Dirtbag Runners Recipes: Dragon-Energy-Ball-Z Recipe by Emily Nagle

  My recipes are made for people who love and need carbs. They will attempt to add as many calories and healthy fats into the…

The perfect long-run snack!


My recipes are made for people who love and need carbs. They will attempt to add as many calories and healthy fats into the smallest amount of food possible for people who are planning on running 20 miles this weekend for fun.
I’m not a nutritionist or a professional athlete. I run, do yoga, and eat a lot but I am not delusional in thinking that qualifies me to give advice. I shared these with friends who also do those activities and they seemed to like them. So I figured I’d share with you. Take it for what it’s worth.

Story time:

I’ll admit, I eat healthy. Honestly it’s not really by choice. I would gladly go down on a tub of ice cream or eat an entire box of eurocream cookies in one sitting. Occasionally I do. Mostly I eat healthy because I have to. For three reasons:

  1. After a while my body can tell the difference between nutrients and empty calories.
  2. I live on a strict budget so what I buy has to count.
  3. Good food is delicious.


The other weekend I was sitting in my kitchen with a friend of mine. We were snarling and shoving food in our faces before heading off for a run in Matka Canyon. Egg yolk dripping from our chins and bits of potato clinging to our hair we realized we have a common pet peeve–people assuming we run to be thin, rather than running because of the pure animalistic joy it brings us. (I’m curious, do guys have the same issue?)

I love food. Everything there is to do with it, cooking it, looking at it, smelling it. devouring it. I’m not picky. I’ll eat almost anything. Most of us are aware that what we put in our body matters. I’m aware that after mile 20 I will eat anything in sight and as fast as possible. I know that GMO’s and pesticides exist. Yes I consume them regularly. While I would love to have the money to spend on all organic food, that’s just not my reality at the moment. And I’m pretty sure if I asked for organic blah-di-blah in some of the places I’ve been they’d give me weirder looks than they already do.

Seems like a no-brainer, but depending on where you are, foods you might normally rely on as go-to running snacks might not be around (bye-bye Clif bars). Healthy, prepared foods are hard to come by in Macedonia, and when traveling I don’t want to spend my time cooking when I could be hitting up trails or running through castles. I’ve had to learn to make some of my own snacks for the trail or fast meals that meet my requirements of being tasty, healthy, affordable, and traveler friendly.

Not-pro tip: Make sure to not follow the recipes exactly and instead put in ingredients that you like. People always ask me ‘how much should I put in?’ I don’t really know. For those type A people out there I tried to add measurements, but mostly they are lies. Don’t worry too much about measuring, instead put on some music, throw some shit in a bowl, and mix it around. This recipe is more about consistency, personal taste, and diet. Also, I mess everything up the first 3 times I do it (my co-workers can testify), so feel free to fail and add your salty tears to the mixture.

I’ve tried to make a few different energy bars with varying amounts of success. Most call for a food processor. I spent my kitchen appliance money on a train ticket to Budapest, so I’ve found ways to work around not having one (apparently it’s called a “fork” I don’t think it will catch on).

Ingredients: I’ve chosen these because they are easy to come by in the Balkans.

  • 1/2-1 Cups Dates (I’m free most Saturdays) pitted and mashed
  • 1/2-1 C Chocolate hazelnut spread, peanut butter (or both)
  • 1/3 C Honey
  • Sploosh of Vanilla abstract

Mix those all into brown, sticky mass, then add:

  • 1/2 C Seeds (total): chia, sesame, flax, bird, pumpkin–the more the merrier.
  • 1/2 C nuts, whatever kind you want, chopped as fine as you have the time for. I like walnut, hazelnuts, or almonds.
  • 1-1 1/2 Cups Granola (I found ground up granola which is great for this).
  • Salt
  • Extras: Wheat germ, bulgar wheat, protein power, shredded coconut, dried fruit, ground coffee, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg

Mix everything together. I use my hands, but if you are more civilized than I, a fork also works. Put it in the fridge for an hour until it stiffens a bit. Pretend you are charging your lightening powers while forming them into balls (sound affects make them tastier). Personally I like things in square shapes so I flatten it out and cut it. If you love snickerdoodle cookies like I do, combine cinnamon, sugar, cocoa power and roll the balls into the mix.

  • Note on maintaining consistency: whatever you decide to add make sure you balance it out with your liquids/emulsifiers. If I add wheat germ I usually subtract from the granola or add more dates (I’m free most Fridays as well…). If you want more ideas I looked at these recipes and then put together the above since it was what I had in my kitchen at the time.