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This story originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of our print edition.
Although some might consider bacon a guilty pleasure, others consider it a way of life. We are in the latter camp—this salty and delicious meat can be an excellent source of fuel for climbers. Throw it in with energy-filled nut butter and some carbohydrate-rich rice, and you’ve got Bacon Nut Butter Bars that will keep your motor running clean all day. The mad scientists at Skratch Labs created this recipe with plenty of fat to keep you feeling full and fueled, protein for sustained energy and muscle recovery, and simple carbs for a quick pep in your step. Plus, cooked rice makes these snacks easy to digest, and the customizable shape and size are unsurpassed for pocket portability. Rice also contains tons of climber-friendly vitamins and minerals like iron, niacin, and fiber, which promote heart health, immune system efficiency, and a happy digestive system. Together it makes for tasty, homemade, nourishing fuel you can eat on the wall, as well as another excuse to eat bacon—if you needed one in the first place.
- 3 to 4 cups of rice, cooked
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 5 to 6 strips of bacon
- 1/2 cup smooth nut butter
- 2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
- Cook the rice on the stove or in a rice cooker.
- Cook bacon, let cool, and chop into small pieces.
- Put Bragg’s, rice-wine vinegar, and maple syrup in a mixing bowl with the rice. Mix until the rice is evenly coated.
- Use a spatula or rice paddle to spread two cups of the rice across a 9” x 9” pan, making a layer less than 1” thick.
- Spread a thin layer of nut butter over the rice. Using smooth nut butter instead of crunchy makes it easier to spread.
- Sprinkle bacon pieces on top of the nut butter.
- Smush the remaining rice on top and store in the fridge. Cut into small squares and wrap with foil for on-the-go fuel.
Nutrition Facts per serving (1/10 of total amount)
Energy: 250 cal • Carbs: 52g • Fat 32g • Protein: 6.6g
Customize your bars with a few easy changes
- Can’t eat pork or don’t like bacon? Try turkey bacon! This lean- er version has fewer calories and less fat than traditional bacon without sacrificing too much protein. However, keep in mind that turkey bacon can sometimes contain more sodium, which you’ll want to watch out for if you are on a low-sodium diet.
- Vegetarian option: fake or vegetarian bacon, also known as fakon. One trade-off from losing the meat is that fakon doesn’t have the same nutrients as pork bacon, missing things like niacin and selenium. Because it’s typically made of a combination of soy and eggs, fakon is still a great source of protein.
- Brown rice will up the fiber content while reducing calories and total carbs, but it won’t stick together as well, meaning your bars might be less portable and more crumbly.
- If you’re on the road and don’t have a pan, just combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Form small balls or bars from the all-in-one mixture.
In the Name of Bacon
Many climbers love bacon as much as climbing itself, so much so that a quick search on Mountain Project reveals a few dozen routes named in tribute to these cured pork strips. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Bacon Breath (5.8)
Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin
- The Baconator (5.10b)
Joshua Tree, California
- Mmmm Bacon (V1+)
Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
- Turkey Bacon (5.11c)
Jemez Valley, New Mexico
- I Smell Bacon! (5.10c)
- Jr. Bacon Chossburger (5.10b/c)
Reed’s Bluff, Missouri