Mountain Biking in Klondike Bluffs, Moab, Utah

Our last full day of the trip was an action-packed one. Jordan and I were on the fence about renting mountain bikes during the trip, but decided to go for it on the last day. We were in Moab, after all, where some of the best and most famous mountain biking trails are located. Our hotel was also right across from the best bike rental shop in Moab, Poison Spider. The night before we picked out and got fit for our bikes. I chose an Ibis Mojo HD3, an extremely high end, 27.5 wheel size, carbon fiber, full suspension mountain bike. We asked our friends who had come to Moab previously on a mountain biking trip where the best place to go would be. They recommended Klondike Bluffs, just outside of Moab. The guys at Poison Spider installed a suction-cup bike rack on our rental vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, while we picked out the bikes.  We brought them home for the night so we could get up early and hit the trails the next morning. We parked at the North trail head off of 191 since the South Entrance was closed. The trail names are dinosaur themed because dinosaur footprints can be seen on the trail. Crazy! Here is a great description of the trails.

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It was unlike any mountain biking I’ve ever done! It was so different out here because it was so wide open! I’m so used to riding through the woods, afraid of hitting trees, I actually enjoyed riding these open trails much more.

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Riding the Ibis Mojo was amazing. I can see why it is such an expensive bike. I felt comfortable on it and it rolled over every rock effortlessly!

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Can you spot the jack rabbit?

 

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I was worried it would be hard to find the trail, but they were marked very well.

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Green Lizard Guy

We stuck to mostly beginner/intermediate trails and rode 11.3 miles total in about 1 hr, 45 minutes.

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We were so glad we decided to rent bikes. We got out early (around 7:30) to beat the heat. It started to get hot fast, and by the time we were done it was in the high 80s.

For lunch we went to the Quesadilla Mobilla, a food truck in Moab serving what else–quesadillas! They were delicious! We liked them so much that Jordan and I ate lunch here two days in a row. Yum! When can we move to Moab?

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The Southern Belle – Shredded beef with cheddar/jack cheese, sautéed corn, sautéed onions and roasted sweet potatoes

 

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Nutrition Spotlight: MCT Oil

The nutrition field is super exciting. I feel like every day there is a new health food trend on social media. I find it all fascinating and the first thing I do is go to the research to see if these health claims are true! (PS: I found a great resource called Cleveland Clinic’s Supplement Review that gives you evidence-based information on popular supplements!) Anyway, recently I’ve been seeing MCT (or Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil making an appearance on social media. I thought it was interesting because we learn about MCTs in metabolism. Now it is on my facebook feed! MCT oil is being sold in health food stores claiming miraculous health benefits and it’s pretty expensive.

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What is a Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT)?

First of all, a triglyceride is what makes up fat. It is molecule made up of a glycerol backbone with three fatty acid chains attached.

structure of a triglyceride

Medium-chain triglycerides are those with medium-sized fatty acid chains attached to the glycerol backbone.

Fatty+Acid+Structures

The difference between MCTs and short and long chain triglycerides is the process that they undergo when they are broken down by the body. MCTs are absorbed directly into the liver from your intestines to be used as energy, while the others have to pass into the lymphatic system first. MCTs don’t require bile to be digested, while the others require bile for breakdown. Palm kernel oil and coconut oil are both rich sources of MCTs. Dairy fats (like from butter, cheese and milk) also contain MCTs. This feature is why products claim they are a good source of energy.

Are there any health benefits?

MCT oil is usually used for those on a ketogenic diet. This diet is used to treat neurological diseases like epilepsy. MCTs are also used as a supplement for those with malabsorption problems like inflammatory bowel disease. But chances are you are seeing MCTs because they claim to help you lose weight! Some studies show that use of MCT oil can promote weight loss because keeps you full longer. But most other studies have been inconclusive. Calories are another thing to consider.  One tablespoon of MCT oil contains 115 calories, which is something to keep in mind if you are watching your intake. Cleveland Clinic Supplement Review states that MCT oil is a “safe and effective short-term product for weight loss, metabolic syndrome, obesity and improving inflammatory markers. This is a high-calorie food, however, and it is quite filling, so it may act as a replacement for other calories in the diet.”

I am a proponent for getting your nutrients from actual food versus supplements, so I’d recommend to get your MCTs from foods, such as dairy, cheese or milk, rather than oil. I know I’d rather eat real food than to just eat a tablespoon of oil. Also, keep in mind that MCTs are a saturated fat, and eating too much saturated fat can lead to heart disease. So unless you are eating a very healthy diet most of the time, I wouldn’t go crazy with MCT oil. My Plate recommends that 20 to 35 percent of your daily total calories come fat, which should include unsaturated fats, those healthy fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s we get from nuts, seeds, olives, avocados and fatty fish like salmon. These are important for improving HDL (good cholesterol)  and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and pertinent to heart health!

I enjoyed researching MCT oil and I hope that you are now better informed. If there is anything other hot nutrition trend you’d like to me write about, leave a comment or email me!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Protein Bars

Are you looking for a grab-and-go protein bar that is also super easy to make at home? Tonight I made these chocolate peanut butter protein bars and they are delicious and filling! The addition of oats makes these bars a good source of fiber and iron, a perfect pre-or post-workout snack.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Protein Bars

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Ingredients

1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 scoops of chocolate protein powder* (or equivalent of 3 oz)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 cups of raw oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Grease a 9×9 baking pan
3. Mix together peanut butter, maple syrup, protein powder, and vanilla in medium bowl
4. Add in eggs and mix well
5. Stir in oats, baking soda, and coconut flakes until completely mixed
6. Spread “batter” into bottom of pan with a spoon (it will be thick!)
7. Bake for 15 minutes until top of bars seem dry and they are brown on the edges
8. Let cool in pan and cut lengthwise to make 15 bars

*I used Designer Whey Chocolate protein powder, which has 18 g of protein and 100 calories per scoop.

I packaged them up in individually to make it easier to grab one on my way out the door.

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Nutritional Information for one bar

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*Recipe adapted from PopSugar’s Gluten Free Oatmeal Protein Bars

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Nutrition Spotlight: Farro, An Ancient Grain

Have you heard of farro? It is an ancient grain that is part of the wheat family. Farro, when cooked, is a dense and chewy grain with a nutty flavor.

image from pbs.org

image from pbs.org

Farro can be added to salads, eaten on its own as a side, or baked into bread. It packs a nutritional punch. It is a great source of complex carbohydrate (great fuel for athletes!) meaning it takes the body longer to digest, keeps blood sugar levels stable and lowers cholesterol.

Other health benefits of farro include:

High in fiber

Farro contains more fiber than other complex grains, like quinoa and brown rice. Fiber is important in maintaining bowel health and assists in weight management because it keeps you full.

Great source of protein

One cup of cooked farro contains 8 grams of protein, which is important to help rebuild muscle after intense workouts. Combine farro with lentils or beans for a dish with a complete source of protein.

Contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

Farro contains vitamin B3, also called Niacin, which aids in metabolizing carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It is also a great source of important minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium. Farro also contains lignans, polyphenolic compounds that may prevent cancer.

How to cook farro

You can find farro pre-cooked in packages in stores like Target. However, you can also buy it dry and cook it yourself on the stove. Simmer one cup of farro in two cups of broth or water for 45 minutes to one hour.

Check out these recipes featuring farro:

Warm Farro Salad

Farro bowl with crispy salmon & toasted sesame spinach

Farro with mushrooms

One-pan farro with tomatoes

Farro and herb pilaf with sausage, mushrooms & spinach

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Nutrition Spotlight: Tart Cherry Juice

One of my favorite drinks is Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice. I’ve been drinking it for years and it’s a staple in my diet, especially during marathon training! Tart cherries are said to have anti-inflammatory properties, which make tart cherry juice a great drink for post-run (and post-hike!) recovery.

Tart cherries contain beneficial nutrients such as:

Anthocyanins

These are plant colorants that are responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors found in many fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, and flowers. Studies show that anthocyanins protect against liver injuries; reduce blood pressure; improve eyesight; contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties; and stop of spread of human cancer cells.1

Phenolic Acids

These are a type of phytochemical called a polyphenol. Phenolic acids are easily absorbed through the walls of your intestines, and may be beneficial to your health. They work as antioxidants that prevent cellular damage from free-radical oxidation reactions. They also may act as an anti-inflammatory when consumed regularly. 2

Flavanols and Flavonols

Studies show that consumption of foods containing these compounds may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 3

Check out Cheribundi the next time you are the grocery store. My favorite way to drink it is in my Tart Cherry Blast Recovery Protein Smoothie!

Sources

  1. Konczak I, Zhang W. Anthocyanins—More Than Nature’s Colours. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2004;2004(5):239-240. doi:10.1155/S1110724304407013.
  2. Liu RH. “Potential synergy of phytochemicals in cancer prevention: mechanism of action.” J Nutr. 2004 Dec;134(12 Suppl):3479S-3485S.
  3. Erdman J, et. al. Effects of cocoa flavanols on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Asia Pc J Clin Nutr. 2008. 17(S1):284-28.

Disclaimer: I was sent tart cherry juice for review on this blog–all opinions and views on the topic are my own. I don’t post about a product unless scientific evidence backs up their health claims.

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