Hiking Snacks

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I got back from a trip to Seattle a few weeks ago, and thought that I would share some snacks that I brought with me to eat while I was hiking in Mount Rainier National Park.

The Bhu Fit bars are a line of organic, gluten free, bars that have almost no sugar. These bars also contain prebiotic fiber (up to 10g), but not enough to cause any GI discomfort.  They are high in fat, and use coconut oil so they do include saturated fat.  They also have have moderate amounts of protein (12-14g).  An activity like hiking requires energy preferably in the form of a combination of protein and fat high in medium chain triglycerides to fuel your muscles, so these bars fit the bill.  They have a few different lines: whey protein, egg protein, and pea protein.  I of course only consume the plant based ones, and the Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownie and Apple Cinnamon Nutmeg varieties are my favorite by far.

The PaleoKrunch Granola Bars are a very complementary snack to the Bhu Fit Bars for physical activity as they are high in complex carbs, but still relatively low in sugar. I ate these on my way down the mountain to help refuel after my hike.  Although not organic, they are grain and GMO free. The packaging is a bit bulky, so not great for throwing in your pocket, but easy to carry in a backpack.  They only contain a handful of ingredients that sound like you could throw it together yourself, but somehow I can’t imagine it would go well for me if I tried. They do contain honey so they are not vegan friendly.  I enjoy the Pumpkin and Tropical Varieties as they are the lowest in sugar (6-7g) and have great flavor.

Here are some pics from the trip:

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The Nutrition Source by Harvard

Healthy Eating Plate

     You are probably aware of the USDA’s MyPlate. Many dietitians recommend the resource, however many nutritionists take issue with it for good reason. To address many of the key problems with MyPlate, Harvard School of Public Health offers the Nutrition Source. It is an invaluable resource that offers research based nutrition info in an easy to understand  way.   Their Healthy Eating Plate shows that protein should consist of about 25% of your meal, as should whole grains.

      The vegetable portion appears to be about 35%. The fruit portion consists of what looks like to be about 15%.  Take note that NO DAIRY is included and it is replaced by water and healthy oils. For each item included on the chart a brief explanation is included to provide an example of healthy options.  A little figure of a running individual is included to remind the reader that a healthy diet should really consist of a healthy lifestyle which requires exercise.

myplate

     You can compare this to the very simple ChooseMyPlate image.  The portions are a bit more confusing to determine. There are no suggestions for healthy examples of food choices. No water or exercise is included, however dairy is.  Harvard’s Nutrition Source contains many static pages such as : What Should I Eat? It also contains a page called Nutrition in the News, which is frequently updated with freshly released nutrition studies/news articles, etc.  In contrast, ChooseMyPlate has a TON of resources available, which can make it less user-friendly and difficult to navigate. Even with their endless resources considered, Harvard’s Nutrition Source provides a better quality of information.

Glycemic Index

 glycemic index

     These terms can get to be a bit confusing.  Basically, the Glycemic Index (GI) is based off of the blood sugar response that 50g of carbohydrates from a specific food will give you. The GI is a rating system that gives a food a number on a scale of 0-100 that relates how fast and how high those carbohydrates will spike your blood sugar after consumption.

     It is talked about in Diabetes management because it is important to manage blood glucose levels to minimize complications.  By avoiding high glycemic foods, diabetics can avoid spikes in blood sugar levels, and also importantly low blood sugar.  To a person without Diabetes, it is also important to have steady blood sugar levels because too much can increase insulin production which over time will increase adipose stores, insulin resistant and Type II Diabetes. Too little blood sugar will leave you feeling weak and lethargic.

     Consequently, choosing foods that have a lower GI rating are generally healthier. They include whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean proteins and vegetables.  Some exceptions include fruits, starchy vegetables like beets, and grains such as millet.

     The GI of a food can be effected by many factors including how old it is ( very ripe banana has a higher GI than a green one), how it is processed/cooked ( the more it is cooked, generally the higher the GI), its form (mashed vs. diced potatoes), its temperature (hot vs. cold potatoes), how much, and with what it is consumed (bread alone has a higher GI than bread with butter).

     The Glycemic Load (GL) is a bit more practical.  This term takes the GI number and adjusts it to reflect an amount normally consumed.  For example, eating 50g of carbs from pasta is realistic and won’t change the number that much, however eating 50g from watermelon would be quite a feat, so the number will most likely drop.

     The GL can be manipulated in a number of ways by altering the variables mentioned above.  For example, if there is a food with a higher GI you can lower its GL by combining it with a fat or protein to slow digestion and glucose metabolism.  For example, have a piece of fruit with some nuts or seeds, or eat beets with a fillet of fish for dinner.  If you are craving something sweet, you can substitute regular sugar with a less processed form such as Sucanat, which has a lower GI and bake with whole instead of light grains to lower the GI.

Soy

soy

     With so many foods controversies going on right now perhaps Soy is the longest withstanding argument.  It seems like at least for me it has been a circular argument never having been resolved.  Well I ignored the topic a little while longer and now have re-evaluated it hoping that the break would clear my mind.  It appears so since I now have a definitive view on Soy consumption.  I am beginning to think of it more as an herb per say, something that is very potent and has the ability to cause substantial changes in the body instead of an appropriate food or condiment choice.

     Companies that thrive off of Soy sales such as Silk have entire websites dedicated towards rebutting myths and clearing the name of Soy.  After looking at their “evidence” and doing a little of your own research it is clear that for every article that says it is beneficial for your health there is another that says to run away.  Personally I have a few Soy anecdotes that show that at least for myself it has a big impact.  About 5 years ago I found some Soy Isoflavone supplements in my mothers pantry and thought I would try them.  Not even a few hours later the texture of my skin had changes, breakouts had started to reside and I felt great.  I was on cloud 9 for the next few days until I woke up with huge painful cystic breakout on my neck that continued to get worse until I stopped taking the pills a few days later.

    If Soy could have that big of an impact on myself I am sure it can on others too regardless of if you have a strong reaction.  Now some people avoid Soy simply because it is a legume, which is another post topic together (along with grains).   I believe that it SHOULD BE AVOIDED because of its high phytoestrogen content.   A phytoestrogen is just what the name imply, a plant version of estrogen that although it can’t function the same as estrogen in the body does, it can cling to estrogen receptors tricking the body into it thinking that is is real estrogen.   This can reak all kinds o havoc in the body through disrupting the delicate hormonal balance.  There are many types of phytoestrogens within three main groups: Isoflavones. Lignans, and Coumestan.  Soy is contains predominately Isoflavones.

     Now while all of the Soy haters are out there hating on Soy they neglect to look at other foods which have high phytoestrogen as well.  Granted, Soy overall is the highest by far, however in some forms it is actually quite low.  For example Soy Sauce and Soy Sprouts do not provide high amounts.  Also  Flax-seed comes in second highest to Soy in content and many people use Flax-seed Oil everyday and do not even realize that.  Some other surprising foods are: Black Bean Sauce, Hummus, Mung Bean, Sesame Seeds, Alfalfa Sprouts, Garlic, Dried Apricots and Dates, and Black Licorice.  Now some of these may not be that high depending on your serving.  For that reason I have included this link.

     In the end, I have decided to try and avoid anything that has a high phytoestrogen load.  I am working so hard to heal my body so it can balance my hormones that I do not what to confuse it by adding phytoestrogens in there to throw it off balance.  Of course there are always exceptions for example I love Garlic and it is so good for you, plus the amount of Garlic that I would eat does not have a phytoestrogen load I am worried about.  Also my husband and I love Thai and Sushi and because Soy Sauce does not have a high phytoestrogen load we are not going to deprive ourselves of that enjoyment occasionally.  Overall do some research,  and decide what’s best for you!

Seafood

choosing seafood

     Being some what of a pescatarian it is imperative that I only consume high quality seafood since it is such an important part of my diet (minus occasional dining out).  There are many many things to consider when purchasing seafood.  At first since I learned many things all at once it was very overwhelming, but now it is more of second nature.  I am posting this to provide a quick guide to help guide you in your shopping selection.

1) Wild caught is almost always better than farm raised.  Wild caught fish have shown to have very high essential fatty acid compositions compared to farm raised, they also are better quality and tone because they are wild and have endless room to travel and swim.  Farm raised also depending on the farm may be contaminated with pollutants, can be fed GMO food and can have antibiotics in them.  Now where you get your wild caught food is also important and a good selection requires some geographical as some world events knowledge.  For example after hurricane Katrina it would not have been a good idea to eat food from the because there was a lot of contamination from the stagnant water that went in the ocean as well as after the oil spill.  Now that some time has passed I will eat from there again.  However I will probably never eat from the North Pacific simply because the amount of radioactive pollutants that leaked during the nuclear spill.  Also if you care about the environment, you should worry about if it was environmentally caught.  Does the company prevent by catch and protect the topography of the ocean floors?  There are some environmentally friendly and healthier options of farms however they tend to be very expensive.

2) Packaging matters.  If you are buying canned fish does it have preservatives or does the can contain BPA?  If it is frozen does it contain preservatives or color enhancers? When was it frozen on the boat which would indicate really fresh fish with little chance for contamination.  Also I try not to buy previously frozen fish because you do not know was frozen and it has been refrozen after being thawed and that could increase contamination chances and decrease  freshness.

3) The type of seafood matters.  Shrimp are delicious but they are also scavengers and do not provide hardly any essential fatty acids as is the case with many bottom feeders.  It is important that if you eat scavengers to get them from an either very clean farm or ocean and only indulge once in a while.  Likewise very large sea creatures tend to live longer and have higher amounts of fatty acids.  This may sound great but a lot of pollutants are fat soluble and the longer a fish lives the more it is exposed to toxins in the water and if it has a high fat profile it can hold on to many more.  Fish like these include tuna (sushi type not tuna salad) and swordfish.   Only indulge in these once in a while as well.  Also if you have the choice of fish fillets choose the lighter ones.  The darker flesh is located on the perimeter of the fish and hold the most toxins (ex. mercury).  Healthy choices include Salmon, Anchovies, Sardines, Tilapia, Flounder, all mostly smaller cold water fish.

4)  How you eat it matters. Are you having sushi?  Uncooked fish has a higher chance of passing on live bacteria and parasites to you.  It is so delicious so how can you decrease your chances other than by limiting intake?  Only eat at very reputable Sushi establishments that have a very skilled Sushi chef and very fresh sushi grade fish.  Also be generous with the raw ginger and wasabi and low sodium soy sauce, all of which were originally included with sushi to kill potential contaminates.  Also doing a parasite cleanse every so often is not a bad idea.

5)  You matter.  Are you nursing or pregnant? Avoid all high mercury fish and scavengers.  Does your family have young children who will eat it as well?  The same goes for them.  Raw sushi is also a no no for children, pregnant women, or those with compromised immune systems/pore gut health.

     So there you have it! Hopefully this list isn’t too overwhelming and is helpful in choosing all of your seafood purchases.  Of course I could expound much more but then each item could be a post in and of itself.  I hope you use these points to conduct your own research and reach your own conclusions of what you want to incorporate into your diet.