I have mixed feelings about winter. 

It can be really fun to buy new seasonal outwear for the bike. Arm and leg warmers, wind vests, wind jackets, rain jackets, all weather jackets, neck collars, ear covers, gloves (mid-weight and heavy-weight), wool socks, shoe covers, helmet covers, the list goes on. But after you've stocked your closet, there's still the actual doing. You know, you still have to actually get up in the pitch dark and put on all the clothes and go out and do the thing. That thing where it might take you 15 miles to start to feel your toes. That thing where your bed is infinitely more comfortable than it's ever been before. 

It's worth it though. For one, without the pressure of race season or impending challenges, you have the freedom to small-ring forever, to go on long exploratory rides that are all flat and fun. Also, people might think you're badass. In fact, you are badass. 

The issue, then, is making yourself get up to do the thing. The thing we already know is going to be worth it and really won't be that bad since you spent a small fortune on the necessary gear. Enter: MFF's plan to get your ass out of bed and onto the bike, even when it's cold. How? SNACKS.

OK, so we might be a broken record here. It seems we're always promoting snackage in one form or another. But that's because snacks are one of the better parts of riding and we're not afraid to admit it! So we asked our gal Mandy about comfort food on the bike and how to make fun stuff that's also filling, good for you (sort of), and exciting enough to liven up an otherwise boring winter training ride. 

Mandy is the owner and operator of Wholesome Bakery and specializes in making goodies that are gluten free, yeast free, soy free, dairy/egg free, trans-fat free and low glycemic. Yep, that's a lot of free's, and it's enough to make you feel pretty good about eating chocolate. She also rides and races bikes, and shared with us this killer recipe for cold-weather training called...  

Choco-Cherry Nutter Bars!!! 

What you'll need:

-Food processor
-8" square pan
-Spatula, Knife
-Parchment paper, Foil

Ingredients:

-1 cup Dried Tart Cherries
-1/4 Cup Dried Apricots
-1/4 Cup Peanut Butter (natural, well mixed)
-1 tablespoons Agave Syrup
-1 tablespoons Coconut Oil (melted)
-1/4 Cup Almond Meal (I made mine, but store bought should also be fine)
-3/4 Cup Finely Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
-1/3 Cup Rolled Oats
-1/4 Cup Bittersweet Dark Chocolate Chips or Wafers (I used 73% vegan dark chocolate)
-2 tablespoons Chia Seeds
-1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

 How to prepare:

1. Add the first five ingredients to a food processor and chop until everything is somewhat sticky; a rough chop is okay.

2. Then, add the remaining ingredients below and mix everything till finely chopped.

3. Take your 8" sq. pan and grease it with coconut oil.

4. Scrape all the chopped and mixed ingredients into the 8" sq. pan. Spread ingredients as evenly as possible leaving none of the bottom of the pan exposed. Then with some parchment paper, firmly press and pack everything down so it is flat and even. I even recommend finding something smaller like a 1 Cup measuring cup and using it as both a flattener and packer. Also make sure the corners and sides are tightly pressed and even.

 

5. Place the pan in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour.

6. After removing from the freezer, scrape around the sides of the pan to loosen the 8" sq. Once good and loose, flip it over and pop it out. From there you can cut it into desired sizes, wrap in tinfoil, and bring with you on your next ride!

These bars are great tasting and packed with energy which make it perfect for a long ride. And we promise, they are as easy as they look, as our self-proclaimed kitchen-challenged founder, Jenn, made them successfully. Full disclosure there were some food-processor issues but she's fully confident they were due to machinery malfunction and not operator error or any problems with this recipe!

Special thanks to Mandy for her snack wisdom and to Jake Ricker for the photos! You can find Mandy riding around the Bay Area or baking at her shop in SF!