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Archive for June, 2012



Backcountry nutrition for peak performance

This is the scene I was rewarded with a couple of years ago while backpacking in the Colorado high country. It was definitely worth the climb (summit 13,951 feet) and although I kept my distance in respect to my mountain goat friends, I thoroughly enjoyed our meeting.

When Maggie and Amy asked me to do a guest post at The Balanced Platter and explained that June’s editorial calendar included the theme, traveling on a GF diet, I immediately thought of high-country travel—as in backpacking. No cars, trains, or airplanes needed—just a good pair of hiking boots and a loaded backpack.

So—what does it take to fuel your engine and nourish your body for “peak” performance? Follow these basic tips for sustained energy (a long day on the trail) and quick bursts (climbing the last 500 feet to the summit). You’ll also need some turbo-charged recovery food so you can sleep well, climb out of your tent at the crack of dawn, make a hearty breakfast, and start all over again—day after day. That’s what backpacking is all about—sustained energy. And yes, I call that traveling on a GF diet.

These are basic eating strategies for all-day energy. Although sometimes one category serves the purpose better than another, most meals and snacks are a mixture.

Complex carbs
High-fiber, complex carbs will help you plod along for long hours on the trail. They provide more sustained energy because they’re digested (broken down) more slowly than simple sugars. Oats, brown rice, quinoa, teff, granola, and buckwheat are all examples of complex carbs. Start the day with a blend of carbohydrate (complex and simple), protein, and fat. Oatmeal with dried fruit, nuts, and brown sugar is a perfect way to start the day.

Simple carbs 
Say you’ve been hiking along at a moderate intensity for 3 or 4 hours and you realize you’re about a half an hour away from a very steep 500 foot climb to the summit. You need a quick fix and that comes in the form of fast burning, simple carbs like GF jelly beans, dried fruit, honey, or chocolate chips. They’re easy to digest and the simple sugar goes immediately to your working muscles and nervous system.

Fat
High-quality, slow-burning fats are essential for backpacking. They provide more calories (energy) per gram, which you need when you’re physically active all day. Fats give you staying power. Mix them with complex carbs for long-lasting fuel. Nuts, seeds, coconut, and jerky (salmon, beef, bison provide fat and protein), cheese, and sausage are great choices for backpackers.

Protein
Many of the complex carbs (teff, quinoa, oats) and fats (jerky, nuts, seeds) all provide a good dose of protein as well. Protein helps repair the muscles and connective tissue you break down during long hikes. Protein is essential for recovery.

Nutrition bonus
Backpacking is physically demanding and stresses the body in many ways. I like to dehydrate nutrient-dense, hearty greens (kale, spinach, chard) and create my own dry soup mixes for a daily nutrition bonus of antioxidant protection. Hearty greens dehydrate well, weigh next-to-nothing, and rehydrate immediately. They’re perfect for backpacking. Mix the dehydrated greens with instant potato flakes and a gluten-free chicken base for a satisfying and nutritious side soup. At camp, all you have to do is add boiling water to the dry mix, stir, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.

Granola-Style Energy Bars (Perfect to make ahead and eat on the trail)
Makes 16 bars
Courtesy of The Gluten-Free Edge: A Nutrition and Training Guide for Peak Athletic Performance and an Active Gluten-Free Life (by Peter Bronski & Melissa McLean Jory)

What you need
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons raw shelled hemp seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans
1 cup almonds
1 cup unsulfured dried apricots (about 6 ounces), chopped into chunks
1/4 cup certified gluten-free, rolled oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup maple syrup (grade B is thicker)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted, plus some to grease the pan
1 teaspoon gluten-free pure vanilla extract

What you do
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square pan.
2. Place the almond meal, hemp seeds, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor and pulse until well mixed.
3. Add the pecans, almonds, oats, and apricots and pulse several times until the nuts are in small chunks but not completely ground. Add the chocolate chips and pulse a few times, leaving larger chunks.
4. In a medium bowl (big enough to hold all the ingredients), whisk together the maple syrup, egg, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Whisk for 1 minute to ensure all ingredients are mixed.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mash together with a fork. Use your hands if you have to.
6. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan. Cover with parchment paper, and using your hands, flatten evenly. You can also use an unslotted spatula to flatten the mixture.
7. Place on the center rack in the oven. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Place the pan in the refrigerator to chill before cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Peace, love, and happy trails from The Balanced Platter!
Melissa
PS Leave us a comment sharing your favorite gluten-free hiking snack.

Mustard micro-green pesto (the best)

Micro-greens are the cute (yes, cute), early versions of most vegetables, leafy greens, and some herbs. They aren’t the same as sprouts. They’re more like baby, leafy-green houseplants that you can eat. Sprouts are grown in water, micro-greens are grown in soil and harvested when the leaves open, but before they mature. The main difference between the two is the size of the root and the length of time before harvest. Although neither take long to grow, sprouts are quicker to reach harvest size.

I love micro greens — partly because they’re fun to experiment with and a nice diversion from regular vegetables, but also because of the vibrant colors, zippy taste, and low calorie nutrition. They pack a lot of nutrients in their tiny leaves and stems. Plus, they really are cute. They’re the puppies of the plant world.

My friends (thank you, Andy) at Grant Family Farms added micro-greens to the CSA share options this season. I jumped on that bandwagon immediately.

These feisty little mustard plants start with a sweet, mellow taste, but finish with a peppery bite. I love them. Here’s what I did with last week’s 20 x 12 tray of mustard micro-greens.

First up — pesto. And, oh-my-gosh, this is the best pesto ever.

Mustard micro-green pesto
what you need
2 cups mustard micro-greens (washed and dried)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic scapes, about 2–3 scapes *
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2–3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of sea salt

* I used garlic scapes because they came in my CSA box, but you can use 2 garlic cloves in place of the scapes.

what you do
1. Place micro greens in a food processor. Add garlic scapes (or, peeled and coarsely chopped garlic cloves), pine nuts, and lemon juice and pulse a few times to chop and blend well.
2. Add the Parmesan and slowly add the olive oil while pulsing to reach the consistency you desire. I don’t like pesto to be overly oily, so adjust to your liking.

Serve on grilled salmon, which is what I did the first time I made it and it was divine. The second time, I used it to make grilled pizza (recipe below). Try it on pasta or as a topping for crackers. Pesto is user-friendly. Be creative.

Outdoor grilled pizza with mustard micro-green pesto
what you need
2 Udi’s pizza gluten-free pizza crusts (1 package), or your choice of par-baked pizza crust
mustard micro-green pesto (recipe above)
vegetables (I used cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, red onions, and tomatoes)
olive oil
Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

what you do
1. Brush outdoor grill with oil and bring to medium heat. Cut vegetables in chunks and place in medium bowl. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning. Toss to coat.
2. Place vegetables in a grilling basket on the grill. If you don’t have a grilling basket, you can place a piece of tin foil on the grill, spray with oil, and put the veggies on that. Using tongs, turn the vegetables on occasion to prevent burning. They should have a nice brown “grilled” look, but not be burned. Remove to a heat-safe bowl.
4. Spread a layer of pesto on crusts and top with the roasted vegetables. Shred a small amount of fresh Parmesan cheese on top and place pizzas on oiled grill. If you used tin foil while grilling the vegetables, make sure you remove it first. Shut the lid and cook for 6 to 10 minutes. Make sure the bottom of the crust doesn’t burn. You may have to turn the grill temperature down. Keep an eye on it as the bottom can burn quickly.
5. Serve immediately.

Peace, love, and micro-greens!
Melissa

Anxious to know who won the books?

If you’re uninterested in knowing who won the three books I’m giving away to celebrate May as Celiac Awareness month and you’d like a recipe instead, scroll away. There’s an arugula salad with macadamia nut dressing recipe featured below. It’s a wonderful salad and the dressing makes for a nice diversion from oil and vinegar.

My intention was to do five book giveaway posts in May, but real life got the better of my good intentions and May zipped by much faster than expected. I’ll announce the current winners (three) and save the other books for random giveaways in June and July. It was also my intention to have my little neighbor girl help me pick the winners from the comments you all left, but my gosh, I had a flood of entries and although I couldn’t respond to many of the comments, I did read every word and am blessed to have such articulate and bright blog followers. Thank you.

I decided to resort to random.org to pick the winners. There was no way I could choose fairly. All the answers (and the delightful poems) were so good that everyone deserved to win. How could I pick just one? I couldn’t, so the “True Random Number Service” did it for me.

Drum roll, please.

Book #1: 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster. This is one of my favorite cookbooks and the “Quinoa Pilaf with Pine Nuts and Dried Fruit” is a standard in my recipe collection. I love it. It’s a multi-use dish that everyone enjoys.
Congratulations to Jody E (comment #14)!

Book #2: Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook by Leslie Cerier. This is a great, easy-to-follow cookbook full of healthy (and tasty) recipes.
Congratulations to Noelle (comment #27)!

Book #3: The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution: How the foods you eat can help you calm your anxious mind, improve your mood & end cravings by Trudy Scott. Wow, this post elicited so many heartfelt comments that I wish I had an Oprah-like pocketbook for giveaways! I’d give everyone a copy of this book. Because of the overwhelming response, Trudy emailed me with the offer to add another copy of her book to the mix. As I mentioned in my original post, I prefer to purchase the items I give away on my blog, rather than solicit products or accept free merchandise. This will be an exception since so many people are in need of help with anxiety (thank you, Trudy).
Congratulations to Renée (comment #35) and Joanie (comment #48)!

I will be contacting the winners via email. Stay tuned for the next round of book giveaways, and in the meantime, enjoy this recipe!

Arugula, grapefruit, avocado, and shaved fennel salad with macadamia nut dressing
what you need

dressing (makes about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
sea salt

salad (makes 2 servings) 
2 to 3 cups arugula
1 grapefruit, peeled, seeded, and chopped in chunks
1 avocado, sliced
1/3 cup shaved fennel

what you do
1. Assemble the salad in a large bowl.
2. Place macadamia nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.
3. Add the water, lime juice, agave, cumin, and salt to the food processor and pulse until creamy. If it’s too thick for your liking, add more water in very small amounts at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Makes about 3 tablespoons of dressing.
4. Toss 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing with the salad and serve. Start with a small amount of dressing and adjust to your liking from there. Store extra dressing in refrigerator.

Thanks, everyone!
Melissa

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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my book
(co-written with Pete Bronski)



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