How I Fuel for Long Hikes

Packing enough food for a long hike is so important. Fueling adequately beforehand is also key. It is not fun to “hit the wall” during  a long hike. Muscles need glucose (sugar) to form glycogen (the storage form of glucose) which serves as fuel during your hike. When you run out of glycogen, you “hit the wall”, which can lead to extreme fatigue (the same thing can happen during long distance running or cycling!)  Nobody wants to feel like that on a hike, so fueling appropriately before, during and after your hike is very important. Carbohydrates provide the body with energy for your muscles, while proteins provide the body with essential amino acids to help build and repair muscles. Making sure you pack enough quality foods for your hike is essential!

Breakfast

Before a long a hike, a mix of protein and carbs is best. Usually I have an egg and cheese sandwich on a roll. When I was hiking the 46, I was getting up before sunrise and didn’t have time to prepare breakfast. If I was really ambitious I would microwave an egg to have on a bagel to eat on the way up, but I rarely had time for that. Stopping on the way for a grab-and-go egg and cheese was usually my best bet. I knew I’d be expending a lot of calories and I wanted to eat something that would stick, keeping me full for a the first few hours of hiking.

Snacks/Lunch

If I was feeling a little bit hungry on the drive up, I’d snack on an apple or a mini cliff bar before starting the hike. Both of these provide carbohydrate. For lunch I would usually bring a bagel with cream cheese or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread. For other snacks high protein snacks, I’d bring hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, nuts, even some cheese to enjoy on the summit. Eating a snack high in protein helps repair your muscles after an intense climb. Sometime’s I’d even bring a Gu or another type of energy gel for quick and easy energy. They provide fast and easily digestible carbohydrate that can be eaten while hiking. Honey packets or applesauce/pureed fruit packets are also great options for quick, easily-transportable energy. In the winter, I always make sure to bring a thermos of vegetable lentil soup, which provides salt, protein, and some carbohydrate, plus–there’s something special about having a hot meal on a cold day in the mountains!

Hydration

Bringing enough water during your long hike is key, especially during warm weather. In the summer, during long hikes I bring 4 liters of water (3 L bladder + 1 L bottle) along with a water filter so I can filter water from a stream if it’s needed. When I hiked the Dix Range last summer on a hot day, I drank the entire 4 liters. If you find you are a salty sweater, it wouldn’t hurt to bring some electrolyte tablets, such as Nuun, a bottle of Gatorade, or even salt tablets. On a super hot day, I keep a frozen bottle of Gatorade in my pack next to my hydration bladder. It keeps the bladder cold and eventually thaws, leaving a nice cold beverage. Rehydrating (with something other than a craft beer!) after your hike is also extremely important–so leaving a cooler full of ice cold water and gatorade in your car for post-hike rehydration is a fantastic idea!

Hiking Snack Ideas

What are some of your favorite snack ideas for hiking?

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

With the popularity of protein bars and the new protein “cookie” on the rise, I figured I’d try my hand at baking my own protein cookies.

These little cookies pack a powerful nutritional punch! One of the main ingredients, coconut flour, is gluten-free, and high in fiber and iron. I also included oats because they are also a great source of fiber and iron! Replace the eggs with your favorite egg-replacer and they can also be vegan. I added date paste to sweeten them without adding sugar. And of course, they wouldn’t be cookies without chocolate chips. Here I used Chatfield’s 70% cacao double dark semi-sweet chocolate chips (nut, dairy and soy free) because we can’t forget the important antioxidants and flavanols found in dark chocolate! Keep a cookie in your gym bag as a post-workout snack or  take a few along to share on your next hike.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

Dry Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 scoop Designer Whey Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats*
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp iodized sea salt**
  • 1/4 cup PBFit peanut butter powder
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Wet Ingredients

  • 6 pitted medjool dates, chopped roughly
  • 1 tsp warm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Add dates and warm water to food processor and process until it becomes a paste
  3. Combine date paste, eggs, and vanilla in medium bowl and whisk until combined
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together except chocolate chips
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until a soft dough forms
  6. Fold in chocolate chips
  7. Roll dough into balls and press into a flat shape onto non-stick cookie sheet
  8. Bake for 9-11 minutes

Yield: 8 cookies

* use gluten-free oats if making gluten-free cookies. Oats are naturally gluten-free, however most are processed in facilities that process wheat products.

** make sure if you buy sea salt, to buy iodized se sea salt. Most sea salt in stores is not iodized. Iodine is an important nutrient found in regular table salt that you might be missing if you use strictly sea salt.

Nutrition Information

Note: You can double the recipe and make larger cookies at ~300 kcal, 10 g fiber, 8 g fat and 14 g of protein if you are looking for a “meal replacement” cookie

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bites

Happy National Nutrition Month!

This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is Put Your Best Fork Forward! Making small, healthy changes really does add up! For example, today I was craving my favorite salted caramel chocolate chip cookies. I was walking through the bakery aisle at the grocery store where they are sold and I was tempted to buy them. However, after getting in some good exercise today, I didn’t want to undo everything I’d already done. I decided against buying those cookies, instead opting to make a healthier sweet treat to curb my cravings. With fiber, protein, and probiotics, these peanut butter chocolate chip bites will satisfy those chocolate chip cookie cravings.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bites
Recipe adapted from Amy’s peanut butter cookie dough bites 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp vanilla protein powder (I used Bob’s Red Mill Vanilla Protein Powder w/ chia and probiotics)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter powder
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the flours, protein powder, and peanut butter flour until well mixed.
  2. Add the oil, vanilla, creamy peanut butter, water and brown sugar and mix well until a soft dough forms
  3. Roll into bite-size balls

Yield: ~18 balls

Nutrition Information per serving
2 bites=1 serving
Calories: 224
Carbs: 27 g
Fat: 12 g
Protein: 4 g
Sodium: 66 mg
Sugar: 18 g

*Some day I promise I will learn to take quality food photos. Now is not that time!

Small changes really add up. Whether it be setting a goal to eat at least one new fruit or vegetable every week, trying a new healthy recipe, or just working out a few times per week, these changes really make a difference.

What are you going to do to put your best fork forward?

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Coconut & Date Protein Bites

As part of Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Test Kitchen Program, I made this month’s recipe, Coconut & Date Protein Bites.

These little bite-size snacks are gluten-free, full of coconut flavor and have a hint of sweetness, without any added sugar.

Original Recipe, via Food & Nutrition Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup siggi’s Vanilla 0% Yogurt
  • 1 cup Medjool Dates, chopped (about 12 to 13 large dates)
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds, hulled
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut plus more for rolling

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend to desired consistency. We like keeping the pieces larger for a crunchier ball.
  2. When desired consistency is reached, form 1-ounce balls then roll in the shredded coconut to coat.
  3. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy as a quick snack!

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 18 bites

Recipe Test Notes

I wanted to increase the protein of these little bites, so I included some hemp protein powder. While I was preparing the bites, I found that the mixture was extremely dry, probably due to adding the dry protein powder, so I added more Siggi’s yogurt. Since it was still dry, I added 1/4 cup melted coconut oil to bind the mixture a little bit better. I chose coconut oil because I wanted to boost the coconut flavor of the bites. It worked well!

Jen’s Final Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 5.3 oz cup of Siggi’s Coconut 2% Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of unrefined virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup Medjool Dates, chopped (about 12 to 13 large dates)
  • 1 cup unsalted, dry roasted, sliced almonds
  • 1 packet (or 4 T ) of Hemp Pro 70 protein powder
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds, ground
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend to desired consistency.
  2. When desired consistency is reached, form 1-ounce balls (I didn’t roll them in coconut because they weren’t sticky enough)
  3. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy as a quick protein-packed snack!

Yield: 15 bites

 

A bit about the nutritional benefits of the ingredients

Coconut flour 

Coconut flour is a great gluten-free alternative to all-purpose flour. It has a hint of coconut flavor and is considered an excellent source of fiber with 6g of fiber per 2 tablespoons. It is also high in iron!

Coconut oil

High in lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride, coconut oil can be substituted for butter in vegan recipes, but it is still high in saturated fat, so don’t overdo it!

Siggi’s 2% Icelandic-style yogurt

Siggi’s 2% yogurt provides 170 kcal per container, with 5 g of fat and 15 g of protein, with no added sugars! It is also a good source of calcium.

Hemp protein powder

Four tablespoons of this plant-based protein powder provides 130 kcal, 3.5 g of fat, and 15 g of protein.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acid–or alpha-linolenic acid–which help to raise HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol!) which promotes heart health.

Flax seeds

Flax seeds are another great source of omega-3 fatty acid! They are also a great source of fiber and protein. Flax seeds also contain Vitamin B1, Manganese, Magnesium and Phosphorus. Magnesium and Phosphorus both play an important role in bone health.

Dates

Adding dates to baked goods provide a sweetness without adding sugar. The are a good source of fiber and are fat-free! 1.5 oz of dates also contain 280 mg of Potassium.

Almonds

Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats (the good kind!) which may reduce the risk of heart disease. They are also a good source of the antioxidant Vitamin E! Almonds also contain a lot of magnesium and potassium, both of which are important for heart and muscle function.

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Blue Apron Meal Delivery Service Review

After hearing about Blue Apron (and the many other meal-delivery services out there), I finally decided to try it. I picked Blue Apron because I had a discount code for three 2-person meals for $19.99 ($59.00 regularly) and because I’ve been in a recipe rut and hate grocery shopping.

Note: this is not a sponsored review, just my honest opinion in case you were curious about these meals.

Friday my first box of food got delivered in a large box filled with ice packs to keep the food cold. I wasn’t home at the time but Jordan unpacked it all and put everything away, so it was in the fridge when I got home. They sent three recipe cards, along with labeled ingredients, indicating what goes with which recipe.

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Last night I decided to make the Basque-Style Cod. On the back side of the recipe card, there are step-by-step instructions on how to cook the meal.

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I followed it as I would a normal recipe, it was super easy. If you have any basic cooking knowledge at all, it will be be a breeze. The grain in this recipe was freekeh, something I had never heard of before. Similar to farro, it is an ancient grain made from durum wheat. Freekeh is a good source of protein and fiber, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids important for eye health. It is also great for the gut–it’s a prebiotic that can increase the healthy bacteria in your intestines which improves digestion.

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While the freekeh was cooking, I chopped up the pepper, onion, garlic. Unfortunately when chopping the pepper I found some mold inside. Yikes! But I actually had some peppers in the fridge so I didn’t have to miss out on that ingredient. I took a picture of the mold and immediately emailed Blue Apron. They responded quickly and provided me with a $9.99 discount on my next delivery. That was pretty awesome of them!

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Next I made the parsley and almond relish. The directions said to chop it up into a paste-like consistency, which I found difficult to do with a knife, so I threw it in my food processor to get the appropriate texture.

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The relish called for olive oil, but I didn’t have any on hand (that’s one of the few ingredients they don’t give you, along with salt and pepper), so I used almond oil instead!

Then I made the sauce,  cooking the onions, garlic and pepper, adding in the vinegar, spices they provided, and oil. It called for olive oil and since I was out, I used avocado oil instead. It came out great!

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Next I added the can of tomatoes they provided.

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Then I quickly cooked the cod with a little bit of salt and pepper.

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In about 45 minutes, the meal was complete!

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The verdict: it was delicious! The flavors were bright and everything was very fresh. The meal served two very generous portions. I plated them both and put one in the fridge for Jordan and enjoyed mine for dinner. Overall, I was really happy with my first Blue Apron meal! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves to cook and wants to try new recipes but hates shopping for random ingredients.

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