Sometimes people ask me how I balance marathon and half marathon training with hiking. While I quickly learned some basics during our first summer here in Washington (don’t hike on the same day as a long run and pack more water than you’ll anticipate needing), the answer is actually fairly simple. I eat a lot to support that level of activity.
Not only do I eat enough, but I also opt for nutrient-dense foods especially on long run and hiking days (well, most of the day – I definitely indulge on these days as well!). Foods rich in complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, magnesium, iron, and potassium are staples in my diet on those days.
Magnesium in particular is a key nutrient for endurance athletes. Magnesium reduces muscle fatigue by lowering the accumulation of lactic acid in the blood and promotes better sleep (and therefore better recovery) thanks to its calming effect, amongst other benefits.
However, surveys have found that up to 70% of the general population (which statistically does include runners and other athletes) has a magnesium deficiency. Beyond a general inadequate consumption of magnesium (due to diets high in processed foods), endurance athletes in particular require more magnesium than the general population.
Why? Magnesium is one of the primary electrolytes and you lose it through sweat during running. Low magnesium can impact athletic performance and overall health, so whether you are running, hiking, cycling, or swimming, you want to ensure that magnesium is abundant in your diet through natural sources.
What’s one of the best sources of magnesium? Pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas).
I’ve shared other pumpkin seed recipes before, including this goat cheese and pepita salad and this sweet potato buddha bowl. Recently, though, for our strenuous hike up Mount Washington, I made homemade granola bars from this recipe. Since Ryan is mildly allergic to almonds, I substituted pumpkin seeds in place of the almonds in the recipe. The result was a granola bar that was sweet, salty, crunchy, and delicious.
So naturally, I began to think of other portable and nutritious hiking and post-run snacks which I could stuff pumpkin seeds into, and I came up with these trail mix cookies. With rolled oats, raisins, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and coconut oil, these trail mix cookies are snack during or after exercise. They’re full of complex and slow-burning carbohydrates, plant-based fats, magnesium, iron, and potassium.
Plus, the dark chocolate and chewy cookie texture provides a sense of indulgence and reward, which we all know is helpful while hiking for several hours or after completing a long run. As important as vitamins and minerals are, food should also taste good! These trail mix cookies are healthier, more satisfying, salty-sweet, and chewy – like a good oatmeal raisin (or oatmeal chocolate chip) cookie, only better.
Trail Mix Cookies
- 1 cup whole wheat flour I use Bob's Red Mill stone ground
- 1 cup old-fashioned/rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil softened (not melted)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons natural unsweetened applesauce
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup shelled and roasted pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup raisins
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
- Use a stand mixer or hand beaters to cream together the coconut oil, brown sugar, applesauce, and maple syrup for 2-4 minutes or until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed to combine.
- Set the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating until well combined. Stir in the pumpkin seeds, raisins, and dark chocolate chips.
- Chill the dough in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Use a scoop or large spoon to shape the dough into 16 balls. Place on the sheets with plenty of space in between each cookie.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. Begin checking for doneness at 15 minutes. Less time will yield a chewier cookie, more time will yield a crispier cookie.
- Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and then move to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for a few days or store in the freezer to keep for several months.
Linking up for Foodie Friday!
What’s your favorite type of cookie?
Chewy cookies or crispy cookies?
What are your weekend plans?