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Drink Mix Review: Mestrength

If you’re looking to add some serious flavor to your next water break, give this drink mix a try. Mestrength’s assorted performance hydration mixes work to satisfy the taste buds while supplying the energy necessary for physical activity.

Each one of Mestrength’s mixes is bold, unique, and tasty. We especially liked the Orange mix because of its zesty-sweet flavor. Hints of tangy citrus combine with a bit of saltiness to create the perfect blend that’ll make you feel like you’re hiking in the tropics.

Every mix provides 5 electrolytes and contains no carbs, calories, sugars, or stimulants. Flavors are all-natural, and Mestrength is completely gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian safe.

Simply add one pack of Mestrength to a 16.9oz or 20oz bottle of water, shake well, and enjoy. The single serving size is perfect for hiking, bike riding, and almost any other activity.

Clean Values Lead to a Clean Drink

Mestrength stands by their ultra clean label. We were impressed with the values kept by this company to provide a drink mix free of unnecessary chemicals, artificial flavors, artificial colors, and other additives commonly found in other sports drinks. They even subject their mixes to 5 days of microbiological testing to ensure 100% purity after they’ve been manufactured. That’s dedication, and it’s impressive.

Mestrength is featured in the June 2017 Trailfoody.

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Trailfood Review: Made In Nature’s Toasted Cinnamon Coconut Chips

coconut chips are good food for hiking

Here’s a trail treat that will give you some pep in your step.

Outdoorspeople love the bars. And the jerky. And the bars (did we say bars?). But, if you’re looking to mix it up with new trailfood for an adventure, try these  Toasted Cinnamon Coconut Chips by Made In Nature.

In a (coco-) nutshell:  they’re tasty.

When you take a bite, the first thing you notice is the crunch. Not so much a potato-chip crunch, but something a little bit meatier. Made In Nature leaves part of the rind on, and they also cut them slightly thicker. Both techniques give a little more substance to the crunch and impart a subtle earthiness to the flavor.

But the star of the flavor isn’t the earthiness, nor is it the coconut. It’s the toasted cinnamon—Vietnamese Cinnamon to be exact.

“When you take a bite, the first thing you notice is the crunch. Not so much a potato-chip crunch, but something a little bit meatier.”

Vietnamese Cinnamon has more aromatic qualities and depth to its flavor than regular cinnamon. Combine that with roasting, and the flavors are brought out even more. Sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar or corn syrup, these coconut chips will remind you of the French toast your mom used to make.

It’s good for the trail, too, with 150 calories per 1 oz., making it a weight-efficient fuel. Plus, it provides calories through high quality fat, which is lacking in many trailfoods and essential—especially if you’re a thru hiker.

There’s something homey about this trailfood, that even non-coconut lovers can enjoy. We give it a thumbs up.

The Toasted Cinnamon Coconut Chips were selected as part of the June 2017 Trailfoody.

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Trail Mix Review: Conundrum

Trail Mix from Conundrum

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Conundrum Trail Mix lives up to its name with a curious mix of flavors that range from savory to sweet.

 

Often, the generic trail mixes you buy at the grocery store are filled with peanuts, but there’s not a peanut to be found inside your bag of Conundrum.

Instead, an earthy medley of Northwest hazelnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and pecans form the nutty base which contrasts nicely to the sweetness provided by raisins, dried cranberries and blueberries, and a dash of maple syrup.

Energy-wise, it’s a great mix of healthy, calorie-dense fats and proteins from the nuts plus slower-burning complex carbohydrates from the berries.

And, then there’s this wonderfully enigmatic part of the flavor that is simply difficult to describe. When you taste it yourself, you’ll know what we mean.

We selected Conundrum Trail Mix to be part of the June 2017 Trailfoody.

Here’s what our tasters had to say:

“The berries give a quick pep of energy, and the roasted hazelnuts satisfy and stick to your ribs.”

Grif Steele
Caught a Yuge Fish Once

“With a flavor that’s difficult to adequately describe, the aptly named Conundrum teases your taste buds with waves of earthiness, sweetness, and savory.”

Britt Foodlove
Trailmix Mix Master

“I heard the people say, ‘Mmmmm.’ That usually means I don’t get any.”

Gracie
Stick Fetcher

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What’s in June’s Trailfoody?

See what’s included in June’s Trailfoody, with a handful of this month’s items hailing from the Northwest! With approximately 1300 calories, this food kit will fuel any adventure.

Conundrum Trail Mix

Conundrum Trail Mix

From Portland, Oregon, The aptly named Conundrum teases your taste buds with waves of earthiness, sweetness, and savory, yet leaves you guessing the ingredients that create such an interesting flavor. Goes well with a hand-crafted beer, but we recommend saving it for the trail.

New Primal Jerky

New Primal Uncured Maple Bacon Sticks

Because everything tastes better with bacon. This pork-flavored beef stick is a superior alternative to the gas station peperoni stick, and the perfect amount of protein for outdoor activities. Plus, the pork is naturally raised, so it’s healthier, too.

Simple Squares energy bar

Simple Squares Choco Coco

We went cuckoo for these choco coco bars (try saying that fast 10 times). The coconut is subtle, but adds a wonderful creaminess to the chocolate. This bar just feels wholesome to eat, so you know it’s good quality fuel.

LivBar energy bar

LivBar Lemon Ginger Turmeric

Also from Oregon, this bar combines sweet, salty, and zing! This bar is feather light, made from organic superfoods, and comes in a compostable wrapper. It left us craving more.

KIND energy bar

Kind Pressed Mango Apple Chia

This bar had us at “mango.” Two servings of fruit in this little bar, which is the energy bar equivalent of a smoothie.

Kates energy bar

Kates Real Food Grizzly Bar

Also from the Northwest, from Idaho, this high-energy meal-in-a-bar can get you wherever you’re going. A wonderful peanut butter taste combines with dark chocolate and dried fruit. And, just as the name says, it’s made from real food.

Made in Nature coconut chips

Made in Nature Toasted Cinnamon Coconut Chips

Somehow the cinnamon coconut work a little magic together, making a tasty, energizing treat. These coconut chips are cut a little thicker, so they impart a more robust flavor.

Mamma Chia energy squeeze

Mamma Chia Blackberry Bliss Chia Squeeze

Perfect a quick burst of fruity energy, just open and squeeze. Organic blackberries are the star, along with some purple carrot juice and chia.

Mestrength electrolyte drink

MeStrength assorted performance hydration drink mix

This drink mix provides 5 electrolytes, and contains no sugars or calories. Flavors are all-natural, making it cleaner than many electrolyte drinks. Just add one stick to your water bottle and shake.

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Are You Hiking With the Correct Nutrient Mix?

Fueling the Fire

You’ve picked out the perfect trail with the best views of the grand canyon. Excited to begin, you quickly pull together your gear, knowing the journey to get there will be tough. But, suddenly, you realize that you’re clueless as to what kind of foods will fuel the challenge best.

So, (the question begs to be asked) what exactly should one bring with them to eat while out on the trail?

Nutritional Value is Key

The answer to that question is really quite simple. For physical exercise, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are a must.

Here’s what they can do for you:

Carbohydrates – According to the Appalachian Mountain Club-Boston Chapter, carbohydrates provide, on average, around 100 calories per ounce and can be digested quickly into blood sugar, which is available immediately to your muscles to burn. As a result, carbs serve as the best source of readily available and quick energy.

Simple carbohydrates, which can be found in fruits, for example, can be turned into blood sugar within minutes, thus making excellent high energy trail foods. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, like breads and whole grains, usually take an hour or two to digest and keep you loaded up with energy.

Fats – Fats, in comparison, store up to 200 calories per ounce and take longer to digest (hours). They metabolize differently than carbohydrates, providing longer term, endurance energy. However, you’ll need an adequate intake of fats on the trail to properly metabolize carbs, even though those fats will not give you the quick burst of energy that carbohydrates do.

Proteins – Different from the other two food categories, proteins provide only around 80 calories per ounce or less, take days to metabolize, and are never turned directly into blood sugars. Exercise does not increase the short term need for protein, though maintaining a balanced diet aids your health and fitness in general.

Getting the Right Nutrient Mix for Hiking

While all three food categories are important to consider, carbohydrates are essential for outdoor activities like hiking.

According to Sally Hara, a board certified specialist in sports dietetics and owner of ProActive Nutrition, carbohydrates are the primary fuel for physical exercise. Although our bodies burn carbs, fat, and a little protein while hiking, they’ll surely bonk without the consumption of carbohydrates.

(continues)

Win a Free Trailfood Kit

Enter for a chance to win a free Wanderer trailfood kit, which includes 9+ trailfoods, in a stuff sack, ready to go! It’s the right nutrient mix for tough outdoor adventures, and you’ll get to try new and exciting trailfoods.

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As is noted in the second edition of Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness: Functional Exercise and Nutrition for Every Body, the amount of carbs needed for activities such as long-duration hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering may decrease slightly from the recommended carbohydrate intake of 60-70% during active training periods. Thus, anywhere between 50-70% of your diet should consist of carbs depending on the level of physical exertion you plan to experience while out on the trail.

Keeping all of this information in mind can be a bit overwhelming when preparing for a day’s journey, we know. That’s why Trailfoody is perfect for your fire fueling needs! Our stuff sacks are filled with healthy, nutritious trailfoods that combine to provide the perfect blend of carbs, fats, and proteins that’ll always keep you on the move.

So what are you waiting for? Your next adventure awaits!

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Why “naked” jerky was such a good idea

Naked Cow beef jerky for hiking

We asked the folks at Naked Cow to tell us why we should all get excited about their all-natural, grass-fed “naked” jerky. Naked Cow’s honey jerky is featured in the May Trailfoody. Here’s what they had to say.

 

There continues to be a growing interest in eating natural and less processed foods, especially by those individuals who live active lives, like hikers and CrossFitters.

And, for good reason–the better the fuel you put in your body, the better it will perform.

Grass-fed beef, in particular, has benefits for active people due to its superior levels of omega-3 fatty acids (compared to regular beef), which aids in cardiovascular health. Grass-fed beef is also usually raised without antibiotics, another big plus. Cutting down on sugar intake can also benefit your cardiovascular health, according to Harvard Health Publications.

Naked Cow jerky CrossFit
Naked Cow at CrossFit Regionals

Put to the Ultimate Test at CrossFit Regionals
Naked Cow Jerky attended the CrossFit Games East Regional event in Albany, NY. We were excited to get feedback from some of the top athletes in the country about our all-natural beef jerky.

Response was phenomenal, and 100% verified our decision almost two years ago to develop an all-natural beef jerky using strips of grass-fed beef, spices and no sugar or preservatives (“No Udder Stuff”). When athletes approached our booth at the CrossFit event, the Nutrition Facts (which almost every person at this event would immediately read) was our biggest ally.

We don’t think this is a fad, and more people will demand healthier food products. We are proud to be able to deliver.

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Energy Bar Review: Evo Hemp Mango Macadamia

Energy Bar Evo Hemp Mango Macadamia

If you want to be instantly transported to Hawaii, give this bar a try. Mango and macadamia are the stars of the show. The mango provides its fresh, juicy sweetness, and the macadamia and hemp hearts combine to impart a wonderful mild, nutty flavor. It even has a touch of coconut. Take a bite, and feel the warm breeze of the tropics dancing across your face.

The Evo Hemp Mango Macadamia bar is a great one to eat right before a steep climb, because it will give you a quick jolt of energy.

“A quick jolt of energy. Greater mental and physical focus. And, a yummy flavor reminiscent of the tropics.”

There are additional health benefits to boot. This bar contains yerba mate, a plant primarily found in South America that can stimulate mental focus and energy. It’s also made from raw ingredients, without heat, to maximize the living enzymes. This helps with digestion and nutrient uptake.

And, for those of you who were wondering, the hemp plant is not the same as the marijuana plant. In fact, hemp has the opposite effect on the brain and actually stimulates brain function and health due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids.

A quick jolt of energy. Greater mental and physical focus. And, a yummy flavor reminiscent of the tropics. Sounds like a win to us!

The Evo Hemp Mango Macadamia bar was featured in the May 2017 Trailfoody.

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Energy Bar Review: Big Spoon Roasters Apricot Pepita bar

energy bar review

As soon as you tear open Big Spoon Roasters’ Apricot Pepita bar, the aroma of the hand-roasted nut butter fills the air. The roasting concentrates the flavors, giving it complexity and body beyond that of other peanut butter flavors we’ve tasted. The bar itself is very soft, but with each bite, you notice the coarseness of the peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, and quinoa.

The best treats usually combine salty and sweet, and this is certainly the case here. The sea salt is perfectly balanced with the sweetness from wildflower honey and tiny bits of apricot.

This is a great bar to eat when you’re hungry because it satisfies in a way that sticks to your ribs. It can be a wonderful reward for reaching the summit of a difficult hike or climb. This bar packs 280 calories of energy.

Values Worth Supporting

We were equally impressed by the values kept by this company. Big Spoon Roasters is committed to only using the highest quality ingredients from sustainable sources, often obtained locally. They use biodegradable packaging with non-toxic inks, and they give a percentage of profit to charities each year. That’s worth getting behind.

The Roots to the Flavor

Big Spoon Roasters’ Mark Overbay wrote a guest blog post for Trailfoody about how his company came about. In that post, you’ll read about how he learned to hand roast peanut butter when he volunteered in Zimbabwe for the Peace Corps. Check it out.

Here’s What Our Tasters Had to Say

“By the time we reached ridgeline, I was starving. This bar was a lifesaver—and a satisfying one at that.”

Grif Steele
Trail Grinder

“The hand-roasted, small-batch care put into this rich, nutty bar announces itself with every crunch. Roasty-toasty nuts meet sunny-sweet apricots. Loved it!”

Britt Foodlove
Cous Cous Magician

“As soon as I smelled that peanut butter, I was afraid they’d never let me have a taste.”

Gracie
Switchback Finder

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What’s in May’s Trailfoody

Take a peek at what’s included in this month’s Trailfoody! With over 1384 calories, this food kit will fuel any adventure. Retail value is over $25 (not including the stuff sack!).

  • Naked Cow Honey beef jerky—Robust in flavor, with hints of smoky, sweet and a touch of spice, this jerky hits the spot. Oh, and it’s grass fed, with no added sugar, MSG, nitrates or any of that “udder stuff.”
  • Back to Basics Crispy Wheat crackers—Thin and crispy, and finished with sea salt, these crackers contain no artificial preservatives or flavors.
  • Artisana raw cashew nut butter—This nut butter is very smoooooth and creamy with just a hint of natural sweetness.
  • Evo Hemp Mango Macademia bar—Mango and macademia: you’ll think you’re in Hawaii. The hemp hearts give a subtle nutty flavor. Plus, they provide a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, so it’s good for you, too.
  • Curate Dark Chocolate Hazelnut bar—The combination of chocolate and hazelnut is hard to beat. This sweet treat has a nice crunch.
  • Big Spoon Roasters Apricot Pepita bar—As soon as you tear open this bar, the aroma of the hand-roasted nut butter announces itself. The pumpkin seeds add dimension and the apricot gives just the right amount of sweetness. Read this fascinating story about inspired the taste behind their nut butters.
  • Speedie B’s Almond Cherry bar—Smooth and sweet, the combination of almond and cherry join forces in this hand-crafted bar that will hit the spot. Bonus: the resealable packaging is great for nibblers—it keeps the pocket lint out!
  • Nature Addicts Apple Raspberry Fruit Sticks—Made from 100% real fruit, these soft, chewy fruit sticks are naturally sweet. Great for when you need a quick jolt of energy.
  • Stur organic Lemon Ice Tea drink mix—Hydrate well with this organic ice tea drink mix. Sweetened with a mix of organic cane sugar and stevia so it doesn’t have that artificial sweetener taste.
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Hungry Inspiration

Big Spoon Roasters Apricot Pepita energy bar is perfect for hiking

Mark Overbay from Big Spoon Roasters pens this guest post for Trailfoody about how he discovered the secret behind his signature rich, fragrant, hand-roasted nut butter. It’s a key ingredient in the Apricot Pepita Nut Butter Bar, which is featured in May’s Trailfoody.



I had the idea for Big Spoon Roasters on a crisp fall day in October 2010. It was a Saturday. After a bike ride across the rolling hills of Durham and Orange counties, I was in the backyard of the house I had just bought (my first) sanding pieces of quarter-round to match the finish of the house’s original 1950s hardwood floors. I had eaten a good pre-ride breakfast and a filling post-ride lunch, but all that sanding with a revved up metabolism made my stomach growl with hunger around 3 o’clock.

I craved exactly one thing – my favorite snack – freshly sliced apples generously spread with peanut butter. By volume, the peanut butter to apple ratio is approximately 1:1. The best.

Big Spoon Roasters nut butter with climbing and hiking gearA Craft with Roots from Zimbabwe
For some reason, I didn’t automatically go into the kitchen, slice an apple, and spoon out a dollop of the “all natural,” organic peanut butter from the local natural foods co-op in my pantry. Instead, I thought about the delicious, fresh-roasted, handmade peanut butter I had learned to make as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zimbabwe some ten years earlier. I thought about its roasty intensity and perfectly coarse texture; about the care that went into selecting and preparing the ingredients; and the craft of making it, passed down for generations.

After harvest, peanuts were roasted over open backyard fires and crushed by hand between stones as coarse salt was added to taste. Some families added a touch of local honey and fresh coconut oil to complement the salt and smooth out the texture. The rich, fragrant, mouthwatering result was a revelation to me, a lifelong peanut butter lover.

“The rich, fragrant, mouthwatering result was a revelation to me, a lifelong peanut butter lover.”

Giving Birth to Hand-Crafted Peanut Butter in the U.S.
That flavor, though. That’s what I remembered the most and, at that moment, craved more than any food I had ever craved before. I remember thinking, in the middle of the craft food explosion that was happening in the U.S. at the time, someone must be making fresh-roasted, handmade peanut butter; I just hadn’t discovered them yet.

But, not a single business in the country was roasting, milling, and mixing nut butters to order. Marketing terms like “small batch,” “natural,” “gourmet,” and “delicious” abounded, but everything was being made on a huge, industrial scale and chock full of sugars, stabilizers, and in many cases, the environmental catastrophe that is commercial palm oil.

Big Spoon roasted nut buttersA Reflection of Values
We would focus on the craft of making the absolute best possible version of nut butter, no matter how long, painstaking, or costly the process of doing so might be. It would set new, higher standards for ingredient integrity, flavor, and freshness. Every ingredient would be the best in class, no exceptions, and every ounce of nut butter would be made to order. We would never compromise on quality or sustainability. We’d put the food first and package only in jars made of glass and steel. We’d use biodegradable paper labels with non-toxic inks. When we hire people to help me, we’d pay them living wages and offer robust benefits. We’d guarantee satisfaction. We’d give an increasing percentage of profits to charities every year. We’d offer a safe, welcoming environment to all people. We’d partner only with wholesale customers who share our values and treat them like partners.

In short, we’d be the change we want to see in the world.

A Nod to Dad; A Mind Toward Health
The business would also be an homage to my dad, Gary “Big Spoon” Overbay, who has battled with type 2 diabetes for more than two decades. One day when I was six years old, I walked into the family kitchen to find my dad having one of his favorite snacks – a big spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar. I blurted out, “big spoon!” and the nickname stuck.

To help him manage his diabetes, I sought out to become an amateur nutritionist and even spent years working at the American Diabetes Association’s national office helping translate clinical research into consumer-friendly information. In many ways, my initial interest in nutrition, food, and cooking stemmed from a desire to help my dad, and Big Spoon Roasters is a direct extension of that aim.

hand crafted, hand roasted nut butter for energy barsNut Butter to Energy Bars
My wife and partner, Megan, and I love nothing more than being outside on trails, beaches, and playing fields with our dogs, and as former competitive endurance athletes, we have spent much of our lives looking for the tastiest, most nutritious portable snacks.

In other words, we were early adopters of Powerbars, Clif Bars, and the like, and we’ve since bought and tried every bar out there. While lots of bars offered the basic nutrients we needed to curb hunger on the fly, we found most of them to be either packed with sugar, made mostly of the same 2-3 dried fruits, and lacking in texture and flavor. We wanted something that was not only delicious and nutritious, but also low-glycemic and packed with complete protein and heart-healthy fiber.

Big Spoon Roasters Apricot Pepita energy barMegan is a talented baker, and before we even started Big Spoon Roasters, she had been making homemade energy bars from scratch using peanut butter as the main ingredient, primarily just for us, as well as some close friends who became obsessed with them. She started using Big Spoon’s Peanut Butter as the base for her bar recipes, and the people who tasted the new Big Spoon Nut Butter Bars basically lost their minds about how good they were and inspired us to figure out how to scale up their production and sell the bars, as well.

We’re honored that Trailfoody has included one of our Handcrafted Nut Butter Bars in this box. Born from the same hunger for real, fresh, and wholesome food that created our nut butters, our bars represent the kind of homemade quality and ingredient standards that we simply couldn’t find anywhere else. They are truly a labor of love, but we think the quality is worth every ounce of effort.

We hope you agree!