We all need food to survive but to live well and free of disease eating the right type of food is necessary.

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6 Healthy Travel Snacks That Are Pre-Packaged

a woman on a public walkway eating a healthy snack

Guests at Mountain Trek are pleasantly surprised by the deliciousness of the snacks we supply during the hours they spend hiking on the trails. Many expect mass-produced “energy” bars to help fuel their activities but that style of snack is usually full of corn syrup and highly processed ingredients. We recommend people take a small time out of their week to prepare healthy items they can snack on throughout the course of their days.

Related Article: Top 5 On The Go Snacks

However, we’ve since heard from some guests, especially those who travel a lot, that it can be difficult to find the time to whip up some Loki Dip to go with those carrot sticks. So, we asked our nutrition expert Jennifer Keirstead to supply us with another list of snacks that people can enjoy when they’re traveling and don’t have access to their kitchen.

Our Nutritionist’s Picks for Healthy Pre-Packaged Snacks

  1. EPIC bars. These are basically dehydrated meat in power bar form. They’re made from grass-fed meats, high in protein, and taste like jerky!
  2. SuperFood Energy Bar. They’re made from plant-based, high-quality ingredients. No fillers!
  3. Justin’s Almond Butter. These are in squeeze packs and make great traveling companions. Pack a piece of fruit, or two, and spread on some creamy, high-protein almond, for a perfectly balanced snack on the go.
  4. Trail Mix. Try to avoid the prepackaged ones as they contain a lot of sodium. Instead, buy seeds and nuts from the bulk section and make your own. I like to mix unsalted cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried currants, and goji berries.
  5. Prepackaged veggies. Items such as baby carrots or sugar snap peas are easy to find and delicious with a container of hummus.
  6. Starbucks “Protein Box“. If you’re at the airport and grab one of these boxes and enjoy a hard-boiled egg, fresh fruit, cheese, and multigrain muesli bread.

Of course, being even just a little prepared with a snack in your purse, or suitcase can go a long way to help keep you on the right track nutritionally.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Why You Need To Stop Calorie Counting Right Now

Calorie Counting

Recently Mountain Trek’s nutrition expert Jennifer Keirstead was asked whether calorie counting is beneficial for those who are looking to lose weight and improve their fitness. Below is her response but before we jump into it, let’s first define the subject at hand.

What Is Calorie Counting?

Calorie counting is the act of adding together the caloric value of food(s) that one eats. The history of this practice dates back to 1900 when Wilbur Olin Atwater and his associates at the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station determined the caloric values of a number of food components (i.e., the protein, fat, and carbohydrate isolated from various foods) by multiplying the heat of combustion of the food with correction factors that take into consideration incomplete digestion or oxidation of the food in the body. The conversion factors determined by Atwater and his associates remain in use today.

Why The Calorie Calculation Formula Is Skewed

Despite the fact Atwater built-in various correction factors for caloric values, they do not account for:

  • variation of individual absorption
  • the influences of an individual’s intestinal bacteria and that affects on absorption (these change depending on the history of travel, antibiotics, and present diet)
  • variation in nutrient density of today’s foods compared to foods from those used in the Atwater research of 1900, which were less processed, more organic and more local
  • and they exclude many nutrients that were unknown in 1900 (the number of known nutrients to science in 1900 was fewer than 16 whereas now it’s exponentially higher than that.

Moreover, both meal timings and meal composition also have an impact on how calories are absorbed by the body.

Why A Calorie Isn’t Just A Calorie

Now that we’ve looked at the history of calorie counting and why it can be considered inaccurate, here is Jennifer’s further response to why calorie counting isn’t worth it:

“Not all calories are created equal. Take the example of an ice cream cone versus an avocado: both are calorie-rich foods but the calories in the ice cream cone are considered “empty” because they don’t offer the body any nutritional value. They simply spike our blood sugar and leave us feeling lower in energy after we eat them. However, the calories from real foods, like the avocado, offer the body nutrient-dense calories that are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Your body gains energy, antioxidants, and digestive support from the calories in real foods. But it’s important to remember you can still overeat the good calories too. It’s great to be mindful of how much we’re eating, regardless of where the calories are coming from!”

It can be argued that Mountain Trek stresses specific (and different) caloric intake for women and men but this is a rough guideline and it’s important to remember the entire nutrition tenant of the program includes many proven elements such as only eating real foods, abstaining from cortisol-raising foods such as sugar and caffeine and stressing the importance of meal timings and composition.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

“I Survived Adult Fat Camp” – Fitness Magazine features Mountain Trek

Mountain-Trek-Program-at-Rancho-La-Puerta

The headline may be a bit sensational but we enjoyed reading Juno DeMelo’s first-person story of her time spent experiencing the Mountain Trek program at Rancho La Puerta that recently ran on fitnessmagazine.com.

The reason Juno decided to take part in the Mountain Trek program is because, “I’m not fat or out of shape, but I’ve put on a few pounds over the last three years. And though I hate the idea of dieting, I like a challenge. I also figured that not having constant access to food would help me separate real hunger from the fake kind that tends to pop up when I’m bored or stressed. So, I packed my bags…with the hope of gaining energy and losing weight.”

The article then details what Juno experienced day-to-day while enrolled in the program, from morning yoga classes to day hikes to after-dinner workouts. She also spent a large part of the story talking about food.


Fitness Magazine features Mountain Trek


“I never felt stuffed, but I felt full for a couple of hours after each meal,” Juno writes. “By the third hour, it was time to have a snack, which usually – and surprisingly – held me over to dinner. By day five my appetite downshifted and…I felt satiated. The hikes started to feel more doable (and) I stopped fantasizing about cheesecake…”

By the seventh day it was time for the weigh out and Juno learned she had lost 5.2 pounds. “I was elated.” she writes. She then goes on to describe one of the best parts of the Mountain Trek program, namely the post-retreat support plan. “They say that if I keep this up, I should be able to maintain my weight loss and maybe even continue to drop 1/2 to 1 pound a week until by body hits its happy point…I now know I’m strong enough, mentally and physically, to hike for eight miles a day, six days in a row. That I can be a little bit hungry without the world crashing down. And that while food is still one of the great loves of my life, I’ve probably been over-romancing it.”

To see Juno’s story in its entirety, log on to the Fitness Magazine website and read, “I Survived Adult Fat Camp.”

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Will Bacon Kill You? Fact vs Fiction

Will bacon kill you?

In 2015, the World Health Organization released a report that classified bacon and other processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans…based on sufficient evidence in humans that consumption causes colorectal cancer.”

The media reacted instantly with articles that read “Bacon: as bad as cigarettes” and “Hot dogs can kill.” Of course, a lot of the coverage was sensationalized and a few key facts were missed. So we looked into the controversy a bit deeper. Mountain Trek Nutritionist, Jenn Kierstead, shares her thoughts about it all and whether processed meats are indeed detrimental to our overall health and wellbeing.

What the W.H.O. Report Actually Said

Below are a few key points pulled from the World Health Organization’s press release regarding processed and red meats. 

  • At this juncture, the agency’s discussion of red meat is premature and inconclusive because it admits it’s based on “limited evidence” and the fact that “red meat has nutritional value.”
  • However, after reviewing the scientific literature of 22 experts from 10 countries the organization says it has “sufficient evidence” to classify processed meats as carcinogenic.
  • According to the experts, eating 50 grams of processed meat per day increases your risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
  • Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), bacon, ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.

Not All Bacon Is the Same

What’s interesting about the report is it doesn’t qualify what exactly “processed meats” are. There are examples of bacon, ham, and sausages out there that do not fall into this category. Eating bacon from a locally raised, pastured pig is a far-cry from the shrink-wrapped rasher at your nearby super-store. However, it’s safe to say that in this case, the W.H.O. is referring to mass-produced meats.

“The keyword in all of this is ‘processed,'” Jenn says. “Anything that goes through processing means it’s been tampered with. It’s altered and eventually becomes a non-food. In the case of processed meats, they go through a curing process that requires a lot of nitrates and preservatives so that they can last on grocery store shelves.”

What Would Mountain Trek Do?

“It looks like processed meat is the next hot topic surrounding food,” Jenn says. “Every so often news agencies and the general public will jump on the latest superfood or fad diet and that dominates the discussion.”

“At Mountain Trek, we tend to ignore the hype,” she continues. “We’ve always stuck with the same program around nutrition and it has proven to work. Eat local, healthy meals as often as you can. And occasionally if you have some bacon or a hot dog, it’s not going to be the end of the world.”

In other words, don’t eat bacon or foot-longs every day. But indulging during a Sunday brunch or at the ballpark is OK.

Remember, though, the more color on your plate the better. And no, that doesn’t include ketchup and mustard. To learn more about the importance of meal timings and composition, check out our blog about Health Eating Tips.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Simple Strategies For Relieving Stress in the Kitchen

Simple Strategies For Relieving Stress in the Kitchen

If your kitchen has become a center for stress, these 4 tips can help simplify your cooking style so you have more time to relax and enjoy healthy and delicious meals. Remember, cooking should be a way to relieve stress rather than cause it. The act of preparing a meal can divert the mind from the day’s activities and bring into focus the food you are creating. And the smell and taste sensations that come from preparing a delicious dish are immensely satisfying.

How to Create a Stress-Free Kitchen

Kitchen Tips: Plan Ahead

Draw it up

In order to be prepared for the coming week, take a few minutes to plan your meals. Check your schedule (as well as your family’s) for any meal conflicts that might arise (such as evening sports games or late nights at work) and then work around it. By organizing in advance, it alleviates the stress of coming home and trying to figure out what’s for dinner.

Kitchen Tip: Write it down

Write It Down

Many people don’t realize this but you don’t need to spend a lot of time in your average super market because: a) you just have to stick to the outer aisles to get everything you need and b) when you write down a detailed shopping list, it prevents you from wandering into the middle aisles where you’ll find all the processed, unhealthy food. When you write down your list, group items by what aisle they’re in and you’ll save a lot of time, energy and stress.

Kitchen Tip: Prep your food ahead of time

Divvy It Up

If you’ve ever watched a cooking show on TV, you’ll notice that the professional chefs always divvy up their ingredients into separate bowls before beginning the preparation. This extra step ensures you’re not having to look for something at the last second while things are boiling over. It helps you stay in line and on time and definitely takes the stress out of mixing ingredients together.

Kitchen tip: Work Ahead

Work Ahead

Consider cooking extra food or even two meals at once, and reheating on a busier day. Some Mountain Trek favourites include Smoked Salmon and Halibut Chowder, Super Vitalizing Quinoa Salad and Greek Feta & Turkey Stew. Even fresh vegetables can be prepared ahead of time – simply blanch them (ie: parboil in water or steam) in order to remove at the start of the week and store them for use later when you can quickly rewarm or sautée them.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

What Happens To Your Body One Hour After Drinking A Coke?

Did you know over 1.8 billion (billion!) bottles of Coke are consumed around the world every day? No doubt you’ve had one recently and enjoyed the pleasurable effects of the short-term sugar rush. But did you know that one can of Coke (or Pepsi or any other cola product) has so much sugar in it, the only thing preventing your body from immediately rejecting it by vomiting is the phosphoric acid that’s also evident in it. (Incidentally, phosphoric acid is so acidic, it will dissolve a nail in about four days.)

With concerns of heart disease and diabetes on the rise, people are starting to rethink the types of liquids they consume. And then there are people like Niraj Naik, a pharmacist and UK blogger with the handle The Renegade Pharmacist, who’s recent studies have caused us all to be highly concerned about the negative effects of drinking cola. Naik recently created this infographic detailing the physical effects a Coke has on the body within the first hour of consumption. To say the findings are disturbing is an understatement. Thankfully, there’s always water! In our blog about Soda Versus Water, we talk about all the benefits H20 has on your body and your overall wellness. Cheers!

coca-cola-facts-mountain-trek

First 10 Minutes

10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (Which is 100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavour allowing you to keep it down.

20 Minutes

Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment.)

40 Minutes

Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and, as a response your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked, thus preventing drowsiness.

45 Minutes

Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.

60 Minutes

The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar, which increases the urinary excretion of calcium.

After 60 Minutes

The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyes and water.

As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may becaome irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, peed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

But What About Diet Coke?

And in case you’re thinking Diet Coke is healthier for you, have a look at this other infographic below, also done by UK blogger Niraj Naik. Not only do you suffer the same affects as drinking a Coke, you also have the added negative impact of Aspartame — an artificial sweetener that’s essentially a poison for your entire digestive system.

diet-coke-consumption-mountain-trek

 

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Five Weight Loss Must-Haves for Every Kitchen

No doubt you have a fair few gadgets in your kitchen but there are really only a handful that are needed in order to ensure you stick to a healthy weigh-loss regimen. Here they are:

#1. Kitchen Scale

If you really want to get serious about weight loss then it’s important you understand portion size. Purchase an inexpensive food scale and weigh your food before you eat it. You’ll be surprised by how much you underestimate the amount you eat.

yellow-retro-kitchen-scale#2. Smaller Plates

Of course you can hold onto your larger plates for when you’re entertaining guests but for your regular, daily meals you should have a stack of plates handy that are no more than 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. That way you’ll ensure your portion sizes aren’t too large.

selection-of-plate-sizes-and-bowls

#3. Good Measuring Cups and Spoons

Like the kitchen food scale, these items are essential for maintaining portion sizes. You can be more free-form with the spices, but when it comes to fats, proteins and carbohydrates, it’s best to measure.

pink measuring cups and silver measuring spoons

#4. Water Jug

Having a beautiful looking jug on your counter top that’s always filled with room-temperature water will encourage you to drink more of it.

Three-glass-water-jugs

#5. Pedometer

OK, technically this isn’t a kitchen gadget but if it resides in your kitchen where you spend a lot of your time, then you’ll be more inclined to use it. Pedometers come in all shapes and sizes and most are inexpensive. Keep one around your kettle or breakfast food area so that when you wake up in the morning it’s there to remind you to get in your 10,000 steps per day.

pedometer

Bonus: A Tablet

Like the pedometer, this one isn’t exactly a kitchen gadget either, but with a tablet (or laptop or smart phone) you’ll be able to access recipe sites and social media sites, such as Pinterest, that offer excellent, delicious and interesting dishes to try. And in the near future there will be a Mountain Trek app that you’ll be able to use as well. Stay tuned for more about that exciting development!

tablet-in-the-kitchen

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Cinnamon Granola Recipe

Recipe for Cinnamon Granola

This delicious, gluten-free Cinnamon Granola recipe is perfect for breakfast because it’s easy to make and can be stored for weeks. The ingredient list below is enough to make eight servings.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups rolled oats (certified gluten free)
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp almond extract
½ tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F
  • Mix grains, nuts and seeds together on a large baking tray
  • Combine remaining ingredients together in a saucepan and heat briefly
  • Pour over nut/oat mixture and toss well to coat
  • Bake for 45 minutes until lightly toasted. Stir every 15 minutes to brown evenly
  • Cool before storing in airtight container

Cuisine Secrets – 10 Ways to Cook Healthier

We are regularly asked by those who visit Mountain Trek how it is that our food is so delicious and yet we avoid using such “staples” as refined carbohydrates, salt and sugar. The good news is it’s simple: we just don’t have any of those things in our kitchen.

10 Secrets to Healthy Cooking

1. Use Smart Fats

Coconut-Oil-Healthy-Fats

There are two types of fat: unsaturated, such as olive oil, and saturated, such as butter. Choose the first more often and only eat the latter in smaller doses.

2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit-and-Vegetables

Stick to wholes (unprocessed) grains such as wild rice and quinoa, which have more fibre, zinc and other nutrients.

3. Go Unrefined

Unrefined-Honey-and-whole-flax-seeds

If you take nothing else away from these secrets, remember this: eat more vegetables and fruits and less of almost everything else.

4. It’s Not All About the Meat

Dried-beans---not-all-about-meat

Meat is a source of protein but most also contain saturated fat. Eat small portions and substitute often with beans and legumes such as peas.

5. Lessen Intake of Fat-Filled Dairy Products

Less-Dairy-Almond-Milk

Fat-free dairy products are usually full of artificial sweeteners, which are worse than fat in our opinion. Better to lessen your intake of fat-filled dairy altogether.

6. Keep Portions Reasonable

Portion-Control

At Mountain Trek, we’re big proponents of healthy meal composition as well as meal timings. Remember to keep portions small and simple and eat the majority of your daily food before 5:00 pm.

7. Avoid Sweeteners

avoid-sweeteners-cup-of-plain-tea

Whether you’re using unrefined honey or white sugar, you’re adding calories to your meal and hardly any nutritional value.

8. Reduce Sodium

Reduce-Sodium---Spilled-salt-shaker

The recommended intake of salt per day is about a teaspoon – which you will get naturally in your food. Throw away that salt shaker.

9. Go For the Flavour

Spices---Flavour-your-food

There are many other delicious ways to flavour your dishes than just using salt and pepper. Fresh herbs, spices and citrus will add punch to your meals without making you feel you’re missing out.

10. Be Mindful and Enjoy

Be-Mindful-and-Enjoy-your-food---wooden-fork-with-spring-greens

In our culture, it’s so easy to just grab the most convenient thing in the cupboard and run. (Or worse, eat out for every meal.) But by putting more time and effort into your cooking you’ll be happier, healthier and enjoy a lot more vitality.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below: