Preparing the body and mind for a run takes planning. Hydration, calories, endurance, and temperature are critical factors that can help or hinder the success of a runner’s goal. Athletes around the world have long addressed these obstacles with the help of herbs. From protein to caffeine, simple plant-based recipes can offer the natural resources we need to go the distance, without relying on expensive pre-packaged sports products to get us there.
Berry Power Instant Drink
Energy drinks are all the rage. They support stamina and hydration, but often contain questionable ingredients and artificial colors. Creating your own instant drink mix with powdered herbs is easy and allows you to customize for your needs while avoiding undesirable additives.
This drink is formulated with chia seeds, Schisandra berries, matcha green tea, and ginger, to be effective for running adventures. Chia is a beautiful flowering herb in the mint family native to Central America. Prized by Aztec warriors for the sustained energy they provided during battle, chia seeds produce a gel that helps the body retain moisture and stay hydrated longer. The light viscosity the seeds yield pairs well with the unique flavor of Schisandra berries. The Chinese name for this fruit is wu-wei-zi, which means “five taste fruit,” since Schisandra has a sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, and salty taste. It has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine, and was historically used by Russian hunters. The antioxidant content and adaptogenic properties also make Schisandra a good choice for athletes. By adding a caffeine boost from matcha green tea and the soothing power of ginger, this herbal instant drink covers all the bases.
1 tablespoon organic chia seeds
1 teaspoon organic freeze-dried Schisandra berry powder
1/2 teaspoon organic matcha green tea
1/8 teaspoon organic ginger powder
1 quart water
Optional: honey, fruit juice, lemon, coconut water, or Himalayan pink salt
Mix all ingredients together in a convenient travel baggie. Add the mixture to 1 quart of water and shake well. The chia seeds will slowly create a hydrating gel. You can also prepare this instant drink the night before and refrigerate. This gives you the option of adding a sweetener like honey, as well as fruit juice or a squeeze of lemon.
Trail Fuel Crackers
Looking for a power snack with calories, carbs, fats, and protein? These seed crackers are the perfect salty go-to. Many store-bought varieties are grain-based and contain preservatives, GMOs, emulsifiers, starches, hydrogenated oils, and loads of sugar. This recipe is easy to whip up and provides a tasty canvas for hummus, nut butters, and cheese. Plus, for all of the gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, or otherwise health-conscious runners out there, these seed crackers are flawless.
1 cup organic flax seeds
3 tablespoons organic chia seeds
1/4 cup organic sesame seeds
3 tablespoons organic hemp seeds
1-2 teaspoons organic caraway seeds
1 teaspoon organic onion powder
1 teaspoon organic garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
1/2 teaspoon organic ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 200°F. In a large bowl, soak flax seeds and chia seeds in 1 cup of water for 20 minutes. The seeds will absorb the water and create a gel-like consistency. Mix in the remaining ingredients and stir well. Spread the seed mixture evenly on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. To get a uniform cracker thickness of 1/8 to1/4 inch, place another piece of parchment paper on top and use a rolling pin to gently smooth out the seed mixture. Remove the top layer of parchment and cut into shapes, if desired. Bake for 90 minutes, then flip and bake the other side for 30 minutes, or until dehydrated and crisp all the way through. Allow to cool and store in a sealed container.
Cool Down Spray
This body spray works like air conditioning in a bottle! While alcohol-based sprays are common, they can often be too drying. Hydrosols make a nice alternative base ingredient, especially for use after physical exertion. Also known as flower waters, hydrosols are lightly astringent, but also help hydrate and tone the skin. Adding aromatic oils distilled from fresh mint plants will leave the skin feeling refreshed and cool on a hot summer day.
3 ounces organic spearmint hydrosol
30 drops organic peppermint essential oil
Carefully drip the essential oil into the hydrosol and shake to combine. Pour into a travel-sized spray bottle. Mist generously on the skin after a long run, and store in the refrigerator for an extra-intense cooling sensation.