Dear Academy Q&A…

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Q: Can you suggest a delicious nutritious meal to cook on a camping stove whilst on a cycling holiday? It shouldn’t take more than 30 mins to cook, as that uses too much fuel, nor should it have too many obscure ingredients.

Annie Sheen, UK

HKA: When you are on a cycling trip, you need all the energy you can get from the nutrition you are putting in to your system.

Carbohydrate is the body’s primary energy source for cycling.
 Large servings of carbohydrate lead to highs and lows of energy that can leave you lethargic. Aim to eat a fist-sized portion of a low-glycaemic carbohydrate with each meal.

It’s always best to opt for wholegrain slow-release carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, that are packed full of nutrients. Rather than refined sugar that might give you a quick burst, but is empty of nutrition.

You could make a vegetable stock at home (see our previous post here), which could be carried on your trip in a water container. You could then use this to create a quick and delicious risotto, using pearled spelt or buckwheat. Both of these grains are great to use in place of rice, since they are a little more forgiving in terms of timing.

A rice risotto should be eaten immediately. However, one made with spelt or buckwheat keeps its texture and can sit for longer before it needs eating. Buckwheat also has a higher carbohydrate content and contains more protein and fat than brown rice. These grains also take less time to cook, so shouldn’t use up all the camping gas!

Getting adequate protein into your diet will also support your health, immune system and recovery times if you are cycling long distances. Adding some beans and pulses into your meal will help. It is possible to buy organic tins or tetrapaks of ready cooked butter beans, cannellini beans or chickpeas. These can be eaten cold as an addition to a salad or gently heated along with other vegetables.

A salad made with cooked butterbeans, any seasonal green beans, avocado, radishes, celery (plus any other vegetables you might like to chop up and add in) is delicious and sustaining. Serve over a bed of green leaves with a simple dressing of oil and vinegar.

Depending on where your cycling trip takes you, there may be all sorts of interesting local produce available that you can pick up along the way. If you are cycling through countryside, there are often small stalls selling local and seasonal fruits and vegetables. There may be a farmers market to visit and find what’s local. Look out for good quality cheeses and organic dairy produce, sometimes these can even be found at the farm gate!

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