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Have Leftover Gels and Stroopwafels? Go Ahead, Play With Your Food

Use these delicious and (mostly) nutritious recipes to make your bars, gels, and chews go further—or just eat up the last of your stash from race season.


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Finding a modern-day athlete who isn’t using a sports nutrition product in one form or another is about as rare as bodybuilders on Ironman podiums. That’s because endurance athletes of all stripes recognize chews, gels, and hydration drinks are a convenient way to feed bodies in motion what they need to keep going strong. But who says you can’t deploy these products into other meals and snacks as a way to adequately fuel your body? Yes, energy bars and fruity chews are good for more than just eating straight from the package.

Here are the smoothie, pudding, and trail mix recipes that prove sports fuel can play a role in creating delicious foodie magic. Deploy these ingredients to use up the last of your stash from race season, or to experiment with new ways of fueling for the next. Get in the kitchen and have some fun!

Photo: Matthew Kadey
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Waffle PB&J Sandwich

This is epic fuel if there ever was some. Stroopwafels, Dutch-style wafer waffles, have become a favorite fueling treat for endurance athletes, and rightfully so. They are carbohydrate deliciousness. Here, the thin waffles replace bread in a whimsical riff on iconic PB&J. Serve in the lead-up to training or bundle one up in a reusable food wrap such as Abeego and take it along for some palate-pleasing energy during a long workout. It’s not exactly health food, but who is hungry for broccoli when going long and hard? You’ll have plenty more jam for more waffle sandwiches or stir it into oatmeal or a bowl of yogurt.

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Recipe: Waffle PB&J Sandwich

Makes 1 Serving

1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries

2 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 tablespoon nut butter

2 Stroopwafels (choose from the list above)

1 tablespoon peanut butter

Blend together strawberries, honey and 2 tablespoons water. Place strawberry puree in a container or bowl and stir in chia seeds. Set aside for at least 1 hour to thicken.

To serve, spread peanut butter on a waffle and top with 2 tablespoons strawberry jam. Place a second waffle on top.

Photo: Matthew Kadey
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Cherry Chocolate Chia Pudding

Many endurance athletes practically have gels pumping through their veins at this point. So why not add more rocket fuel to the system by blending the gooey stuff into a deliciously creamy pudding that hits all the flavor and texture high points. No shade to oatmeal, but this chia-thickened pudding may become your new favorite make-ahead pre-training breakfast. It also has the necessary carbs and protein to kickstart recovery after a hard-charging workout. If you have an itch for more protein, you can blend in a scoop or two of your favorite protein powder. A mocha flavored gel would be good here, too. Toppings range from chopped nuts, granola, more cherries, and/or coconut chips.

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Recipe: Cherry Chocolate Chia Pudding

Makes 2 Servings

1/3 cup milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 cup frozen (thawed) pitted cherries

2 chocolate flavored gels

1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

6 tablespoons chia seeds

Place milk, yogurt, cherries, gels, vanilla, lemon zest, cinnamon in a blender container and blend until smooth. Divide mixture between two wide-mouth jars, add chia seeds and stir to combine. Seal jar and chill overnight. When ready to serve, top each jar with your desired toppings.

Photo: Matthew Kadey
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Chew Trail Mix

You don’t necessarily have to be lost in the woods to enjoy this trail mix re-mix. Chews serve as a stand-in for some of the dried fruit delivering a punch of energizing carbs for road trips, mountain summits or post-training replenishment. Sweet, crunchy, chewy….awesome.

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Recipe: Chew Trail Mix

Makes 6 Servings

2 packets fruit flavored chews

1/3 cup unsalted roasted almonds

1/3 cup unsalted roasted cashews

¼ cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup coconut chips

1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks (optional)

Slice chews in half and add to a bowl. Toss in the remaining ingredients. Store in a sealed container or divide among small zip-top bags for transport.

Photo: Matthew Kadey
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Sweet Potato Energy Bar Bowl

Bored stiff of oatmeal? This big bowl of nutrition, anchored by sweet potato and the always-reliable energy bar, is a great way to breathe new life into your breakfast routine. It’s so pretty, it seems almost criminal not to Instagram it. Crunchy granola-style or oat-based bars are the best to use here. The sweet potato mixture can be prepared ahead of time and then re-warmed in the microwave.

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Recipe: Sweet Potato Energy Bar Bowl

Makes 2 Servings

1 large or 2 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

2 tablespoons almond butter or peanut butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons milk or plain dairy-free milk

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

2 cups plain Greek yogurt or dairy-free yogurt

2 energy bars, crumbled

1 cup blueberries

Place sweet potato cubes and 1 tablespoon water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in plastic to allow for venting. Microwave on high for 7 minutes, or until potato is very tender. Alternatively, you can boil or steam the potatoes on the stovetop.

Drain any liquid from the sweet potato bowl and add nut butter, maple syrup, milk, orange zest, cinnamon, ginger powder and a pinch of salt to the bowl with the sweet potato and mash together. To serve, place sweet potato mixture in serving bowls and top with yogurt, crumbled energy bars and blueberries.

Photo: Matthew Kadey
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Minty Citrus Smoothie Cups

These subzero heroes are your answer to near instant smoothie satisfaction and sneaking more green into your diet. Carbs, protein, healthy fats, a drink that puts you into full-throttle recovery mode. Dare we say the most clever way to use a sports drink outside the bidon. Using non-stick silicon muffin cups is best.

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Recipe: Minty Citrus Smoothie Cups

Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 cups citrus flavored sports drink

3 medium sized bananas

1/2 cup plain or vanilla protein powder of choice

2 cups spinach

1/2 cup fresh mint

¼ cup hemp seeds (hemp hearts)

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon ginger powder

Place all of the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth. Divide mixture among 8 standard sized muffin cups, place in freezer and freeze until solid, about 4 hours. Un-mold frozen smoothie cups and place in a zip-top bag for storage in the freezer. When ready for a drink, place 1 cup water or milk and 2 smoothie cups in a blender container and blend until smooth. It’s best to carefully slice the smoothie cups into halves or quarters before blending.