Words: Hannele Steyn
I have written many articles on the importance of healthy food choices rather than following all the new trends that come and go. But healthy eating doesn’t only mean eating foods that are healthy, it's also about a diet of balanced nutrition that includes all three food groups; protein, essential fats, and carbohydrates.
Life moves at such a fast pace that we've become reliant on quick and easy fixes, and 'healthy' shop-bought meals and have forgotten about all the natural, healthy options available, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, meats, seeds, and nuts. The trouble with these on-the-go snacks is that they are loaded with preservatives, trans fats, and an overload of sodium. And when it comes to those 'healthy' shop-bought meals, have you ever wondered how they keep fresh for so long?
So what is easy to grab and go, but also balanced, nutritious, and an excellent racing and training food? In addition to biltong and fruit, two of the best food choices you can make are nuts and dried fruit. Nuts (raw or air roasted) are wonderful sources of good fats and protein, whilst dried fruits give us quicker released energy and good fibre. Together, they create quite a balanced meal. The combo of nuts and dried fruits will give you fast energy, from the high glycemic in dried fruit, and slow-released energy, from the protein and fats in the nuts. The fruit also contains good fibre for a healthy colon, while nuts contain essential fats like Omega 3 and 6 that are essential for overall health. They are also easy to eat on the run and in a race (no mess, no fuss).
I know dried fruit has a lot of concentrated sugar, but when you are active you also need a high and fast energy source. Remember not to eat too much dried fruit in a race or training, as it might upset your tummy. It is only to give you fast and instant energy and the best to use when exercising, is dates and dried figs. Another delicious, healthy combo is goji berries mixed with walnuts or almonds. A clever and easy to eat combo is stuffing a date with two cashews.
Nuts are a brilliant source of sustained energy and mixing it in quantities of 1-3 (fruit to nuts) during activities, will give your body wonderful nutrition. This is also good for you even if you only need something as an every-day snack.
The best nuts to use are walnuts for their high concentration of essential fat. I find that almonds, also one of your best kinds, are difficult to eat in a race because it's quite a hard nut and little bits might get stuck in your throat.
Cashews are nice and soft and easy to eat. Even though salt is not be recommended for health, in a race or training when we are sweating a lot and consuming a lot of sweet stuff, a little salt will help a lot. Don’t buy the salted nuts though, as it will contain a lot of saturated fat from the roasting process. Rather add your own Himalayan salt. When buying nuts, choose the raw or air roasted ones to cut out any unhealthy trans fats.
When writing my articles, I try to look at people or companies that support sport, be it cycling, running or adventure, and produce quality products that are relevant to the topic being covered. When looking for a nut and dried fruit producer and a company that invests in cycling, I came across Empire State Trading. They also sponsor of one of the big mountain bike races in South Africa and will soon be bringing out a health range that will cater for all your on-the-go snacks.
Nut butter and honey energy gels
• Take 300 g of Brazil or macadamia nuts and put them in a strong blender.
• Blend the nuts until it forms a creamy substance.
• Mix in two tablespoons of organic honey and blend well until fully mixed.
• Pour 50 g into 'new' bank bags, so that when you are in a race or training session, you can bite a little hole in the bag, squeeze and enjoy!
• You can use the mixture as a spread on your sandwich. It's very yummy!
For more information on the healthy alternatives that Empire State Trading offer, visit www.empirestatetrading.com