Oat, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Energy Balls

Oats, peanut butter, flaxseed meal, protein powder, honey and chocolate chips.

Makes 11 energy balls

My goal in creating these delicious morsels, was to include mostly nutritious food with a little chocolate to make them tempting.

Being that they are calorically dense, these little bites provide compact calories, carbs and a little protein to fuel the long-distance hiker or runner, backpacker, snowshoer, cross-country skier or mountain climber. Eat two of these an hour for the recommended amount of carbohydrate.

Oats contain the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which helps slow digestion, increase satiety, and suppress appetite. Beta glucan is linked to improving cholesterol levels and boosting heart health.

Oats also contain polyphenols that act as antioxidants to reduce the damaging effects of chronic inflammation that is associated with various diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes

Flaxseed contains the polyphenol lignan which has several properties including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antitumor activities.

½ cup old fashion rolled oats

3 Tbsp flaxseed meal

¼ cup chocolate chips, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp chocolate protein powder

¼ cup crunchy or creamy peanut butter

3 Tbsp honey

Mix the oats, flaxseed meal, chocolate chips and chocolate protein powder together in a medium sized bowl.

In another medium sized bowl, mix the peanut butter and honey together.

Pour the oats mixture into the peanut butter and honey mixture and mix well to combine.

Wash and dry your hands.

Using a 1 Tbsp measure, scoop out a level 1 Tbsp of the mixture and with your clean hands roll into a ball. These will keep well covered and stored in the refrigerator for a week or wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts
Servings 11.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 119
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5 g 8 %
Saturated Fat 2 g 8 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 3 mg 1 %
Sodium 28 mg 1 %
Potassium 18 mg 1 %
Total Carbohydrate 15 g 5 %
Dietary Fiber 2 g 8 %
Sugars 8 g
Protein 4 g 8 %
Vitamin A 0 %
Vitamin C 0 %
Calcium 1 %
Iron 3 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
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What Food Should I Take Mountaineering on Summit Day?

Dried cranberries, walnuts, chocolate covered espresso beans, dates, Cheetos and dried mango offer a smorgasbord to the high altitude athlete.



What’s the best food to eat on high altitude treks, climbs or expeditions?

Perceived exercise effort is increased at altitude. There is a real decrease in exercise capacity above 5000 feet elevation (1) and exercise just feels harder. To make matters worse, usually sleep is compromised at high altitude as well. Eating enough calories and drinking enough can help you feel better.

On climb day, ascending to high altitude can cause a lack of appetite. So pack whatever food tastes the best to you and will be something you will want to eat regularly. During the climb at altitude the focus is on consuming enough calories, carbohydrates and fluids. As you ascend, eat often, and eat snacks that will maintain your glycogen levels to use as fuel.

During your training the food you eat in your meals and training sessions should be nutritious and antioxidant rich to promote recovery and performance. I recommend real foods.

Experiment During Training

To determine which foods fuel your body best, try different items on various training hikes to see how your body feels after consuming each snack. Also, keep in mind that some foods can cause GI upset. So this is best discovered before climb day.

Just Eat!

Climbing a mountain burns calories. Lots of them! Rising stress hormone levels place a higher demand for fuel on your body. As calorie needs increase, athletes need to add to their caloric intake.

Eat Carbohydrates

Moderately increasing carbohydrate intake is key in replacing glycogen stores in your body when climbing and compensating for the increased caloric demand at altitude.


Altitude makes water loss worse because at altitude you will breathe faster and more deeply. This is because the higher the altitude the lower the air pressure, so you take more breaths for the same amount of oxygen. This extra breathing leads to fluid losses. If you aren’t staying on top of your intake, dehydration may sneak up, and leave you feeling light-headed and nauseated.

When you are over 10,000 feet elevation drink 1 to 1.5 liters of water daily 3 to 5 liters of water plus 200-300 grams of carbohydrate. Monitor your urine color. It should be a light yellow. Sports beverage powder packs easily in a small ziplock bag to add to a water bottle.

Recommended sports beverages:

Gatorade Endurance, carbs

Fluid Performance Natural, carbs

Gatorade Thirst Quencher, carbs

GU Hydration Drink, carbs

Hammer HEED, carbs

Accelerade, carbs and whey protein

Powerbar Recovery, carbs and whey protein

Food Packing Considerations

When packing food for your upcoming climb it’s important to consider a few variables: calorie density, weight, durability, and enjoyment.

Food is important. Plan out your meals and snacks, pack them as well as you can in a way that will make them easy to eat on the upper mountain when you are cold and tired. Some foods come in a convenient packaging and others will need to be repacked in a Ziploc.

For day one, you can bring some fresh foods: meat sandwich, pita and cheese, string cheese, hardboiled eggs, fruit, carrot sticks, orange slices, broccoli, for instance. For perishable food, it is advisable not to keep them above 41F for longer than 2 hours.  Food-borne bacteria can multiply rapidly especially so in over 70F. It is better to be safe than sorry. Having the “runs” in the mountains would be a nightmare.

You can make a disposable ice pack by filling a sandwich size zip lock with water, squeeze the air out then put it in another zip lock bag and freeze.

Below are a few tips to consider:

  • Bring a variety of foods that you like.
  • Bring a mix of sweet, salty and savory.
  • Bring a mix of protein, quick burn and slow burn carbs.
  • Things get beat up in a backpack so consider durability (think bagels vs. bread and thick pretzels vs. thin ones).
  • Bring food you know and like and have experimented with on your training hikes.
  • Remember extra food is far better than not enough, but not too much. Food is heavy! That’s why it takes some careful planning so your pack isn’t too heavy.
  • Think about bringing no more than a pound per day.
  • You can and should eat every time you stop for a break. On a typical 3 day climb of Mt. Rainier, I recommend bringing about sixteen 200-400 calorie snacks (that gives you a little extra).
  • Keep some small snacks like cut up mangos, nuts, protein bars cut into bite-size in your pockets so they are easily accessible when you take a break. Keep bars that freeze in your inner coat pockets to keep them warm.
  • Test the food you are taking when it’s frozen to see if it’s still edible.

Food Suggestion Ideas:

Here are some foods to keep you powered up on your high altitude climb:

  1. Wehrlin JP, Hallén J. Linear decrease in .VO2max and performance with increasing altitude in endurance athletes. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Mar;96(4):404-12. doi: 10.1007/s00421-005-0081-9. Epub 2005 Nov 26. PMID: 16311764.
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Italian Vegetable Soup

Italian Vegetable soup with freshly grated parmesan.

Italian Vegetable Soup    Serves 4

This soup resembles a vegetable and bean minestrone but without the pasta typically used in a minestrone.

But I promise you won’t miss the pasta. There is so much flavor and texture from all the diced vegetables, herbs and beans. And for even more flavor, garnish each serving with freshly grated parmesan.

One of the most important ingredients in a minestrone is beans. In this recipe I use canned beans for the convenience. But feel free to prepare dried beans and then use those in the soup. In Italy, for genuine minestrone, the borlotti beans are the beans to use. The borlotti bean is a variety of common bean first bred in Colombia as the Cargamanto bean, which you can buy here on Amazon: cargamanto. It is also known as the cranberry bean that you can buy here on Amazon: cranberry bean

The vegetables for minestrone should be diced. Dicing is similar to chopping, except dicing is always finely chopped, consistent in size, and neat in appearance. It’s the precision of the cut that distinguishes dicing from chopping. My dicing skills (and patience) aren’t great so I resort to using this vegetable chopper tool. The chopper works best if you cut the vegetables into pieces and then put the pieces in it.Look how beautiful these vegetables are!

Minestrone is historically made with whatever fresh vegetables that an Italian cook happened to have on hand so feel free to experiment with your own vegetables additions. I recently found myself without the celery and zucchini in this recipe. Instead, I chopped some green cabbage and it was delicious.

If you want to reduce the amount of sodium, use reduced-sodium broth and canned tomatoes and omit the parmesan.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leave

1/2 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 small zucchini, diced

32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes and its juice

1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium canellini beans, black or pinto beans

3 cups chopped baby spinach leaves

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional

  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. If your vegetables are diced to bigger than a 1/4 inch dice, cook a little longer until the vegetables are tender.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, in a small bowl mash half of the beans with the back of a spoon, and set aside.
  4. Add the zucchini, broth and tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes.
  5. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes more.
  6. Serve topped with Parmesan, if desired.
    Nutrition Facts
    Servings 4.0
    Amount Per Serving
    calories 265
    % Daily Value *
    Total Fat 6 g 9 %
    Saturated Fat 0 g 2 %
    Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
    Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
    Trans Fat 0 g
    Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
    Sodium 1397 mg 58 %
    Potassium 1120 mg 32 %
    Total Carbohydrate 36 g 12 %
    Dietary Fiber 11 g 46 %
    Sugars 11 g
    Protein 15 g 30 %
    Vitamin A 119 %
    Vitamin C 57 %
    Calcium 36 %
    Iron 27 %
    * The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
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