Cyclists burn up lots of energy every day - on the bike, and after a ride as the metabolism continues to work in overdrive mode. For that reason, we're often looking for snacks that will keep us from feeling the bite of hunger, without adding empty calories.
The energy food market is on the case, however - with multiple cycling nutrition brands looking to offer alternatives outside of the traditional on bike drinks, gels and bars. Powerbar joined them recently with their 'Energize Muffin Mix'.
Billed as 'tasty customisable energy for during sport or carbo-loading' the muffin mix contains the same nutritional values as the original Powerbar Energize bar. The mix delivers their C2Max Dual Carb Mix, which contains a 2:1 ratio of glucose and fructose, which is designed to feed muscles with quick to absorb energy.
Just to make sure we were getting actual quality, low fat carb that would fuel activity without excess, we compared the values with a Starbucks chocolate muffin. Obviously the muffins are bite sized and smaller, but the fat is much lower. Sugar is high, but cycling carb foods are designed to provide quick energy in the form or glucose and fructose (sugar).
Happy we were getting the kind of quality carbs that would keep us working during exercise, we decided to ignore the offensive use of a misplaced 'z' and put the mix to the test.
In our box (usually retailing just under £10) we found three sachets, plus a cluster of complimentary muffin cases.
Creation of the mini muffins is pretty easy - mix one sachet of muffin mix with 80ml of water, and stir. Even we could get that right (on a good day).
The suggested 80ml didn't look like a lot when compared with the pile of chocolaty looking powder, but in fact once stirred and the coco-pops effect had taken hold, we had what looked like a solid muffin base.
Powerbar suggest that you customise the mixture with your own touches - dried fruit, nuts, or fruit for example. This sounds like an absolutely excellent idea, and one we'll definitely be trying with thinly sliced apple, sultanas and flakes of almond. For now, we decided to keep it simple, loading cases with the naked mix.
One sachet makes 4-6 muffins, so of course we made four larger cakes.
Now comes the only complication: you can bake these at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or pop them in the microwave for 40 seconds. The microwave idea sounded great. Except - who has a microwave large enough to take a standard muffin tray... or a muffin tray small enough to fit in a microwave?!
It did occur to us that the mix could well make a very good pre-commute-home mug cake, for those using office kitchen supplies however.
Anyway, we went for the oven approach - sitting in front of the window and gazing fixedly into the furnace as our chocolatey creations took their final form.
What came out after around 15 minutes was pretty much what we expected: four fluffy muffins promising energy in abundance.
Cutting into one, we did find it squished down quite promptly, and the centre was deliciously gooey. Perfect - off the bike before a ride.
One concern we had was that when coated in tin foil and popped into a jersey pocket, these would likely become a little squashed. However, they'd still go down a treat and would work well consumed before a shorter ride.
The only other drawback we could fathom was that with prices usually around £9, you're actually paying quite a lot for 12 to 18 muffins. Sure, you've got a healthy mix at the ultimate convenience. However, we've made our own similar energy bites using oats, milk and all the nuts and raisons we could find in the past - a much cheaper approach with a bag of oats and a pint of milk coming to less than £2.
This said, the chocolatey goodies did taste incredibly good, and we'd happily keep a box of the powder in a desk draw at work ready for a pre-ride mug cake made in the microwave. We might even share it. Maybe.
Interested? Check out the mix here.
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