Fitness, GF Recipes, Raw Foods

Raw Energy Gel (and my first marathon)

21 Comments 02 June 2012

Raw Energy Gel (and my first marathon)

You can do anything you put your mind to.  It sounds a little cliche, but there’s a lot of truth to it, especially when running a marathon.

For the past 5 months I’ve been training for a marathon.  My first marathon.  Right now I’m thinking that it will be my only marathon.  I haven’t been too vocal about it, because I wasn’t sure that I’d be successful.  I’ve run many half marathons, but 26.2 miles is a heck of a lot longer than 13.1.  Okay, mathematically I know it’s exactly twice as long, but a full marathon (or “the full” as people from a running town like Nashville call it) might have well been 4 times longer.  It just seemed unattainable.

But last weekend, the Husband and I finished the Buffalo Marathon!  And oh did it feel fantastic!  (Well, after the days of hobbling and icing.)  I now have so much respect for those who run marathons to improve their time and for those who run marathon after marathon because they love it.  I have no idea how they do it.  But I’m thrilled that we were able to finish “the full” in under 5 hours.

Even if it’s just this once.

But this is a food blog.  What does running a marathon have to do with food?


Fitness is all about food.  Without food there is no fitness.  Fitness starts with choosing the right food to fuel the work that you ask your body to do.

When I started training, I was eating a high raw diet.  While the mileage was low, I had enough energy to teach kindergarten, lead 4-5 fitness classes, and run three times each week. But when the mileage reached double digits I needed more fuel.  Carbohydrate fuel.  So I started adding brown rice, beans, quinoa, and quinoa pasta (my favorite pre-long run meal), and suddenly those long runs felt better.

Another issue I had to face was nutrition during those long runs.  In the past, I’ve used Hammer Nutrition Gels, GU Energy Gels, and Jelly Belly Sport Beans, all gluten-free products, to give me a boost when training longer than an hour.  But since eating a clean, mostly raw, vegan diet, I had a hard time with the idea of sucking down a package that contained processed ingredients.

So I made my own Raw Energy Gel, and over 5 months of training, I tweaked it until I found the perfect recipe.

This Raw Energy Gel not only took me through the training months, but more importantly, it fueled me through 26.2 miles on race day.

These are the power ingredients.

For many of my runs, a tablespoon of chia seeds was all I needed, but when the mileage increased, the sugar in agave nectar, honey, and dates did the trick.  (Read this post for more information on the power of chia seeds.)

Carob powder makes this gel taste like a Rolo.  Do you remember those?  Gooey caramel encased in chocolate.  ***Note, Chatfield’s Carob does not claim to be gluten-free.  See comments below.

Just toss the ingredients into a mini-food processor and let them sit for an hour to allow the dates to soften and the chia seeds to gel.

Then puree until it’s smooth.

I found that 1 1/2 tablespoons of gel was the perfect amount for every 5 miles.  Any more and I was too full to run.  Any less and I bonked.  Hard.  Play with the serving size to see what works for your body.

I scooped 1 1/2 tablespoons into a Ziploc Snack Bag and stored them in the fridge.

While running, I squeeze the gel into the corner of the baggie, bit off the baggie tip, and squeezed the gel right into my mouth.  Instant energy.

This recipe makes 5-6 bags of Raw Energy Gel.  Store them in the fridge, but take them out a few minutes before shoving them in your running shorts. Brrrrrr!

Raw Energy Gel

by Heather


  • 6 raw dates
  • 1/2 c. raw agave nectar/honey combination (I use 50/50, but play with the ratio to find your ideal combination.)
  • 1 T. chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 T. carob powder


1.  Place all ingredients in a mini-food processor, and let them sit for 1 hour.

2.  Process until the mixture is almost smooth. (Leaving the dates a little chunky gives you something to chew while running…a nice distraction from the running.)

3.  Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon of gel into each snack-sized baggie.

4.  Press the air out of each baggie, zip them up, and store the baggies in the fridge.

Makes five 1 ½ T. servings

Run well, run fueled, and run raw!

Readers, dish!

  • Do you have a dream goal that seems unattainable?
  • Endurance athletes, what do you eat during training?
  • What physical accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • What could you do if you put your mind to it?
This recipe was shared with:


Your Comments

21 Comments so far

  1. pdw says:

    Congrats on your first full! I just ran my first half a week ago.

  2. Maggie says:

    Yay Heather! That is amazing. How nice that you did it with your hubby too :) I love running with Pete, though I don’t think I could get him to do a marathon with me! I will try this if I decide to do a half in October! Thanks!

    • Heather says:

      Having a running partner who loves you at your worst makes all the difference! How exciting that you may have a half in your future! When I finished my first half, the first words out of my mouth were, “I can’t wait ’til next year!”

  3. Alisa says:

    Congratulations! That is a huge accomplishment. You should never hesitate to share any healthy stuff. Love the recipe – so smart!

  4. Heather,
    Congrats on the marathon.

    What brand of carob powder are you using? I’m looking for one that’s gf.

    Thanks. (By the way, my husband – also gf – went to Porta Via with a friend and loved it.)

    • Heather says:

      Thank you, Shannon!! The Chatfield’s Carob Powder that is pictured does not contain gluten ingredients, but they do make other products that contain gluten. Their website says that their manufacturing facility follows good manufacturing procedures (GMP) but they can’t guarantee that the products are 100% free from trace elements of gluten.

      BUT I did find a raw organic carob powder from Love Raw Foods that I’ll be trying next!

      Your turn for Porta Via!!!

  5. I should have noticed the photo. Sorry. I had checked into Chatfield’s before and found that it could have gluten so I must have blocked out the image :) I’ll look into the Love Raw Foods brand. Thanks.

  6. Sonia says:

    Congratulations Heather! What an accomplishment! :) You just gave me some much needed inspiration… although my story is slightly different from yours, I hope to do something similar one day (soon)…

    Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe at Sugar Free Sunday! I’m going to try it as my body has started *asking* me for more fuel! :)

    Cheers and Congratulations once again!

  7. Angela says:

    Rollo’s! Yes… They were one of my favourites. I will be trying this to see if this is true… If so, the dessert potential is enormous (I’m not the marathon type, at least not yet). Thank you! :)

  8. Luke says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS!!! I have started runing 5k soon and not sure if i will ever do marathon btu they tell me you have to have gels and am NOT INTERESTED in consuming all that crap in them (in my opinion) processed into my body,not natural or make sense to me.

    This works, though one question, do you feel dehyrated or hydrate more because i heard chia can dehyrdate you a bit, any hlpe is greatly appreciated!

    • Heather says:

      Luke, so happy you found something that might work for you! I’ve NEVER had a problem with dehydration using chia seeds. Chia seeds do absorb water, but they’re going to absorb the liquid in the gel and then keep your body hydrated. And if the Tarahumarans can run 100 miles at a time on chia and pinole, I’m sold! :) Good luck with your 5k!

      • Luke says:

        thank you so much for your response, I TRULY apprecaite it!!!

        i wnated to say as someone new to running I have foudn your videos so helpful and awesome!

        AT first i thought i wanted to mabye one day do a marathon but I learned that saying “everythign in moderation” can be key and running beyond 1 hour can be bad for your heart and other body functions.

        explains it in this video by a cardiologist

        i would really apprecaite your thoughts as not sure how open my running club is (which I like!), since their goal is fun but making money also, if anyone knows what I mean?

        I know their is even great channel on youtube called running raw but nobody in running community wants to touch this questions so far that i have found and feeling alone on this topic.

  9. Amy says:

    Congratulations on your first marathon and thanks for sharing the recipe! I just made a batch of my own gels this morning but it made a smaller batch than yours. I’m excited to try this out! GU gels have always worked great for me, but they are so expensive to buy :s Homemade gels are a healthier option AND more budget-friendly. Pinned this recipe!

  10. Jill says:

    I love this recipe! I’m doing my first half this weekend – I had made these about 2-3 weeks ago, will the gels still be ok to have? (how long do they last typically)

    Thank you again for this great recipe and congratulations on your marathon (a couple years later!)

    • Heather says:

      How exciting, Jill! I hope you have a strong run and that you feel so proud of yourself when it’s over! I’m sorry I don’t have an answer to your question about how long the raw gels last. I only make the gel when my running is high mileage, so I use it up pretty quickly. Please let me know how how long it lasted for you.

  11. Sandra says:

    Thanks for the recipe, Heather!

    I’m working on my first marathon in Toronto this coming October! I’m very excited to take that giant step (or plunge!!) in my running “career” but I think I’m more terrified then excited!!! It made me feel better to read you!

    I will try the gel tomorrow on my 14 miles long run :/ !
    I had to lick the spoon while it’s sitting in the food processor… Tastes awsome! I will be checking out your blog! :)

    • Heather says:

      How exciting, Sandra! I hope your training run goes well tomorrow. Just keep it all in perspective. It was easy for me to get overwhelmed with the miles and following my plan to the T. But I encourage you to be so proud of yourself for reaching the point where you CAN run 14 miles. Wow!! That’s incredible. Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you love how it tastes. May it fuel you well tomorrow!!


  1. Homemade sports gels - Canadian Running Magazine - 17. Jun, 2015

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A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, fitness fanatic, gluten-free foodie, high-raw vegan, and Mama Cat living in NYC. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. While I'm not 100% vegan, it's my favorite way to eat, and making and sharing raw foods makes me giddy. Living in the City has its joys and challenges, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

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