There are few things more invigorating than a day in the hills; the fresh mountain air on your face, stunning views as far as the eye can see and feeling your heart pounding against your chest as you push for the summit.
Not only is hiking a great way of improving your fitness and burning a stack of Christmas calories, getting outdoors has many other benefits such as clearing the mind and nourishing the soul.
Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a casual stroller, in order to get the most from your outdoor adventures, it is essential that you come prepared. The body burns hundreds of calories during a casual day hike, and at this time of year, it will work even harder in order to stay warm through a process known as cold thermogenesis. In a nutshell, you need to take charge and ensure that you are replacing these utilised calories.
Selecting the correct foods that are convenient, tasty and effective can be tricky…nobody wants to be rewarded at the top of the mountain with a soggy sandwich and a squashed banana! This article provides you with some quick, easy, convenient and delicious ideas and recipes to fuel your day in the hills!
Remember that replenishing your energy stores starts upon rising, not when you arrive at the car park. In order to hit the ground running, one of my favourite high energy meals is a bowl of hot porridge oats… and what could be more heart-warming and comforting to get you in the mood for a day battling the elements?!
This super high energy and delicious breakfast will get you powering up any cross-country terrain!
- Creamy Overnight Oats with Berries and Seeds
200ml water or milk variety of choice
50g 0% Fat Greek Yoghurt
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon goji berries
handful of fresh berries
optional extras: crushed brazil nuts, walnuts and pumpkin seeds
Place the oats in a glass container and pour over the water or milk, and yoghurt. Mix well. Add chia seeds and goji berries and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning, top with a handful of fresh berries and enjoy!
Fully fuelled and ready for action, this breakfast will keep you going well into the morning!
Once on the go, you may want to keep pit stops to a minimum, particularly during winter hiking. In this instance, pocket bite size snacks are ideal. Here are two options that you can prepare ahead of time, pop in your pocket and dip into when you feel your energy levels crashing.
- Fruit and Nut Flapjack
This Fruit and Nut Flapjack from www.frugalfeeding.com is packed full of both slow and fast releasing carbs and healthy fats to keep you firing on all cylinders throughout the day.
- 300g oats
- 100g dried apricots
- 70g raisins
- 30g dried cranberries
- 50g almonds
- 50g sunflower seeds
- 50g butter
- 3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
- 4 tbsp honey
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 1 apple, peeled & grated
- 100ml hot water
- Preheat the oven to 160C/140C(fan). Grease and line a 20x20cm baking tin.
- Gently toast the seeds and almonds in a heavy based pan. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl, along with the oats and dried fruit.
- Melt the butter over a low heat, along with the peanut butter and honey. Add the bananas, apple and water.
- Pour the wet mixture into the mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Transfer the batter into the prepared tin and smooth. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown.
- Once removed from the oven allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely before cutting into 12.
- These flapjacks will keep well in the fridge for around 5 days, should they last that long.
Another simple yet effective idea for the hills is the much-loved trail mix. The idea here is to put any of your favourite granola, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and chocolate into a ziplock bag and keep it accessible in your pocket or at the top of your rucksack. At times when you need a little boost, simply dive into the bag and draw out a handful of instant energy!
- Trail Mix
I love this trail mix combo from www.thehealthymaven.com as it also has a great combination of energy releasing sugars and healthy fats.
My Go-To Trail Mix Recipe
- 3/4 cup raw pecans (I toast mine in the oven for 10 mins at 350 degrees F)
- 3/4 cup raw cashews (I toast mine in the oven for 10 mins at 350 degrees F)
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulfured cherries
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulfured raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped 82% dark chocolate
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
- Store in a ziploc bag or mason jar.
- Will keep for up to 1 month.
In addition to keeping energy stores up, keeping well hydrated is key to ensuring your continued performance throughout the day. The body looses moisture in cold environments just as it does in warm environments, however, because we don’t feel as hot or necessarily sweat, it can be easy to forget to drink. So sipping little and often will help to prevent dehydration.
As well as water, hot beverages are a great way to stay warm and boost morale. Coffee or green tea provide a caffeine hit that will boost performance and energy levels and other fruit/herbal teas will help to keep you well hydrated.
At the end of your day, enjoying a balanced meal of good quality protein, carbs and fat will replenish your depleted stores and aid recovery. Whether it’s steak and sweet potato, chicken curry and rice, or fish and chips, there is nothing better than a heart-warming plate of comfort food to re-charge and reminisce on the success of the day!
Wishing you a happy New Year full of fun-filled outdoor adventures!
Laura Bromley BSc
Founder Building Beautiful Bodies