The Great Pinole Experiment

I’ve been experimenting with pinole, the cornmeal-based food used by the Tarahumara of Mexico, who use it fuel their incredibly long runs. (The Taramuhara’s story is told, of course, in Christopher McDougall‘s book “Born to Run.”) My goal is to make pinole biscuits that are the consistency of commercial energy bars, so I can carry them on long training runs and ultra races. That way, I’ll have access to a sensible and natural source of carbohydrates for the long haul.

So the Great Pinole Experiment begins!

Version 1.0 was a very basic mix of cornmeal (toasted in a skillet until it was light brown, about five minutes), honey, cinnamon, and water. I baked the resulting paste for about 10 minutes, and got a few cookies out of the process. They tasted pretty the way I thought they would – quite good, in fact. But they were a little dry and crumbly, not at all appropriate for carrying in a pocket.

Version 1.5, which I made last night, was the same, with the addition of a couple of dollops of peanut butter. I also baked the mixture for 15 minutes rather than 10. The result? A thicker, more solid, good-tasting peanut butter-cornmeal biscuit. Still not solid enough for pocket-carrying, but definitely a step towards that.

So far, I’ve got something that’s natural and tastes good, is inexpensive and easy to make, is organic and non-GMO, and has a medium glycemic index. (If I used agave nectar rather than honey, I could lower the glycemic index.) Not sure how to make the consistency what I want, though. Not yet, anyway.

Stay tuned for Version 2.0!

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  1. Right on. Thanks for the quick response.

    Would you be willing to share your home brew energy bar recipes, too?


  2. Alan:

    Have you perfected this yet? I’ve just finished reading “Born to Run” and am very interested in doing the same thing you describe above. I’m wondering if you’ve worked out the consistency issue with a new version.

    Thanks and happy running!


    1. No, I haven’t worked on it anymore. The current version is a little dry, but OK as long as you something to drink with it. But that’s true of my home-brew energy bars too…

  3. That’s a great idea! I’ve been experimenting too, but so far just mixing the masa harina with water and cinnamon and sugar or agave. I’ve also cooked it for a breakfast cereal, but its not portable that way. The biscuit idea is great!

    How did you find organic non-GMO masa harina? Or is that what you use?
    I’ve only found non-GMO masa harina from Bob’s Redmill. I can’t find any organic!


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