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“Don’t try to drive on an empty tank of gas.” This essential advice is something I remind my FFC members of all the time. When I teach Motiv8 at 6 AM, I’m pushing you to dig deep and give 100% in your workout. In order to get stronger, you have to train hard. You have to push your body through discomfort. How can you expect to do that on an empty stomach? Whether you’re training first thing in the morning, or right after work, it’s crucial to fuel up pre-workout. Running on an empty tank of gas will leave you tired and can increase your likelihood for injury. What you fuel up with is just as important to give you sustained energy. Check out this insanely easy recipe for peanut butter and jelly oat bites – one of my favorite go-to pre-workout snacks.

The classic combination of PB & J takes us all back to the memories of childhood (but dried currants and all-natural ingredients keep the recipe mature enough for adults). I throw just a few ingredients into my food processor and roll up a batch. Not only are these great pre-workout snacks that are gluten-free, vegan options, they’re also 100% plant-based and have tons of nutritional benefits!

Some of these benefits include:

  • Whole grain oats are naturally gluten-free, providing vegan protein and fiber for long-term energy.
  • Natural roasted peanut butter adds some fat to give you long-lasting satiety.
  • Dried currants provide natural sweetness for an energy boost that won’t leave you dragging in an hour.
  • A dash of cinnamon does double-duty, providing interesting flavor and acts as an anti-inflammatory food (read more about controlling inflammatory foods here!)

One of the best parts? I’ll make a batch of these and keep them in the freezer – and any time I might need a quick energy bite, (or some pre-workout snacks) I throw a few in my bag! They work in the morning before I teach class, in the afternoon when I am craving something sweet, and even on long trips when I’m stuck in an airport. I even make them as a personal chef for my clients who pack them in their kids’ lunch boxes!

Related: want to set up a free 30-minute nutrition consultation with one of our on-site registered dietitians? Click here!

Try This Recipe: PB & J Oat Bite Pre-Workout Snacks

  • Level: easy
  • Servings 10 – yields 20 “bites”
  • Ready in: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free oats for 100% gluten-free treats)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (preferably with no added sugars or oils)
  • 1 1/4 cup dried Zante currants
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or adjust, depending on salt in peanut butter)
  • 2 – 4 tbsp warm water

Related: speaking of energy – check out this easy peasy 5 minute Asian noodle bowl for the next time you’re craving take-out!

Pre-workout snacks - try these easy PB & J Oat Bites!

Directions

Gather ingredients. Place the oats in your food processor. Puree oats until well-chopped, resembling shredded coconut. Remove from food processor and pour into a medium bowl.

Add the peanut butter, currants, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to the food processor. Puree peanut butter mixture until currants are chopped and everything is well-combined.

Add shredded oats back to the food processor. Puree. Add 2-4 tablespoons warm water, until mixture binds together. Continue to puree until mixture naturally clumps into a large ball. Add a tablespoon of water at a time until this consistency is reached.

Remove mixture from the food processor into a medium bowl. Roll about 1 tablespoon of batter into a two-bite ball. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week or freeze for longer.

Chef’s Tip: for a peanut-free alternative, try it with almond butter or sunflower seed butter. These are perfect fuel for traveling through airports or training for marathons! Want to see a step-by-step? Check out the full preparation video here!

Nutrition Info

Serving size: 1/10 of a recipe (about 2 bites).

Amount Per Serving

  • Calories 219.71
  • Calories From Fat (31%) 68.31

% Daily Value

  • Total Fat 8.17g 13%
  • Saturated Fat 1.65g 8%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 177.46mg 7%
  • Potassium 346.45mg 10%
  • Total Carbohydrates 31.63g 11%
  • Fiber 4.62g 18%
  • Sugar 13.36g
  • Protein 7.93g 16%
  • Calcium 0.86mg <1%
  • Iron 36.39mg 202%
  • Vitamin A 13.91IU <1%
  • Vitamin C 0.04mg <1%

Post written by FFC Boystown group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC Boystown and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com.

 

I recently joined the Fitness Formula Clubs team as a group fitness instructor at FFC Boystown. While walking into FFC for my audition prior to starting classes, a memory of how I began my journey to following a plant-based diet was sparked from when I first entered this industry.

15 years ago, after earning my AFAA certification, I dove head-first into the world of teaching. Some days would go from 6 AM until 10 PM, teaching 4 or 5 classes a day. I was teaching all kinds of formats, all over the city, working to supplement my unpaid passion for theatre and dance.

On top of the 20 hours a week I spent teaching classes, the hours of dance rehearsals for shows, and the personal training I’d do in between, a compulsion drove me to do more.

I would be on the elliptical machine for an hour before teaching a double, just to make sure I burned my magic calorie goal that day. I’d push myself to run 6 to 10 miles, even before the gym opened at 5 AM. I never took a day off.

Then, I got injured; plantar fasciitis in my heel and tendonitis in my knee. I was beating my body into the ground.

But I was also overweight. My obsessive workout routine was only to compensate for the food addiction binges I’d have. I could tear through 3 bowls of cereal and 2 “energy” bars before noon. I thought running two Chicago marathons and lifting 5 days a week would solve everything. My disappointment with my fat stomach and chubby legs had one solution: add more exercise.

Time for a lifestyle change - to a plant-based dietTime for a Lifestyle Change

It wasn’t until I changed my diet that I started to lose weight and have more energy. My plant-based journey began with a “vegan challenge” – I’d eat plant-based and oil-free for 30 days.

I wasn’t ready to make a full plant-based change after that first month. Yet I couldn’t deny the effects it had on my body. I had lost weight, I was sleeping better, I didn’t feel bloated, and I had more overall energy.

In the 6 years since that “challenge”, I now fully embrace a plant-based diet. I’ve cut my addiction to refined sugar, oil, and flour. I’ve let go of dairy. I’ve discovered oats, beans, and red rice to be more flavorful and satisfying than poached eggs or roasted chicken breast.  

In the 15 years since I first entered the fitness industry, I’m now 50 pounds lighter, lifting heavier weights than ever. I can cruise at an 8:00/mile pace for a 10K, and I’ve learned how to balance my high-intensity interval training with slow, mindful yoga.

The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Eating plant-based, my body has been able to reset itself – feeling satisfied and nourished with a healthy amount of fiber, complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. I still crave carbs when I need more energy, but now I hunger for bananas and grapes over energy bars.

Related: ever thought about adding seaweed to your diet? Here’s why you should!

I thirst for watermelon to re-hydrate after a 90-degree 7-mile run. I dive into a bowl of lentils after heavy strength workouts. My recovery meals are full of delicious plant-based energy. I have let go of the refined flours, oils, and sugars – also letting go of my addiction to these foods. I feel like such a different body, with such a different emotional mind.

I feel joyful and lucky that fitness has always been a part of my life. I am equally grateful to have discovered the drastic impact a plant-based diet has had on my body. I look forward to sharing my passion for fitness with the FFC family. And I welcome any skeptics of a vegan diet to take my classes and see how strong plants can be!

Post written by FFC Boystown Group Fitness Instructor Katie Simmons.

Related: want to try a nutrition session at FFC for free? Click here!

 

Katie Simmons group fitness instructor at FFC Chicago plant-based diet

About Katie Simmons

Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC Halsted Street and a personal chef based in Chicago. When she’s not teaching, she specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com

Outside of the kitchen, she is a fitness instructor, with over 15 years of experience in the industry. For fun, she loves to travel. Some of her favorite trips include week of Holi Festival and Curry in Northern India, 4 nights hiking and camping on the Incan Trail in Peru, 10 days of trekking in the Patagonia of Argentina and Chile, and 5 months backpacking through New Zealand.