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Greeting & Welcome to the Adventure Bites blog.....

 

I'm Rin, a Registered Dietitian and lover of exploration; usually with a pair of trail running shoes on my feet and a suitably nutritious filled backback to keep me going!

 

Adventure Bites are my nutrition ramblings that I've pondered on my own adventures so sit back, enjoy and hopefully muster up some inspiration for your own nutrition adventures....

By Rin Cobb, Jun 26 2015 05:05PM

Okay, I admit, I'm one of those rather odd individuals who actually gets excited about airplane food. Chicken or fish? I love the simplicity of it all, perfectly packaged in sensible portion sizes (naturally) oh and the fact I'm flying off somewhere to explore probably has something to do with it too! That's not to say I haven't had a few shall we say questionable experiences onboard like the time I thought I'd try what was described as Chinese porridge and turned out to be prawn noodles rather than some exotic Scottish/Chinese fusion.


So far 2015 has been a good year for travel for yours truly and as I sit here being flown 3500 miles through the air I thought I'd pen a few thoughts on my inflight culinary experiences thurs far.


Turkish Airlines


Some very good amigos tempted us to a ski trip to bring in the new year, which is how we found ourselves flying to Sophia in Bulgaria via Istanbul (not Constantinople) with Turkish Airlines. What can I say, from the moment we stepped on board, our nutritional needs (and likes) were well met. No hard sweet for take-off (in fact do any airlines still offer them?) we were handed a tasty morsel of baklava.


One of my bugbears when being offered the choice of just chicken or vegetarian is you don't know what else your meal will consist of so rather than interrogating the smiling hostie, you make a choice only to get total food envy over the person next to you. This was not to be the case with Turkish Airlines however as along with your tasty take-off treat, they hand you a menu. The meals are well thought out with a main, turkish salad of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and black olives (big tick from me as I'm not a huge fan of those green one's) plus a delicious chocolate mousse and most important of all, properly brewed, strong coffee to compliment. On our return flight, the handy sachet of olive oil & lemon dressing was so handy it (and my comrades supplies too) made it back to my ration box at home for future self-sufficient adventures.


Turkish Airlines also have a great information page on their website to help you prepare and request any of their 21 special meals! All their meals are also moslem so any meat is halal and no pork is served. More info can be found at


www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/travel-information/frequently-asked-questions/on-board/flight-catering


Monarch (chartered flight)

On returning home from my far flung research efforts at this years Marathon des Sables (50 body composition analyses by hand in 24hrs must be a record??) I flew home with a plane full of conquering heroes on their chartered flight from Ouarzazate in Morocco. It was an early morning flight so we had the classic airplane breakfast of eggs, sausage and beans, which after working pretty much non-stop for the past 48hrs was a welcome sight even if the coffee was disappointingly instant. However, and this is a BIG however, the meal wasn't offered until after the snack trolley (which you had to pay for) had already been through, leaving me (and I'm sure I wasn't alone here) to wonder whether we were actually going to get a meal onboard? With a plane full of ravenous runners, recovering after their 150miles across the Sahara desert, no doubt the snack trolley will have made a good profit that day.


The inflight catering information is not the easiest to find on the Monarch website but it does list allergens and who the meals are suitable for should you wish to plan your meals before flying. Special meals such as vegan, diabetic and gluten free are only available on their chartered flight but not on their scheduled flights and if flying from Leeds Bradford don't expect to get a hot meal either.


www.monarch.co.uk/faq/flights/food-and-drink/what-can-i-buy-onboard


British Airways (Domestic)

It's been a while since I've flown with BA; the flagship (or should that be flagplane) of British travel but as I was just heading down for a study day near Heathrow it just so happened to be the most convenient. Cue a ridiculous o'clock alarm call to get me to the airport on time but I reasoned I could sleep on the plane.....that was of course until I smelt breakfast! If I'm completely honest I wasn't expecting a proper meal for such a short flight, I'm obviously too used to budget airlines overpriced trolley services so this was a very welcome surprise. A tasty cooked breakfast prevailed which I was able to eat with a real knife and fork, complimented by a warmed roll and fresh coffee (can you tell I'm a bit of a coffee snob yet?).


BA obviously fly a multitude of routes around the world and their website is most useful at catering to your every need, after all they're there 'To Fly. To Serve'


www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/food-and-drink


KLM

My most recent adventure took me to Doha via Amsterdam with KLM. Despite the flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam being less than an hour they still provided a tasty and sustainable sandwich on rye plus a good quality cup of coffee with real milk!

The next leg of the journey I was treated to a truly tasty chicken curry, slightly soggy salad and a yogurty mousse type thing with berry compote but just as I was starting to feel a tad peckish during my second inflight movie, along came the option of a warmed chciken pastry or cinnamon roll, delish! My return flight included breakfast and this was one of those occasions I had total food envy; I went for the eggs as I didn't fancy pancakes for some unbeknown reason which in fact turned out to be french toast sprinkled with cinnamon and maple syrup on the side, lesson learnt. Both came with natural yogurt and fruit salad with not a glacier cherry in sight.


For more information on KLMs catering check out


www.klm.com/travel/us_en/prepare_for_travel/on_board/dining_on_board/dining_in_economy_class.htm



Being an adventure seeking dietitian I hope to add many more to this inflight dietary repetoire but if you have any experiences of your own please feel free to share, Bon Appetit




By Rin Cobb, May 8 2015 01:14PM


It's a historic day; 70 years ago Victory in Europe was declared. On the following day, May 9th 1945, the Channel Islands were also liberated from 5 years of occupation from Nazi Germany. Being a Guernsey Girl myself, I find our history during that time fascinating and have spent many a day guiding visiting friends and anyone else who would humour me, around the Occupation museums and Underground Hospital. During the course of the war, hunger and malnutrition were part of everyday life for those on the front line to those issued food tokens at home so the dietitian in me naturally, wanted to reflect on this time; lest we forget what a previous generation sacrificed for what we take as granted today.


Before war broke out in 1939, Britain imported around 55 million tons of food each year however once in the throes of World War II and with supply ships being targeted by German submarines, this fell to 12 million tons. To prevent Britain starving to death, something radical needed to happen and so rationing came into force in 1940. There were three different coloured ration books to help account for different nutritional needs; the classic dusty brown for most adults, green for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 5 which had the addition of 1 pint milk, a double supply of eggs and first dibs on fruit and blue books for children 5-16 years to include fruit, a full meat ration and 1 pint milk also.

For the occupied Channel Islands, supplies from the mainland were completely cut off. Some food staples had been stock piled once war was declared however these were commandeered by the invading troops. Whilst it was hoped the Islands could become self-sufficent, meat, bread and butter were rationed further leading the locals to become rather creative in their menu planning. Potato flour, jelly made from carageen moss, bramble tea and the infamous potato peel pie were just a few of the culinary creations to come out of the war years.


Whilst D Day marked the beginning to victory, ironically with the allied troops controlling the French ports, all supplies to the Islands stopped and although you could see these home troops on a clear day from Jersey, there was no move to free the Channel Islands until the following year. Six months of starvation ensued until the Red Cross were granted permission to supply the islands in December 1944. Christened 'the ship that saved our lives' the SS Vega distributed the classic Red Cross food parcels, diet supplements for the ill and medical supplies.


Across the water, reports from the Prisoner of War (POW) camps were even more dire and it's estimated 20 million Red Cross parcels were sent to the camps. Interestingly there was a vast difference in health and mortality between the European and Japanese POW s and in part, may be down to the humble potato. Potatoes were a staple part to the limited diets in Europe whereas further East, rice (which was not enriched at that time) was the mainstay. Whilst both are types of energy yielding carbohydrate, nutritionally they're quite diverse with potatoes having higher amounts of electrolytes, iodine, vitamin C, B vitamins and folate and deficiencies in these micronutrients such as ber-beri were commonplace amongst the POWs in Asian camps.




Most will have seen images of the survivors of the POW camps, the walking skeletons defying death, however it's what happened after their release that has influenced modern day dietetic practice. Understandably on liberating these camps, allied soldiers started handing out any food supplies they had, only to see some die later from the physical complications of eating these rich foods. Today we know it as refeeding syndrome, a potentially fatal shift in fluids and electrolytes that can occur upon feeding malnourished individuals. Fortunately we've learnt from these early days; we know how to screen, prevent and treat thus enabling us to provide those that are malnourished with their basic nutrition needs.


So whilst you're enjoying your tea and cake, be thankful it's not a slice of potato peel pie washed down with some bramble tea. I hope you acknowledge today in your own way (or tomorrow for those Island folk amongst you, even the Crapaud's) and raise a cup for those we've learnt so much from.





The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer is a truly great and inspiring read about the occupation should you feel inspired to find out more, enjoy!





By Rin Cobb, Sep 15 2014 11:26AM


With the Mountain Marathon season upon us, the OMM (Original Mountain Marathon) just over a month away and Rab Mountain Marathon in just a few weeks, I thought I'd do a spot of reflection of my own experiences with a few nutritious hints and tips along the way; naturally.


Mountain Marathons (MMs) generally involve teams of two navigating from A to B to C as quickly as possible whilst carrying all you need for 2 days on your back. Combining fitness, navigation, teamwork and the ability to pack lightweight; MMs offer much more than just a run in the hills but don't just take my word for it, see it here from Planet Fear.


It was 2008 that I first donned my OMM sack and started out in biblical weather conditions. A keen trail runner with an orienteering trophy from college, I went into it with my natural competitive nature hoping Team Cobb 'to be' would be up there in the rankings. It just so happened the weather was against us that weekend and finishing wasn't even an option, for us or any other competitors. We were not to be deterred though, returning two years later to complete the Rab MM in style.



The ability to pack the right stuff with as little weight as possible can be the first challenge for many MM newbies. Food can take up a lot of space and weight and if you're new to self sufficient racing; thoughts of hunger can lead to that extra few chocolate bars sneaking in so using my nutrition knowledge and skills as a Sports Dietitian plus my own personal experience I've put together what should be a helpful wee article for upcoming MMers.


First and foremost don't leave your food to the last minute, make a plan, try it out and make sure it works for you both practically and nutritionally beforehand. As weight will most likely be on the forefront of your mind, freeze-dried meals can be an easy option, however for those of you who aren't so keen on the taste or price there are some other options that can provide the nutrition you need.


BREAKFAST

Instant porridge sachets + added dried fruit/honey

Granola + milk powder/complan

Bagel/brioche + jam/nutella


SNACKS

Cereal/granola bars

Flapjacks

Nuts/seeds/dried fruit

Mini cheese

Jerky

Chocolate

Sweets

Marzipan


DINNER

Instant noodles

Pasta & sauce

Cous cous/rice sachets

Jerky/salami sticks/tuna sachet

Instant custard + dried fruit/flapjack

Hot choc/horlicks


For those new to MMs, typically two meals of breakfast and dinner plus a variety of sweet and savoury snacks so you can eat little and often should suffice.


When choosing your food remember your body is going to need carbohydrate to fuel those hours of running and walking. Even if you've optimized your body's carb stores (glycogen) through effective carb loading in the run up to the race, you'll only have a few hours worth of energy so you need to be able to top up on the go. A mixture of slower acting starchy carbs such as flapjacks or granola bars with quick acting sugars like sweets or dried fruit will help give you enough energy and keep your blood sugars in check.


Making the most of your drinks is also a great way to top up the carbs whilst keeping you hydrated; with sports drinks powders offering a practical solution for self-sufficient races. Whilst the British Autumn is not renowned for hot weather, you may still have high salt losses through sweat particularly if running in waterproofs and electrolytes will help your body absorb fluid better regardless. You could either choose a powder with carbs plus electrolytes or take separate electrolyte tablets for some variety.


Caffeine is also worth considering as it can help improve physical endurance, reduce fatigue and enhance mental alterness and concentration; all of which you'll need at some point during the 2 days no doubt. Most sports products be it drinks, sweets, gels or bars have caffeine options so having a few of these for those low morale moments can make all the difference. For the coffee connoiseurs, there are some handy real coffee bags on the market for your morning fix too but try to aim for <500mg per day.


If you happen to be eligible for drugs tests through work or sport, I'd reccomend choosing sports products from the Informed Sport program, which minimizes the risk of unsafe or performance enhancing drugs either as ingredients or through cross contamination.


As this is a 2 day event, enabling recovery at the end of day 1 will give you the best chance of a good performance on day 2. You'll only have a small window to refuel and rehydrate so you need to start this process as soon as you finish despite how you might be feeling. A recovery drink is a great first step and there are plenty of powder options available. They provide the right amount of protein to help your muscles repair and carbs to replenish your glycogen stores. Try to have this as soon as you finish (even before you put the tent up) and then follow with your evening culinary delights. If your appetite has been knocked off, some find eating little and often can be better tolerated.


So all that's left for me to say is best of luck and enjoy!


If you've got any food for thought or tips for others please feel free to share and leave a comment.
















By Rin Cobb, Sep 2 2014 12:13PM

I'd forgotton how much I love spending time exploring the mountains but a recent hiking trip to the Swiss Alps fuelled by potatoes and cheese of every possible combination soon reminded me. I find mountains utterly inspiring; great head space and physically challenging which for those of you who know me, I think you'll agree is a particular trait of mine. So it was during this trip that the Adventure Bites (like what I've done there...) blog "Tales of an adventure Seeking Dietitian" came to fruition.


It just so happened on my return from the Alps that I came across the ITERA Expedition Race which sparked my interest. Before I got distracted with studying the Krebs cycle and running miles on end I had been known to partake in the odd adventure race but for those not familiar with this type of activity, imagine exciting outdoor sports like mountain biking, trail running, kayaking, climbing mixed with covering hundreds of miles non-stop and that's adventure racing.


Nutrition logistics
Nutrition logistics

The ITERA however is quite epic, even by adventure race standards, with teams racing the 600km length of Wales in less than a week. Naturally as a Sports Dietitian it got me asking how and when do they eat? For an endurance race like the ITERA, nutrition and fuelling right is key to not only finishing but performing your best. With high energy demands, the more petite ladies will need at least 5000kcals/day and the male giants 7000kcals/day (DRI method) but can you really eat this much on the go?


A good friend of mine Bruce Duncan just happened to be racing the ITERA and came 2nd with Team Haglofs Silva UK so clearly I thought he'd be great person to catch up with and see what he made of it all? Bruce is a very accomplished adventure racer and is well known for his love of food but over the 100hrs of racing with only 4hrs of sleep, the race took it's toll and he lost 4kg in body weight (3.7% wt loss).


Although Bruce initially had issues with eating on the go, when he first started racing years ago, he has since learnt that the gut can adapt like the rest of the body to training. Interestingly, like some of you may have found, he can't tolerate sports drinks whilst racing but has no issues eating pork pies? Unlike some of the other racers, Bruce didn't suffer with any gastrointestinal problems which can be common amongst endurance athletes however he did find his appetite wasn't quite up to par. If you've ever lost your appetite before, you'll understand how difficult it can be to make yourself eat and this ability of Bruce's to be able to eat without feeling hungry is no doubt one of the reasons for his success.


Logistics can be another confounding factor for some. The ITERA is not a self-sufficient race per se where weight would be yet another consideration but it does require some serious organisation so you've got the right stuff at each transition stage. Transition is an opportunity to refuel and repack for the next stage. With hot water on tap, so no need to spend time cooking, the old faithful freeze dried meal is generally consumed plus whatever else is to hand in the teams goodie bags; pringles, pies and if you were lucky the remnants like liquorice and marzipan from other teams which can be a big morale boost.


Under normal circumstances at the end of a race, you rest and start the recovery process. For a non-stop race, rest is not an option so you need to try and help the body recover on the move. Eating regular carbs and protein will help this process however Bruce also took a daily recovery drink combining both.


Adventure racing is a true physical, mental, logistical and nutritional challenge but incredibly rewarding so hats off to Bruce and his team, a truly fantastic achievement. Anyone else inspired to give it a go?



What no pork pies Bruce? #RecoveryNutrition
What no pork pies Bruce? #RecoveryNutrition

By Rin Cobb, Aug 18 2014 05:49PM

The first installment of "Tales from an adventure seeking dietitian" (that's me by the way) will be with you soon so check back later, ideally with a coffee in hand, so you can hopefully be entertained and inspired by my nutrition ramblings.......

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