1/19/18

Product Review - Amrita Bars and Minis


Amrita Health Foods
Based out of: Pleasantville, NY
Website: Amritahealthfoods.com
Follow on Facebook: AmritaBars
Discount code for Trimarni followers: trimarni (30% off!)

About the Company:

In 2004, at the age of 2, Arshad Bahl’s son was diagnosed with autism and severe GI issues. In order to get their son on track, Arshad and his wife started their son on an aggressive gluten-free and dairy-free nutrition program. The nutritional changes helped heal his gastrointestinal issues, which allowed for better nutrition absorption and made it easier for him to focus on the other therapies. Now, Ayaan is in a regular classroom and doing well academically and socially. Arshad became convinced that plant-based nutrition was the right approach for managing inflammation. The significance of reducing one’s allergen load (such as consumption of gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, oils, preservatives, and chemical-containing non-organic foods) to help the body recover from daily stresses became apparent. Arshad became dedicated to developing snacks free of these damaging ingredients. Arshad realized that using brown rice protein and dried fruits—such as tropical mangoes, pineapples, and Medjool dates—together with a rich blend of raw sunflower seeds and sesame seeds would provide essential proteins and fats without the added allergens from nuts, dairy, and soy. As an added bonus, his kids could also take them as part of their peanut-free school lunches! Amrita “launched” in 2012. To really separate Amrita from other energy bars on the market, Arshad packed each bar full of superfoods, such as chia seeds, maca, unsweetened coconut, with delicious hints of vanilla and Himalayan Pink salt for taste and flavor balance. When making Amrita bars, Arshad ensured ingredients were non-GMO, rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s, with a good dose of fiber and heaps of easily digestible protein. Most importantly, they had to taste amazing, which was easy to deliver based on having 3 picky kids in the house and all their peers as test kitchens.

Products:
  • Amrita Energy Bar 
  • Amrita Minis Unwrapped 

Certifications:
  • Kosher
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Raw
Label Claims: (Varies with Product)
  • Gluten-Free
  • Dairy-Free
  • Soy-Free
  • Peanut-Free
  • High-Fiber 

Bar Nutrition Facts: 

Pineapple Chia Energy Bar: 


Serving Size: 1 bar
Calories: 195
Total Fat: 7 g
Sodium: 75 mg
Carb: 29 g
Sugars: 11g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 7g
Iron 15% DV

Ingredients: Organic date paste, dried pineapple, cranberries (with apple juice concentrate and sunflower oil), organic sunflower seeds, sunflower seed butter, Organic sesame seeds, tahini, organic chia flower, chia seeds, shredded unsweetened coconut, organic brown rice protein, himalayan pink salt. 

Bar Product Flavors:
High Protein Bars:​
  • Chocolate chip coconut
  • Chocolate maca
  • Sunflower butter & jelly
  • Dark chocolate quinoa 
Energy Bars:​ 

  • Mango coconut
  • Apple cinnamon
  • Pineapple chia
  • Apricot strawberry
  • Cranberry raisin 
  • Sunflower Butter & Jelly 
Minis Nutrition Facts:
  • Serving Size: 1 mini bar 
  • Calories: 57 
  • Total Fat: 2g 
  • Sodium: 19 mg 
  • Total Carb: 8g 
  • Sugars: 3g 
  • Fiber: 2g 
  • Protein: 4g 
Ingredients: Date Paste, brown rice protein, sunflower seed butter, sunflower seed, coconut oil, pea crisps (pea protein isolate, rice flour, rice starch), Chia seeds, dried blueberry, dried strawberry, unsweetened coconut, chicory root, himalayan pink salt

Minis Product Flavors: 
  • Chocolate chip coconut
  • Dark chocolate quinoa
  • Chocolate maca
  • Sunflower butter & jelly
  • Apricot strawberry
  • Apple cinnamon
  • Cranberry raisin
  • Mango coconut
  • Pineapple chia 

Final thoughts:
  • Nice soft and chewy texture 
  • Not sticky/greasy
  • Delicious but not too sweet
  • Wide variety of flavors
  • Simple, real food ingredient list
  • Convenient, healthy snack for on the go/traveling 
  • Healthy dessert/sweet treat
  • Satisfying
  • High protein (plant-based protein) snack bar option



Discount code for Trimarni followers: trimarni (30% off!)

To learn more about our product reviews: click HERE.

1/17/18

Is your weight (too much) on your mind?


A common focus (or struggle) for athletes is losing weight (or changing body composition) while trying to improve fitness.

It may seem effortless for an athlete to lose weight while training for an endurance event because of the extreme energy expenditure experienced on a day-to-day basis but in truth, many athletes struggle to lose weight despite exercising 8-20+ hours a week.

In my opinion, there's no shortage of proper education on how to nourish and fuel the athlete. The problem lies in application. Athletes often fail to properly time nutrition with training and plan out a well balanced diet and thus, there's always a struggle to maximize fitness, health and body composition throughout a training/racing season. In other words, most athletes don't eat enough of the right foods at the right times. I also blame the lack of time, focus and energy that athletes give to the daily diet relative to the time, focus and energy that is given to training. Most athletes fail to create sustainable healthy eating habits because well, nutrition is just not a priority until it really needs to become one.

Like many things in life, healthy eating habits require education but also a lot of trial and error, planning ahead, commitment, organization and flexibility. If you are willing to work for your performance goals, you should also be willing to work on your diet - in a healthy, non-extreme manner. The key word here is "work" - it's not a quick fix or elimination diet but instead, a constant work in progress.

With so much nutritional advice available at your fingertips and ears these days, not to mention a lot of overly confident food gurus, I recommend to not get your nutrition tips from non-credible blogs, forums, podcasts, interviews, magazines and experts. Thanks to social media, anyone can claim to be an 'expert'. Year after year, I see a common trend of athletes trying to adhere of extreme methods of eating and fueling in order to change body composition while trying to train for an athletic event because they read about it somewhere on the internet.

When an athlete has weight (too much) on his/her mind, there's a good chance that an extreme approach will be taken. Restrictive eating has issues; it may cause food obsessions, social isolation, fatigue, weakness, hormonal issues, bone loss, irritability, anxiety, depression, low blood sugar, sleep disturbances and low energy to name a few. Many negative physical and psychological issues develop when weight loss methods are taken to the extreme yet athletes continue to seek a quick fix/extreme approach.

If you are currently abiding by food laws, adhering to a good food/bad food list eliminating whole food groups, avoiding anything with sugar in it, not using sport nutrition to become more fat adapted or considering going keto, ask yourself why you are choosing the extreme approach? Is this style of eating/fueling sustainable for the rest of your life? Your diet does not have to be (and should not be) all or nothing. 


Sadly, there are far too many misinformed athletes and unqualified professionals following and prescribing extreme styles of eating (or not eating) in an effort to help athletes lose weight without considering the health implications of extreme dietary recommendations.

If you feel unhappy with your body shape, size or weight and worry all day about what to or not to eat all in an effort to look differently, remind yourself that when you restrict yourself from food, you don't become a better athlete. Instead, you become weak, tired and withdrawn. Food is your fuel. Food is your medicine.

Seeing that there are safe, responsible and healthy ways to change body composition and many unsafe, irresponsible and unhealthy ways to change body composition, I encourage you to ask yourself the following YES or NO questions to see if your weight is too much on your mind as it relates to your current eating habits? 

  • You have drastically cut out a significant amount of calories in an effort to lose weight?
  • You have recently cut out specific food groups or macronutrients from your diet?
  • You are constantly comparing your current body image to a leaner version of yourself (or another athlete), assuming that if you weighed less, you would be faster/better?
  • You are intentionally avoiding consuming calories before and during workouts in order to become fat adapted? 
  • You don't want to properly refuel post workout because you want to keep your body in a calorie deficit?
  • Your weight loss goal is often a primary motivator to start and finish workouts, no matter how exhausted, tired or fatigued you feel?
  • You are finding yourself overeating on the weekends because you "deserve it" yet restricting during the week?
  • You find yourself irritable, moody, low in energy and sometimes have difficulty focusing/concentrating?
  • You are almost positive that you can't maintain your current style of eating for the rest of your life but you are determined to reach your weight loss goal at any cost?

As you embark on another year/season of exercising/training with weight loss on your mind, remind yourself that you can not maintain good health and optimize your performance with a rigid and restrictive style of eating.  

If you feel you could benefit from a change in body composition/weight for health and/or performance, don't use forums and the internet for advice. Reach out to a Board Certified Sport Dietitian for help. 

1/16/18

Do you need fuel during a sprint triathlon?


When you think of a "sprint" you may imagine feeling out-of-breath with an uncomfortable lactic acid burn, going as hard and fast as possible for a very short period of time (perhaps 10-60 seconds). Although the intensity at which you race a sprint triathlon dictates how much you will suffer, a sprint triathlon is not technically a "short" race when it may take you over 60 minutes to complete the swim/bike/run distance.

I find that many triathletes, especially newbies, assume that a "sprint" triathlon does not require the need for calories or fluids during the race because the race is completed in a quick amount of time. While you can complete the distance sans sport nutrition and you won't fully deplete your glycogen stores enough to sabotage your performance, ingesting carbs during a sprint triathlon may still give you the competitive edge. 

You can learn more about my nutrition/fueling strategies and tips for performing at your best in a sprint distance triathlon in the January/February 2018 issue of Triathlete Magazine, Pg. 47.
Any questions, just send me an email.

And while we are talking about sprint triathlons, I'll share a throwback to my very first sprint triathlon circa 2004......

                                                   

And now today.......still smiling, thanking my body and enjoying the journey.

1/15/18

Garlic Tahini Dressing Recipe


Store-bought salad dressing are convenient and make veggies and salad extra tasty but I'm guessing you've found yourself pouring a bottle of dressing on your salad and thinking to yourself.......

"I should really start making my own salad dressing."


As a health-conscious individual, if salad dressings are part of your day-to-day diet, making your own salad dressing can help you eliminate the unnecessary store-bought salad dressing ingredients like artificial flavorings, preservatives, fats, salts, sugars and flavorings. 

If you must go store bought, don't stress. Just read the ingredients to choose the more "real food" selection. There are actually a lot of great options on the market.

But if you are interested in making your own salad dressing, here's a delicious Garlic Tahini dressing that I recently made for a group dinner last weekend and it was inexpensive, healthy and super tasty. This dressing is perfect for any dish as you can use it as a sandwich dressing or on stir-fry dishes. Enjoy!




Garlic Tahini Dressing
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup tahini (stir in advance before measuring)
    (Not sure where to find Tahini at your grocery store? Check the condiments aisle near the ethnic foods or specialty olives.)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about one big lemon)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp honey
Directions
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor (I use the Ninja Master Prep Food Processor).
  2. Blend until smooth. Makes ~1 cup. 


For the salad, I made a super simple salad to highlight the dressing. My salad included chopped kale, arugula, radishes and shredded carrots, topped with raw sunflower seeds and tangerine slices.


As for the rest of our dinner, our friend Laura made the most amazing Lasagna with her mom's recipe (sans the meat) and it was outstandingly delicious!


For dessert, a homemade Flan (a Colombian recipe prepared by a friend of our dinner host) and four different flavors of layered cakes from the European Market here in Greenville. This Czech-inspired cake was hand-made (not by us) and was so yummy, along with the flan. It was great to hear stories about all of the food that we were yumming over, which for me, is a very special part of eating that I really enjoy.

We made sure to try all the flavors of the Czech cake and all were great! 



I forgot to take a picture of Thomas's famous guacamole dip but let's just say that nothing was left for me to sneak a picture of by the time dinner was served.