Gunnur and Elisabeth, our Iceland running guides from Arctic Running for the annual Iceland Trail Running + Wellness Retreat, do an amazing job keeping us energized and having fun every day we’re on the trails together. Gunnur makes it that much better when she surprises us with her homemade honey and oat energy bites (recipe below!).

When I asked Gunnur what made these energy bites so exceptionally good–with just the right balance of sweet and salty–she revealed a few secrets that I’ve included in the recipe below. To get the full effect, avoid substituting any ingredients, and whatever you do, don’t cut back on the butter.

Gunnur and Elisabeth, both very experienced trail ultrarunners, include a lot of healthy fats in their diet–mostly from fresh dairy products, nuts, seeds and free-range meats–and it serves them well for long runs. Use these energy bites on your next long run and you’ll see what we mean!

Gunnur’s Icelandic Trail Run Energy Bites


1 + 1/3 cup organic rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup total seed mix (60% sunflower seeds, 30% pumpkin seeds and 10% sesame seeds)
5 oz finely chopped dates
½ tsp finely ground Himalayan salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup demarara sugar (light brown raw sugar)


  • Preheat the oven to 340°F
  • Toast the oats in a dry pan over medium heat until lightly browned. Then empty them into a large bowl and set aside to cool.
  • With a large knife, coarsely chop the almonds on a cutting board, then empty them into the dry pan on medium heat and stir regularly until light brown. Then empty the almonds into the bowl with the oats to cool.
  • Toast the seeds (except the sesame seeds) in the same warm pan, then add them to the mixing bowl with the oats and almonds. Add the sesame seeds directly to the bowl.
  • Add salt and cinnamon to the oat mixture.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together butter, honey and sugar. Stir frequently as it caramelizes to prevent scorching the mixture. As it thickens, stir in the chopped dates.
  • Pour the caramel into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly, then scoop into a baking dish lined with parchment paper on the bottom and sides.
  • Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting it into bite-sized cubes. To make portable packages for your next trail run, wrap four to six cubes together into a square of plastic wrap. Repeat until all of the cubes are wrapped. To maintain freshness, store the ones you won’t use right away in the freezer.
  • Gunnur says it’s important to eat the crumbs left in the bottom of the baking dish immediately. (reward for your hard work!).

*Elinor’s Tip: These bites are really tasty and can be addictive! They keep well in the freezer, so I recommend doubling this recipe so that you have a stockpile.


Gunnur (right) whoppin’ it up with women at the Iceland Trail Running + Wellness Retreat in 2016.



The  Iceland Trail Running + Wellness Retreat takes place each August.
See thunderous waterfalls, black-sand beaches and columnar basalt rock formations at the seaside village of Vik before we head into the Land of Thor, a deep river valley surrounding by massive volcanic glaciers. Enjoy stunning views at every turn of our trail runs throughout this valley before we return to Reykjavik, the heart of Iceland cuisine and culture. Click here to learn more.