Alright…I know it seems a bit dated.  I mean, who DIDN’T throw some peanuts, raisins and M and M’s in a bag and call it scrumdiddly-umptious when they were a kid?  But if there’s anything that derby girls can benefit from, it’s getting back to basics.  And honestly–at the risk of sounding downright boring–gorp is about as basic as you can get. But stifle those yawns…because with a little ingenuity you can make a tasty treat that gives you TONS of energy, and yet doesn’t leave you with a gut-ache.

So, the first mission is to secure the ingredients. I like to peruse the bulk bins in any well-stocked grocery store, or you can hit up your local health food store that is more likely to have not only fresher but also organic tasties to throw into your mix. (Health food stores will also probably have some dried fruit options that don’t contain extra sugar, like the fruit you will find in a regular grocery store.) I’m sure lots of you have made gorp before, but this is your chance to go wild. Get creative. Think beyond the “good old raisins and peanuts” and go for the nutritional gold. When choosing your ingredients, pick stuff you know you like (so you’ll eat it), but don’t be afraid to try new stuff, also. Like cashews? Perfect. Never thought of macadamia nuts? Throw a few in. How about dried cherries or blueberries? Packed full of antioxidants and super good for you. The bonus to buying bulk is you can get a lot of the less expensive “filler” ingredients (think peanuts or cashew pieces) and only get a little bit of the things that are a little more expensive or that you’re not sure about.

And the M and M’s you remember so well? (Yes, I know…they’re the best part.) While if you’re trying to keep it healthy, you might want to skip the M and M’s, you can try including dark chocolate chips, or maybe carob chips, if that’s more your style. Truth be told, I’ve been known to throw a high-quality dark chocolate bar in the grocery basket and then crumble it up into itty bitty pieces for my gorp…and here’s another incentive: not only does dark chocolate have antioxidants (I don’t think this is a secret to most women at this point), but when you combine chocolate with berries (you know, the dried blueberries you were going to throw in there?), you TRIPLE the amount of antioxidants you get from the berries. True story. As if you needed another reason to eat chocolate…

The really great thing about making your own mix as opposed to just buying trail mix off the shelf is that you can use quality ingredients and make as much or as little as you want. It can get a little spendy buying a bunch of different ingredients, so you can also just keep it simple with 2-3 things that pack a punch. I like to make a good-sized batch and then throw a quart zip-loc full of the stuff into my skate bag or backpack; with a few handfuls I know that I am getting all the good fats and omega-3’s from the nuts, a few servings of fruit from the mango/papaya/etc I’ve thrown in, and antioxidants from the berries I’ve included. All this and some mean calories to burn during endurance practice.

So, I’ve included a few ideas for ingredients, but by no means should you limit yourself. There are all kinds of crazy dried fruit out there that you could try…or whatever. I’d love to hear about cool and unusual inclusions. Kiwifruit, strawberries, organic coconut, whatever…really, there are no boundaries.

See you on the track!

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