Loving the BITE: Nut-Free Training Fuel (updated)


Raise your hand if you, or someone you love, is affected by food allergies.  Both my hands and one foot is up.  Like many, I’m the mom to three kids with food allergies.  And, of course, I work with many clients with food allergies.  So, when a request comes to provide dairy free, or nut-free, or gluten-free, I’ve got to give it my best shot.  It’s tough to find the right foods, I know.  And worse to spend tons of money on expensive ingredients only to be left with an inedible cardboard, terrible excuse for a cookie.  I’ve been there.

This week, we’re going nut-free for training fuel.  I think it could be of benefit even for those of us not allergic to nuts, as different foods provide a good variety of nutritients, and a good variety of nutrients never hurt anyone.

Recipe of the Week:  Nut Free Granola Cookie Balls


  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup of raw sunflower seeds
  • 6 TB chia seeds
  • 1 cup organic honey
  • 1 ts. of sea salt
  • 1 ts. of ground cinnamon
  • other optional spices: ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamon (1/2 ts. of each would do).
  • 1 cup of raisins or craisins (optional)
  • 3/4 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 5 TB coconut milk or rice milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
  2. Place all dry ingredients, except 1 cup oats, in a food processor.  Process until well mixed.
  3. Add in wet ingredients.  Process until mixed well and only small “pieces” remain.
  4. Add in last cup of oats and mix well, leaving this pieces larger.
  5. Then, scoop out either 1) onto a cookie sheet for cookies, or 2) into a 9×9 Pyrex for cookie balls.
  6. If cooking cookies, cook approximately 12-15 minutes until medium brown underneath.  Remove from oven and all to cool.
  7. If cooking cookie balls, cook 10-12 minutes until firm on top but still slighly gooey inside.  Allow to cool slightly, until they are comfortable to touch.  With clean hands, scoop 1 Tbsp of mix out and roll into balls.  Allow to cool completely. (Any leftover crumbs can be left out to dry into granola).
  8. Store in air-tight container.  Also freeze well.

Makes ~24 cookies/balls


More and more, people are affected by  food allergies.  I don’t have the answers as to why.  I know in my own children’s case, we have a strong family history on my husband’s side.  Also, I believe they are diagnosed more – in generations passed, chronic ear infections were just chronic ear infections…now we know it’s a symptom of a dairy allergy.  And possibly, our processed foods, our overuse of antibiotics, and our lifestyles have taken a toll on our digestive systems, allowing too large of protein molecules through and into the bloodstream, where they cause an allergic reaction.

Fortunately, for most allergy sufferers, there are options that will still work well for training nutrition.  In addition to our recipe of the week, here are some nut-free options:

  1. Sports drinks, gels and chews are generally nut free.  These work perfectly to meet hourly nutrition goals on the bike.
  2. If you tolerate sunflower seeds, try our homemade energy bars,  lemon , orange, or banana bars, with sunflower seeds in place of bars.
  3. Our Protein Power Brownies are nut-free and will work well for pre, during, and post-training nutrition.  If using them primarily during your ride, you can double the honey for extra carbs.
  4. Our Rice Burritos or Dr. Lim’s Rice Cakes, are both nut-free, savory options.  Also, you can try our Pesto Pitas and Sweet Potato options for real food.  Sunflower butter and banana or sunflower butter and jelly half-sandwiches will also work well.

Again, we’re aiming for a sports drink with carbs and electrolytes throughout every hour, a carb option such as a ½ bar or gel every 30-60 minutes, and then a more “whole-food” option that includes protein every 3 hours or so (on a long ride). In order to perform your best, and yet no overload yourself, try for 200-300 calories (60+ grams carbs) per hour and then add these extra real foods every 3 hours on top of that. You’ll find more details on nutrition needs during different phases of the ride here. Stick with small amounts at any one time so that you are able to easily digest them and keep blood flowing to your legs, where you need it.

In the case of our digestive systems being weakened by our lifestyles and environment, there are things you can do improve gut health, which may improve allergies and reduce risk of more.  I recommend taking probiotics daily, supplementing with l-glutamine (especially immediately after training), and minimizing use of antibiotics when possible, and reducing consumption of dairy and meats from animals that have been injected with them (buy organic when possible).  Furthermore, since allergies are inflammatory processes, daily fish oil and ginger can also reduce the symptoms.

Bonus Recipe: Sunflower Butter

Sunflower Seed ButterPlace 16 oz. salted, roasted sunflower seeds in your food processor.  Process until smooth, adding olive oil or melted coconut oil as needed until at desired consistency.

In case you missed it, you’ll find dairy-free suggestions in this previous post.  Food allergies should never stop you.  You may have to get creative, and you may have to take it upon yourself to make your own fuel, but you’ll likely end up with a more nutritious option out of your own kitchen than the grocery store anyway.  The peace of mind knowing exactly what is in your fuel should relieve some stress and improve your ride.  So, get out there and enjoy it!

Fuel your Ride.  Nourish your Body.

Top image c/o foodfitnessandfamilyblog.com

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2 Responses to “ Loving the BITE: Nut-Free Training Fuel (updated) ”

  1. Kelli Jennings on March 11, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Hi Tony, Thanks for your comment. Here’s a post on low-sugar options from a few weeks back: https://lovingthebike.com/nutrition-tips/non-sugar-nutrition-for-cyclists. Also, with the diluted apple juice, just 1/12 – 1/8 tsp salt will give you 200-300 mg sodium, so it can be an adequate drink in terms of fluid, carbs, and lytes for you when training in heat/humidity. Take care and all the best!

  2. tony singleton on March 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Kelli

    Thanks for posting this. I have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes so high sugar / glucose snacks and drinks are now off limits. So I am on the lookout for alternatives. Although these contain honey, that should be ok when I am out on a long ride. Any other suggestions would be most welcome.

    PS I have substituted diluted apple juice for energy rinks and have found no drop in performance / endurance which is great.


    March 2024
    M T W T F S S


Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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