Since good nutrition plays such a supportive role in physical activity,  I wanted to share some practical nutrition tips, recipes and shopping strategies to support your run, walk, hike and bike efforts. 

But first, since everyone asks for it, but especially for new Army Recruit Jeremy and his gal Jen, here's the recipe for my Aunt Adeline's Hazelnut Biscotti--the ones we bring along whenever we set up the Road Warriors Recruiting Table. BTW...these twice baked cookies are a perfect choice for sending in care packages to soliders at home or abroad--they're absolutely delicious, last for months and travel very well. Just remember to add some Starbuck's Via or Hot Cocoa Packets for dunking!

Aunt Adeline's Biscotti at our 4th of July Recruiting Table
Hazelnut Biscotti (makes 24-36 depending on size)

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 teaspoons ground anise seed 
2 1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder (not soda)
1 cup coarsely ground hazlenuts (aka filberts, from TJ's or Whole Foods)

With an electric mixer, blend butter and sugar until combined, add egg, vanilla, almond extract and anise seed. Continue blending until well combined and fluffy...1-2 minutes. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together and add to butter mixture. Blend or stir with spoon until well mixed. Stir in nuts. Batter will be stiff. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easier to handle. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with non stick spray. Divide batter into 2 parts and roll into logs about 2 inches thick. Place logs on cookie sheet, leaving enough room between them so you can cut them easily later. 

Bake 25-28 minutes or until tops are lightly browned and logs are firm to the touch. Cookies will develop several cracks down the center of log during baking. Remove cookies from oven and cool 10 minutes. Using a sharp, non-serrated knife, cut each log into diagonal shaped biscotti, each about 1 inch thick. (Tips: Don't use a sawing motion to cut cookies, just use a sharp knife and cut straight down from left to right). Separate cookies with a spatula and lay them on their sides. 

Turn oven off. 

Return cookies to oven to finish baking and drying out. You can leave them overnight or take them out when the oven is completely cool. Place cooled cookies in an airtight container and they should last for months. 

Great dippers for coffee, hot cocoa and in Italy...Vin Santo, sweet dessert wine. If you send Hazelnut Biscotti in a care package, add some cocoa packets or your soldier's favorite brand of good quality coffee for a taste of home away from home.

Besides being a trail runner, I'm a dietitian and (no surprise) I love to cook! I'm a pretty curious eater -- always looking for new ingredients and new tasty combinations of foods to keep me from bonking on a run or hike. Joining a CSA and shopping at our local farmers market has introduced me to a whole array of new foods and fresh, fresh flavors. If you're feeling stale in the kitchen, the first strategy I highly recommend is this: get recharged by joining your own local CSA or visiting farmers markets. Here's a picture of a couple of pizzas I made with Trader Joe's whole wheat crust, peppers, olives, onions, fennel and feta cheese from our farmers market. (Pizza lovers rejoice! When made with the right ingredients, pizza + a salad is actually a great meal to support physical activity because it provides fuel from a balance of carb, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals.)

The major strategy for cooking healthy meals and snacks is to focus on balance. Aim for a balance of nutrients, of textures, of flavors, of colors and temperatures. A BALANCE of nutrients =  making recipes and meals that provide a combination of carbohydrates, protein, plant fat and fiber. In contrast, ATKINS style meals are heavy handed in fat and protein and thus lacking balance because the eliminate carbohydrate foods (grains, legumes, fruit, milk, yogurt) and fiber.

Eating a balance of nutrients is powerful because  (1) the carb fuels our physical activity and brain function (2) the protein, fat and fiber serve to keep the munchies at bay, (3) the carb helps us concentrate and perform well mentally --especially under stress (4) good quality carbs help battle depression which can reduce likelihood of overeating (5) the fat adds flavor and supports heart and skin health (6) and the combination of all four assures we are getting a variety of essential nutrients.

If one part of your reason for participating in ROAD WARRIORS 2010 is to find a "fun" and "covert" way to control your weight and blood sugar, eating balanced meals with an abundance of fiber is also incredibly beneficial and should be your meal planning goal. always eat high fiber carbs with lean proteins and a bit of heart healthy plant fats. For example, my recipe for Mediterranean Bean Salad is a great balance to grilled salmon, a mixed green salad, and fresh strawberries for dessert.

These red peppers have more vitamin C per calorie than any other food out there, giving them a really big bang for your nutrition buck. Vitamin C is not just important for our immune system, but also plays a role in bone health and preventing diabetes complications...making them a great ingredient to add to any weight bearing exercise you do.

If you want to try something new in the kitchen that will support your run, walk, hike or bike you can find a few of my favorite recipes on my website...hopefully one day, they'll end up in a book, "BIG BANG NUTRITION & RECIPES FOR WARRIORS".  You'll find cookies made with whole grain flour, blueberries, almond butter and almond flour; salads made with beans, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and olive oil, and some lower fat salad dressings to "balance" the calories from those nuts you may love to toss into a summer salad. I hope you find some new ingredients and ideas to use for creating your own healthy, high performance recipes. Just click here for those recipes.