Carrot Cake Bircher Muesli

Bircher muesli with carrots

This is a riff on my usual bircher muesli recipe, with added carrots and cinnamon. The picture shows almonds in the mix, but feel free to use whatever nuts you have on hand. Walnuts or pecans would be more carrot cakey, but I really like brazil nuts. No cream cheese frosting here, but yogurt makes a delicious and much more nutritious topping. It you want to add extra decadence, try sprinkling with some toasted pecans just before serving.

Carrot Cake Bircher Muesli

Serves 1

  • 50g oats
  • 7g flax seeds
  • 10g raisins
  • 10g nuts
  • wedge of lemon
  • 1 large crisp apple
  • 1 carrot
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Method

  1. The night before breakfast, put the oats, flax seeds, raisins and nuts in a bowl and add water until JUST covered.
  2. The next day, grate the carrot and apple. Add to the bowl with a good squeeze of lemon juice and pinch each of cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
  3. Serve with or without toppings – I like mine with yogurt, coconut flakes and sliced banana.
Carrot_Cake_Bircher_Muesli

Bircher muesli in situ… have I mentioned that this breakfast travels brilliantly? And it matches autumn!

Here are a few more creative ways to get your oat fix:

I’m submitting this to the #ExtraVeg linkup hosted by Veggie Desserts, Michelle Utterly Scrummy and Fuss Free Helen. Because mmmm, more veg!!

Green Apple Smoothie with Avocado & Lime

This is a signature smoothie of mine during autumn months when the orchard is in full swing and kale is in season. It’s easily adaptable to suit other fruits and greens (spinach, chard, etc).

I use a juicer and a blender to make this (see my favourite products for making smoothies) but don’t despair of you don’t have a juicer. Just put all the ingredients in your blender (squeeze in the lime juice and cut the ingredients into small blender-friendly pieces) and add water as needed to blend to a smooth consistency.

Green Apple Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 large apple (or pear!)
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • a big handful of spinach or kale
  • 1/2 lime, peeled (or lemon, rind on)
  • small slice of ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husk (optional; makes it thicker and adds fiber)
  • 5g flax seeds
  1. Juice the apple, celery, cucumber, spinach, lime and ginger.
  2. Put the juice in your blender along with the avocado, psyllium husk and flax seeds. Blend until smooth, about 20 seconds (if using psyllium husk, I suggest waiting for a minute or two and then blending again, as it takes a few minutes for the psyllium to absorb the liquid).
  3. Serve as desired with your favourite garnishes (I like grated carrot, muesli, goji berries, and lots of spirulina!).

My recommended tools for the job: the Froothie Optimum 600 Slow Juicer and Optimum 9200 Blender

Yogurt & Berry Protein Smoothie

Yogurt_Berry_Whey_Protein_Smoothie-1

As previously mentioned, I live in a place called “Orchard Cottage”, so called because there’s an old English orchard right outside of my backyard. Right now, the orchard is in full swing. And while the apples fall, wild blackberries take over the hedgerows, which sees me staining my hands and stockpiling the freezer with fruits to last me through the winter.

Throughout all of this harvesting and autumn worship, this smoothie has become my go-to blend to follow my afternoon Crossfit sessions. The apples and blackberries make the perfect sweet base, while yogurt adds creamy probiotic deliciousness. I also include unflavoured whey protein to amp up the protein levels, though you could leave it out if you wish, and double the yogurt to make it more substantial.

For protein powder, I recommend Pulsin’s Organic Whey Protein made from rBHG hormone free milk from organically reared cows. Also, no additives, flavourings or fillers. And it blends like a dream.

Yogurt & Berry Protein Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 apple, cored and chopped (a banana also works)
  • a handful of blackberries, ideally frozen (blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, or a combination of berries, also work)
  • 150g yogurt
  • 15g unflavoured whey protein (I use Pulsin’s Organic Whey Protein)
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husk (optional, adds fiber and makes it thicker)
  • 1 tsp flax seed (optional, also adds fiber and thickness)

Method

  1. Put everything in your blender and blend until smooth, about 20 seconds. (If you’re using psyllium husk, I usually wait a minute or two and give it another quick blender, as the psyllium husk will have absorbed some of the liquid in the smoothie, and an extra blend will make it all smoother.)
  2. Serve in a cup (or bowl!) with your favorite garnishes (I like grated apple, muesli, and a sprinkle of spirulina powder, liberally applied and then reapplied as I eat it!).

Nutrition: 234 Calories | 10g Carbs | 0.5g Fat | 22g Protein

This was made with my Optimum 9200 Power Blender which has a super-handy 20-second timer setting which I use to make this. I hit the button once, clean up, make some tea, then hit it again and out comes a perfect yogurt and berry smoothie.

Find your winter energy

Winter_Energy2

Winter can be such a sleepy season. Wouldn’t it be nice to while it away in pyjamas while drinking hot toddies and reading books in front of a roaring fire? But alas, there are bills to pay, things to do, and I think at the end of the day most of us like the feeling of being productive, active and energised to take on the world. So when it’s NOT hot toddy o’clock, how can we find this energy in the deepest darkness of winter? In this guest post, Dan Holloway from Simply Supplements offers a few suggestions. 

It’s safe to say that the summer is now officially over. The nights are drawing in, the temperature is beginning to drop and all over the country, couples are arguing about when to put the heating on. Winter can be a time when we slow down and find it difficult to muster up the energy to do anything more than go to work and switch on the TV when we get home. Equally however, winter can be a great time to be productive in your health and fitness goals, all you need to do is to find your winter energy. Here’s a handy list of how you can do just that from the food you put in your body, to the way you start your days in the morning.

#5 – Start your day in the right way

It can be really tempting to take one look outside the window when it’s cold, wet and windy and to roll over and go straight back to sleep, but alas we have to go to work! Therefore we get up cold and grumpy which definitely isn’t the ideal way to start your day. Instead, make sure the heating is timed to go on in the morning and set your alarm. Rising at the same time every day sets your circadian rhythm or sleep/wake cycle, meaning that you’ll sleep better and wake up feeling more rested in the end!

Stoke_Newington_Snow

#4 – Shower

A hot shower can be the perfect way to start your day and wake up in the morning. Research has shown that rain/snow produces negative ions which boost brain function and wake us up. Not everyone wants to go out for a walk in the rain first thing in the morning so grab your ions from the shower instead.

#3 – Think food

Stockpiling the junk food ready for winter hibernation might be a tempting option when winter strikes. After the initially sugar rush has subsided however, you’ll be left feeling sluggish and so there are better options. Food such as lean meat, oily fish, fruit and vegetables and carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes are much better for you and will give you a much longer lasting energy rush, allowing for the occasional sweet treat as a reward! Supplements such as Ginkgo Biloba and Korean Ginseng support healthy circulation and energy levels and can be a great winter addition to a healthy diet as well!

wintersmoothie

#2 – Lights

Lighting can be a major issue when it comes to energy levels. Melatonin is released by the brain when it gets dark, signalling it’s time for sleep. Being around bright lights at night can affect this and mess up your sleeping patterns, therefore try to keep the lights dim in the run up to bed time and avoid looking at things like the TV, mobile phone and computer screens.

#1 – Exercise

Wrapping up warm is a must but outdoor exercise in winter will improve your energy levels to no end! Research has suggested that just three 30 minute workouts a week will boost energy levels and reduce sluggishness. Supplements such as L-Taurine which supports energy levels and prolonged workouts can be great to give you that extra push in the winter, and a short jog on a frosty morning can be a great and refreshing way to start your day.

Winter_Energy3

Conclusion

Winter for some equals months of feeling sluggish and tired, finding it difficult to get anything done. For others who start their day right however, it can be a great and productive few months, filled with good food, great exercise and tons of energy. Follow the steps above and make this winter your most productive and energy filled yet!

This was a sponsored post by Dan Holloway from Simply Supplements. Dan is also a professional martial artist and self defence instructor and writes his own blog at www.themartialview.com. Photography by me, taking in Chicago 2014 during the Arctic Vortex.

In Pictures: Dartmoor Walking and Wild Camping

Wild Camping on the River Plyn, Dartmoor

Wild Camping on the River Plyn

Drizzlecombe Stone Rows

Trip highlight: the prehistoric stone rows of Drizzlecombe

Lucky on Dartmoor

Lucky’s first big walk and wild camp: he’s a natural

Nun's Cross Farm, Dartmoor

Nun’s Cross Farm

Sun setting over the River Plyn, Dartmoor

Sun setting over the River Plyn

Campstove dinner: Clearspring Miso Ramen

Campstove dinner: Clearspring Miso Ramen amped up with veg and seaweed

Scenes from an autumnal romp around Dartmoor National Park, starting at Postbridge, heading south and making a loop via Drizzlecombe to view its spectacular stone rows, with a wild camp in the middle on the River Plyn. It was a clear cold night but I had lots of layers, hearty food, hot tea, a good sleeping bag, and a warm pooch to keep things warm and cozy. 

Food Blogger Connect 2015 Highlights

Food Blogger Connect, London 2015 (yes that's Claudia Rodin in the middle). Image credit: @bethanykehdy

Food Blogger Connect, London 2015. Image credit: @bethanykehdy

Food Blogger Connect brings together bloggers of all ages, backgrounds and blogging levels to a conference that is all about enabling bloggers to be better at their craft. Conference speakers include food photographers, book publishers, pro bloggers, professional writers, advertising experts and other people to give talks and lead workshops on the various dimensions of blogging. This year I was grateful to have been such a speaker at FBC 2015 London, where I ran two workshops on “Awesome Analytics”, how to use data (i.e. FACTS) to grow your readership and achieve your blogger goals.

Bundled up & looking analytical for my Awesome Analytics talk. Video credit: @travelsfortaste.

Bundled up & looking analytical for my Awesome Analytics talk. Video credit: @travelsfortaste.

Indeed, one of the highlights of this workshop – and FBC in general – was learning about all the diferent goals people have in starting their food blog. Naturally many of you out there want to monetise your blog, be it through sponsored posts, paid advertising or other means. But many bloggers (myself included) had other goals in mind. Things I heard include:

  • Become a YouTube superstar
  • Grow awareness of supperclubs, food tours and other foodie activities
  • Sell eBooks
  • Build a community (this was a big one!)

The diversity of goals were unified by a general desire to achieve them and use hard data to pave the way – awesome! So awesome that I was inspired to start an Awesome Analytics Facebook Group, open to anyone with a website who wants to share tips and exchange ideas on web analytics. For example, what are the most important metrics for you to measure if you want to grow a community? How do outbound links work? What constitutes “good” stats? This is the place to discuss that!

Souvlaki_Sisters

Me with my Souvlaki Sisters, Lisa of United Cakedom and Candida of Oh My Kitchen Counter

Beyond the workshops, I had great fun taking part in other aspects of the conference. I especially enjoyed the talk on Self Publishing by Bloomsbury’s team from Writers’ and Artists’. There were also some terrific panel discussions – Ms Marmite Lover, Urvashi Roe and Helen Best-Shaw in particular had some really useful insights into monetisation and how to navigate the gnarly world of paid recipe development, sponsored posts and PRs.

Honey & Ginger Iced Tea from Massis Tea. Image credit: @massistea

Honey & Ginger Iced Tea from Massis Tea. Image credit: @massistea

There were also some great food vendors on hand who kept us fed and hydrated throughout the weekend. Big thanks to Massis Tea (above) for delivering their delicious ginger & honey iced tea to my talk. Seriously this stuff was inspiring – shaken in a cocktail shaker and garnished with rose petals and dried orange. I will definitely be copying this move at home.

The Athenian,  purveyor of amazeballs haloumi wraps.

The Athenian, purveyor of amazeballs haloumi wraps.

I also especially enjoyed my samplers from Bol Foods (wholesome beetroot and broccoli goodness!), The Athenian (souvlaki wrap!), Duke of Delhi Chocolate (chocolate + bombay mix = genius), and the Bicycle Bar from Quirky Bars (I needed those bloody maries on Sunday morning).

Honestly the best bloody mary I've ever had, courtesy of the Bicycle Bar

Honestly the best bloody mary I’ve ever had, courtesy of the Bicycle Bar

Of course, the best thing about a conference like Food Blogger Connect is that it creates a venue for catching up with old friends and making new ones. A major victory was finally meeting Jacqueline Meldrum (Tinned Tomatoes), one of UK’s top vegetarian bloggers who I’ve been reading for years. But moreover, Jac is a colleague of mine on the Froothie team, along with Elizabeth Atia (Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary), Katherine Hackworthy (Veggie Desserts) and Kate Ford (The Veg Space), all of whom who were also at FBC (the only person missing was Choclette of Tin and Thyme – next time!).

I already admired these awesome ladies from afar but meeting them confirms that their awesome factor is off the charts, and indeed exceeded my expectations. This can only bode well for our work projects! Writing this now I wonder why we didn’t all get a photo together? Like I said, next time. For now, here’s one from my talk with a nice cameo of Jac, camera always on the ready to seize the moment. She really IS a social media superstar.

Massis Tea delivery during my Awesome Analytics talk.

Massis Tea delivery during my Awesome Analytics talk.

Speaking of people I only previously knew virtually, I also met Jenny Chandler, author of Pulse and my guru for all things beans and legumes. Plus Kevin Chambers-Patson (selfie King and author of The Crafty Larder), Michelle Francis (the talent behind London from Scratch food tours), Manjiri Kulkarni (aka Travels for Taste…watch out for her F-bombs), Elinor Hill (aka Beach Hut Cook whose Instagram life I aspire to), Jude Macgee (whose A Trifle Rushed writings beckon me to Brittany) and Heidi Roberts (fellow American, fellow dog lover and fellow food blogger).

Burger_Envy_FBC15

Megan Melling of Mel’s Vittles enjoying a bourbon steamed burger from BitBurgers.

It was also great to discover new food bloggers, previously off my radar, especially more fellow Americans, Lisa Niblock (United Cakedom) and Candida (Oh My Kitchen Counter), who I met in The Athenian ‘queue’ (never underestimate the social bonding powers of souvlaki). Also Jo Brigdale (wielder of baguettes and author of Jo’s Kitchen), Megan Melling (bringing Portuguese food into the limelight in Mel’s Vittles) and Jen Price (author of Jen’s Food and another person who balances a life in science AND food).

And I must give a shoutout to the friends I already know in person and don’t see often enough: Helen Best-Shaw (Fuss Free Flavours), Urvashi Roe (Botanical Baker), Sarah Trivuncic (Maison Cupcake) and Kavey Favelle (Kavey Eats).

My mission for my next food blogger conference: take more pictures of my friends, old and new! And also, to be even more awesome than I am now – with my analytics, with my cooking, with everything! Until then, here’s a few related links, because links are awesome!

Easy Blender Tortilla Soup

Blender_Tortilla_Soup

I’m a massive fan of Rick Bayless’s tortilla soup but when I’m in a rush, this does me just fine. The key is good stock and dried pasilla chile which gives tortilla soup its unique (and totally perfect) flavour. The best thing about this soup is the garnish potential!

You’ll need a high-speed blender for this – I use an Optimum 9200 from Froothie.  If you don’t have one, you can blend everything in a conventional blender and then heat on the oven in a pot (let it simmer for at least 10 minutes to let the flavours blend).

Easy Blender Tortilla Soup

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 dried pasilla chile (I get mine from Cool Chile Co)
  • ⅓ bunch cilantro (coriander)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ avocado, pitted and peeled
  • ½ lime, peeled

Garnish ideas:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Black beans
  • Sweetcorn
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado

Method:

  1. Heat a frying pan and dry-fry the pasilla chilli for a few minutes so that it puffs up and changes colour. Remove the stem and seeds.
  2. Put the chilli, broth, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, pepper, avocado and lime into a high speed blender (I use an Optimum 9200). Blend on high for about 5 minutes or until hot and steamy.
  3. Serve with lime, cilantro and avocado garnish.

Smoothies and Juices: My Favourite Products

Home_Juice_Bar

Blenders and Juicers

I am an ambassador for Froothie and happily endorse their blenders and juicers with a proudly raised glass of cold pressed juice (blended with avocado). I use their Optimum 9200 power blender and Optimum 600 slow juicer for all of my juicing and blending needs. I have also used their Optimum 9400 (pictured above) which is basically a better (and much more economical) Vitamix.

Read my review of the Optimum 9400 power blender.

Books

Smarter Fitter Smoothies by Monica Shaw

Of course, my book Smarter Fitter Smoothies is the best book on smoothies in the world. To be honest, I don’t really read other books on smoothies – most of them are full of fruit-laden overly sweet recipes that don’t appeal to me. And I like to invent my own!

On the juicing end of the spectrum, I do like Jason Vale’s books. With titles like “7lbs in 7 Days” it’s obvious the kind of market he’s going for here, but his books and juicing programs ARE inspiring and effective, at least in my experience. I try do his 7-Day Juice Feast once per season. (Read more about why I juice feast.)

Ingredients

Smoothie_Ingredients

Fruit, veg, blend-ins and garnishes.

  • Naturya‘s range of superfood powders. I am a particularly huge fan of their Acai, Wheatgrass powder, Hemp Protein Powder and their new Organic Greens Blend.
  • Myprotein stocks bulk protein powder, including vegan protein powders, plus spirulina, almond butter and coconut oil.
  • Pulsin – I am a big fan of their range of vegan protein powders, especially their pea protein which reversed my previous opinion that pea protein was irrevocably nasty. They also do an excellent Organic Whey Protein Powder.
  • Riverford organic box scheme sells excellent produce delivered to your door and even has a whole range of juicing ingredients making it even more economical to buy organic fruit and vegetables for your juices.
  • Rude Health Puffed Oats, one of my favourite smoothie garnishes, along with their Spelt Flakes. Basically it turns your smoothie into a bowl of cereal, comfort food that you can feel good about.

See also my list of 16 Great Garnishes for Smoothies.

How to Take a Cycling Holiday in France & Spain

Cycling in the Loire Valley, France

I’ve just returned from a 3.5 week cycling holiday through France and Spain, a journey of just over 1000 miles from Cherbourg to Santander (with a few stops and diversions along the way). I was a little nervous going into it. Would my legs poop out? What if my bike breaks? Are the hills going to wreck me? I didn’t let these questions stop me from going; all would be unravelled throughout the trip. The real question is: how do you even take a cycling holiday in the first place?

La Vienne

I could probably answer that question in 3 steps:

  1. Pack your bags.
  2. Get to your starting point.
  3. Go.

At a base level, that’s really all it takes. You don’t need a rigid plan, in fact, it’s pointless having a strict itinerary on a bike trip. And that’s part of the beauty of it. A cycling holiday is total freedom, especially when you go self supported, carrying your own bags, tent, food and so on. France and Spain offer a few added bonuses for the bicycle tourist:

  • The roads: Both France and Spain are very bicycle friendly and drivers tend to give cyclists a lot of room.
  • The food: You get to fuel yourself in style, sampling regional gourmet delights along the way.
  • The views: From the Loire to the Lot to the Basque coast, every day will wow you with vistas and valleys that you’d probably miss (or wouldn’t pass at all) if you were in a car.
  • The villages: There are lots of them, many breathtaking in their own right, and offer numerous benefits: history, culture, architecture, picnic lunches, and baguettes.
  • The bike trails: France is loaded with “green cycle ways” (Voies Vertes de France), long-distance bike paths, some paved, offering traffic-free bicycle bliss to those who choose to ride them. Spain also has over 1,800 kilometres of greenways all over the country and is a haven for mountain biking.

Bike_Tour_Camping

OK, I realise those three steps above will involve numerous substeps. So here are a few more top tips on how to have a cycling holiday in France and Spain.

Packing for Your Bike Trip

  How to pack for a bicycle tour

The nice thing about a bike trip is that you want to keep things as light as possible, so you’re forced to keep your packing minimal. If you’ve never done anything like this before, then you might have to invest in some technical bits (panniers, camp stove, etc). But if you’re an avid camper like me, then chances are you’ve already got a lot of the stuff you need. See my Bicycle Touring Packing List for a full gear list.

Basque_Spain_Bike

Getting There 

  All Aboard

My attitude with most trips is: just get to your destination and everything else will sort itself out. So, too, with a bike trip. For this purpose, I can’t recommend Brittany Ferries enough. Flying would be a pain (you’d have to pack the bike, reassemble the bike, deal with getting out of a busy city, and so on). This is not an issue with a ferry as you just walk your bike onto the ship and away you go. Brittany Ferries has ports all along the France and Spain coast, which means you have the option of sailing into one port, and sailing out of another if you don’t want to do a circular trip. I sailed into Cherbourg and back from Santander.

Brittany Ferries also has their own Cycling in France and Spain Guide which offers itineraries around the various ports. In fact, I used part of their route to plan the first leg of my trip from Cherbourg down towards Mont St. Michel.

A ferry is not only easy, it’s actually really fun. I adore the journey from Santander to Portsmouth, a 24 hour trip during which I can collect my thoughts, write last minute post cards, and have a Vouvre (or three) to celebrate my achievement. 

Vouvre_Brittany_Ferries

Route Planning

  France_en_Velo_book  

There is a fantastic book called France en Velo that details a 1000 mile bike ride from St. Malo to Nice, detailing everything along the way including campsites, cash machines, market days and more. It’s incredibly useful, even if you only do part of it, as I did. The only thing I wish is that they made an ebook edition because it’s a slightly hefty tome to haul around with you.

France_en_Velo_Map

For the remainder of my journey, I got a little help from the tourists offices along the way, but for the most part I used a map and made things up as I went along, sticking to minor roads as much as possible. Which brings me to my next point…

Maps For Your Journey

Cycling in the Loire

In an effort keep things light I relied on my iPhone for maps rather than paper maps. I used a combination of two apps for the job: Google Maps and ViewRanger. I’ve already written about ViewRanger and it is by far my preferred mapping tool. You can download France’s excellent IGN maps directly to your mobile phone and track your location using GPS. The downside: it’s expensive. The app costs £7.99 and then you pay for “credits”; each map you download costs a certain amount of credits. When you’re cycling across France, this can up (if I’d used these maps my whole trip I probably would have spent about £50 or so – a small price to pay for good navigation perhaps, but it still felt it an annoyinglin large sum).

Google Maps are free and you can download maps to use offline when you don’t have cellular data coverage. The problem is that they just aren’t as reliable as ViewRanger’s. A minor road might actually be a dirt track (this happened twice). Also, no elevation information, and the scale seems to only show itself when you zoom in or out of a map.

Other Useful Gadgets 

  • QuadLock mobile phone mount that attaches to your handlebars (expensive but so worth it)
  • USB charger for your iPhone
  • iPad Mini with keyboard case – for books, writing emails, etc
  • Spot Gen 3 – A personal locator beacon that shows people where you are at any given point in time. Really good for safety and peace of mind for your loved ones back home.

Where to Sleep

Manzac_Camping  

You have a couple of options here: camping and hotel / b&b accommodation. I opted to camp because it’s cheaper and there’s little risk of winding up somewhere and not finding a place to put your tent (I went to one campsite in Spain that was booked solid for cars but said “We always have room for cyclists.”). The B&B route would require a bit more forward planning as you’d probably want to book places ahead. However you’d save considerably on pack weight as you wouldn’t have to carry a tent or sleeping bag.

Bike_Tour_Camping

As for camping, France is LOADED with campsites, and they are generally pretty cheap (especially if you go the municipal campsite route). Campsites in Spain are not quite so numerous but you’ll be fine. It’s worth popping into a Tourist Information as you go and getting information about campsites along your route so that you can plan accordingly (I got superb help from the guy at the San Sebastian tourist office). It’s not very fun when it’s nearing the end of the day, you’re losing steam, and you have no idea when the next campsite is going to pop up. So always know where the campsites are. In a pinch, you could wild camp, though this isn’t technically legal, and you run into issues like water and your desperate desire to take a shower.

Bring Packing Tape and a few Bin Bags

Just in case you wind up taking a shortcut by bus, which requires you to pack your bike up for storage. (I had to do this on the ALSA bus from Bilbao to Santander.)

Bike Packing for the Bus

Internet and Mobile Phone Service 

I am very grateful to Mardi Michels from eat. live. travel. write. who hooked me up with a Lebara sim card which gave me mobile and data coverage throughout France. This was incredibly useful and I used it copiously for downloading maps, uploading photos, checking in and so on. It was definitely nice NOT to have to rely on finding a cafe or bar with wifi for my interweb needs. That said, there seem to be plenty of places with wifi – most campsites will have free wifi and you’ll see wifi stickers on the front of many cafes in bars in the larger towns. I can’t remember an instance where I couldn’t get online and as a result was totally screwed. Let’s face it, we don’t need the internet as much as we think we do, and really, this is supposed to be about disconnecting

What to Eat

This is the most fun question of them all! So fun that I’ve written a separate post about it: What to Eat on a Bicycle Tour.

French_Market_Tomatoes

Any questions? Any top tips I’ve missed? Feel free to ask away in the comments. I’m happy to provide whatever information I can to get you on your way!

What to Eat on a Bicycle Tour

Have Baguette Will Travel

I’ve recently completed a 1000mile bike tour through France and Spain and wanted to share a little bit about the food I ate along the way. I tried to eat well, choosing foods that would energise my journey rather than drag me down. This is pretty easy to do in France and Spain, where there are fresh local delights to experience along the way, especially at the various markets, green grocers and artisan shops in the towns and villages. I was spoilt for choice, really.

Local Produce

Every day I anticipated what I would find in each village I came too. If I was lucky, I’d hit a village on market day, where it was always difficult to restrain myself from buying EVERYTHING. Highlights included: fresh tomatoes, cantaloupe, stone fruit (especially greengages) and haricot vert (aka green beans).

French_Market_Tomatoes

French-Melons

Greengages

Bike-Friendly Fruit & Veg

Bike-friendly food is compact and difficult to bruise. Courgettes, carrots and onions were a daily purchase, interspersed with aubergine, broccoli (not compact but I love it) and green beans. When it comes to fruit, apricots and plums were less prone to being smushed than nectarines and peaches. Tomatoes, bananas and avocados are also fairly delicate but I always bought them anyway because they’re so good!

French_Courgettes

Almond Butter on All Things

When you’re riding a bicycle for 50+ miles a day in hilly conditions, you need lots of calories, and almond butter was my ultimate calorie delivery device. This was a late morning and often afternoon snack ritual, especially when I felt my energy dragging. Almond butter plus banana seemed to have a magical effect of totally recharging me.

Typical snack: cracker, almond butter, fruit

Almond butter and banana moment

Almond_Butter_Snack

And when the almond butter runs out…

Nuts! Especially if your cycling in the Dordogne along the Route de la noix, noix meaning walnuts!

Banana_Walnut_Snack

Sauteed Seasonal Veg

Sauteed veg was a regular dinner at the campsite, which I’d mix up with herbs and spices (old film canisters make excellent travel vessels for spices). Just add chickpeas and / or some kind of grain (pasta, quinoa, bulgar wheat) to make the meal complete. (For the record, I use an MSR Pocket Rocket for my cooking needs, and yes you CAN get fuel for it in France and Spain).

Camp_Food_Veg_Chickpeas

Campstove_Veg_Medley

Ratatouille

This is in the sautéed vegetable arena but it’s worth a mention on its own because it’s just so awesome and totally doable on a camp stove. Add chickpeas for more protein.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Bircher Muesli

I came to prefer this for breakfast because it saved on fuel and was also less hot and stodgy for the hot summer weather. I especially loved it with plums and flat peaches. See my recipe for Bircher Muesli for how it’s done.

Campsite_Bircher_Muesli

Quinoa and Bulgar Wheat

As I already mentioned, I liked to augment my sautéed veg with grains. Quinoa and bulgar wheat are my preferred choice because they are quick to cook and really good for you. You can even save a step by buying pre-cooked quinoa packets which I found at many of the larger super markets.

Quinoa - Star ingredient in my camp food kitchen

Tinned Tuna

My one exception to my almost total veganism throughout the trip. The tinned tuna available in France and Spain is in a whole class of its own, and the branding is irresistible (I’m a sucker I know). A favourite lunch was sliced tomato with avocado and tinned tuna. Perfect in its simplicity.

Titus_Tuna

Toasted Seeds

I was so glad I took a few minutes to toast up some mixed seeds to take with me (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax). They’re a quick way to add crunch, flavour and slow-burning calories to just about any meal. You could up the ante with dukkah if you want to get super fancy. My go-to recipe is Ottolenghi’s dukkah.

Sauteed Veg with Toasted Seeds

Raw Crisps

I made a batch of these raw vegetable crisps in my dehydrator before I left. Sweet potato and beetroot are my favourites. These didn’t last long.

Sweet potato Crisps.

Granola

I also made a batch of granola before I left. A tasty eat-from-the-bag snack and also a great garnish for porridge (yep, double oats – it’s gonna be a long ride!). Recipe via Bon Appetit.

Granola

Jars of Delicious Things

All along the way you will come across specialty produce in jars and cans, everything from beans to peppers to mushrooms to meat and fish. Obviously when you’re travelling with bicycle panniers there are certain space and weight limitations, but it’s worth picking up a jar or two of tasty looking things as you go and giving stuff a try! After all, this isn’t just about cranking through the miles – it’s about experiencing the terroir as you go!

Basque Specialties

Baguettes

Obvoiusly!

Have Baguette Will Travel

 

I should also add that on the bike I also carried with me the bare essentials for bringing everything together: olive oil, salt and pepper, a few garlic cloves, and old film canisters filled with spices (herbs de provence saw the most use). Plus the rest of my camp kitchen kit you can find in my Bike Tour Packing List.

Any other top food tips for bicycle tourists and minimalist campers? (Not that travelling with avocado and baguettes is actually minimal.) What would you add to your bike tour pantry?