Do the shakes pictured above look like trail food? We were skeptical, too, until our new Trail Chef, Jennifer Bowen, showed us how easy they are to make.
“These shakes started as a gym drink,” Bowen says. “I soon realized they’d provide tasty nutrition on the trail too. They balance protein, carbs, and fat—and keep you hydrated.”
Step 1: Pick a protein
Bowen’s go-to is egg white powder, which adds flavorless and digestible protein and helps create a fluffy texture. Look for it in the baking aisle (“Just Whites”) or at health food stores (sometimes called “egg white protein”). Don’t eat eggs? Rice protein powder can also work.
At home: Pack 1/3 cup protein powder in a zip-top bag.
Step 2: Pick a fat
Small packets of nut butters are ideal for adding essential calories and flavor-boosting fat. You’ll want to make sure the packets are fully blended and soft before using them, so consider keeping them in your back pocket, then kneading before adding to your drink.
Step 3: Choose your fruit
Freeze-dried fruit packs big nutrition and flavor into a nearly weightless, trail-friendly format. Bowen especially likes strawberry and banana, but you could try raspberry, blueberry, apple…your imagination is the limit. TIP: Make sure your fruit is the chip-like, freeze-dried kind, not the leathery, dried variety.
At home: Grind 1/4 to 1/3 cup of freeze-dried fruit into a fine powder (use a clean coffee grinder or a food processor). Add to the zip-top bag with the protein powder.
Step 4: Add a power boost (optional)
Ground flax seed or black chia seeds each provide fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and help thicken the texture of a smoothie.
At home: If using, at 1 tsp ground flax seeds or 2 tsp black chia seeds to your zip-top bag
Step 5: Jazz it up
For a true energy boost, your smoothie should contain plenty of easy-to-digest simple carbs that will hit your bloodstream quickly—just like those found in energy gels. Instant coffee can add flavor and caffeine, while a hot chocolate packet is a great way to boost carb content and add a chocolately finish.
Key tool For optimal trail smoothies, Bowen recommends the BlenderBall wire whisk. “It weighs almost nothing, flattens for easy carrying, and banishes lumps. I also use mine for dry milk, pudding, soup packets, and sauces,” she says. It comes with a BlenderBottle ($9), or buy just a replacement whisk ($3.50; .6 oz.; blenderbottle.com).
On the trail: Drop your ball whisk into a wide-mouth bottle, add 6 cold, purified ounces water, then all ingredients. Close lid and shake vigorously for 30 to 45 seconds, until lumps are gone. Add about 6 more ounces of water and shake again until fully blended.
Shake Recipes Here are three of Bowen’s favorite combos to get you started. Invented your own? Let us know in the comments.
Vanilla Almond 1/3 cup egg white
1/4 cup freeze-dried bananas, ground
1 tsp ground flax seed
1 squeeze packet almond butter
1 Vanilla Clif shot gel
Strawberry 1/3 cup egg white powder
1 packet cashew or coconut butter
1/3 cup freeze dried strawberries, ground
2 tsp black chia seeds
1 strawberry Clif shot
gel (contains caffeine)
Mocha Cocoa Peanut Butter
1/3 cup egg white powder 1/4 cup freeze-dried
1 packet hot chocolate mix
2 tsp freeze-dried/
1 packet peanut butter
At home: Combine all non-packet ingredients in a zip-top bag. on the trail: Knead nut butter packets so they are fully blended and soft (tip: keep them in your back pocket). Drop your ball whisk (see below) into a wide-mouth bottle, add 6 ounces water, then all ingredients. Close lid and shake vigorously for 30 to 45 seconds, until lumps are gone. Add about 6 more ounces of water and shake again until fully blended.