Feed Zone Portables
Review: Feed Zone PortablesBy Elaine Bothe | Published Jun 2, 2013
Are you not a professional rider who has the support of a whole crew dedicated to your every need and whim, nutritionally, mechanically and even your laundry? Feed Zone Portablesis the next best thing to having your own personal cook and soigneur. At least for the nutrition part.
Authors Biju Thomas and Allen Lim take the simple, tasty and quick to prepare real food concepts in their previous (and one of our favorites) book Feed Zone Cookbookand turn them into hearty and satisfying on-bike foods and snacks, many gluten free and vegetarian. Apparently it's working well for many top riders such as Kristin Armstrong, Taylor Phinney, Tim Johnson, Rebecca Rusch and many others.
The point the Feed Zone franchise makes is that for many of us, if we eat real food that takes a little longer to digest along with more water or a drink with fewer calories, we will absorb the calories slower without spikes and crashes. The logistical challenge is certainly figuring how much to get into your mouth, and how to transport, store and chew it without interfering with your riding.
The first section of the Feed Zone Portables book is a highly entertaining and descriptive section on the science of osmolality, nutrients and sugars, and what happens inside our bodies as we digest our food, during exercise and not. Ever wonder why athletes, particularly long distance runners have, um, unpleasant issues while exercising or racing? Read this section for insight. Essentially, if we eat too much sugar too fast, or the wrong types of sugar, and it can actually dehydrate us by pulling water from our bodies into our intestines, making a mess eventually.
Also in the first section are many helpful charts and instructions to figuring out how many calories you need, as well as comparisons with recipes from this book and commercial gels, sports bars and other foods. I experimented with many of the recipes, did a lot of math and tried my favorites Feed Zone Portables recipes on training rides as well as races.
I did indeed enjoy feeling energetic and satisfied, and I love how the bite-oriented basic recipes can be modified to suit your own taste, either with the authors' suggestions or your own creativity. I enjoyed how the foods do indeed stick together in neat balls or pieces for easy grabbing. "Allen's Mochiko Krispies" on Page 240are amazingly tasty when made with chocolate flavored rice crisp cereal, and cut into thimble-sized morsels and rolled in coconut flakes. The coconut keeps the treats from sticking together, so I did not even have to wrap them individually.
Sometimes you just get sick of all that sweet stuff, it's nice to have some less sweet and even savory options and variations. Like oats, quinoa and pasta? Banana, blueberies or bacon? I also love the step-by step instructions and cooking lessons, as well as the introduction of ingredients I wasn't so familiar with such as idli and mochi flour.(Handy tip: Do not use regular rice flour, it will not taste nearly as good. If you can't find mochi flour in your grocery store or don't have an Asian market handy, Bob's Red Mill makes a sweet rice flour that is an excellent stand-in for mochi, and they do a lot to promote bike racing.)
We Didn't Like
My first thought of alarm reading through some of the recipes that call for meats and eggs was food safety. But, the authors addressed these concerns through their website (click here for the link) though I wish this info made it into the book. Maybe for the second edition!
And, I needed to experiment with the actual size of the bites. I personally can't have huge mouthfuls of food or unwrap packages while spiking my heart rate in a climb, technical section of a mountain bike race or whatever. The beauty of the bites is that you can make them smaller, and plan ahead. Eat real food on the flats and you'll have energy for the tricky sections is what I learned.
The Final Say
Buy this book. It's beautifully photographed and entertainingly written. And the recipes are amazing.
Even if you're not fully convinced that real foods are the answer to your on-bike sports nutrition needs, the recipes in Feed Zone Portables are tasty for other meals and snacks especially if you are sick of all the sweet and squishy stuff we usually consume on the bike. The recipes are flexible enough to pack for your pre-race meals and travel foods, too.
You will enjoy the recipes, many gluten free and vegetarian. You will learn a lot about how your body digests food, and even if you never even try one recipe, you will have some valuable information to make future nutrition decisions. But, the photos and recipes are so tempting, I bet you'll find a recipe to try, and I bet you won't stop at one!
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- Biju Thomas and Allen Lim
- Velo Press