Eat real food. Seems like advice we’ve heard before from Michael Pollan or Allen Lim. Looking into it online, it seems like Mark Bittman might be the coiner, though it seems his effort to get ERF adopted as an acronym has failed.
The principle of eating ‘real’ seems to be something in which more and more people believe. Healthier, perhaps. Even if ‘real’ is kind of an empty adjective; if it exists, it’s real. We generally agree with the idea that eating real food is better (we take it to mean less processed by machines), particularly when it comes to foods consumed on the bike, as well as pre- and post-ride.
Everyone has strong opinions on what’s good to eat on the bike. Back in the dark ages, people were eating Fig Newtons and raisins and wondering about the ham sandwiches Eddie Borysewicz. wrote about in his book. Then PowerBars arrived and everything changed.
Early PowerBars were easy, but it was clear the ‘food’ was formed paste. Nutrition, the terminology later applied, is probably the most accurate. They weren’t really food. Once the novelty wore off, eating it was mechanical, a necessity of riding long. And they were frozen solid by the cold and granular and gooey in the heat.
We’ve been moving more and more to food-like ride snacks over the years. Clif makes lots of stuff that is almost food-like in its sensations. At the same time, riding hard while consuming a Clif or Luna bar has its drawbacks. There’s plenty of chewing and swallowing.
Honey Stinger’s Stinger Waffle idea seems inspired. We went with the Honey flavor. Sixteen individually wrapped waffles come in a case. The waffle discs look like food, almost a cookie. It’s small. It’s dense. The European provenance doesn’t hurt, either.
Having had prefab Belgian waffles before as snacks, our concern was that they’d be too dry on the bike, as mediocre waffles often suffer from this malady. We unwrapped a Honey Stinger after a meal and consumed it quickly. It is indeed similar to a cookie-type snack. It’s sweet but with some substance behind it. It’s flexible without being soft or gooey. There is only a hint of dryness. Great potential.
You don’t get the sugar shock typically received when eating something like an Oreo. These waffles are something many will want as a snack, even if they’re far removed from the bike. A dessert food, something to go with coffee—the people at Honey Stinger say they warm up the waffle by placing it over a steaming cup of coffee. We digress.
If you seek precision in how many calories you pack in your pockets, a single waffle cookie is 160 calories. It has seven grams of fat, 55mg of sodium, 21g of carbohydrates, of which 15g is sugar. The ingredients include organic wheat flour, organic palm fruit oil, organic rice syrup, organic cane sugar, organic honey. The only non-organic ingredients are soy lecithin and baking soda. It is certified USDA Organic.
At 160 calories, it’s two-thirds of a Clif Bar. It’s hard to measure physical size precisely when it comes to food, but it seems that two waffles packs into the same space as a single Clif. In terms of weight, two waffles weigh in at 68g including packaging where a Clif is 75g including packaging. And that’s 80 more calories that weigh less and fit in the same space.
On the bike, the waffles can sit, sealed, in a pocket on a long, sweaty ride. And neither the contents of our pockets, nor the movement of our back seemed to damage the waffles in any way. The packaging is a bit harder to manipulate than others we’ve used. There isn’t a ‘tear here’ marking or any spot that is expressly designed for easing the opening process. At first, we had trouble getting the packaging open. Trying to tear from the top is not so easy. Eventually, we asked the people at Honey Stinger. They suggest bending up the seam in back and then tearing downwards along the seam. Definitely not as easy as it should be.
But, once opened, the first bite is delicious. For riding food. It is also easy to chew. There is no need for excessive jaw work when eating waffles. Swallowing is also pretty easy, even with a dry mouth. We didn’t find ourselves having to drink too much water before or after eating.
On a slow ride, everything is pretty easy to eat, whenever you like. Fast rides are different. The difficulties of packaging aside, we had no problem downing one of these after a hard hill climb or in the midst of riding a high tempo. We started experimenting with them mid-spring, so we’ve had few chances to try them on broiling hot days and no chances on cold days. But for what most of us consider good riding weather, the waffles were a treat.
Typing these words with the box of waffles by our side, it’s tempting to snack on one. But we’re holding off so we can keep them for the road. Honey Stinger Waffles are staying in the bike food mix. Time to start trying new flavors.