Ride-Ready Granola-Rice Bar Recipe from Renowned Chef Matthew Accarrino


I love cycling and I love really good food, so there’s perhaps nothing I enjoy more than an opportunity to combine the two. It’s been great getting to know chef and restaurateur Matthew Accarrino because he is so passionate about both food and sport, and his food is incredible! Matthew is the chef at SPQR in San Francisco, CA, which was recognized with a Michelin star starting in 2013. Accarrino is also a 3-time James Beard Award nominee and he’s been featured in a long line of “best chef” lists. All of this is prelude to telling you that the Granola-Rice Bar recipe included below is something you absolutely have to try!

I’m looking forward to riding with Matthew and for the first few days of the Amgen Tour of California Race Experience, which starts on Sunday. Though he can’t stay for the entire race experience, stay tuned to trainright.com and our social media channels for photos and videos from ATOC throughout the week.

In addition to contributing a great recipe to this blog, Matthew provided the following interview about how cycling and cooking intersect and influence each other in his life. There’s some really interesting stuff below about balancing career and sport, Matthew’s go-to “I’m hungry and I just need something NOW” food, and useful kitchen tips anyone can benefit from. 

Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach of CTS

CTS: How does cycling – or being a cyclist – influence your cooking?

Matthew Accarrino: It makes me think about nutrition and how to deliver the right types of foods at the right times when I’m cooking like I was for team Hincapie, for athletes or for myself when training. In the kitchen it has made me think more about incorporating more flavor without having to add more fat to recipes. I’ve also developed recipes that have either started out as on bike nutrition and then crossed over to restaurant use or vice versa.

For instance, this rice and granola bar has been a big hit with cycling groups, including the CTS Camp I went to in Santa Ynez and the Hincapie Racing Team guys:


Accarrino Granola-Rice Bars Flavored with Cherry, Pistachio and Almond

This recipe takes a savory or less sweet granola, easily made gluten free or raw and matches it to nut butter and fresh rice. I make these for myself and especially when I visit CTS camps. Many CTS athletes have asked me for the recipe so here it is. Feel free to vary the grains, seeds, fruit and spices for the granola. The variations of flavors are endless.


Pistachio, toasted ½ cup
Sunflower seeds, toasted 1/3 cup
Puffed rice 3 cups
Buckwheat (1:1 toasted:raw) (2 tbsp: 2 tbsp)
White quinoa 2 tbsp
Flax, ground ¼ cup
Chia 2 tbsp
Hot water ½ cup
Pumpkin seed ¼ cup
Dried cherry, fine dice ¼ cup
Maple syrup ¼ cup
Almond butter 2 tbsp
Coconut oil 1 tsp
Turmeric ¼ tsp
Chili powder 1 pinch
Cayenne 1 pinch
Cinnamon ½ tbsp
Sea salt 1 tsp


  • Bloom chia and flax with hot water (what is blooming?)
  • Melt butter, maple, oil and mix together
  • Combine and dehydrate at 120-140 degrees or the lowest setting your oven has. Typically this will take 2-6 hours

Notes: yields 2 1/8 trays (1/8th trays are restaurant items, typically a local supply house will order these for you or try the internet, they work perfectly for this.

To serve: Spread with nut butter and press to fresh rice.
I like to do 1 part water to 1 ½ parts rice (well rinsed) and cook the rice in a rice cooker or according to the package instructions. Mix in a bit of salt and stir in maple, agave or honey to taste. Press onto the nut butter topped granola and cool. Cut into portions and serve or wrap for eating later while out on a ride.

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CTS: You were a cyclist first, before discovering you culinary passions. What led to your transition from road racing to the kitchen?

MA: I rode my bmx bike all around, like every other kid in the neighborhood growing up. It was transportation a way to get from one piece of trouble into another. It was not until 13, when a good friends father asked us if we wanted to go for a ride. This was a guy who watched Tour de France coverage live at 3am and worshiped legends like Merckx. So we went and after 18 miles on a borrowed ten speed I thought I was going to die from exhaustion. I fell in love with cycling immediately. I began riding all the time, not just riding, training. I read every book and studied the pros, I wanted to be them, to ride the great tours. I began and spent a few years racing, before a freak accident would drastically alter the course of my life. While playing Frisbee after school in high school I remember running downhill, jumping up catching the Frisbee and landing, upon which my right leg crumbled beneath me. Little had I known a benign bone void in my right femur had only grown larger and longer as I had grown taller and older.

After being rushed to the hospital, I underwent emergency surgery to assess the 6-7″ shattered section in my leg. I was told just before being put out there was a “low probability of keeping my right leg.” I can still remember vividly waking up from that surgery and feeling to make sure my leg was there. Thankfully it was, and the long process of learning to walk and recover began. My racing career was over, I just didn’t know it yet. Due to the severity of my injury it took nearly two years to fully recover. Even then scar tissue and trauma made training to race again extremely painful. At a boiling over point in frustration and pain, I literally threw my bike off the porch and did not ride again for a decade.

I came to the decision that I would follow my other passion I had discovered while recovering from my injury. Cooking and learning about cooking became a highlight while I was home recovering. I watched cooking shows and tried new recipes. I had always been interested in what I was eating as an athlete but this gave me the opportunity to view food as a luxury not just fuel. I spent many days standing on one foot with crutches under my arms in front of a stove. After I had recovered I began working in restaurants where I had previously worked in bike shops. Everywhere I cooked, the trained chefs seemed to identify a quality in me that drove them to tell me “you should go to school, your good at this, you can be great at it”. What was it, they never said, today I realize it was my ability to put my head down and push through the tough times, to stay focused and always make it to the finish line. I did go to school, today I’m a chef celebrated with accolades like Michelin star’s, a Food and Wine magazine best new chef award and James beard nominations. It takes a lot to be successful in life, hard work, perseverance, the willingness to try and try again. The goal always be better than you were before. I apply that to both my life as a chef and as a cyclist.

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Matthew with CTS Coaches (l-r) Julia Gieschen, Chris Carmichael, Paul Ruggiero, Jason Siegle, and Matthew Freeman.

CTS: You were recently a guest chef for the Hincapie Racing Team at  Tour of the Gila. Did you notice any parallels between the programs in cycling and the culinary world? 

MA: I cooked for the Hincapie racing team at Tour of the Gila in New Mexico. They are very talented group (many coached by CTS) and were grateful to have a chef cooking for them at the race.  I enjoyed cooking, trying out recipes for the riders and being treated like part of the team. One very striking similarity is the emphasis on being individually proficient and talented, while needing to simultaneously perform your role as part of a team. It applies in the kitchen and on the bike. Each rider and chef has their own preferences for personal equipment and the need to use the equipment supplied by the kitchen or team. There is also a big emphasis on being well prepared before an event. We call this mise en place in the kitchen or having everything in its place. The riders prepare with coaches and on their own before coming into the season to work as a team.


Matthew out for a spin with the Hincapie Racing Team during the Tour of the Gila. Matthew’s on the right in the white helmet.

CTS: Everybody has their go-to “I’m hungry and just need something, now” food. It’s often something quick, easy, comforting, and probably not too good for you. What’s yours?

MA: Thai take out. When I’m feeling too tired to cook for myself and not motivated to leave home, who knows how much sodium and whatever else is in it. I never feel better the day after as I generally have a pretty clean diet. It can wreak havoc on your normal routine, it often takes a day or two for me to feel “back to normal” after eating something way out of step. Something to think about the next time you get a craving.

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CTS: Chefs are notoriously busy. How do you structure your day in order to make time for training and work?

MA: We all are searching for more time it seems. I travel and work long days in the kitchen, it is not out of the ordinary for me to work 12+ hour days. Thankfully I have a CTS coach (Kirk Nordgren) who can help me to organize my training goals and time restrictions into a cohesive plan that works for my schedule. The best solution beyond that is find a routine and try to stick with it. I workout every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the week but the workouts tend to be shorter and higher intensity. Whenever I vary from the routine I feel out of sorts. The structure where I need to get up early and make the most of those days forces me to work harder at being a chef the other days to keep the time I allocate to training open. You have to work hard and be committed to the structure, not just the workouts.

CTS: There’s a lot of room in the culinary arts for foods that are great to eat occasionally but aren’t very good for people nutritionally. Yet, as an athlete, chef you think a lot about nutrition. When you create dishes for your restaurant or events, how do you prioritize taste, creativity (creating something new), and nutrition? 

MA: In general taste is always most important. No matter how good something is for you if it tastes bad you will not be able to enjoy eating it. In the restaurant I try to incorporate healthful concepts into food that a guest would never notice as such. For example I use xanthate gum to add body to vinaigrettes and this allows me to substitute water for much of the oil in a recipe. You still taste the acidic element and it allows you to use very high-quality oils just in smaller quantities. The point is you as a customer eating that salad would not notice the missing fat. Creativity starts with great ingredients, whether I buy vegetables, for example, from a trusted farmer, the farmers market or grow them myself the quality and unique nature of those ingredients plays a large in spurring creativity. I also find creativity is based in innovation and for me innovation comes most often from necessity. Mistakes in the kitchen as on the bike are just opportunities for new discoveries and lessons learned.

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CTS: What’s the number one kitchen tool or technique you recommend time-crunched athletes use or learn in order to save time?

MA: For tools I could not live without my Vitamix blender. It makes smoothies, pestos, blends soups, sauces. It has a very high-speed motor and can make quick work of lots of things. I even use it to make quinoa flour or farro flour from whole grains.

The number one technique is flexibility. Cook too much rice while making bars, dehydrate it and fry for puffed rice, add soy milk, vanilla and sweeten to make a quick rice pudding. Always look for opportunities where at first there appear not to be any. I apply this philosophy to cooking, cycling and life in general. Today I’m seizing my opportunities to make tomorrow better by being flexible.

CTS: What is Team Accarrino?

MA: Team Accarrino is an idea, call to action, a group of people and things I believe in and collaborate with to make the most out of life. It’s an opportunity to inspire those around me to make the most out of everything. You can find out more about what I’m doing, where I’m going and where I’ve been @Matthewaccarrino on Twitter and Instagram and by checking out the #teamaccarrino hashtag.

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Comments 6

  1. Pingback: Winter Training Series: Sports Nutrition Tips for Cold Weather Workouts - CTS

  2. I heard amazing things about Matthew from Team Hincapie. They are a lucky group of guys to have such a dedicated chef/cycling advocate. Jolynn and Dennis are right about the instructions. Some extra steps are needed. Thanks.

  3. Dennis and Jolynn, thanks for your response.
    the second amount nut butter is as you wish in terms of type and quantity, it is the glue that binds the rice and granola layers. spread the nut butter on the granola and press the warm but not hot seasoned rice on top (smooth the top of the rice), then let cool and refrigerate in the tray for an hour before cutting and wrapping. as far as the rice i typically would make 2 cups to cover the amount of granola from the recipe (that is 2 dry cups, so cook with 3 cups water after rinsing, easiest to use a rice cooker). you could make more or less the rice layer would just be more or less thick. you can use brown rice, jasmine, etc. i find short grain rice works best and there is plenty of fiber in the granola, the white rice tends to be stickier and better for this recipe. i like to use the 1/8th trays but a Pyrex baking dish would easily work well here too. use the recipe as a guideline and play around with changing seasonings, different nuts, different dried fruit. they keep for a few days in the refrigerator. i would not recommend freezing. thanks again for reading!

    1. Matthew – Thanks for the clarification and explanation. i understand that brown rice is typically not be as sticky as the white, but will probably try with closer to 2:1, water to rice than 1.5:1 as the extra liquid should help (your thoughts?), but sticking (excuse the pun) to short grain makes sense.

  4. Agree with Dennis. I was checking out this recipe and going to try it out, but it’s incomplete. Can you re-post?

  5. good interview but i may be missing something with the recipe. the instructions seem very incomplete. i am left to assume that the nut butter referred to in the serving instructions is different from the nut butter in the ingredients list and if it is, it doesn’t say how much. it also never say how much fresh rice to make for the recipe. also, can brown rice be used?. for those who don’t know what 1/8th sheet trays are, they are 9″ x 6″. i assume they can be refrigerated, but for how long once they are assembled. what about freezing.

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