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The Best Cycling Snacks You Can Eat: DIY Rice Cakes

I’ve had a few unfortunate bonks in my cycling journey, and it isn’t something I would wish on anyone. It’s this fuzzy feeling of confusion and tiredness, at least in my case. I feel like I’m pedaling hard but just getting slower and slower, all the while making decisions and reacting appropriately to the terrain and traffic gets harder and harder. 

Bonking can come from not eating enough on your ride or even from not drinking enough! But we all know that fueling right can be challenging, especially when you are going hard. You need something easy to digest, high in carbs, tasty, and easy to get down. 

I personally don’t like hard, chewy things when I’m riding hard. Cliff Bloks are tasty and great for carb replacement, but they’re just too darn chewy to me (especially when I’m sucking wind!). Too many gels too soon in your ride can equal stomach upset, too. So what’s the solution? 

For me, it’s rice cakes. 

No, I’m not talking about your mother’s dry, crispy bits of rice baked into a circle (although they would work if you like them!). I’m talking about soft, delicious rice cakes with cream cheese and whatever fixings you enjoy. 

My favorite rice cakes are made with strawberry jelly, but if you prefer savory to sweet, then maple bacon rice cakes are pretty amazing, too. 

Why Make Rice Cakes

If you’re wondering why rice cakes are worth the trouble- let’s talk about it!

  • Rice cakes are easy to make. If you have a rice cooker, making them is easier than baking a cake! And you can put in any flavors that you enjoy eating.
  • Rice cakes are easy to pack. They’re small enough to wrap up in wax paper and stick in your pocket.
  • Rice cakes are cost effective. Gels and gas can run anywhere from $1 to $3 each, but you can make an entire batch of about 20 servings for less than $10, making them about .50 or less each! Maybe it doesn’t sound like a lot, but over the course of a 4 hour ride, it can add up fast.
  • Rice cakes give your palate a break from traditional bike snacks.
  • Rice cakes are easy to eat and easy on your stomach.

 You can find great recipes for. Rice cakes and more in the Feed Zone Cookbook and GCN’s The Cyclist’s Cookbook. (Get more book recommendations here!)

Here’s my version of a rice cake recipe and step-by-step instructions. It’s easy and delicious! 

Keep in mind that these are not a diet food! However, training needs fueling, so if you’re on the bike, eat up! Save the dieting for later. 

Rice Cake Recipe

2 ¼ cups white short-grain rice (uncooked)

2 ½ cups full-fat cream cheese 

2 TB sugar 

2 TB melted coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract 

Strawberry jelly

Rice Cake Directions

Make your rice according to the directions. I just plop pre-measured amounts of rice and water into my grain cooker along with the sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. I gave it a little stir and hit go. 

Let the rice cool until it’s cool enough to handle (but still warm). 

Put in your other ingredients and stir them by hand. 

Once mixed, put it all into a gallon ziplock bag. Flatten out the bag so it makes a nicely shaped rectangle of rice mixture. You can make it as thick or thin as you like. Alternatively, you could use a wax paper-lined casserole dish or anything else that is easy to get the rice cakes out of. 

Put it in the refrigerator so it hardens up a little bit. 

Cut open the bag and cut your rice cakes into serving-size pieces. 

Individually wrap each one in a layer of wax paper and then tin foil. Personally, I like to put them into small sandwich Ziplock bags.

Keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. 

How Many Rice Cakes Should You Eat

This recipe should make about 20 rice cakes, depending on how big or small you make them. Each rice cake will give you approximately 22g of carbohydrates and 170 calories. Depending on how hard you are going, you may want to take in up to 90 carbs in an hour. I would aim for 2 rice cakes and some Gatorade Endurance to make up the 90 carbs. Adding other fixings, such as jelly, bacon, or whatever, will change the nutritional value slightly. I don’t worry about getting too specific about carbs and calories – I just try to keep my intake steady. 

Tips and Tricks for Making Rice Cakes

If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can make the rice in a pot on the stove according to the directions and then mix in all of the ingredients afterwards. I used pudding rice for this particular recipe, but I’ve also made rice cakes with just regular old rice, too! It will change the texture a little bit, but your rice cakes will still be perfectly delicious no matter what kind of rice. 

I don’t think rice cakes freeze well, and rice shouldn’t be kept for about 5 days. So you may want to cut the recipe in half or ¼ if you won’t be using up all of your rice cakes in that time period. 

I find that they can get a little warm and squishy during a long, hot ride, so I prefer the Ziplock bags rather than tinfoil. This way, if they get a little squishy, I can still eat them from the bag without getting all sticky. You can also buy small wax paper bags to put your individual servings in.

I also find that I like milder, sweeter flavors when its hot outside (for example, just a hint of strawberry jam). But when it’s cold, I prefer things a little more flavorful and savory. 

On-the-bike nutrition, just like off-the-bike nutrition, is very personal. A little trial and error will help you figure out what works so you can have a strong and safe ride. 

What if rice cakes aren’t for you? 

I don’t always have time to whip up a batch of rice cakes before a ride. So I have a few other go-to snacks up my sleeve, er – in my jersey pocket – that I grab in a rush. 

  • Fig Newtons. 2 fig newtons are 100 calories and about 21 g of carbs
  • Rice Crispy Treat – 1 individually wrapped treat is 90 calories and 17g of carbs 
  • Uncrustables – 1 Uncrstable is 210 calories and 28g of carbs 
  • Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie – 330 calories and 52g of carbs 

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