inov-8 ambassador Ben Abdelnoor is a food-loving trail, fell, mountain and ultra runner who lives, works and plays in the heart of the Lake District (UK). When he’s not running, Ben, a former winner of the Lakeland 50 and Lakeland Classics Trophy, works in a cafe, preparing food to fuel runners and hikers. Here’s his top 10 trail running superfoods to stock your grocery cupboards with, plus two of his favourite hearty meals to help you tear up the trails.
Oats are an energy-boosting food I invariably turn too, generally when I decide to have porridge for breakfast. Oats contain soluble fibre which help to lower the ‘bad’ cholesterol and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
Venison is one of the tastiest and healthiest meats around. Compared to most meats, especially beef, it’s low in calories and low in fat. It’s higher in protein than any other red meat, which means you’ll stay feeling fuller for longer.
3. RYE BREAD
In particular German pumpernickel bread, which is high in fibre and has a fairly low glycemic index. It goes great with cheese, such as Jarlsberg. It’s pretty robust, so can be squeezed into a bumbag or pack on a long run.
4. NUT BUTTERS
Almond and cashew nut butters are two I always have in my cupboard. Try spreading them on a banana or some toast for a speedy snack. Nuts help to stabilize blood sugars, so they provide a good balance to fruit, which contains fructose. They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals.
5. DARK CHOCOLATE
A nice treat! Make sure you suck it rather than chew it, this way you get the most taste. Best enjoyed with coffee, dark chocolate contains anti-inflammatory compounds as well as anti-oxidants.
6. COCONUT OIL
I use it as a substitute to regular oil in as much of my cooking and baking as possible. It’s healthier than most cooking oils and my physio even uses it as a massage oil!
There are so many varieties to choose from, and all can all be paired with some cheese and nuts for a healthy snack or dessert. Keep the skin on to maximise anti-oxidants and fibre. Try some in a venison casserole (see recipe below).
8. CHIA SEEDS
Put these super-seeds on your cereal, in your bircher muesli (see recipe below), porridge or flapjack. You don’t need grind them up, but if you want to use them in a shake then leave them to swell in fluid overnight. This makes them easier for the body to absorb.
9. BROWN RICE
A nutty and tasty alternative to white, which has been stripped of most of its nutrients. It takes a little longer to cook, but any leftovers are great cold in salads. Like rye bread, it’s high in fibre and helps you feeling fuller for longer.
10. CHICK PEAS
A great meat-substitute that is cheap and easy to use. They work great in casseroles (bulk out your venison casserole with some) and curries, or you can make your own hummus. Chickpeas, like most legumes, are a good source of fibre and protein.
Ben’s two dishes to power-up trail runners
1. Bircher Muesli (Serves 2)
Oats a very high in manganese – an essential mineral that aids effective funcitoning of the body. Bircher meusli is great as a dessert in winter, and during summer I have it for breakfast.
Instructions: Soak 100g oats in 300ml of coconut milk or regular milk. Stir in the juice of half a lemon, a dash of vanilla extract, 1 tbsp of chia seeds, a handful of raisins and a spoonful of dessicated coconut. Leave to soak for an hour or two, or overnight in the fridge.
Soften 150g of summer berries (I use fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in summer, and frozen fruit in winter) in a pan with a dash of agave syrup. Layer the berries and oats in individual dishes to serve, or mix the whole lot together. Serve with a handful of pumpkin seeds.
2. Venison Casserole (Serves 2)
Venison is high in vitamin B6, which helps the body to function properly; vitamin B12, which keeps the body’s nerves and cells healthy; and iron, which helps produce the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.
Instructions: In a large pan, marinade 400g of diced venison with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a finely sliced onion, a bay leaf, a crushed clove of garlic and the juice of a lemon. Leave in the fridge, overnight if possible or at least for a couple of hours.
Put the pan on the hob, throw in 25g of butter and, as you brown the meat, add the following: A tsp of flaked sea salt, a grind of black pepper, a tsp of juniper berries and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar. Pour over 200ml of double cream, add a couple of sliced apples, and bring to a simmer. Place in a pre-heated oven at 160°C for 90 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes and root vegetables.