FOOD for THOUGHT – What freeze-dried food for multi-day racing?

All Food 3

Article ©Niandi Carmont

Niandi Carmont is taking on the 30th edition of the Marathon des Sables. No stranger to endurance events, Niandi regularly competes in ultras all over the world. However, it has been 10-years since she last toed the line at MDS and although an occasional freeze-dried meal has been consumed on some weekend fast-packing, eating out of a packet or packets for a whole week was going to take some getting used to! It’s a no brainer to test food in advance of a race, particularly one as expensive as MDS. You don’t want to ruin your race with poor food choices…

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Niandi had always planned to take ‘real’ food such as Billtong, Parmesan Cheese, nuts and other similar portable and high calorie foods. However, Niandi’s main meal of the day will be a freeze-dried option. The question of hot food or cold food is a dilemma that you will each need to work out. Needless to say, all these food options can be eaten with hot or cold water.

FREEZE DRIED FOOD REVIEW 

I recently discovered a great site specializing in freeze-dried foods for outdoor and endurance events. I am taking part in MDS 2015, a multi-stage self-sufficiency event and therefore I need high calorie food in lightweight packages. I contacted LYOPHILISE.COM to test 5 of the dishes on the menu!

My choice was limited to:

  • Evening meals as I will be taking some of my own favorite snacks during the day. Having said that, this site also provides breakfasts, desserts, snacks, MDS packs, drinks and so on… all for the adventure/ multi-stage and/or endurance athlete.
  • High calorie to weight ratio. I want to limit the weight of my pack to the minimum requirement of 6.5kg and so my selection was based on high calorie/ low weight foods.
  • Preferably gluten-free options.

Well after a weekend spent subjecting my palate to 5 freeze-dried haute gastronomie dishes, here’s my feedback:

Peppered Beef with Rice & Vegetables by Travellunch €4.95/€8.90

Peppered Beef

This meal comes in 2 formats. A single portion or a double portion; I really liked this dish. Very tasty and very morish, I could easily eat this as a meal replacement. The texture is great. The rice absorbs all the water and provides the dish with just the right texture – it’s not soggy, soupy or gooey like so many freeze-dried dishes. And it is seasoned with just the right amount of pepper and spices. What I like too is that all the flavorings are natural and guys, who usually need more calories, can have double portions as this dish comes in 2 formats. The dish is relatively high in carbs so perfect fuelling before the long stage especially if you consume a double portion. Or alternatively it can be used as replenishment after the long stage when you are running low on carbs. What I liked less was the packaging – Travellunch could make their packets easier to open. When you’re in a self-sufficiency event you really want something that’s easy to cut open and reseal. It’s also great value for money compared to some of the other brands at 4.45€ for a single portion. I’ll be taking 3 of these to MDS.

Peppered Beef Before

Nutritional Values:

Energy value in Kcal per 100 g (dry product) 392
Energy value per 100 g (kJ) 1651
Energy value per product (Kcal) 980
Energy value per product (kJ) 4127,5
Protein per 100 g 9.9
Protein per bag (g) 24.75
Carbohydrates per 100 g 59.6
Carbohydrates per bag (g) 149
Fats per 100 g 12.7
Fats per bag (g) 31.75

Ingredients:

Rice, tomatoes, beef (5%), roast onions, red pepper, natural flavorings

Rating:

  • Price: *****
  • Taste: *****
  • Energy/Weight ratio: ****
  • Nutritional Value: ****
  • Convenience: ***

Mild Curried Beef & Rice by Expedition Foods €8.95

Curried Beef Rice

This is another of my favorites and I’ll be taking a couple of these to MDS too! Of all the meals I tried this was definitely the tastiest. Again this is a meal I would happily eat as a meal replacement. It’s mildly spicy and although it is a curry dish it is not hot. It’s very palatable. The diced and sliced vegetables are a great little touch to this dish. The texture is great too – nothing soggy and watery or bland about this dish – with a little imagination I could be sitting in the local curry house….In comparison with the previous rice & beef dish, this one has a considerably higher fat content and is lower in carbs. The bag is really easy to open and reseal so very practical. What’s great about this dish is that you can also prepare it with cold water so if you feel like a meal during the long stage at night you can just whip this out and add some water – bear in mind that the re-hydration time will be much longer.

FullSizeRender (3)

Rating:

  • Price: **
  • Taste: ****
  • Energy/Weight ratio: *****
  • Nutritional Value: *****
  • Convenience: *****              

Nutritional Values:

Energy value in Kcal per 100 g (dry product) 532
Energy value per 100 g (kJ) 2218
Energy value per product (Kcal) 808
Energy value per product (kJ) 3372
Protein per 100 g 17
Protein per bag (g) 25,1
Carbohydrates per 100 g 41
Carbohydrates per bag (g) 61,9
Fats per 100 g 33
Fats per bag (g) 50

Ingredients:

Rice, onions, minced beef (9,5%), tomato puree, carrots, vegetable oil, green beans, potato, yoghurt, sugar, cornflour, garlic, curry powder, salt, pepper,

 

Chickpea Curry with Rice by Trek ‘n Eat €6.95

Chickpea Curry Packet

This dish was far too hot and spicy for me! I definitely can’t see myself eating this after a day’s running in the desert! It’s supposed to stand for 10 minutes to re-hydrate but I found that the chickpeas were hard and crunchy. The dish just didn’t do it for me. The lack of taste and blandness might have something to do with the fact that it is gluten-free and also very low in fat.

Chickpea

FullSizeRender (5)

Rating:

  • Price: ****
  • Taste: *  
  • Energy/Weight ratio: ***
  • Nutritional Value: ***
  • Convenience : **  

Nutritional Analysis :

Energy value in Kcal per 100 g (dry product) 334
Energy value per 100 g (kJ) 1396
Energy value per product (Kcal) 601.2
Energy value per product (kJ) 2512.8
Protein per 100 g 9.3
Protein per bag (g) 16.74
Carbohydrates per 100 g 68
Carbohydrates per bag (g) 122.4
Fats per 100 g 2.3
Fats per bag (g) 4.14

Ingredients:

52% rice, 22% chickpeas, sugar, onions, iodised table salt, spices, apple, maltodextrine, paprika, mustard, coriander, cayenne pepper.

 

Cod and Potato Casserole by Real Turmat €9.90

Cod_Potato_Packet

Bland and tasteless. Not very appetizing looking and watery/soupy even after re-hydration. Tastes very floury and more like some bad potato/fish soup rather than a casserole as the name suggests. Very good energy to weight ratio with 501cal/100g and high in both fats and carbs. Another gluten-free option but not for me.

Cod Before

Cod_Potato_Prepared

Rating:

  • Price: *     
  • Taste: *
  • Energy/Weight ratio: *****
  • Nutritional Value: ****
  • Convenience : **

Nutritional Analysis :  

Energy value in Kcal per 100 g (dry product) 501
Energy value per 100 g (kJ) 2090
Energy value per product (Kcal) 536
Energy value per product (kJ) 2230
Protein per 100 g 13
Protein per bag (g) 14
Carbohydrates per 100 g 39
Carbohydrates per bag (g) 42
Fats per 100 g 31
Fats per bag (g) 33 

Ingredients :

Potato, cod pâté 18 % (cod 88%, potato flour, salt), sour cream, green pepper, carrot, onion, wheat flour, soybean oil, fish bouillon, salt and seasoning (celery).

 

NASI GORENG WITH CHICKEN AND RICE BY TRAVELLUNCH €4.95

Nasi Goreng Packet

A gluten-free dish and of Indonesian origin. I chose this dish having eaten a lot of Nasi Goreng in the Netherlands. The dish has quite a lot of flavor but the texture is a little odd like so many freeze dried dishes. However, the apricots, sultanas and spices add a nice touch to the dish and the meal is quite flavorsome. Once again the packet is not as practical to open and reseal as other brands. It’s very high in carbs and relatively low in fats compared to some of the other dishes with a very good weight to calorie ratio. Definitely a dish to be consumed pre or post a long day.

Rating:

  • Price: ****
  • Taste: ***
  • Energy/Weight ratio: *****
  • Nutritional Value: ****
  • Convenience : **

Nutritional Analysis :        

Energy value in Kcal per 100 g (dry product) 394
Energy value per 100 g (kJ) 1662
Energy value per product (Kcal) 492
Energy value per product (kJ) 2077
Protein per 100 g 11.9
Protein per bag (g) 14.875
Carbohydrates per 100 g 60.2
Carbohydrates per bag (g) 75.25
Fats per 100 g 11.8
Fats per bag (g) 14.75

Ingredients:

Ingredients: rice, hydrogenated vegetable fat, starch partly modified, chicken (6%), apricots, shrimps (3%), whey product, maltodextrin, salt, butter powder, onions, chicken broth, sultanas, natural flavoring, herbs, spices, spice extracts. Contains: celery.

For more information on the site and to order meals online:

http://www.lyophilise.fr/

CONCLUSION

  • Lyophilise is a very comprehensive site with an impressive list of different freeze-dried brands.
  • The customer service is very friendly & professional.
  • Delivery is fast if the products are in stock.
  • There is an on-line customer service.
  • They provide gluten-free, lactose-free and vegetarian options.
  • There provide special MDS packs that offer a one-stop shopping scenario.

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2 thoughts on “FOOD for THOUGHT – What freeze-dried food for multi-day racing?

  1. Pingback: Marathon des Sables – What goes in the rucksack? | Ian Corless host of Talk Ultra podcast

  2. Pingback: The Ultimate Equipment Guide to Desert Multi-Day Racing – Hints ‘n’ Tips | iancorless.com – Photography, Writing, Talk Ultra Podcast

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