Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Meatless Pemmican

Making your own trail/workout food

One of the problems I have run into as an "endurance" athlete is that most of what is used to fuel oneself on the trail might as well be poison for what it does to my blood glucose.

The modern gels, goos and power bars are designed to dump a lot of calories into your system VERY quickly. This is hard enough on your metabolism if it is "normal" but for a diabetic, It's way too much.

So I have taken to making my own trail/running foods and drinks and testing them to make sure that I get sustained calories that are released at a sane pace and real nutrients to boot.

One of my favorite running foods is "meatless pemmican". Pemmican is a traditional Native American food that contains fat, protein, and carbohydrates. It has been used since forever as a travel ration and as a food that can be easily stored for months. As a ration it can keep you going for weeks. Along with a little pinole and beans, people have walked from one side of America to the other with pemmican as their main food source.

Traditionally, the protein in pemmican comes from dried meat, and the fat is rendered from bone marrow. Being as the quality of commercial meat is more than a little dubious, and I am not set up to properly dry the wild meat I get, I have developed this recipe that is vegetarian, (vegan even)

You will need

Piñones (pine nuts) 1/2 cup
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds, hulled) 1/2 cup
Almonds 1/2 cup
Pecans 1/4 cup
Dried Cherry 1/2 cup
Dried Blueberry 1/4 cup
Dried Apricot 1/2 cup
Dried Apple 1/2 cup
Salt 1 tsp
Coconut Oil 1 tsp

Note: the best pine nuts are from the "Pinus Edulis" (Colorado Pinion Pine) and are harvested mostly in New Mexico. A quick Google search will turn up several sources. Any of the other pine nuts will do in a pinch though. CostCo sells a large bag for a very good price.

The first thing you will need to do is dry roast the Piñones and Pepitas. I use a wok, but a cast iron frying pan works as well, or an oven for that matter, though it is a bit harder to get the right roast in my experience.

I roast the seeds very lightly, just enough to improve the flavor. If you want an all raw food you can eliminate this step, But I don't think it tastes as good.

At the end of the roasting, when the seeds have taken on a light golden color, I add one rounded teaspoon of coconut oil to the pan and stir it until the seeds are covered in the oil.

Next, add the seeds, as well as any other nuts you are using (almonds etc) and the salt to a food processor.. (one of the great inventions of the 20th century)

And grind them into a fine meal.

Then add your dried fruit.
Note on dried fruit: Be sure to read the labels when you get your dried fruit. Much of the commercial stuff has sugar added, which is really unnecessary (and potentially harmful). I get my fruit from the local healthfood store which sells certified organic with no sugar added.

Grind everything together. You may need to stop and use a spoon to get the mis off the side of the processor as it tends to be a bit sticky at this point.

Cut sheets of wax paper into appropriate size take a couple of spoons of the mix and shape it into a bar.

Wrap the bar tightly. When you have enough, seal them in an air tight bag or other container. If you keep them in a freezer they will stay fresh like this pretty much forever.

You can experiment with different seeds and nuts to develop a flavor that pleases you. I will sometimes add sunflower seeds, chia seeds or ground flax seed to the mix with good result.

Note: If you are diabetic avoid using dates. Date sugar has a higher glycemic index than glucose (date sugar is 103 to 106, glucose is 100) Dates will always spike my blood sugar.

There you have it, a trail food that will keep you going all day, that tastes good and that most children think is great.

If you try this do let me know what you think.


Salma said...

Dear Mushtaq,
Thank you so much for this recipe! While I am not an Endurance Athlete by any stretch of the imagination, I am an Endurance Teacher. I teach in three different schools every day and must travel between each one, hauling armloads of books, lunchbox, purse, and supplies from my car into each school, up flights of stairs no less. At my last school of the day, I teach three hours in a row with no break in between. All this with hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism and Celiac Disease. It is really hard to find quick snacks that aren't expensive that I can pop in my mouth and keep going and that don't require a spoon, fork, or plate. Gluten free "bars" and crackers are very pricey and rice cakes are upsetting my stomach these days. So, I will try this out!!! Thanks again!! S

Salma said...

Dear Mushtaq,
P.S. I also wanted to add that in addition to sugar, folks should watch out for sulfur dioxide added to most dried fruits you get at the supermarket. It can trigger an asthma attack and other nasty symptoms in sensitive individuals, but those available in health food stores should be safe......

sabiwabi said...

This sounds like a great recipe. I'll make sure to try this one out. My sister drinks some God awful stuff during her marathons. Her last concoction, she said, tasted like pure pancake batter. Nasty. I could never use what she does because of my blood sugar issues. But this recipe really excites me because I LOVE pinon! Anything that reminds me of New Mexico, I'm there!


(And thanks for the step by step pictures. I know from personal experience what a pain it is to throw together a post like that...but it's great for us visual learners!)

Mushtaq Ali said...

Pancake batter??!!??

Blekh! Patooie!!

I see another post coming on, I have some interesting liquid refreshment for days when I am exerting a lot of energy that taste a bit better than (shudder)pancake batter.

Mushtaq Ali said...

Salaams Salma,

I think you will find that this will keep you going quite nicely, and for a fraction of the cost of the stuff you can buy in stores. Two bars, and a liter of chia fresca will keep me going all day as long as I have had a good breakfast. One thing to remember though is that this is not a low calorie food, so eat accordingly.

Mushtaq Ali said...

BTW Salma, Sabiwabi,

You two ladies should get to know each other, I think you would find each other interesting.

(Ain't I just the pushy one?)

Salma said...

Dear Mushtaq,
Yes, the thought had crossed my mind that I might start to see the pounds creep back on me if I made this an all-day energy source. However, I have found that more than nuts, it is the dried fruit that does it to me. It's the concentrated sugar source more than the fat for some reason that I have to be careful with. Maybe it has something to do with my heritage. But, nonetheless, for emergencies and times when I don't have time to eat a typical snack, these, I'm sure, will be a lifesaver. S

Salma said...

Dear Mushtaq,
Don't worry about being "pushy" at all. Being the introvert that I am, it takes alot for me to get to know people and for them to get to know me. Also, this is not the first time you have suggested that I and Sabiwabi get to know one another (Salaams, sister!!) I have been following and enjoying the "Oy Habibti" blog ever since you told me about it. It is even on my desktop!!!

steve-vh said...

oh man, now you've got to set some aside for me.
Come to think of it, this might be good for Cole for all day wrestling meets.

sabiwabi said...

Well Mushtaq, you haven't steered me wrong yet..... ;)

Salma....salaam, very glad to know you and hope to learn more. And you're right, this isn't the first time he's tried to get us together. I'll send my email address to Mushtaq and maybe I can get yours from him? It's a start. :)

Salma said...

Dear Sabiwabi, (Thanks,Mushtaq)
Salaam! I now have your e-mail address, and I will be writing to you in a day or two. (Time is being crunched with Teacher Evaluations and follow-up meetings to prepare for in the next couple of days.) But you will most definitely hear from me. (I am assuming that Mushtaq has passed my e-mail address along to you as well- Thanks, M!!) Anyhow, I look forward to our conversations. Wa Salaam, Salma

Salma said...

Dear Mushtaq,
I just wanted to say that I made an "alternative" version of your bars, and I could definitely get addicted to any shape or form of ground nuts and dried fruit! I used what I had on hand since I am on strict rations until my next paycheck. (that being only some old mixed nuts and raisins) I ground them up together in my food processor, and I didn't add anything else. So, instead of bars, I got a sort of "spread" that I ate with a spoon. It could have been a Snicker's bar as far as I was concerned! I couldn't get enough of it! So, I am going to assume that your "fancy" version would be even more tempting! Maybe I shouldn't try your recipe afterall.... :) S