Nutrition Blog

Who doesn't like brownies?

Especially those that are full of protein and fiber so that you can justify eating more than one (who does that really?)! This recipe was adapted from Sarah Cuff's kidney bean brownie recipe.

What you need

2 cups cooked black beans
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup soy or almond milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

The fun part

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9×9 square baking dish with coconut oil.
2. In a food processor, process the beans, oil, sugar, vanilla, egg, cocoa and salt until smooth and creamy.
3. Pour into a mixing bowl, add the flour (or baking powder for gluten-free version) and gently mix. Fold in walnuts if using.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


Beet the winter blues!

Looking for a hardy winter vegetable to incorporate in your diet? Beets should be there on the top of the list. Aside from being chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, beets are a dietary source of nitrate, which has ergogenic effects especially for endurance exercise. The nitrate in beets is converted to nitrite by beneficial bacteria in the mouth, which subsequently is converted to nitrous oxide in the rest of your body. Nitrous oxide has effects such as increasing blood flow, muscle contraction and neurotransmission. The exact mechanism by which how NO acts to improve sport performance is still up for debate, however, there is overall consensus in current research that consumption of dietary nitrate from beets (studies primarily use beet juice, presumably because it contains a more concentrated form of nitrate,  but this one shows the same effect with whole beetroot) lowers the oxygen cost of exercise, increasing one's time to exhaustion. Below is a simple hummus recipe starring beets. Other ideas to add beets to your meals include throwing pickled/canned beets on your sandwiches, roasting them with spices of your choice and adding them to salads, and for the ambitious, making borscht!

What you need

2 small (3-ounce) cooked, peeled beets, roughly chopped
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup tahini
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch cayenne pepper

The fun part

Combine all ingredients in a food processor/blender and process until very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Dip away!

Gingerbread cookies-- Revamped!

Tis' the holiday season and one of my favourite things to do is baking! Gingerbread cookies are must and this is an alternative recipe that I tried with success a few days ago which I slightly modified from the original website.

 What you need

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup 
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

The fun part

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Stir together dry ingredients (except brown sugar) in a medium bowl and set aside.
With an electric mixer, set speed to medium and mix coconut oil, molasses, vanilla extract and brown sugar for 5 minutes.
3. Add egg whites and continue to mix on medium speed for another minute.
4. Gradually add the bowl of dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for another minute, or until all ingredients are combined.
5. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes to a half hour, or until chilled through and slightly hardened.
6. Roll dough between two sheets of parchment paper, to about 1/3" thickness.
7. Use cookie cutters to cut your cookie shapes.
8. Place cookies in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
9. Bake for no longer than 9 minutes, or until cookies are barely set in the centers. The longer they bake, the crunchier they get.
10. Decorate however you wish!
Coconut oil is claimed to be a healthier solid fat due to its high lauric fatty acid content, which, unlike long chain saturated fats found in animal products, is metabolized differently and has less of an effect on raising your LDL (bad cholesterol). While I will have to do more research in order to trust that (look for a post on this in the future!), I personally like the subtle hint of coconut taste in foods and have recently bought a large tub of it to use for cooking. As well, whole wheat flour puts in a bit of extra fibre and micronutrients, so you don't feel as guilty when you throw on the icing and candy and then proceed to eat a few too many cookies!


Mother nature's recovery drink

Karin Olafson, former UBC Triathlon Club member, wrote a great recent article on the recovery benefits of milk and why you really don't need all those protein shakes and supplement drinks after a workout. I couldn't agree more! Soymilk appears to have very comparable effects as milk according to this study. Obviously more research needs to be conducted as this is one of the very few studies that I could find looking at the use of soy-based beverages in exercise, but so far it looks like good news for vegetarians, vegans and lactose-intolerant athletes!


A new front at exercise hydration

The rule of thumb for hydration (during exercise or not) has usually always been to drink before you're thirsty. Many studies have said that dehydration that results in a loss of just 2% of one's body mass has negative implications on sport performance. Consequently, athlete are told to weigh themselves before and after a workout to determine the amount and rate of their sweat losses, in order to match their fluid intake appropriately to minimize water loss. However, a recent experiment came up with some findings that challenge the basis of these established guidelines. Trained cyclists who were dehydrated to -3% of their body mass were split into three groups and rehydrated with fluids to replace 100%, 33%, or 0% of their sweat losses. All cyclists then completed a 25km time trial in simulated heat with their initial hydration status maintained by a IV drip. Other than increased rectal temperature in the -3% weight loss group, no significant differences were found amongst any of the groups with regards to performance and perceptual parameters (completion time, power output, etc.). Another meta-analysis determined that full fluid replacement offered no performance advantages over ad libtum drinking (allowing participants to drink as they wish, presumably done when they felt thirsty), which nicely supports the previous finding. The bottom line is, it appears that exercise performance is more impacted by the development of thirst than the extent of weight loss. Research that looked at athletes in competition revealed that the most successful finishers of races often lost the highest amount of body weight in water. Haile Gebrselassie, who had the previous marathon world record, reportedly lost almost 10% of his starting body weight in the 2009 Dubai Marathon that he won (not that you should be deliberately aiming for that). Water intake during high exertion without appropriate electrolyte replacement, also increases the likelihood of developing hyponatremia (low plasma sodium), which can lead to nausea, vomiting, headache and even death. Thus, drinking according to thirst, as opposed to drinking as much as you can tolerate to prevent any dehydration, is likely a better guideline to follow during prolonged exercise.


Debunking the endurance diet: high carb vs. high fat

Endurance athletes have been recommended to consume a diet high in carbohydrates for a long time due to the importance of glycogen (the body's storage of carbohydrates) for sport performance. However, in recent years there has been an increased interest in determining whether a high fat diet (typically >40% of total energy intake) instead can improve endurance performance. The idea is that by consuming  more fats, you train your body to become more efficient at fat oxidation and thus rely less on glycogen use. This is potentially beneficial because the body has limited storage of glycogen (1500-2000 calories), which can be depleted in as little as 2 hours of intense training/racing, but even the leanest endurance athletes have at least 20,000 calories stored in adipose tissue. Various studies have tested the effect of high carbohydrate and high fat diets on different endurance performance parameters. We do know that while a high fat diet does increase fat oxidation, that adaptation seems to be only beneficial if athletes are engaging in low intensity exercise (<65% of VO2 max). The majority of triathlon training/racing is well above that intensity level, where the energy demands are too rapid to allow fat to be the dominant fuel source. There are also several negative consequences associated with following a high fat diet, ie. slower gastric emptying, increased intake of unhealthy fats. Consequently, there is not enough evidence to recommend high fat diets for endurance athletes.

For more information I highly encourage you take a look at this article that also looks at fat loading followed by carbohydrate loading in preparation for endurance events:


3 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving Feast

1. Creative whole grain stuffings! Who says it has to be breadcrumbs? Fill your turkey with a colourful quinoa pilaf or wild rice medley. Toss in some seeds or nuts for a crunch and dried fruits to add a sweet touch. The ingredients are up to your imagination!

2. Make your own cranberry sauce in place of the sugar-laden canned versions! Scroll down for a previously posted recipe or here's another one that makes 3 cups:

2 cups fresh/frozen cranberries
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp grated orange rind

Simply combine, simmer for 5 min and cool. Feel free to add in some ground ginger, nutmeg and/or any other spice for a kick.

3. Make a vegan pumpkin pie to reduce the saturated fat content! Swap the cream/condensed milk with silken tofu for the filling and try a flour and butter-less crust with raw nuts, shredded coconut and dates.

Take advantage of the fall harvest and fill your plates with the wide variety of vegetables (phytonutrients!). Happy Thanksgiving!

Sarah's Oat Bars

Big thanks to Sarah Cuff for the talk on nutrition for training yesterday. This is the recipe for the wonderful oat bars that she brought. Check out her website for more recipes and snack ideas!

What you need:

2 cups ground old fashioned oats (or oat flour)
1 cup old fashioned oats or quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
½ cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk
¼ cup chia seeds
1 cup mashed banana OR unsweetened applesauce (both work equally great)
¼ cup organic virgin coconut oil
1 tsp natural vanilla flavouring
½ cup of broken up raw walnuts or cranberries or chocolate chunks/chips (or a mix) (optional)

The fun part

  1.  Heat oven to 350. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the ground oats, oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt together.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the milk and chia seeds together. Add the applesauce or mashed banana, the oil and the vanilla – whisk together.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and combine thoroughly.
  5. Fold in the nuts, cranberries and/or chocolate, if using.
  6. Pour the batter in the parchment paper lined pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden.
  7. Let cool thoroughly, cut, and store in fridge. Can be frozen for long term storage.


DIY guilt-free fudge

I found these on the Whole Foods app and after trying them a couple weeks ago, immediately fell in love! Fudge made without added sugars and butter that is as yummy as good for you. Pop one of those before any workout and you will be flying! I have yet to try it as so but I can also see this being a perfect all-natural long run/bike fuel.

What you need:

2 cups raw walnuts
2 cups packed pitted and roughly chopped dates
10 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt 

The fun part:

Soak walnuts in cold water for 4 to 6 hours. Drain and pulse to chop in a food processor or blender. Continue to pulse while adding dates, followed by cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Process until mixture is almost smooth, scraping sides as needed to keep mixture moving. After the mixture has formed a ball similar to dough with tiny bits of walnuts remaining, transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish and press down evenly with wet fingers. Freeze for 4 to 6 hours until well chilled. Cut into squares. Store in freezer until ready to serve.    


Do to eat or eat to run?

The UBC Triathlon Club nutrition blog is an initiative started last year aimed at providing resources such as healthy recipes and information about sports (particularly endurance sports) nutrition. Good nutrition has just as much influence on training outcomes as the miles that you're putting in. If you're new to endurance training, take a look at the previous posts for basic guidelines on what to eat pre-, during and post-exercise as well as training dietary requirements to watch out for (ie. iron). One of my goals is to build up an extensive recipe exchange database so send your awesome recipes to to share! Keep checking periodically also for relevant research in this field with applications that you can implement to boost your training. Over the course of this year there will be informative talks by nutrition professionals, some yummy treats as examples of great post-workout fuel after runs (which is why you should always come to practice!) and social potlucks allowing all of you to showcase your excellent cooking and nutritional knowledge. Please let me know of any particular topics and nutritional myths that are of interest to you guys.

As for the post title, virtually all of us are guilty of the former. As you log more and more miles in the pool, on the road, in the trails, the goal is that hopefully you will become more aware of what you put into your mouth and gain an understanding of the latter.

Happy training and eating!

Nutrition and Running

Post #20: Debunking the paleo diet

This is an excellent video that explains the real paleolithic diet and the lessons we can learn from it: Debunking the paleo diet: Christina Warinner 

Summary: "These are the three main lessons I think we can learn from real paleolithic diet, that there is no incorrect diet but dietary diversity is key, that we need to eat fresh foods when possible and we need to eat whole foods."

Post #19: Where to find more recipes!
While the number of recipes on this blog is growing, I know they are still limited. I have listed below a few websites I recommend to find more yummy recipes!

If you have any suggestions to add to the list, please let me know!

”This is my advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.” -Julia Child

Happy cooking.

Post #18: Marcus’s Waffleberry Dessert

If you were at this years end of the year banquet you may have tried Marcus’s delicious and unique Waffleberry Dessert. Here is the recipe so you too can wow future guests at a dinner party!

What you need:
2 packs waffles (~240g each)   
150g white chocolate
300g frozen raspberries 

500ml crème fraîche
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

The fun part:
1) Cut up waffles into small sections. Place half on the bottom of 9 x 13 inch dish.
2) Cut white chocolate into small pieces and place on top of waffles.
3) Place raspberries on top.
4) Put rest of cut up waffles on top.
5) Mix together crème fraîche, flour, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
6) Spoon mixture on top of the waffles.
7) Bake at 200°C for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.


Source: Recipe from Mrs. Farnfield (mother of Marcus Farnfield!).

Post #17: Whole Foods Quinoa Loaf

Sherry, your future VP of nutrition has recommended Whole Foods Market's 'Quinoa Loaf with Mushrooms and Peas'! Find recipe and nutrition information here. 

Post #16: African Yam & Peanut Soup with Ginger and Pineapple   

This is my all-time favorite soup, a must try! It will blow your senses away. And your body will love you for eating it.

What you need:
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp salt
6 tbsp ginger, minced
5 large garlic cloves
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 medium sized yams, peeled and chopped
1 x 14oz can crushed pineapple
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
5 tbsp natural peanut butter
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 limes, squeezed

The fun part:
1)    Heat stock and keep it warm while you assemble the soup.
2)    In a large soup pot heat oil over medium heat.
3)    Add onion and a pinch of salt; sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4)    Add garlic, ginger and spices; sauté until soft and golden.
5)    Stir in yams, red pepper and salt and continue cooking until they start to stick to the bottom of the pot.
6)    Add vegetable stock to cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.
7)    Cover partially and continue simmering until the yams are tender.
8)    Add pineapple with juice, tomatoes, peanut butter and remaining stock and simmer for another 25-30 minutes.
9)    Puree soup if you have any form of blender. (Do this in small batches and make sure to hold down lid. A potato masher could work if you do not have a blender).
10) Return soup to the pot and simmer for a final 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste and/or hot sauce. Just before serving squeeze the lime juice into soup and add cilantro as a garnish.

Serves 8

Source: Rebar Modern Food Cook Book by Audrey Alsterberg and Wanda Urbanozicz, 2001

Post #15: Tiffany's Chickpea Quinoa Salad with Toasted Almonds 

What you need:
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped

2 x 14 oz cans of chickpeas, drained
3/4 cup edamame beans, shelled and thawed

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

2 green onions, sliced

1/4 cup red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Several dashes of ground black pepper

1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

8 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

The fun part:
1) In a medium pot, combine the quinoa, water and salt and bring to a boil.
2) Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes on low heat.
3) Remove from heat, remove lid and allow to cool. (Or throw it in the freezer to cool, or just make the quinoa the night before.)
4) In a small frying pan, dry toast the almonds on med/low heat for about 5 minutes until they start to lightly brown.
5) Remove from heat and set aside. Chop them once they have cooled.
6) In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas and everything else. Fold in the cooled quinoa and toasted almonds.

Source: Tiffany Bilodeau! 

Post #14: Chickpeas and Greens with Moroccan Spices

What you need: 
1 large bunch of chard or kale, stems removed
3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (or 2 19 oz cans, drained and rinsed) 
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped 
3 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt 
1 bunch chopped cilantro
1 bunch chopped parsley
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
¼ tsp dry thyme
2 tsp sweet paprika 
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
 ½ tsp turmeric
1 small dry red chile
1 cup canned tomatoes
1 minced preserved lemon, skin only (or use fresh lemon rind, grated and freshly squeezed juice)

The fun part:
1. Chop kale coarsely and set aside.
2. Put garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp olive oil, all but 2 Tbsp cilantro and the parsley in a food processor (or magic bullet will suffice) and pulse until a rough paste is formed.
3. Heat remaining oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, pepper, spices and chile.  Cook until onion is transparent.  
4. Stir in kale and cook 1 minute. Add paste, chickpeas, 1/2 cup water, tomatoes and ½ tsp salt.  
5. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.  
6. Stir in cilantro and preserved lemon and serve (may I suggest on a bed of brown rice?). 

Serves 4.

Source: Food Theory Applications by Gerry Kasten and Dean Simmons, 2012.

Post #13: Kale Stir-fry (side dish) 

What you need:
4 cups kale, tough ribs removed
2 leeks
1/2 cup tahini
2 tsp hot pepper sauce
2 tsp soy sauce

The fun part:
1. Julienne kale 
2. Julienne leeks
3. Stir fry. 
4. Add tahini, hot sauce and soy sauce.

Source: Food Theory Applications by Gerry Kasten and Dean Simmons, 2012.

Post #12: 
Lettuce Turnip the Beet. Think you need superfoods? How about a superdiet!

Photo credit: Andy Leong on Flrickr. 

I was asked to write about superfoods back in September. I haven’t really followed the hype around superfoods and for some reason I kept putting off writing about them. Finally I decided to devote some time to delve into the topic. Here is a summary of what the literature has to say.

The truth is, scientifically, there is no definition for superfoods and while researching them I found everything from kiwis, sweet potatoes, and beans to goji berries, chia seeds, and hemp hearts. Some sources only deemed 5 or 6 items as superfoods while others had over 100 foods listed. The idea behind superfoods is that they are foods full of healthy nutrients, such as antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, which claim to provide significant health benefits over other foods. The concept of a superfood sells well in today’s quick-fix, fast-paced society and you will find superfoods have been incorporated into many supplements, diet plans, drinks and cookbooks. The concept is simple enough, why eat ordinary food when you can eat a food that is, well super?

Antioxidants are the focus in many foods marketed as superfoods. This is because antioxidants, an umbrella term for nutrients that assist in inhibiting cell damage caused by oxidation, are associated with the prevention of many diseases. However, the science in this area does not yet have a very good grasp of which of these nutrients are actually beneficial and in what quantities. For example, you may have seen recent attention given to açai berries for their content of the antioxidant flavonoid, the nutrient that gives many berries their bright color. However, according to registered dietitian Marissa Moore regarding the berry, “There is scant research to prove the antioxidant content, how much you’re actually getting, or if it’s enough to even realize a health benefit.” While the exotic açai berry has been put in the spotlight, more common foods such as grapes, cherries, blueberries and red wine offer the same antioxidants and for a lot less money. In addition, more fully researched antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E, don’t receive as much hype but are also very beneficial.  

Given the vague definition of a superfood, in my opinion, what natural food ISN’T a superfood? I thought about numerous fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, beans, eggs and natural meats and dairy products and thought to myself, well shouldn’t ALL of these be regarded as superfoods? Take what may be considered the simplest fruit, an apple, and lets look at the nutrients it contains: antioxidants (polyphenols, flavonoids, and vitamin C among other less commonly known compounds), fibre, and potassium. Apples have been linked to lower cholesterol levels, weight loss, and the prevention of a host of chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. That sounds pretty super if you ask me.

Don’t get me wrong, yes, some foods contain more of certain nutrients than others and the foods deemed to be superfoods are indeed healthy food choices; however, I disagree with their claim of superpower status and dislike that simpler foods, which are less expensive, locally grown, and widely available that are equally beneficial are often overlooked. It is important to remember that no single food can make you healthy but the combination of many nutrient-rich foods will benefit your health. The newest trendy superfoods can be fun to try but I believe the ultimate goal should be a superdiet, containing a wide array of natural, whole foods.  

 Post #11: Party-sized Pot of Chili

What’s so good about chili?
-Rich in iron (yay! see previous post)
-Fills you up (why? it’s high in protein)
-Winter friendly (keeps you warm)
-Economic (especially if you opt to make it vegetarian)
-Fool proof (no skill required)
-It’s delicious (of course!)

What you need:
2 lbs lean ground beef*
2 medium onions, diced
2 medium bell peppers, diced
4 celery ribs, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp cumin
2-3 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 700ml caned tomato sauce
1 (5.5 oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup beef stock or beer*
1 (19oz) can red kidney beans**
1 (19oz) can white kidney beans**
1 (19oz) can black beans**
Salt and pepper to taste

Makes ~16 one cup servings. This fills 5-6 large yogurt containers, perfect for freezing.

*For vegetarian chili replace the ground beef with an additional 2 (19oz) can of beans and use beer or veggie stock instead of beef stock
**Drain the beans and rinse with water (will reduce flatulence!) 

The fun part:

    1) Place the beef in a very large, heavy bottomed pot and set over medium heat.

    2) Cook the beef, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and no longer pink, about 10 minutes.

    3) Drain the excess fat from the pot before adding the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic.

    4) Cook 5 minutes more.

    5) Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer, adjusting the heat downward, if necessary, to maintain that gentle simmer.

    6) Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 60 minutes, or until the chili becomes thick and flavorful.

Per serving (with beef): ~ 284.8kcal, 31.6g carbohydrate, 22.5g protein, 6.4g fat, 9.4g fibre & 5.1mg iron

Per serving (vegetarian option): ~273.3kcal, 51.7g carbohydrate, 17.3g protein, 1.2g fat, 13.9g fibre & 6.0 mg iron

Recipe adapted from a Thrifty Foods flyer. 

Post #10: Iron deficiency and why you may need to be concerned

If you have been feeling more rundown and fatigued than normal during your recent workouts and in everyday life, it may be worthwhile to check your iron levels. Iron, as most people know, is a key mineral for the transport of oxygen in the blood and consequently energy metabolism. Inadequate iron, amongst other negative consequences, impairs the delivery of oxygen to the tissues and reduces one’s work capacity. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide, affecting one in three people. Left untreated, it can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which can progress into further complications.

Unfortunately, endurance athletes (especially long distance runners) are at a higher risk for iron depletion because compared to sedentary individuals and those engaged in other sports, a greater amount of iron within the body is lost through:  
-gastrointestinal bleeding from prolonged strenuous exercise
-footstrike hemolysis (rupture of red blood cells in the soles 
           of the foot from the impact of each stride when running)

In particular, the subgroups of female and vegetarian endurance athletes are at the greatest risk. Pre-menopausal females have a greater need for iron due to menstruation (18mg/day (F) vs 8mg/day (M)) and because they generally have a lower caloric intake than males, they often have trouble meeting the recommended intake. Vegetarians are at greater risk because they consume only non-heme iron, which is not absorbed as well as heme iron that is found in meat (3-8% vs 15% absorbed iron); because of this their needs are 1.8 times greater than non-vegetarians (32.4mg/day (F) and 14.4mg/day (M)). Contrary to popular misconception, heme iron is not found in all animal products. Heme iron is present in meat but not in eggs and dairy products 

The good news is that mild iron deficiency can be prevented and reversed by increasing one’s dietary intake of iron. Some food sources richest in the mineral include shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels), organ meats, red meat, fortified cereals and grains, legumes, and dark green leafy vegetables. However, substances present in some of these foods, such as oxalates in spinach and bran in whole grains, inhibits in the absorption of iron. Click here for a detailed list of foods containing iron.

Additionally, iron absorption can be enhanced by taking the following steps:
-consuming vitamin C rich foods with iron rich foods
-avoiding coffee, tea or cola with meals
-using cast iron cookware

Iron supplements may be necessary for more severe cases or when dietary changes are not sufficient. A blood test and discussion with your doctor should always be conducted prior to taking supplements as iron toxicity can result fairly easily from excess and inappropriate supplementation. There is no current evidence that taking iron supplements when one is not iron deficient enhances sport performance. 

If you think you may be low in iron click here to book an appointment with UBC student health services. 

Post # 9:  ‘Smoothie Night’ Recipe

Photo credit: Flickr, pastryaffair

For info on smoothies and training click here

Basically you can put whatever you like into your smoothie, but here is the 'recipe' I used for the smoothies on 'Smoothie Night'. 

What you need:
1 cup milk (1%)*
½ medium banana
3 frozen strawberries
1 cup cubed cantaloupe
1/3 cup plain yogurt (2%)*

The fun part:
1) Put all ingredients in blender
2) Blend...
3) Enjoy!

Serves 2

Nutrition information per serving: 140kcal, 24.4g carbohydrate, 7.7g protein, 2.2g fat
(Carb: Protein ratio 3:1)

 *For lactose free/vegan option replace milk with your favorite alternative and add an extra ½ cup to replace the yogurt.

 Post # 8: Post-workout Nutrition

“Did you know that in a typical hard two-hour workout, you can use up all your stored carbohydrate energy (muscle and liver glycogen), sweat away over two litres of water (along with approximately 1600 mg of sodium), and break down a variety of different body cells including muscle and red blood cells?

That’s why what you consume within the critical minutes after training or competing are the most important!  Without optimal recovery nutrition commencing within minutes after training, your body is likely to stay “broken down” and may not be fully recovered to train or compete to the maximum for the next 24 hours...”* -Kelly Ann Erdman

To see the rest of the article click here

*Note the info from this article is especially important for those working out two or more times per day but not quite as important for those working out once per day.

Post # 7: Mmm it's Movember 

“It’s Movember – where men around the world grow moustaches to raise awareness for men’s health. Research around diet & prostate cancer is growing. Dietary factors associated with protection against prostate cancer include foods containing lycopene, selenium, and vitamin E, while diets high in calcium or processed meats may contribute to prostate cancer development."

Moustache model: Liam H.

For more information click here:

-PEN (Practice-based evidence in nutrition), 2012

 Post #6: Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

Okay I agree, this should've been posted pre-pumpkin carving... however it is still Autumn and you are still allowed to go a little pumpkin crazy, if you have not done so already.

What you need:
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 ½ cups all purpose flour 
1 cup white sugar 
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon, ground  
1 tsp nutmeg, ground
1 tsp ginger, ground
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups raisins
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 ¾ cup pumpkin puree 
½ cup canola oil
2 cups buttermilk † *
2 eggs † 

Makes 24 muffins.

The fun part:
1) Set oven at 375 F, with rack in middle of oven.  Grease muffin tins for 24 muffins.

2) In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and raisins.

3) In a separate bowl use a spoon to blend remaining ingredients to reach a uniform consistency.

4) Make well in dry ingredients, and pour in wet.  Stir until just combined (there will still be streaks of uncombined flour). Very important not to over mix here to ensure you will get a light and fluffy product. 

5) Spoon into muffin tins.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden, pulling away from the sides and springing back when touched.

6) Leave to sit in pan for a minute then remove to cool on rack.

*or plain yoghurt, or 1 tbsp vinegar with enough milk to make 1 cup (x2)
†  To make vegan muffins, substitute 50 ml of soft tofu per egg and use soy milk to replace the buttermilk.

Adapted from Food Theory Applications by Gerry Kasten and Dean Simmons, 2012.

Post #5: Sherry’s Banana Bread

Photo credit: Flickr, Krstlchik

Bananas are often an endurance athlete's staple. They are portable, easily digested and an excellent source of potassium. But what's better than a banana on its own? Banana bread of course! Here is a delicious recipe without any butter or added sugars. Super easy to make and good for pre-, post-, or even during workout food if you can carry it intact in your jersey. Enjoy! 

What you need:
Dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cup flour (All-purpose and/or whole wheat for some extra fiber)
1 1/2 + 2 tablespoons oat bran (or substitute with ground oatmeal)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup nuts, chocolate chips and/or raisins (optional)

Wet ingredients:
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon pure apple juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup skim milk or soy milk
2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt

The fun part: 
1)    Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 9X4-inch pan.
2)    Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another.
3)    Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir just until combined (do not over stir or the bread will be tough!).
4)    Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 35-40min, until top is golden brown. (Easy check for doneness: insert toothpick into the centre of the loaf, if it comes out clean it is done).
5)    Set aside to cool before slicing and serving. 

Makes one loaf (9X4-inch pan). 

Adapted from the Whole Foods Recipe app.

Post #4: Alison’s Vegetable Lentil Soup

Why should you make it?
·    It’s yummy

·    It’s inexpensive
·    Your body will love you (good source of fibre, protein and antioxidants)
·    It’s perfect on a cold autumn day
·    It uses foods that are in season
·    Freezes well and thus can be made in large batches for later use

What you need:
1 small butternut squash, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ Tbsp vegetable stock (powder)
6 cups water
1 ½ cup red lentils
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp fresh parsley

The fun part: 
1) Peel squash and dice into small cubes.
2) In a large saucepan or soup pot (not frying pan) heat olive oil over medium heat until almost smoking.
3) Sauté the squash, stirring often. When squash is cooked remove from pan.
4) Dice onion and mince the garlic.
5) Sauté the onion and garlic in the same pan that the squash was cooked in, scraping up the squash from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the onions are golden.
6) Add spices and vegetable stock and cook for one minute.
7) Wash the lentils and rinse. Repeat a few times until the water runs clear.
8) Add the lentils to the pan, with 6 cups of water, and the can of tomatoes.
9) Simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked.
10) Add squash and parsley to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Serves 8.

NB:  if wanting to freeze some for later, let soup cool and then portion into containers and label (old yogurt containers work well).

Adapted from Food Forever: Galiano Cooks, 2010. Recipe from Alison Colwell, pg 81.

Post #3: Cranberry Sauce with Pear, Orange and Ginger

Happy thanksgiving everyone!

“Serve this sweet and tangy cranberry sauce with roast turkey or other fowl, roast pork or baked ham. You could also serve the sauce with cheese such as cheddar or Brie”

What you need:
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (~340g)
1/4 cup orange marmalade
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup golden brown sugar
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 medium ripe pear, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes

The fun part:
1) Place all ingredients except pear, in a medium-sized pot and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat
2) Simmer the sauce (it should just softly bubble), stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes until the cranberries just begin to fall apart and a fluid sauce forms
3) Stir in pear, heat through 3 to 4 minutes, and then remove from the heat
4) Cool the sauce to room temperature
5) Spoon into a tightly sealing container and refrigerate until needed

Recipe adapted from Lyle Stafford, Times Colonist, December 21, 2011 

Post #2: Pre-workout Nutrition 

Ever had to stop a workout, or worse yet a race, due to abdominal cramps or simply lack of energy? If so, then you understand that what you put into your mouth before exercise can make or break your training efforts. Making sure that you are properly fueled and hydrated for each workout will help you maximize training efforts and perform your best in races. Below is an overview of basic pre-workout nutritional strategies. Keep in mind that there is huge individual variability when it comes to nutrition so you will need to experiment a bit (in training) to figure out what works best for you.

Recommendations: In general, the closer to the workout, the less food and drink should be consumed.

2-3 hours before: meal (400-500kcal) high in carbohydrates with moderate amounts of protein, and low in fat, fibre and simple sugars; 500ml fluid

-High carbohydrate- carbs are your main energy source! 
-Some protein along with carbs will keep you from feeling hungry right before your workout
-Too much protein, fat & fibre slow gastric emptying, leaving food in your stomach for longer; since exercise jostles your entire GI tract, this can lead to unwanted bloating, gas or diarrhea (nobody wants to race to the porta potty instead of the finish line!)
-Low in simple sugars- simple sugars provide an initial rush of energy followed by a crash that can leave you feeling sleepy and experiencing low blood sugar at the start of your workout (not ideal!)    
-turkey sandwich with an apple, small yogurt cup and 2 cups water
-chicken vegetable soup with 2 slices toast and 1 cup juice
-oatmeal with nuts, a banana, 1 cup juice and 1 cup water

1-1.5 hours before: small high carbohydrate snack (100-200kcal) and 250-500mL of fluids 

Examples: high carbohydrate sport bar or large banana and 1-2 cups water or sports drink

15-30mins before: 100-150mL of fluids

Examples: ~1/2 cup water or sports drink
*If hungry at this time a gel or other small high carbohydrate item is suitable as well                                                                                        
Depending on which sport you are training for the importance of these general guidelines varies. For example most people are more sensitive to the food choices made before running as opposed to swimming or biking.  

If you would like more information, feel free to comment below and/or ask us in person! & PEN

Post #1: Homemade Granola Bars

Photo credit: Flickr, Lindsay_NYC

Benefits of making granola bars from scratch as opposed to store bought ones:


On average you pay $3.99 for 5 store bought bars. I costed the recipe and 5 of these homemade ones cost $2.30. Note also that the homemade bars are denser than most store bought bars giving 240 calories and 6g protein per serving, thus these homemade bars will keep you full longer. So really you are getting more than double the amount of food for the same price!

What you need:
7 cups rolled or ‘porridge’ oats (not quick oats)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup diced dried cranberries
½ cup raisins
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
600mL sweetened condensed milk

The fun part:
1)   Pre-heat oven to 350F
2)   Lightly grease an 11 x 16 x 1 (i.e. with rim) cookie sheet
3)   Dice cranberries
4)   Mix oats, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, cranberries, raisins, and chocolate chips together in large mixing bowl. Stir until uniform.
5)   Add sweetened condensed milk and stir until all the dry ingredients are wet and the mixture is uniform.
6)   Pour onto cookie sheet and the press the mixture firmly onto pan with fingers until level over entire sheet.
7)   Put in oven for 20-25 minutes at 350F or until golden brown.
8)   Let cool. Cut into 35 pieces (5x7).
9)   Taste test! Put the rest in ziplock bags and then into the freezer which you can pull out later for a quick snack J

Makes 35 bars.

Welcome to the UBC triathlon club nutrition blog!

This space is intended to share tips, information and recipe ideas to assist you in fueling your active lifestyle for optimal health and performance. Being both a student and athlete you may face some challenges in getting proper nutrition into your body. Some common issues:

-Cooking experience
-Energy demands
-Conflicting information

Between school, training and the million other activities you have going on we know it is hard to fit in the time to prepare wholesome meals that meet your high-energy demands, especially on a tight student budget. Through this blog we will provide ideas we hope will help you overcome some of these barriers and also keep you up to date with the latest nutrition information relating to both general health and sport.

We would really like the blog to be driven by topics that interest YOU, so please talk to Theresa Price or Sherry Gu or send an email to to make suggestions and requests!


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Theresa Price said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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