I’ve been diligently working on developing trail worthy snack foods that will also fit into the type of foods I am willing to eat and I’m happy to say I’m finding ways of making this a success. I should also add that I have been slowly moving away from deriving my energy from carb sources and turning toward fats for energy – hence you will see more fat oriented recipes in the future. The reason for this is simple – I feel better running on fat rather than carbs. Carbs make me sluggish and make me crave more of them as opposed to making me feel satiated. Fats on the other hand keep me satiated longer and I don’t get those common stomach pangs that you get a couple of hours after consuming a meal when you fuel yourself with carbs. The thought of being able to go without having to eat for longer periods of time without the discomforts of hunger is quite liberating, if you ask me. Hence these Seed Crackers are very high in fat.
The idea of making my own Seed Crackers came to me when I spotted this bag at my favourite retail store – Winners.
Winners is a place where I go for a dose of things I can’t find anywhere else. I usually don’t bother with the Snack Isle and only scope the Spice Shelf of the Food Section – as I consider the Snack Shelf nothing more than a glorified Candy Isle from the local grocery store. However, on one of my recent visits I found this bag on the Clearance Shelf and picked it up to see the ingredient list – fully expecting to have to put it down. Often times, I will pick up a product just to see what’s in it and then promptly put it away because I deem it unworthy of my digestive system. 😉 However, this time I had to read the list twice to consider wether I wanted to put it back or purchase it. Have a look… these actually don’t contain anything that is bad strictly speaking – no questionable oils, no added sugars, just various seeds and grains :
So I decided I’d give them a try for the sole purpose of trying to replicate them – because let’s be honest, I will never again find another bag of these at Winners and who wants to pay $4.99 (regular price) a pop for a bag this small? Not me.
So next time I needed some hike food I came up with my own version of these – I call them Spicy Seed Crackers. I have recently made a huge batch of them to be available when hiking happens:
Spicy Seed Crackers Recipe Type : Snack Cuisine: Hiking Snacks Author: Angelika Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 30 mins Total time: 35 mins Serves: 37 These are crunchy and crispy little crackers, but what's most important they are quite suitable for taking on long distance hikes 🙂
70g Pumpkin Seeds
80g Chia Seeds
72g Raw Sunflower Seeds
25g Ground Flax Seeds
30g Toasted Sesame Seeds
5g Himalayan Crystal Salt
5g Ground Pepper
5g Garlic Powder
5g Chilli Powder
5-6 Cloves of Roasted Garlic
Put all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Add garlic and water and mix well.
Set aside for 10 minutes for the chia seeds to absorb some of the water.
On a baking sheet lined with some parchment paper spread the mixture evenly from edge to edge. You can use your fingers to do so or a large spoon. Make sure you spread the mixture evenly so that it bakes evenly as well.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes checking occasionally to make sure it's not burning up on the edges. You can also flip it half way through, but it might be difficult to do if the cracker isn't yet somewhat baked through.
Remove from the oven and crack into pieces. I make them uneven, but you could score the raw mixture before putting in the oven and then crack them at the predetermined score lines for an even looking cracker.
Hope you enjoy making these yourself, as they are so simple even a 5 year old would be able to put them together 🙂
It boggles my mind how smart marketing can make us believe a food item is a healthy choice. Think about it; simple placement of the product in the store will lead the consumer to believe that it is in fact better than the same type of product that’s placed in an obviously unhealthy section of the store. Think Organic Isle sporting all the KIND type bars versus the Candy Isle with all the Snickers type bars. The obvious thinking from a consumer point of view will be to put Snickers type bars into the unhealthy category and the KIND type bars into a better (maybe healthy) category. But clearly, if you take the time to look at the contents of the KIND type bar you will quickly see that it does not differ that much in the nutritional breakdown from the obviously naughty bar. KIND is higher in fat whereas Snikers has more sugar added.
My verdict is that if I was in a dire need of food and all that was available was the choice between supposedly healthy bars and candy bars, I would opt for getting more fat than sugar and pick a KIND type bar to fuel myself. However, I will not be fooled into thinking that there is something inherently good and healthy about a KIND bar. It is for all intents and purposes a candy bar in my books – it has 4 different types of sugar added to it – hence it is a candy bar.
*Please note that the KIND bar is a smaller bar than the Snickers bar in weight, so in order to be accurate in comparing the nutritional value of both I adjusted the weight of the KIND bar to match that of the Snickers bar.
We have all heard complains about the price of produce – it’s been even in the news for crying out loud. The infamous price of cauliflower has been making rounds over and over. Now, granted there are some valid stories about prices of food in the rural areas of the north – I won’t dispute them. However, if you live in the metro area of St. John’s, Newfoundland there is no reason that you should complain about the price of produce, its availability or quality – you just have to know where to find it and not settle for less.
It’s been a tradition of ours to drive up and down Route 60 to visit local farmers to get the best quality of produce at fraction of the cost our local grocery store sells it. May I just add that the local Sobeys and Dominion are proudly sourcing a section of their produce from those same farmers and charging the client sometimes twice the price of what you pay to the farmer. I digress, I will instead show you how farmer’s produce is better than the regular store bought stuff .
So let me show you what I bought last weekend from our local farmers and compare it to the regular stuff you would usually get at Dominion and how the prices compare:
Total Farmer’s price : $11.50
Total Dominion’s price : $20.51
Shopping for these at Dominion you will pay 78% more than at the Farmer’s stand! Some items are comparable, but the total speaks for itself. Even if you take away the most expensive item, which is zucchini, you are still going to pay 38.5% more at Dominion. So, the choice is yours – go in and out of Dominion in 30 minutes flat and pay through the roof, or make a date out of it with your spouse and go visit your local farmers along Route 60. To me the choice is simple: not only am I getting quality, non-certified organic produce from the farmer at a great price, I am also supporting local economy and to top that off I’m spending quality time with a loved one. What could be better than that?
Exactly a year ago we were doing some car camping – after coming to the realization that I might not enjoy hiking/backpacking the way my partner does – I gave it one more try by switching gears a bit. He was resolved to the idea that I would never again accompany him on his hikes. It was a sad day, but he tried to accommodate and in an effort to keep some type of activity in common he offered to take me car camping to see if maybe I’d enjoy that better than hiking. I knew this was not something he was devoted to doing full time, but I appreciated the sentiment. So, on Labour Day Weekend of 2015 we went to La Manche Park to enjoy each other’s company. Long story short – I was one miserable creature – I failed yet again. Everything seemed to be an issue for me : the ground under the tent was slanty, it was cold, it rained quite a bit, I was chewing too much gum and that made me bloated… You name it, anything that could bother me, did – and it showed in my demeanour, I was awfully crooked the whole time. It was probably the last time I went out in the woods for any amount of time. I gave up trying because I simply did not enjoy myself and found all sorts of reasons to dislike it – it didn’t help that I was being accommodated in all sorts of ways – I just didn’t have it in me to let myself enjoy it. So I called it quits – that is, until now.
My partner had organized a backpacking trip to the Outport Trail in Terra Nova National Park for this year’s Labour Day Weekend. I knew a couple of people had signed up and as the day approached I toyed with the idea of joining in as well. Why all of a sudden I’d sign up for a 50km hike, you ask? Well, I’ve been reevaluating everything I knew about myself, my attitude and most importantly I’ve been awfully jealous of all the photos I’ve been seeing my partner bring home after each and every hike! They were simply spectacular – I didn’t realize Newfoundland scenics could be this beautiful! Every sunset and sunrise, every coastal shot made me ache with longing- my inner photographer missed the time of photo taking trips, the joy of seeing a story unfold in front of me as I reviewed pictures I’d taken that day. Taking pictures of your surroundings and then going through the processing phase to arrive at the final product is such a rewarding act. You feel like a creator of sorts.
As the day of the trip approached I expressed the idea of joining in. My partner was a tad surprised (and probably a bit sceptical ) by my sudden interest but instead of dismissing it he embraced it and offered to do a couple of shakedown hikes to prep me and when the departure day came we packed up and left for Terra Nova.
I should mention that the 50km that we were originally planning to do consisted of: 16km to the first campsite in South Broad Cove to stay overnight, the following day we were going to continue for 8km into an area that was officially closed to hikers so it would have involved a lot of bushwhacking to get through the overgrown parts (think: no board walks and having to cross various streams) – the final destination that we were trying to reach was Park Harbour. The same day we’d turn around in Park Harbour to make it back to South Broad Cove to camp again and the following day return to our cars. I will spare you the mystery right now and let you know that I chickened out when we started on the overgrown section of the trail. We crossed couple of small streams and all I could think of was “We’ll have to cross all this again…” – that thought made me uneasy. I felt very shaky every time crossing the streams – the rocks that we were using to help us cross were very slippery and I remembered the last time I slipped and fell into a stream was not very pleasant. So I pointed it out and just like that we turned around. On the way back we made it as far as Minchin’s Cove – 14km from the trail head – so a little bit back past South Broad Cove. All in all we hiked about 33km during the weekend.
The verdict is in and it’s a positive one – we are already planning the next backpacking adventure and I started reading the Appalachian Trail book my partner tried to get me to read so many times before.
I’ve learned that – like with anything in life – attitude is everything and it can make you or break you. I learned that if I accept the small discomforts of the trail (like wet feet) I am more likely to come out the other end victorious and ready for the next best thing. Same as taking the picture when the light is right – I simply decided to enjoy the beauty of the trail and the company of a loved one – and I’m glad to say that I found my happy place on the trail. The food was right if not a tad too plentiful, the weight on my back was manageable and my shoes were 100 times better than what I was used to wearing before. Not counting a couple of minor breakdowns along the way and the fact that I made everybody turn around before we reached the end, I still deem this expedition a success and one of many more to come.
If you are planing on a day hike all you really need to take with you on the trail are some snacks and you’ll be set. I talked about some options in my first instalment of Second Chances – showing you how you can easily create your own snacks without having to resort to store bought ones that are full of sugar and other unnecessary ingredients (having said that, if you are really strapped for time one healthy alternative in my books would be the LaraBar). However, if your partner is a crazy thru-hiker you might end up having to accompany him (or her) on overnighters to protect him from various predatory “animals” that might show up on the trail ;-). As a result you’ll find yourself in a situation where snack food is not quite enough and you’ll need some cooked meals with you as well.
Normally, healthy nutrition is not an issue for me – I am quite comfortable in the kitchen – a typical meal would contain baked sweet potato wedges, sautéed onions and mushrooms and grilled salmon. As you can see this is a simple meal that is minimally processed – the food is cooked with the use of natural herbs and spices. However, as you can probably gather – if you have any experience hiking and/or backpacking – a meal like that is not suitable for the trail mostly due to its weight and portability. If you are hiking long distances the goal is to try to minimize the weight on your back, so that you can be comfortable and be able to travel far. So, my challenge with the meals was to come up with something that meets 2 main criteria:
1. Lightweight – to minimize the weight on my back (or my partner’s back – depending who carries what) as this directly corresponds to the likelihood of my enjoyment of this activity,
2. Nutrition – to make sure I don’t internally resent the activity for eating foods I normally wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole – of course, I am exaggerating, but I do want to eat as close to my regular meals as possible to help me succeed in making backpacking enjoyable.
I’m happy to say that I think I have found a solution, but in order for you to understand my dilemma let me show you why I don’t want to settle for a typical, no brainer trail food that many hikers /backpackers take with them.
Typically a backpacker’s meal will contain some type of pasta or rice dish that is light and easy to cook. I can only speak for the thru-hiker I’ve observed so his meals are going to be the examples I give. I’ve seen him buy the Knorr Sidekicks pasta or rice dishes as they are quick to prepare, weigh very little and are calorically dense. At first sight there is nothing wrong with a bit of pasta or rice with some added flavour. But if you are like me you will head straight to the ingredient list which is quite lengthy for a pasta dish. I will highlight in bold the ingredients that are questionable to my digestive system for ease of reading.
As you can see out of 22 ingredients (which is a lot for a pasta dish BTW.) 14 are unnecessary in my books – that’s more than half of the ingredients. I am not going to go into detail of why each of these ingredients should not make it into my pasta meal – I’d rather concentrate on showing how can get a better meal without them. But just for argument’s sake I will say that if an ingredient’s list contains all types of sugars unnecessary in my savoury meal and if I can’t pronounce an ingredient’s name or don’t recognize it as a food, I don’t want or need to eat it. The entire packet will run anywhere between 400-600 calories with most of them coming from carbs at about 100g-120g.
So to make this dish more up my alley I was initially going to use a veggie soup mix – while ingredient-wise it was a perfect choice, I got stumped by the cooking directions that required simmering for 30 minutes (see bullet number 2 for reasoning behind the unsuitability of such a long cooking time). So I decided to assemble my own pasta dish that was both light and contained only the ingredients I am willing to eat and here is what I came up with:
For my pasta I opted for bean based pasta that you can easily find in specialty stores such as the Bulk Barn, but you could also substitute for flour based pasta if you prefer higher carbohydrate content. Since there is nothing in the pasta other than water and the beans there is very little flavour in it per se – so I decided to create my own flavour packet composed of: spices found my my kitchen (salt, pepper, Mrs Dash) + miso soup mix + dried veggies + mushroom and quinoa cream (pictured below). The last one is a very interesting ingredient that will give my pasta dish some umpf and will thicken it up a bit without adding any chemicals, preservatives or sugars. You can really play around with the flavours though – in my book the sky is the limit.
And this is what my meal looks like assembled and prepared on the trail:
Let’s move on to my other cooked meal which is breakfast – it is still a work in progress, but an improvement on the typical instant oatmeal that you see people eat – instant oatmeal such as the Quaker Harvest. The ingredients in these packets are as follows:
The problem in here is high content of sugar in various forms. I know you need energy while preforming physical activity and sugar will give you lots of energy, however with simple sugars it will be short lived – you will experience so called sugar crash. In addition, oats are already a complex carbohydrate that will provide you with the energy you need to push through during your hike or other physical activity, so why would you want to spike your blood sugars unnecessarily high and then crash and crave more sugar? Even my thru-hiker admitted to his breakfast being cloyingly sweet and he has a sweet tooth.
My first take on breakfast on the trail is a mix of oat bran and quick oats with the addition of protein:
2. COOKING TIME AND WEIGHT:
Another issue to consider is the amount of cooking the food requires which directly corresponds to the fuel you’re going to need to carry- and the more fuel you need the more weight you will carry. So when considering the food, you need to keep in mind the duration of cooking. So for example brown rice would be a clear choice for anybody who cares about nutrition (brown better than white for the fibre content). However, I cannot bring brown rice on the trail because it needs a simmering flame for about 20 minutes! So I needed to come up with something much less fuel dependent and maybe even modify the cooking method to use as little fuel as possible. Both my meals required a cup of water to be brought to a boiling point and then for the main meal I had to simmer for about 5 minutes and for my breakfast I had to simmer about 2-3 minutes. So all in all minimal time on the stove. Plus, we alternated between an isobutane-based stove and an alcohol stove to make best use of both fuels.
You might be thinking that you could eliminate the cooking time on the trail by cooking rice/oats/pasta at home and packing it already cooked. Trust me, I’ve thought of this as well just to be told it’s a good idea in principle but not in application. By cooking a relatively light ingredient such as rice you’d be adding weight to it and that will make your pack heavier. Try it – weigh a cup of dry rice, cook it as per directions on your bag of rice and weigh it cooked – it will be much heavier because you’ve just added water to it. Backpacking commandment number 1 is to never carry water – it’s heavy – instead you find your water sources on the trail and treat your water.
And this is how I made sure my hiking experience was a positive one – I made my trail food meet my nutrition goals.
I do have to add, though, that I had taken too much snack food with me and did not really mathematically determined what exactly I would need to eat during this backpacking trip – the same way I do it at home. The reason for that is my inexperience in hiking long distances. I’ve naturally overestimated the food I would need to consume to keep walking. While at home and preforming my regular activities such as work and gym training I know exactly what my body needs, but I don’t know what it needs to feel good and at highest performance when hiking. So, there were moments when I ate just became the food was there and needed to be eaten, rather than because I needed the nutrients. A lesson for the future – bring only what you need, not what you think you will need. This will minimize both the weight on my back and prevent from an expanding waistline 😉
Stay tuned for my final word on whether or not hiking is in the cards for me…
As I’m sitting down to write this post I’m coming to the conclusion that my blog has become somewhat hike-centric – yet again the topic of this post is hiking – and more precisely why I haven’t yet taken to hiking, even though I’ve had plenty of opportunity to join in. If hike blogging is to continue I might have to change the tag-line in the description of the blog 😉
The truth of the matter is that I am a whimp when it comes to physical exertion. I tire quickly and then become a whiner with an occasional outburst of “drunken giggles” – It had to be said to give you a true picture of me. I can lift weights all day, but when it comes down to endurance I falter very quickly. Having said that, I should also say that unbeknownst to anybody I’ve been on a quiet mission to change this state of affairs for some time. I’ve been secretly hopping on a bike first thing in the morning before I do my weight training. It’s not much but I have gradually been increasing the duration of my cardio sessions and I have been building up endurance. Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize that 60 minutes on a stationary bike in the gym does not compare to hiking in the woods with weight on your back and the force of nature. I understand that. However, I do believe my bike sessions are helping me to work on my endurance level more-so than not doing any cardiovascular exercise at all.
Why all of a sudden all this interest in hiking? Well, I do like a challenge and I’ve also come to realize how unfit I have become by sticking to weight training only. Training with weights shapes the body, develops muscle that look appealing to the eye, but it does not equal fit, unless one is engaging in another form of exercise… Weights are for the looks, which I don’t think is wrong – but to be fit you need to do more. I want more, plus hiking will definitely help me to lean out (with proper nutrition that is) and what better way to make my hard earned muscles pop.
If you’ve been reading my blog or social media posts you might have noticed that I have tried to engage in hiking a while back and have failed miserably, so miserably that I have lost my hiking partner who tried to get me on board in the first place! As a result he has had to resort to hiking solo, because after trying the overnight hammock-hike I waved the white flag and finally said “You’re on your own, buddy.” And here I am starting over. So why am I hoping for a different outcome this time? For starters I won’t repeat the same mistakes, but let me tell you why I think I failed the first time…
There were 2 main reasons why I believe it didn’t work out for me the first time around :
1. Comfort level and,
1. As I said earlier, I am a whimp and feeling uncomfortable makes for an even bigger whimp. When hiking in the past my biggest mistake was to go into it with a typical hiking pair of shoes. I know now that it was the wrong choice. A typical hiker shoe is bulky, heavy and tight on your foot. Your feet are doing most of the work when walking, so you should take care of them first and foremost. I don’t want to sound like I am an expert, because I am not, but I’ve been observing the shoe choice of a thru hiker at home and I can safely conclude that the less shoe you’re wearing, the better! It needs to be fast drying, so no waterproof material and it needs to be as light as possible. Of course, I’m assuming the grippness of the sole of your hiker is a no brainer. So after some research I’ve been gifted yet another pair, hopefully a successful one.
This weekend is a test for these before I set out on a crazy Outport 50k hike. They had better past the test is all I can say. So far I have worn them at home and they fit perfectly with plenty of room for swelling. They run very low so the mobility of my ankle shouldn’t be an issue. They do have a bit of a lip on the heel which I’m told might be an issue with hooking over branches or tree roots, but I am yet to experience it. The material the shoe is made out of feels very breathable and fast drying. Other than that I wish the colour was darker all around as I know they will not look as pretty as they do in the pictures for very long. Will report once tested.
2. The second reason why hiking has not stuck with me in the past is the food related. Let me elaborate for those of you who might be confused. If one is to enjoy long distance hiking it is crucial that everything you take is as light as possible. Believe me, I’ve witnessed the joy in the eyes of a hiker who was able to shave off a couple of ounces from the base weight – it’s unmistakable. And even though most times I roll my eyes when I see the scale coming out of the cupboard, I do realize it’s necessary to put in the effort to make your load light. So, now my shoes are 33% lighter than the pair I was wearing before, but food is not that easy to master. It’s fairly easy if you don’t care what you eat on the trail, but you know that this is not the case with me. I do care what I eat and I see no good in hiking if I am to put junk in my trunk.
In the past I found it exceedingly difficult to stick to my clean diet while hiking. I wanted to eat my regular yummy food while hiking only to realize that it weighs a tonne. When your shoes are heavy and uncomfortable and your pack is too heavy you are bound to be an unhappy hiker and the activity will not stick. You need to enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing. So, I know I can’t bring my regular food on the trail because of the weight – that is not going to change. And I am still not willing to eat whatever is most calorifically dense (read: sugar) regardless of the quality of its ingredients because it might fit the weight criteria – it simply makes no sense to me. A Snickers bar on the trail to me equals a bottle of vodka at an AA meeting – just simply wrong (I can hear all the hikers gasping at my criticism of the Holly Snickers Bar).
On top of that I’ve been told we’ll only be cooking 2 meals on the trail and the rest of the calories will have to come from snacks eaten while walking or on quick stops without pulling out all the cooking gear. So, I will resort to some bars that I deem least processed and containing the least number of ingredients (Lara Bars, Quest Bars and Yup Bars). But one can’t possibly just eat bars all day, so I set out on a quest to make some crackers. They are a work in progress, but my first batch came out rather well. I made the mistake of leaving them out on the counter and they did absorb some moisture and became chewy. Note to self: put next batch in a plastic resealable bag!
And there you have it, this is how I am dealing with the food issue – I’m making it as trail friendly (light) and diet friendly (clean) as possible. It’s a work in progress, but I am most positive the second time around hiking will stick. I have a better appreciation of this activity than I did in the past and a different kind of motivation to make it succeed.
Please stay tuned for the next episode of trail food entry in which I will show you my cooked meals. I have already figured out complete, nutritious meals that are light – therefore suitable for hiking – and I didn’t resort to questionable ingredients.
Let me start by saying that if you want something bad enough you will do what needs to be done because anything worth having is worth your effort. Forgive the cliché laden intro, but it’s true that nothing worth having is easy. If you don’t care you will not feel inclined to make the effort. It’s when you care that things will start working out for you.
I think I would not be wrong in saying that we all want good health, we all want to feel good in our bodies, many of us want to look good naked, some of us want to have shredded abs. Whatever your goal you will need to make an effort in the kitchen, because your health, your looks and your well-being all start in the kitchen.
I’m exhausted today after a pretty much full day of prepping food, but I did it and here is proof:
I woke up at 5:30AM, just couldn’t sleep. By 6AM I was brewing my coffee and – as usually is the case on a Sunday – I started contemplating going to the gym or taking a rest day. Somehow, it always makes me feel guilty to take a rest day – I feel like I should be doing more to get my butt in shape. The verdict was that I needed to take a day off for several reasons: 1. I had a pile of things to catch up on and 2. I’ve had quite a leg workout the day before (but more on that in a minute).
So I had my ritual pancake and coffee with cream and started devising a plan of action for my food prep. I started hauling all the groceries out of the fridge that were purchsed Friday night and quickly realized that the fridge could use a quick scrub. I don’t know about you, but when I open the fridge and it’s clean and tidy I am more likely to stick to my food plan and be on top of my game. When the fridge is tidy I know what’s what and what needs to be used when. That’s just how my brain functions. So I gave it a quick scrub and proceeded to cook the food. Sometime in the middle of my prep it was time to eat again so I whipped up some scrambled eggs and broccoli and then fished off my cooking which brought me to about 3PM.
So, yes, it was a full day of dancing around in the kitchen – I have to say that’s unusually long, though. And yes, at 3PM I was exhausted. But do I regret any of it? No. It’s pouring cats and dogs today, so as far as I’m concerned if I didn’t do my ritual in the kitchen, I would have been sitting on my derrière and probably stuffing my face with crap. Instead, I have a fridge full of cooked food that will take minutes to assemble and a peace of mind that I don’t need to resort to food served in a work cafeteria or have to pop out to Mary Brown’s for lunch.
Now, let me tell you why I think I was so exhausted at 3PM – food prepping is not by definition an activity that raises my heart rate very high. Walking through the woods does, though! The day before some quality time was needed and so I agreed to do a little road trip to Terra Nova National Park to check out the Outport trail.
A while ago I was covertly encouraged by a certain thru-hiker to do a review and recommend the best energy-protein bar to take on the trail. I’ve been dragging my feet to write this post mostly because to do a review would entail actually trying the bars in question and to be perfectly honest I am not too keen on that – I’d be eating thousands of extra calories! Also, as I am trying to promote wholesome and minimally processed foods it goes against my beliefs to recommend any of these mass manufactured bars. However, as I do understand the convenience of an energy bar while hiking (or at any point during a busy workday) I decided to make my version of a bar that will not only be good for you but it most certainly taste delicious – and I can vouch for the taste-test myself 🙂
5tsp Yacon Gold Syrup (can substitute for honey or maple syrup)
28g Unsweetened Baker's chocolate
2Tbsp Raw Coconut Butter
60g Protein Powder
Chop dried fruit and walnuts
Add all ingredients together and mix well.
Add water as desired to bind all the ingredients.
Line a pyrex dish with aluminum foil and spread out the mixture from edge to edge.
Pop in the oven at 350 degrees and bake for 30-45 minutes.
Now, I know hikers (or most of the serious ones, anyway) are always concerned with the weight of their hiking gear. It makes sense to minimize it as much as possible so that one can hike most comfortably with all the necessary conveniences of daily life – or at least enough to get by. Keeping this in mind I will say that these are not light by any means – I don’t know how they compare to any commercially made bars – however one serving of my bar is 100g. The whole batch weighed at about 860g, so I don’t think you’d be taking the whole batch with you, but with a day hike in mind I don’t think it would be extremely inconvenient to take 2 servings.
PS. If you absolutely have to get a store bought bar I would go for Larabar. Having briefly looked at the ingredients of most readily available bars in a Canadian grocery store (as in no fancy, specialty bars) I can say with utmost certainty that it’s the most minimally processed bar that I would be willing to eat with pretty much the same ingredients as my bar. The weight of a Larabar is 48g, so half the size as my bar, however much denser in terms of caloric value: 190 calories, 10g fat, 24g carbs and 4g protein. Now, from a hiker’s perspective this might be a good thing since it weighs less but packs in more nutritional value. From my perspective, I’d rather have more to chew on, so to me smaller size means I’m chewing less 😉 To each their own!
When you are carrying some extra weight there might come a point in time when you finally decide enough is enough. It might be when you see yourself in a photograph from a friend’s wedding, it might be when you have to make another whole in your belt to make it fit around your waist again, or it might be in clothes store, in a change room realizing that the sizes you pick out no longer fit. Whenever that moment happens you will decide right then and there that change is needed, because you no longer feel like yourself. At that moment you will feel like you have just stepped out of your body and started looking at yourself from the side and not recognizing what you see. I know, I have been there.
At that particular moment your will is going to be so strong that nothing will be able to break it until you feel like yourself again. When you get to that breaking point you somehow are going to be able to find it in yourself to change. You will turn bad habits into good ones. You will ditch the bad foods and replace them healthy choices. Your plate will look more colourful and you will move more. You will start to see your body change. Eventually, though, you might want to indulge again. After all, you don’t want to have to say good-bye to all the yummy foods forever. You want to feel like they are available to you in moderation. The good news is, they are and better yet, if you can truly change your thinking about food, they might be available every day! Here is how.
Pasta is one of those foods that we all love to hate. We love it for its yummy, starchy qualities, but we really hate what too much pasta can do to our love-handles. Let’s face it, it’s not pretty and most of us women want to have slender backs that are a pleasure to look at. Pasta won’t get you there. However, if you are willing to change your understanding and appreciation for pasta there is another way to enjoy it. It’s called NuPasta!
Yes, its name implies that it’s pasta we are taking about but you really need an open mind and a willingness to try NU-kind-of-PASTA to be able to enjoy it. So, what’s so special about it and why should you swap the regular stuff for NuPasta? What’s special is that a package of this pasta is 210g and will fill you up to the brim and only worth 25 calories! Let’s compare a standard wheat pasta to NuPasta:
The problem with regular pasta is that it is very carb dense and we all know if you want to lose weight you will need to get those starchy carbs under control. So, even though it’s tasty, regular wheat pasta will not make your love handles go away. NuPasta, at double the cooked weight can be enjoyed daily at no harm to your slender physique, because it is very low in carbs, only 6g.
Now, here is where your open-mind needs to open real wide, because if you are expecting the texture, taste and palatability of regular wheat pasta, you will be very disappointed and will most definitely get turned off and not like NuPasta. This product only resembles wheat pasta in its appearance and name. It does not taste like regular pasta and it does not behave like regular pasta. First of all, when you buy it, you will notice that it is already cooked and is sitting in a liquid. All you need to do is remove it from the liquid and rinse it and of course dress it however you want to dress it. If you are used to cooking pasta in heavy cream sauces you will be disappointed because this pasta does not absorb liquids well. I would say that it has zero absorbability. So what can you do with it? I keep it very simple. Usually use some hot sauce and spices and of course add protein to it. Sometimes I use it as a “volumizer” for my high carb day when I add rice to it.
Because I favour my baked chicken with all sorts of spices I feel that this meal does not require any type of heavy cream sauces to make it palatable. In fact, all I did with the rice and the pasta is added some smoked paprika, pepper, salt and a good splash of hot sauce. The secret here is to enjoy the natural flavours of food and nothing makes a meal taste like a million bucks the way caramelized onions and mushrooms!
Here is another use of NuPasta in a lunch of 2 sunny-side-ups:
If I was to describe the taste and texture of NuPasta I would have to say it’s one of a kind. It has a springy quality. You can’t overcook it and I usually don’t cook it, per say. I might reheat it by tossing it in some coconut oil in a frying pan , but it does not require any amount of cooking.
Even though a package of this pasta is not very light – the actual pasta weighs 210g and it is immersed in liquid, so I would say between 300 and 400g for one meal – I have taken it with me hiking. Now, granted it was car camping, so weight was not of big concern, but still I immensely enjoyed it in its most basic, simple form accompanied by smoked salmon, cashews, coleslaw and generous squeeze of ketchup and mustard :
Granted, if you are undertaking long distance, thru-hiking where lightness of your load is of the essence you probably will be better off with dry wheat pasta or any of the Uncle Ben’s type of pasta dishes. For one, they will be light and two you will need all the carbs you can get 🙂 However, if I ever decide to join in a hike again, I am sure going to pack at least one of these babies with me, even if I have to smuggle it in! Or I might finally break down and order a dry version of this pasta from Candra International – their site is still under construction and currently only taking orders over the phone (I know, I can’t wait either!)
So, that’s a wrap for a New type of pasta that’s here to stay on my menu!
I honestly can say that I wake up for pancakes. I literally go to sleep with the taste of my evening pancake still in my mouth just to wake up, work my ass off at the gym and head to work to have my morning pancake for breakfast. This has been my routine now for quite some time. No, I don’t get bored or tired of it because if something is good there is no reason to get bored of it. I actually genuinely don’t understand when people say they have to eat something different every single day – that would truly be physically and mentally tiring to me. I stick to what I know works for my kind of goals and what I like. Sure, I change it around a bit when I feel like it, but for me it’s about consistency and keeping it simple helps with staying consistent. Life is complicated as it is, why make it more so with food – is my motto.
Growing up pancakes were a staple on the weekends – mom would whip up some goodness once in a while. Of course, back then they were quite a bit different than what I make these days. They were called “placki ziemiaczane” which literally translates as “potato cakes”. And yes the main ingredient was a grated potato along with an egg, some flour and a lot of oil for frying – you could make them savoury or sweet. Were they ever greasy, though! So, just judging by the ingredients you could safely assume that I have never made them myself since coming to North America. Today, I make Coconut Pancakes because they fit in with my diet much better than Placki Zmiemiaczane, just look for yourself 🙂
Pour egg whites and stevia into a food processor and set on high for as long as it takes for the egg whites to form stiff peaks.
Add coconut flour, baking powder and extracts and pulse to incorporate. If you just letting go on high again the mixture becomes watery. If you gently pulse you will retain the airiness of your egg whites and I find that a better batter and a much nicer, fluffier pancake.
Transfer into a heated non-stick pan that you gently sprayed with coconut oil.
Cook for 5 minutes on medium on each side.
Transfer into a plate and drizzle some nut butter on top. I like to sprinkle with some cinnamon and BCAAs for a little icing sugar like taste without the actual sugar 🙂