The Primal Pantry Paleo Protein Bars

Yum!

I’ve tried bars from The Primal Pantry range before and really enjoyed them. I find them quite satisfying and filling, which is unusual because I often find myself reaching for the ‘snack box’ not long after eating the usual cereal bars. I was happy to be sent some of these to taste test and put them to very good use in the past few weeks, with my various epic events that needed both fuelling and refuelling (more on that in another post).

Paleo Bars

Paleo Bars

These two new protein bars in the range claim to be the ‘cleanest’ bars around (meaning they are made without any additives, preservatives, flavourings or colourants); they are also grain free, dairy free and gluten free. Even so, they are not short on flavour! I would say, having tried the other bars by The Primal Pantry, these are the tastiest yet, with the Cocoa Orange being a personal favourite, so orangey! I am hoping they might bring out a mint-choc flavour, now that would be delicious!

When should you use this bar in your training? I would say this is great post-activity, with both protein and carbohydrates to aid recovery. I have also used the bars (cut into neat little bite-size chunks) on a long bike ride though, finding they give a great energy-boost (and they gave me something to look forward to!). Try them for yourself, from health food shops and larger supermarkets, for £1.99.

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Foodie Round-Up

I’ve been trying out a couple of new fuel and hydration products and though it might be good to pair them up and see how they can work together for a post-run/activity refuel/rehydrate option. First is DRINKMaple, which is a drink tapped from maple trees in Vermont. The website tells us that DRINKMaple is packed with nutrients and gives a refreshing low-calorie, gluten-free, dairy-free drink. You can read about the nutritional value here.

DRINKMaple

DRINKMaple

So what does it taste like? Well, erm, sugary water really. If you like sugary water, then great, but I prefer my water unsweet(ened) so, to gain the nutritional benefits, I added mine to a smoothie, with frozen berries, banana and a bit of almond milk.

Sweeeeet!

Sweeeeet!

That looks a bit more exciting doesn’t it?

To accompany my Super Maple-Berry Smoothie, I toasted a Dr Zak’s high protein cinnamon and raisin bagel. I’ve tested a few Dr Zak’s products before and found them tasty and filling, so these bagels are a nice addition. I buttered mine and added a little honey, which is just fine if you’ve run ten miles and pounded out an hour on the turbo trainer (more on my current training later in the week).

Refuel

Refuel

The bagels are tasty and they do fill you up for longer, but the most valuable feature is the high protein count, which is exactly what you need after a tough session.

Dr Zak’s Protein-Packed Nut Butters

Yum! I love peanut butter, so was drooling slightly at the thought of trying out the new Dr Zak’s nut butters. You might remember earlier in the year I tried out some of Dr Zak’s protein bagels and really liked them, so I was intrigued to sample something new. The peanut butters come in five flavours: Salted Caramel, White Chocolate & Coconut, Apple & Cinnamon, Cherry Bakewell and Fresh Raspberry; I was sent a jar each of the white chocolate and coconut and cherry bakewell flavours.

Peanutty goodness

Peanutty goodness

I must admit, I prefer my nut butters crunchy, with a bit of bite to them and these are smooth butters and quite runny. I don’t normally have the jam and peanut butter on toast combo so, in the interest of research, just stuck a spoon in and had a lick. Sweeeeeeeeeet!! Really, these are very sweet, so you might want to miss the jam layer! The spreads are made in the UK and are free from palm oil, naturally sweetened with fruit extract, contain no preservatives and deliver 7.2g of protein in every 20g serving, so this seems like a tasty way to get some additional protein in your diet when training hard.

Since I find them a bit sweet for my liking, I have been dolloping a spoonful in a post-run smoothie and also baked some peanut butter flapjacks as a refuelling treat (though, with the oil content, you need to adjust your baking time so they don’t burn. Ahem 😉 ). The spreads are made using the highest quality partially hydrolysed whey protein isolate, are approved by the Vegetarian Society and can be bought from a number of online stockists listed here (you can also search by postcode for your nearest retailer). Let me know if you think up any new ways to use peanut butter in your diet and post any links to tasty recipes below 🙂

Primal Pantry Pecan Protection

You may recall a review I wrote not long ago of the Primal Hazelnut and Cocoa Bars, perfect for fuelling on the go, especially if you’re following a paleo or gluten-free diet. Thanks to a new Apple and Pecan bar, you have more choice and another chance to boost your nutrient intake. It seems pecans have been proving themselves useful in lowering cholesterol – whilst pecans are high in fat, the new study has shown that, rather than being detrimental to the levels of cholesterol and fats in our blood, the nuts appear to reduce them.

Apple and Pecan

Apple and Pecan

I found the Apple and Pecan bar tasty, enjoyed the texture given by the nuts and they’re a handy size to pop in your bag or pocket for a quick post-workout refuel. The Primal Pantry bars (which includes four other bars – coconut & macadamia, almond & cashew, brazil nut &cherry and hazelnut & cacao) are now available in Tesco, Superdrug, health stores and gyms. For further information visit www.primalpantry.com

The Primal Kitchen Goes Chocolatey

I have tried Primal Kitchen bars before and liked them, so was definitely up for trying the new Hazelnut and Cocoa Bar. I have been having some fuelling/refuelling challenges recently, so I am really keen to try new ways of getting some energy before, during and after training and competing. These bars are interesting because they don’t contain any grains, gluten, refined sugar, soy, vegetable oil or any additives, preservatives, flavouring or colouring, so tick many boxes for people who follow gluten-free or low-carb diets. Being a paleo bar, there are fewer ingredients (just six in the Hazelnut and Cocoa Bar), all of which are organic and fair trade.

Chewy goodness

Chewy goodness

The idea behind producing a chocolate flavoured bar is so those following a particular diet don’t have to miss out on treats. I did like the bars (I would have taken a photo of the bars themselves, but I gobbled them up pretty quickly, a good sign!), but don’t find I need a chocolatey flavour in a fruit/fuel bar (but then I can just eat a bar of chocolate if I want to). I like the chewy texture and the chunks of nut add to this, giving a bit of bite. You can find The Primal Kitchen bars, costing £1.49 each at Ocado, Superdrug, Tesco and leading health stores, look out for the Almond and Cashew, Brazil Nut and Cherry and, my favourite, Coconut and Macadamia.

Petts Wood 10k, 2014

Remember this time last year, when I ran my first race in a long, long time, splashed through mud and puddles and came home with a great big smile on my face? Well, I enjoyed it so much I went back for more. The weather had been pretty much the same as last year, with lots of rain in the week and a good soaking through the night but, travelling over to the race, I knew I would just have to contend with some good muddy bits and a few tree roots this time. Thankfully the trains were running as normal and my journey was quite straightforward. Now, these 10.30 starts are a bit of a funny one and I was wondering if this might be contributing to my poor race experiences recently. For parkrun, I am up at my usual time, eating breakfast as normal and ready to get going for the 9am start, but when things are shifted back a bit, I’m thinking that maybe I need to introduce an extra drink along the way…more of this later.

Getting off the train, I started chatting to another lycra-clad woman, who was running the Petts Wood 10k for the first time, and we sauntered towards the playing fields with further running types. I could hear music as we approached, and there was a general buzz in the Petts Wood air, how lovely then to find that the music was live and the field was filled with happy faces and a feeling of excitement. There’s a real local feel to this event, with lots of families turning out to cheer people on and residents coming out into their gardens to encourage you around the course. Once I was registered and had fixed my number in place, we were soon taking our positions in the starting pens. Based on recent runs, I put myself in the 45-50 minute section and bobbed up and down on the spot to keep warm. After a once round the field, we headed out onto the road and towards the woods with cheers all the way.

Musical encouragement

Musical encouragement

Last year I had embraced the rain and simply had some fun, leaping over and into puddles, but today, as it was dry, I felt a little pressure to push harder, but wasn’t really feeling the push. It’s quite a narrow course in places, and you could find yourself stuck behind a slower runner, but people were very polite about it all (and as I felt like the slow one at times, I was glad of this!). The lovely people of Petts Wood Runners had positioned marshals throughout and had very thoughtfully pointed out tree roots and obstacles using a sprinkling of flour to catch your eye. I found the KM markers were appearing quite quickly, but was really slowed down by a long muddy hill around the 7k mark. Head down, I slogged my way up but, on reaching the top, had to duck to the side and subject those around me to a moment of hideousness as I almost threw up (what is going on?!). A few deep breaths and I was back in action.

There had been rumblings at the start that the band might reappear in the woods, so what joy to hear their jolly tones as I struggled through the trees, and they were so well placed, just before a sharp turn and one last hill. Smiling supporters and encouraging marshals pushed us onwards: ‘Just 2k to go!’ and the road felt good and steady after the uneven ground we had trodden until now. I looked at my watch and clung to the hope that I might go sub-50, but it wasn’t to be, and I rolled in after 53 minutes of determined discomfort. Compared with recent 10k times, this was a little disappointing, but I will remind myself that it’s a tough course, I wasn’t feeling great and, on looking at last year’s results, I took around seven minutes off my previous time!

On crossing the line, I was handed a medal, water, a banana and had the option of a samosa, which looked lovely, but…I collected my bag from the perfectly organised baggage area and instead bought myself a cup of tea and a piece of walnut loaf. Perfect.

Refuel

Refuel

Heading home, I felt ok and met the boys – who had been swimming – when I reached Lewisham. Hector was starving so we went in search of beans (it had to be beans) and ended up in Lewisham Wimpy (!). Everything was so much better all round after a bit of food and we did some shopping and headed home. This was where I started to feel unwell (again). I felt exhausted and my stomach wasn’t right. I was nauseous and weak, as if I’d run a marathon, not a 10k. So, what’s going wrong here? I made sure I ate well on Saturday and had plenty to drink, I had porridge for breakfast and again, had plenty to drink ahead of the race. I ate and drank straight after finishing and had lunch not long after, but still I felt awful. I have a ten mile race on Sunday, and don’t feel super confident right now! Any thoughts on why this is happening and what I can do?

Fuel on the Move

I’m relatively new to this here cycling long-distance thing, and have yet to get my head round the difference between fuelling for running and fuelling for riding. Unless I’m training for a half-marathon or longer, my running fuel is pretty straight forward, and I only ever start to think about even carrying drink if I’m going over about eight or nine miles. The most I would eat on the run would be some jelly babies or maybe a gel, but fuelling-on-wheels is a very different matter. So far I have just about managed to get to grips with drinking on the move, with a weaving about, drink up the nose moment usually happening somewhere en route, and my solid fuel is usually something like this:

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding

…not exactly cycle-specific is it?! As I start to train in a more focussed fashion for the London Duathlon in September, and even, maybe, possibly think about entering a sportive (yup), maybe I should look at something I could snaffle as I go, on rides where a stop at a quaint tea-shoppe is not on the cards. What could be more fit for purpose than the official performance bar of the Giro d’Italia? The new Multipower Fruit Power Bar is crammed with fruit – made with 65% real fruit – and packs an energy-boosting 138kc per 40g bar, with 29.2g being carbohydrate (figures based on the ‘original’ flavour). Those chaps in the Giro d’Italia can consume up to 7000 (yes, really) calories a day, so are constantly having to top-up their energy supplies. Bread pudding and a pot of tea is spot on, but you just don’t see them pulling up at a road-side cafe and partaking, do you?

Power in a bar

Power in a bar

As a small, easy to carry in your jersey pocket, packed with energy bar, the Multipower Fruit Power Bar fits the bill. Personally I prefer the ‘Original’ flavour to the ‘Tropical’ and, as it has a soft and chewy consistency, you’re not going to be dropping a trail of crumbs as you ride, so hopefully getting it right where it needs to be…if you’re a good on-the-move sort of eater (I’m yet to try this). You can read all about the bars here, and maybe stock up ready for those lovely summer rides you have planned…a stage of Le Tour de Yorkshire anyone?