Cooler temperatures are the start of 5K and marathon training season in many areas of the country. With the growing popularity of ultra marathons and races that last multiple days, freeze dried food is starting to hit the radar of the running community.

You can buy prepackaged freeze dried food, but freeze drying your running snacks gives you a few advantages. First, most freeze dried food is geared for hikers. At mile 12, no runner is looking forward to a mouthful of cheesecake bites or beef stew, and freeze dried packets aren’t portioned for runners. Okay, there’s energy gel – but it’s no secret that they cause digestive problems for many runners. Plus – who knows what in those little packets? Second, you’re you’re going to save money by freeze drying your own running snacks. Prepacked freeze dried food costs about $4 for a 300 calorie serving, and energy gels cost about $1.50 for 100 calories.

Third, and what we think is most important, is that you when you eat prepackaged foods of any kind you can’t be entirely sure what you’re putting in your body. Freeze drying your own running snacks gives you 100% control over what you eat. You can eliminate preservatives and control the amounts of salt and sugar, and create your perfect blend of carbohydrates and protein. You can also use the source of carbohydrates that you know works for your body. There’s no reason for stomach cramps or other gastrointestinal surprises.

If you’re convinced that freeze drying your own running food can help you perform better, save money and stay healthier, try out a few of our favorite suggestions and share the results with us, and other runners, on our Facebook page.

Applesauce Drops

This is such a simple, energy packed running snack. And, it can be combined with almonds for balance. Using a plastic bag or pastry pouch, place applesauce in dollops on your freeze dryer trays. Run the cycle then store the drops in an air tight container.



Sweet Potato Chips

Cut sweet potatoes (skin on or off) into thin slices and freeze dry.20160316-DSC_0029 If you want a little sodium, use about a teaspoon per potato. A teaspoon of salt has about 150 mg of salt, where an energy gel packet delivers about 50 mgs per serving. Too much salt and you’ll just be thirsty. You’ll get about 180 calories and 40 grams of carbs per cup of sliced potato. You’ll also get fiber (to help you feel full and slow the carb burn) and tons of vitamins A and C.

Fruit and Pureed Fruit Chips

20160329-DSC_0017-croppedPersonally, we like freeze dried fruit in either 1″ round slices or 1/2″ chunks because it’s easily combined with nuts (okay, and chocolate candy) for a protein and energy packed snack. Regular trail mix is combined in proportions that hikers prefer, but runners will want to go heavy on the fruit and easy on the nuts. Nuts, or even small tofu cubes, will keep you from getting a sugar rush from the fructose in the fruit. Bananas are definitely a classic choice due to high potassium, but we also like berries and kiwi because they’re also high in potassium and the tang is nice when your mouth is dry.

Runners sometimes like fruit leather, but we think the freeze dried version of fruit leather is even better because there’s nothing chewy to get stuck between your teeth. Just puree your favorite combination of fruit in a blender or food processor, spread on the freeze drying trays and run the cycle. When it’s done, break the puree into bite-size pieces. If you run the fruit through a food mill instead of a blender, the texture is even better.

Banana Bread

This is an easy one, and by far a runner favorite. Take your favorite banana bread recipe and substitute applesauce for white sugar. Then add three scoops of vegetable-based protein powder – besides rounding out the carbs with protein, the powder will soak up the extra liquid from the applesauce. Bake in mini loaf pans and let the loaves cool. Cut the loaves in 1″ thick slices and freeze dry. This snack is a perfect lightweight delivery system for glucose and protein.