Monday, October 26, 2009

Mandatory for Marathoners

Foodtrainers’ 4 Fueling Facts will help you avoid miles of mistakes

I recently read an editor’s letter in Runner’s World where the editor, in training for the Richmond Marathon, committed to do everything right in his training this time, to do the things he always knew but rarely did. This rang a bell for me because much of what I tell Foodtrainers’ sports nutrition clients or what I write here isn’t new, exciting or unfamiliar. In fact, most of it you already know. So then, you may ask, why should you waste your time reading any further? And the answer is because this time I implore you to actually do it.

1. Heed the Holy Grail of marathoning. Let’s poll 10 marathoners and ask them what’s the worst thing they can do in terms of fueling, chances are most will probably recite “do not do anything during a race you haven’t done in practice.” Then, race day rolls around and there is someone handing out raisins or a new energy bar and many assume eating these un-practiced foods will be fine. I will let you know I was once guilty of this. I was running a marathon and was a little past the halfway point when I spotted a woman on the sideline. This smiling spectator was grasping a platter of orange wedges. I, who have M.S. and R.D. after my name, grabbed one orange wedge. I didn’t even finish eating it but tossed the remainder and continued running. And then I regretted it, I regretted it because I soon felt as if someone had sliced my stomach open. I was no longer worried about a PR or negative splits; I was worried my race was over. Is this meant to scare you? Yes, it is but you have a choice. You can follow the Holy Grail or blunt fact #1,

Eating anything untested may end your event, stick with what you know.

2. OK so maybe I scared you into shunning strange snacks but we’re not done. We need to talk water. Chances are you’ve been consuming more water as your training has progressed, you may own reusable water bottles or a fuel belt, and you think you’re all right in the hydration department. Well, here I am again the negative nutritionist about to dish up some more sad news. Most marathoners consume a fraction of the water their bodies need, particularly early in the race. Early in the race you don’t feel t thirsty and don’t want to be slowed down for fuel stations. However, you need to drink early and drink enough. How much? 12 to 30 ounces of fluid per hour (4 to 30 marathon Dixie cups) and slightly more if you sweat a ton.

3. Fueling fact #3 is to avoid TMI. And no, we’re not talking about too much information but rather the mistake many marathoners make, in an effort to ensure they eat enough, the mistake Deena Kastor made in Chicago earlier this month. This mistake is TOO MUCH INGESTED or even ingesting your tried and true pre-race meal too close to the starting time. This was Deena’s error, she was jet lagged and didn’t eat early enough. She then battled stomach cramps and needed to relieve herself during the race (OK, is this now too much information?). You can practice pit-stop prevention with this simple guideline:

1 hour before race 100-200 calories

2 hours before race 200-300 calories

3 hours before race 300-400 calories

For a full meal you need 3-4 hours to really digest things.

4. I recently attended a screening of a documentary about marathons. The film tracked the history of marathons and viewers saw what happened when marathons were run P.G. (pre Gatorade). What happened was that many elite runners became disoriented, some running the wrong direction, others were slowed to a walk and some fell down and were removed on stretchers. In marathoning terms, these runners “hit the wall” their fuel tank was depleted. These runners didn’t have Gatorade and Gus but you do. And 30-60 grams of carbs consumed (per hour) will help avoid doom.

I happened to be in a lecture yesterday and I was told to give people advice in “3’s” but I needed 4 fueling facts which I think you can remember. You have the running watch and the proper sneakers and you have trained hard. Don’t eat the orange slice, don’t wait until you feel thirsty, don’t eat too much or too close to the start and don’t hit the wall. Oh and do enjoy yourself because if you follow the facts above you really can enjoy yourself….if your shoes aren’t too new and you get a blister.

Any marathon stories to share? Any race day superstitions? Please share them here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Market Melissa

Melissa O'Shea (aka Market Melissa) and I have developed an off-shoot of Foodtrainers called Market Foodtraining. Melissa guides small groups of participants through various NYC markets offering her expertise on organics, ingredients and more. I had a few questions for Melissa  and she will offer weekly tips, so check back with us!
Lauren: You’ve been touring around groups for your market foodtraining tours, what do people have the most questions about?

Melissa: What foods to buy organic is always a question I get and also how to work organics into their budget. On the tours, I give participants the organic do’s and don’ts. For example, DO buy the in-store organic brand, this can shave 20% off your grocery bill.

Lauren What’s exciting that’s in season now?

Melissa: I feel like in summer we all go crazy for the delicious variety of fruits in season, but in the fall some of my favorite veggies are in season. I am making soups and chili with butternut squash, pumpkin and kale and love roasted sweet potato fries. These ingredients make the chilly weather not seem so bad.

Lauren: You’re always tweeting (@marketmelissa) about ingredients and food-shopping, any tidbit you’d like to share?

Melissa: Oh there are so many to share! A recent one I found was that the average carrot travels 1,800 miles to your dinner table. We grow carrots in NY! It seems silly when we can get them from a farm that is less than 100 miles away.

Lauren: I love when you say “these jarred tomato sauces are great, I can’t use jarred ones, I have an Italian husband.” For those of us who don’t, what is your advice for making things from scratch?

Melissa: Oh I still remember the look on my husband’s face the first night I made pasta with jarred tomato sauce. What does an Irish girl know!? While I admit I was intimidated at first, it isn’t as hard as it seems. My husband’s grandmother says “if you have good ingredients, you can’t go wrong.” And she’s right, I now make all own soups and salad dressings…I’ve come a long way.

Lauren: Any favorite new product/discovery?

Melissa: I’m usually not a huge fan of cottage cheese, but I have to say Rachel’s ( now makes ones that come in flavors like cucumber dill and pear mangosteen…yum!

Lauren: What’s new in market foodtraining?

Melissa: In September and October we were doing a lot of ‘back to school’ tours with parents on what’s to pack in school lunches and easy weeknight dinners. As we transition to winter, we are going to focus on flu-fighting foods, as well as comfort foods made healthy and winter produce. I am always looking to keep the tours fresh and exciting. Blog readers, come check them out!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Foodtrainers Five FNCE Finds

I spent 90 minutes this afternoon at a lecture on social networking for nutritionists. There are few things I am more interested in, or I’ll be honest obsessed with, than food and facebook so it seemed like a session tailor made for me. And it didn’t disappoint, I learned about slideshare and celebrity twitter, about BlogHer and blog glossary and I was told that you have to have your own voice and subject matter you are passionate about for your blog. One thing that I am passionate about is our Foodtrainers’ Finds. Foodtrainers’ Finds are food products that I would recommend to Foodtrainers’ clients. These products use wholesome ingredients, have nutritional merit and of course taste great. I also learned that people scan blogs versus reading them so I’ll cut to the chase and let you know about my five favorites from the FNCE conference.

1. Food Should Taste Good Potato and Chive Flavor (
Food Should Taste Good makes tortilla chips that are gluten-free, high in fiber and lower in sodium; however, nutritional virtues are meaningless unless the food, as the name implies, tastes good and these taste great. Potato and Chive, one of the new flavors, will appeal to the sour cream and onion lovers (you know who you are) but I have to give shout outs to chocolate, jalapeno, cinnamon and olive each of which holds a special place in my heart and my pantry.

2. Sunshine burgers- falafel flavor (
Sunshine burgers have been my go-to veggie burger for some time now. Most veggie burgers contain soy and the soy in veggie burgers is highly processed. Sunshine burgers are soy and gluten-free. This falafel burger had me double dipping with my toothpick.

3. Hershey's Bliss dark chocolate (
I have to admit, I am a little bit of a chocolate snob and wouldn’t usually consider Hershey’s for my flavanoid fix. I then found myself at the Hershey’s booth and learned the Bliss darks are 50% cocoa content (not the 70% I seek out but fairly close) and that they’re 3 for 100 calories. I was intrigued but not convinced until I removed the purple foil and popped it in my mouth….you guessed it Bliss.

4. All Sport Zero zero sports drink (
This is a sports drink sweetened with Truvia (stevia). I hear some schools in Chicago are offering these in the vending machines. I would love it if my sons’ hockey rink offered them and will certainly be suggesting it. I sampled the strawberry flavor and was pleasantly surprised.

5. Just delicious Soups (
These soups are the closest you can get to homemade without making them at home. Just delicious makes soup mixes that are salt and MSG free and I hate to sound repetitive but delicious. Soups come in a bag with the legumes or spices and you simply add water and voila- have soup to feed 4. Red lentil is my favorite but there are many great flavors to try.

Do you know any of these foods? Or do you have any recent food “finds”? Please let me know because the only thing better than a food find is a blog comment.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

R.D. (relaxing detour)

Every year, I travel with my friend and colleague Keri Glassman M.S, R.D, CDN to the ADA (American Dietetic Association) conference. Sure, we need our continuing education credits but we also both need a little time away from it all. Keri and I met in grad school and while we both have private practices and our profession in common, when we’re together we rarely talk shop. So over lunch I took the opportunity to ask Keri a few food questions.

Lauren: Keri, you certainly wear a lot of hats: you counsel private nutrition clients, you are an author (of The Snackfactor Diet and the upcoming O2 diet), you’re on TV, you have 2 adorable children- what advice would you give my (numerous) blog readers about managing your food when you’re busy?

Keri: Plan, plan, plan. Twenty minutes of prep work in the beginning of the week can save you thousands of calories. For some specifics, I would suggest portioning out nuts, slicing fresh vegetables and planning your dinners.

Lauren: Speaking of the 02 diet (which focuses on high-antioxidant foods). If people were to incorporate two high- antioxidant, perhaps less common, foods into their routines, what should they be?

Keri: Artichokes and pistachios, artichokes are a big part of the 02 Diet and pistachios are a favorite nut of mine. They are the lowest fat nut. For more information go to

Lauren: And for times when artichokes aren’t in season?

Keri: There is a company I love called Monterey Farms ( that has delicious sealed/packaged artichokes in a little olive oil. You can find them at Whole Foods markets.

Lauren: And the ADA conference, what’s your favorite thing about the conference?

Keri: Spending time with my friend Lauren of course, oh and learning new information and having a nutritionist watch my every move.

Lauren: OK I think we should break (our salads arrived). I will say, for the record, we’re eating salads with spinach, pistachios, chicken and green apples. And Keri is drinking Tazo’s Refresh tea which is a mix of mint and tarragon.
It's time to eat, this was fun (and a little dorky).

What are your favorite ways to spend time with your friends? And also, what are your favorite high-antioxidant foods?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Foodtrainers Find: Rocal Beets

I love beets. When beets are on a menu, there’s a fairly good chance I will be ordering that item. I like beets roasted, I like beets steamed, beets make me happy. I realize there’s about a 50 percent chance you think I’m crazy because I think for every person who agrees with me, there’s someone who absolutely hates beets. I don’t think there’s a middle ground here. Brussels sprouts also fall into this category of foods you either adore or despise but I’m not writing about them today. Back to beets, if there is one thing I don’t like about beets it’s the mess. I wear rubber gloves and an apron but beets are messy……except for the neat beets I found.

I found the “neat beets” at Fairway Market. These beats are cooked (steamed I would guess), peeled and packaged without any additives, salt or anything else, just beets. They are made by a company called Rocal (from France) and come in organic and conventional varieties. I just had some in my salad….yum.

Neat Beet Salad

2-3 Rocal beets

1 can Flott tuna in olive oil (2.8oz can) or Zoe tuna

2 -3 handfuls lettuce (I used Bibb)

½ avocado

1 kirby cucumber

Juice half lemon

Olive oil

Kosher Salt and pepper

Chop all ingredients with Sur la Table salad chopper

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Where's the Beef (Coming From)?

I’ve received a lot (22 to be exact) of emails about Sunday’s NYT cover story “The Burger That Shattered Her Life” I thought both the article and its front page placement was commendable. This time, the food politics isn’t an elitist issue or a question of optimal food, it’s a matter of food safety…or in this case a lack thereof.

In case you haven’t read it (and if you or anyone you love eats beef you really must), the article tells the story of Stephanie Smith, who was 20 years old when she was stricken with a “severe form of food-borne illness caused by E. coli.” The source of the E. coli was a hamburger. Ms. Smith will likely never walk again due to the nerve damage caused her infection. While her story is an absolute tragedy, the article goes on to trace how cows from slaughterhouses end up as the burgers we eat. The picture painted isn’t pretty and though the extreme nature of Ms. Smith’s case remains rare, it’s a wonder it’s not more common.

I read the article, on my beloved kindle, on a train to meet my husband Sunday. I got off the train, worked up in a frenzy, and quickly summarized the article. My husband, who always craves the bottom line and has grown accustom to my rants said “so what does this mean that nobody should ever eat a burger again?” And although this may have been my initial reaction, I love a good burger, once or twice a year, and I’m not willing to rule out the option. And my children, not vegans or vegetarians, are they to live out their childhoods burger free? I try to be an “everything in moderation” parent, how would this work?

While I was formulating my plan of action, I was surprised to hear from some clients who felt getting E. coli poisoning from burgers was akin to the risk of crashing in a plane. One even said “life involves risk and we can’t lock ourselves up in fear of everything.” And while I am by no means alarmist, I disagree with those who think that just because something isn’t common doesn’t mean we shouldn’t actively try to prevent it. And, to be blunt, even if I never get sick from eating hamburgers doesn’t mean it’s ok to eat feces or tushy meat (quite a scientific term I know)!

So what are we to do? Here are a few solutions:

• Grind own meat with a meat grinder or food processor. It is revolting (and should perhaps be illegal) that the meat in 1 burger can come from multiple slaughterhouses and even multiple countries and thus decrease the ability to trace outbreaks and contain them.
• No meat grinder? Have your market grind a steak for you for burgers.

• Purchase grass fed or pasture raised meat. E coli really stems from cows eating corn, not what is natural for them to eat. and being raised in small and confined spaces.

• Eat less meat. To combat the fact that organic, grass-fed meat is more expensive, eat it less frequently.

• Use meat thermometer and cook to 160 degrees which kills E. Coli

• Though organic beef is more expensive the NYT states that it would only cost companies 30 cents a burger to ensure ground beef came from whole cuts of meat. Look for “100% whole muscle means no trimmings.”

• Let the USDA know that inspections are important to you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Foodtrainers Find: Kookie Karma

“Where do you find these things” a client… well in all honesty my mother asked when I handed her my latest discovery. It’s an interesting question, especially interesting coming from my mother whom I only gave my latest discovery to because a) she is not a client b) loves great food and makes even greater food and c) has zero interest in anything overtly healthy…especially in a package. So…if my mother, who has zero interest in anything overtly healthy but knows what’s tasty, likes one of my discoveries, chances are others will too.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, I was going to describe how we locate our Foodtrainers’ Finds, the foods (I hate to call them products) we suggest to our clients and peddle in our offices. The truth is, we have to do the food-equivalent of kissing many frogs. A lot of what is sent to us or we find in stores or at shows tastes like….well let’s just say you’d probably rather kiss an actual frog versus eating them. But every so often, the healthy food-equivalent of a prince comes into our lives and we fall in love.

I am in love. I am in love with what may be my favorite new snack of the year. I am in love with a cookie, but not just any cookie, it’s a Kookie Karma. Kookie Karma ( comes in many delicious flavors but I have never been one to play around (high school friends shush), I have only one prince and my prince is named Holistic Chocolate Chip. He, I mean it is “vegan, gluten free, high protein, no soy, low-glycemic and low net carbs.” It comes dressed in a handsome brown and white package (did you know my wedding colors were brown and white, truth). Even with all these outward attributes, we all know you can’t judge a book by its cover (though I still pick the wine with the prettiest label). So how does it taste? By now, at the end of this love letter, you’ve probably guessed that I wouldn’t be gushing about a kookie if it didn’t taste good. And you’re right, it’s what’s inside that counts. And what’s inside is a dense, delicious, slightly coconut, moist creation that you will fall in love with too.

And as much as I’d like to end this post by telling you that my mother fell in love with the same prince I did (or some less Mackenzie Phillips-esque version of that)….at press time she said she forgot the kookie was in her purse!

To order kookies from Foodtrainers please email or check kookie karma’s site for retailer information.

What is your favorite new snack?