Sometimes runners and other endurance folks can tire of the typical sugary gels and chews. Eating whole ingredients usually tastes better than sugary gels, but isn’t always feasible while on the run. Cyclists have the luxury of being able to eat a lot more while riding than runners do primarily because our stomachs are bouncing around with every step we take.

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Japanese rice balls, properly known as Onigiri, are traditionally wrapped in seaweed and filled with savoury ingredients. Endurance folk have taken to this traditional food and turned it into a portable energy source. Mixed with whatever one desires, many athletes opt for a sweet and salty combination to help replenish what they’ve lost during a hard training session.

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While these combinations stray away from what the Japanese would use, they’re certainly satisfying and delicious! I’ve heard of people filling the rice balls with peanut butter and jam, sweet potatoes or a multitude of other ingredients. This week, I went with banana walnut and honey soy recipes. 

Sweet rice balls

INGREDIENTS: 

1 cup sushi rice
1 ½ cup water

For the banana walnut balls:
1 banana, mashed
¼ cup walnuts, chopped finely
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
shredded coconut to coat

For the honey-soy balls:
1 tbsp honey
½ tbsp soy sauce
sesame seeds to coat

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook the sushi rice as per the bag’s instructions. Don’t skip the rinsing or soaking. These are important steps! Once cooked, set aside.
  2. In two separate bowls, combine all of the ingredients for each type of ball.
  3. Half the rice and place into each of the filling bowls and mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Using a spoon, scoop the rice and form into balls. The rice is really sticky so using a latex glove, or making sure your hands are cold helps to stop the rice from sticking to your hands.
  5. Place the formed balls onto a cookie sheet and put in the fridge to set.
  6. Keep stored in an air tight container in the fridge.

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