remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
Oatmeal and Ginger Cookies
Preheat oven to 375°F. Slightly butter 2 large cookie sheets and line with parchment paper. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg, milk And vanilla and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredient and mix gently with a spatula just enough to incorporate. Add cranberries and ginger.
Drop small dollops of cookie dough 2 inch apart on cookie sheets (about 2 tbsp each). Press lightly with a fork and cook for 15 minutes, placing one sheet on the higher part of the oven and the other one on the lower part, and making sure to switch positions halfway through cooking process. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before placing cookies onto wire racks.
Butter a 9 inch square pan and line with waxed paper. In a pot, combine apricots with orange zest and juice and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour or until all liquid has been evaporated. Set aside.
In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, mix well and add flour and mix until dough is smooth. Transfer into the baking pan and flatten the surface. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cook the dough for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool at room temperature.
Make the topping by mixing all ingredients together with your fingers until just crumbly.
The assembly Sprinkle the cooked dough with chocolate chips. Spread apricot filling evenly on the mixture and add toping. Cook for 25 minutes or until topping is brown. Let cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares.
Mini Turkey and Asparagus Wraps
Mix mayonnaise with Dijon mustard and spread onto flour tortillas. Add 2 slices of turkey on each tortilla and arrange 5 asparagus on top. Roll and wrap in aluminum foil.
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