Saturday, February 21, 2015

A plant-based athlete's tips for surviving 24 Hour Racing in the desert

This past weekend was 24 Hours of Old Pueblo.   Fueling for a 24 Hour race in the desert can be tricky, especially for the plant-based athlete striving for nutrient dense foods.  This was especially made tricky as Shannon and I flew from Salt Lake to Phoenix so I couldn't prep meals for the weekend ahead of time.  Upon arriving to Phoenix, we hit-up Whole Foods and bought a few staples to get us through the weekend.

We stocked up on bananas, apples, and almonds but here are a few tricks I learned to get me through the weekend.

An easy and quick meal:  rice, hummus, avocado burrito.  I borrowed a stove and cooked up some brown rice that I used all weekend.  I slapped the rice, hummus, and avocado on an Ezekial sprouted grain tortilla and had a nutritious meal that kept me fueled throughout a weekend of racing.  In the future, I will add some pre-cut veggies to make this meal even more nutritious.

Breakfast:  Once again I borrowed the stove and whipped up some quick cook oatmeal.  I added some nuts and mixed in some unsweetened applesauce and cinnamon to give it a bit extra flavor.

While training and riding I try to stick to nutrient dense whole foods, however for racing I am a big CarboRocket and Honeystinger organic gel fan.

The best news about my weekend's nutrition was that I had no digestive issues post-race.  This is a notable feat as the post-chemo gut can be, well, sensitive and finicky:)

Fueling for long events definitely has a learning curve and I am still learning.  There is a fine line between eating nutrient dense and keeping your gut happy between hard race efforts.  I am always open to tips and suggestions.  Do you have any tricks for eating healthy at 24 Hour races?   If so, please share!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ride Fuel

While I believe that home-made energy bars are nutritionally superior to anything store bought, sometimes I just don't have time to prepare my own ride fuel.  For this reason, it is always good to have back-up.

Recently I came across Kit's Organic bars.  I like these bars for multiple reasons:

1.  USDA organic.  No GMO's in here!
2. Short ingredient list.  Not a bunch of crap fillers.  The Peanut Butter bar contains dates, peanuts, almonds, and sea salt and the Cashew bar contains cashews, almonds, dates, and sea salt.  All organic of course!
3.  Clif Bar is a good company.  The folks at Clif Bar donate a sizable amount of money in support of GMO labeling.  This is something I pay attention to and influences my purchasing decisions.
4.  I try to stick to the >1:10 grams of fiber/ gram of carbohydrate rule when buying packaged food.  At 4 grams of fiber and 25 g of carbs, Kit's Organic easily falls into that range.  
5.  They taste good.  Yum!  

Another ride fuel favorite is baby food.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I sometimes eat baby food on my rides.  There are lots of organic brands to choose from.  I usually grab something with pumpkin, squash, brown rice, or sweet potato and fruit.  Calorie content is comparable to an energy gel; 60-110 calories/packet, however since baby food is made from organic whole food, I am assuming it is more nutritionally dense.  What I like about baby food packets is that they easily fit in my pocket, are resealable, and are perfect when I just need a little calorie boost to get me home from a ride.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

Buying organic can get expensive, however if you are trying to eat healthy and limit pesticide exposure, it is often the only option.  

Take the apple for example:  We have all heard the saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away".  That may not be the case if the apple is essentially covered in a carcinogenic pesticide!

Washington, D.C. – A chemical widely used on non-organic American apples was banned in the European Union in 2012 because its makers could not show it did not pose a risk to human health, according to a new analysis by Environmental Working Group.
In the U.S., as few Americans may realize, after harvest, farmers and packers drench most conventionally-raised apples with diphenylamine, known as DPA, which helps prevent “storage scald,” blackening or browning of fruit skin during long months of cold storage. DPA was first registered for use in the U.S. in 1962. Tests of raw apples conducted by U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, found DPA on 80 percent of the apples tested.
“While it is not yet clear that DPA is risky to public health, European Commission officials asked questions that the chemicals’ makers could not answer,” said EWG senior scientist Sonya Lunder. “The EC officials banned outright any further use of DPA on the apples cultivated in the European Union until they are confident it is safe. Europe’s action should cause American policymakers to take a new look at this chemical.”
USDA pesticide residue tests of apples find DPA more often and at greater concentrations than most other pesticide residues. DPA is also detected in apple juice and applesauce and, less often, on pears and in pear baby food. It is regulated as a pesticide, but its primary function is a “growth regulator” or antioxidant that slows fruit skin discoloration during storage.
Of particular concern to EC officials was the possible presence on DPA-treated fruit of nitrosamines, a family of potent carcinogens.
European regulators theorized that nitrosamines could be generated if DPA combined, either during storage or when fruit was processed, with a source of nitrogen, an element ubiquitous in the environment. Beginning in 2008, they pressed makers of DPA for test data that showed whether nitrosamines or other harmful chemicals formed when containers of DPA sat on shelves, when fruit was treated with DPA and stored for a long time and when DPA-treated fruit was processed into juices, purees and sauces (EFSA 2008). The industry provided one study that detected three unknown chemicals on DPA-treated apples, but it could not determine if any of these chemicals, apparently formed when the DPA broke down, were nitrosamines
In 2012 the European Food Safety Authority, a government body that evaluates the risk of pesticides for the European Commission, concluded that the industry had not provided sufficient information and that the many data gaps made it impossible to confirm the safety of DPA. The full Commission banned the use of DPA on European apples and pears in June 2012. In March of this year, the EC reduced the allowable level of DPA on imports to 0.1 part per million. The average concentration of DPA on U.S. apples is roughly four times higher at 0.42 parts per million.
The U.S. EPA has taken no action to respond to the European ban and nor to the concerns about nitrosamines expressed by European food safety officials. This year, scientists in the U.S. EPA Pesticide Office tasked with pesticide safety reviews told EWG they were unaware of the new European ban and import restrictions.
“Americans, particularly parents of young children, deserve the same level of concern from our government,” said Lunder. “Apples, apple juice and applesauce are staples in the diets of millions of children, so if there are potential risks to kids from DPA, we need to know now.”
EWG’s analysis of DPA and apples says that, according to USDA, Americans eat nearly 10 pounds per person of raw apples every year. Consequently, even low levels of nitrosamines on raw apples, or in apple juice and applesauce could potentially pose a risk to human health.
Researchers with USDA’s Pesticide Data Program consistently find multiple pesticides on apple samples, including DPA. As a result, apples have appeared at or near the top of EWG’s Dirty Dozen list in the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce since it was first published more than a decade ago. The 2014 Shopper’s Guide will be released next week (April 30).
EWG president Ken Cook sent a letter today (April 24) to the head of the pesticide office at EPA urging the agency to follow Europe’s lead. “The American public deserves the same level of protection as Europeans from pesticide risks,” wrote Cook. “We urge EPA to halt the use of DPA on U.S. fruit until a rigorous analysis (re-registration) by EPA of the chemical can prove that it poses a reasonable certainty of no harm to consumers.”
Fortunately, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) has created a list of the dirty dozen and clean fifteen to help guide and prioritize shopping for pesticide free produce.  
The dirty dozen includes:
apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell pepper, nectarines, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, kale/collard greens, hot peppers, potatoes (and yes, I realize that this doesn't add of to twelve....I didn't name it the dirty dozen:)
These are the foods that I ALWAYS try to buy organic. 
The clean fifteen includes:
avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower, sweet potatoes
These are the foods that are less important to buy organic.  My personal exception:  Most non-organic corn is genetically modified, therefore if I do buy corn, I opt for organic.  
If you have a hard time remembering safe/unsafe produce, a general rule of thumb is that foods with peels typically have less pesticide exposure.  Additionally, EWG has a super cool and handy Dirty Dozen smartphone app.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pumpkin Cookies-My favorite ride fuel!

The ingredients I use: Almond flour, almond butter, pumpkin (in BPA free can), Lily's chocolate chips, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, and sometimes vanilla

I am the first to admit that I am not so good at following recipes, but here is the 'recipe' for my favorite ride fuel:
-1/4 cup pureed pumpkin (make sure comes from BPA free can)
-1/2 cup almond butter
-1/2 cup honey
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 cup almond flour
-1tsp pumpkin pie spice
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
-1/2 walnuts

Now here is what I do:
-1/2 can/container of pureed pumpkin
-1/2 cup almond butter
-no honey
-1 tsp vanilla
-almond flour to a consistency I like
-cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to taste (a lot)
-sprinkle of baking soda
-dark chocolate chips to taste (my current favorite brand is Lily's)
-walnuts to taste

Yummy ride food!

Preheat oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Combine we ingredients together then add dry ingredients and mix.  Scoop batter to whatever size preferred and flatten out to desired thickness as these cookies do not spread.  Bake ~15 minutes.  Total prep time: 5 minutes, cook time~15 minutes.

 Ride and Eat or Eat and Ride!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Typical breakfast

A pretty typical breakfast for me includes:

Oat bran:  Cooks faster than Steel-cut oats and has a better nutritional profile.  More protein, more fiber, more B vitamins, more iron.....

Nuts:  Assortment of almonds, walnuts

Seeds: Chia, Hemp, flax, and pumpkin

Berries: Gogi & Frozen blueberries

Cacoa nibs

And a sprinkle of cinnamon.

I truly think breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!

Breakfast:  I know it looks like a bowl full of berries, but it's not!  

Friday, March 14, 2014

This weeks homemade energy bar

To keep me fueled for my workouts, I try to make a batch of home made energy bars each week.  There is a time and place for store bought energy bars, however in my opinion, from a nutritional and certainly monetary standpoint, homemade always trumps store bought!  I typically make my super yummy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (stay tuned for recipe) or my Oatmeal bars (also stay tuned for recipe), but this week I whipped together something new.

-2 cups figs (can substitute dates)
-2 cups almonds (can substitute other nuts)
-4 tablespoons coconut butter
-1 scoop of my (current) favorite Protein Powder:  Raw Protein Chocolate Cacao (organic, vegan, gluten free, Non-GMO, dairy free) optional

Organic Raw Protein powder is my current protein powder of choice

Mix in food processor until a grainy consistency.  Flatten into a glass baking dish lined with wax paper.  Put in fridge.


These bars definitely pass the taste test, but they do crumble in my pocket on rides 
which makes them kind of messy to eat.  Need to work on that!  
Maybe some almond butter to help them stick together?

Homemade Bone Broth

During chemo and radiation I started making a bone broth to use as stock.  The reported benefits of high quality bone broth are numerous including:
  • inhibits infection/improves immunity
  • help seal leaky gut/supports digestion
  • reduces joint pain and inflamation
  • fights inflammation
  • promotes strong, healthy bones
  • promotes healthy hair and nail growth
High quality bone broth is the key.  I have found some pasture raised, organic, grass fed frozen beef bones at Real Foods in Salt Lake.  

Making the broth is easy.  I place the bones in a crock pot and pour filtered cold water over them.    Add a few tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (to help draw out nutrients from bone).  Cook on low for ~24 hours.  

I then add some carrots and celery to enhance flavor and cook on low for another 6-12 hours or so.  

The bone broth cooking

At this point, I strain out the bones, celery, and carrots and refrigerate the remaining broth until it is cooled and the fat has separated from the broth.  I then dispose of the fat and divvy up the remaining broth into small glass jars to be frozen.

Mini glass jars with homemade bone broth to be frozen and used later

I add a jar to my stock for a few meals a week, for example when cooking quinoa, rice, or a crock pot meal.  Flavor is good and the health benefits are exceptional!