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Seven Simple Rules To Help You Eat Well- by Jasper Blake

1. Relationship

Our relationship with food is not just physical.  Food is so important we engage in eating it on a daily basis.  Yet we have gradually distanced ourselves from the important relationship we should have with food.  Hunting, growing, preparing and actually sitting down and eating food is largely a thing of the past.  Now we go to the grocery store, buy what we need, most of the time whatever is going to make life easier is the top choice, and we rarely ever sit down for long, social meals.  We’ve lost the connection with food to the point that most children probably don’t understand that a piece of meat actually comes from a living, breathing animal.  Its not wonder fast food has become so prevalent.  Fast means we don’t really have to connect with what we are eating, we can simply order it and shovel it into our mouths.  As such we are rarely aware of what is actually going into our bodies.  Not so long ago everything we ate was made from scratch and prepared in house.  We had a much healthier relationship with food back then.  Cooking can be a source of great joy if you engage in it.  Following a recipe and preparing food for another person is a great way to reconnect with what you are eating and appreciate what is going into your mouth.

 2. Know your good foods and bad foods

Everyone is different and our relationship with certain types of food is also different.  What’s good for one person may not always be good for another person.  Food allergy testing has become quite common over the last decade as a way to identify foods that may not be suitable for your body.  Food allergies do not always result in massive anaphylactic responses like someone’s reaction to a bee sting or peanuts.  Some food allergies lie quietly beneath the surface and affect us in subtle be significant ways.  Ineffective digestion, low energy, moodiness and agitation are a few examples of how mild food allergens can affect us.  Identifying and removing foods that you are mildly affected by can dramatically improve your overall state of well-being.  Just ask anyone who has a gluten intolerance!

3. Avoid refined sugars

Refined sugars are everywhere; in fact it’s hard to avoid them these days.  They are found in most snack foods, most fast foods, most foods that are highly preserved, bread products and most drinks including the energy drinks we consume en masse during training and racing.  Refined sugars wreak havoc with your body chemistry especially if you consume great quantities in times of inactivity.  Avoiding refined sugars can dramatically improve your well-being.

4. Good fat vs. Bad fat

The discussion around fat has been had over and over again yet we still don’t seem to get it.  We still load our foods with copious amounts of unhealthy fats.  This is largely because fat in general make foods taste better.  Restaurant foods are often loaded with fat.  Fat holds flavor and fat is very satiating. 

To make it easy, there are a few types of fat that are essential to avoid.  Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and shortening are all harmful types of fat.  It will come as no surprise that most good fats can be found in real food sources like avocado, olives and of course fish.  Consuming enough good fat is as important as not consuming the bad fat.  Essential fatty acids are critical for the immune system, cardiovascular system and nervous system.

5. Read food labels

One of the most important things you can do nutritionally is to become more aware of the foods you are putting into your mouth.  Reading food labels is a big step in the right direction.  If you do not read food labels regularly you will be amazed at how much “stuff” goes into most processed foods.  Reading labels will broaden your knowledge of what is in your food and at least give you the choice of whether or not to eat it. 

6. Simple is always better

If there are ingredients on a food label that you don’t understand or cannot pronounce chances are it’s some type of preservative or filler.  Cookies, crackers, cereal, anything in boxes usually contains vast amounts of these ingredients.  Fillers are rarely if ever good.  They are usually things like bad fat, refined sugars and preservatives all designed to heighten flavor or make the food last longer than it’s supposed to.

7. “Unprocess”

Generally speaking the more processed a food becomes the less nutritional value it contains.  Take for example an apple.  An apple in its purest form is just that, an apple, hopefully vine ripe so it has had a chance to absorb all the nutrients it requires from the ground.  But when we process an apple down to apple sauce we lose part of the whole- often fiber is lost and sugar is added to enhance flagor and preserve the apple.  Go one step further and apple juice has lost all but the watery flavor part of the apple save for some vitamins.  Take it a step further still and something with apple flavoring has lost everything that resembles an apple except the flavor, this includes all the nutritional value of the apple.  A good rule of thumb is to eat foods that have one ingredient.  For example, the ingredients of an apple are apple. Stick to foods that exist in their entirety

Shaun Taylor

Shaun Taylor is a bit crazy.  He likes to get on his mountain bike and keep riding it until he can ride no longer.  Sometimes that means 24 hours straight…sometimes 48 hours.  Shaun also runs his own coaching business (check out Forward Momentum Coaching in Alberta) and is the father of two boys and was a long-time member of the military.  In October, Shaun represented Team Canada at the World Solo 24hr MTB Championships in Australia. He finished 3rd in the 45-49 age group with 19 laps, placing him amongst the top amateur riders!   This was his third podium finish in the past four years at Worlds.  Shaun put in this amazing performance despite breaking his seat post after 300kms of racing and having to ride an entire lap (45 mins) with his seat post and saddle in his back pockets. As he says… “45mins of no seat post racing after already completing 20hrs of racing is HARD”.  Shaun relied on 7SYSTEMS to help him stay healthy in his preparations.

 “7SYSTEMS has managed to keep me going at approx 20hrs of in saddle training per week. I regularly test the limits of my immune system and 7SYSTEMS helps me hold off those colds that I can feel are otherwise around the corner. I really like how easy it makes managing my cupboard full of supplements now and packing them for Canberra was a breeze.”

Read more about Shaun’s 24 Hour Solo adventure at his BLOG. 

Ollie Blakes’ Around the World Granola

This recipe comes from Jasper Blake’s brother Ollie (a gifted athlete himself with a 2:31 marathon pb and a 9:20 finish in his one and only IM) who regularly makes enormous batches of this stuff usually presenting it in large zip lock bags as a Christmas gift. Ollie was given the recipe by a good friend named Al who has sailed around the world and used this granola as a main source of food on those voyages, but it is based on a recipe found in the Tasahara Cookbook, which was one of the whole grain/vegetarian bibles of the 1970s.

This recipe makes about 50 cups of granola. Exact quantities and type of flake, nut or dried fruit doesn’t seem to matter too much, so long as you end up with the correct balance of wet/dry and sweet ingredients. A batch this size will last at least a couple of months and costs less than $100. If you are a smaller family it is easier to make half a batch. It can be frozen to be enjoyed later.

1) Mix together in a large bowl or big rubber maid storage totes (C=Cup):

8 C oat flakes (old-fashioned rather than “quick oats”)
5 C triticole
6 C rye flakes
6 C wheat flakes
6 C other flakes (wheat germ, kamut, soy, rice, etc)
6 C oat bran
4 C bran flakes
4 C pumpkin seeds
2 C walnuts or pecans
1 C cashews
2 C pine nuts
2 C almonds

2) Mix and add to the grains:

5 C brown sugar
2 C maple syrup
3 C oil

3) Spread out a layer of the raw granola in a cake pan and on a cookie sheet (we usually use large reusable alumina turkey pan) and bake at about 350 for about an hour, stirring every fifteen minutes. The average-sized oven will allow you to bake four 8 x 11 inch pans at a time.

Hint: While cookie sheets are fine we tend to use cake pans because less of the granola ends up on the floor!

4) When granola is cool add raisins, dried cranberries, chopped fruits like figs, dates, dried papaya or apricots and such. Ollie uses about 10 cups of fruits for this amount of granola.

5) Freeze extra granola to keep it fresh.

Finn’s “Hat Trick” kids snacks

Apple butter hockey stick slices

  • Peel Granny smith apple
  • Cut into quarters
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond butter on each slice
  • Goes down in a couple bites and kids love it


Finns Power Slapshot Smoothie

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
1 whole banana
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of almond milk
2 tablespoons of protein powder (brown rice, hemp or soy)

  • To a blender add all the ingredients
  • Blend until smooth, slurp it back and play some hockey!

Banana Puck Poppers

1 piece of sprouted grain bread- toasted
1 tablespoon of almond (or other suitable nut butter)
1 banana

  • Spread almond butter on the toast, cut toast into 9 equal sized squares (two length wise cuts, two width wise cuts).
  • Add one slice of banana to each square (hockey puck shaped). Easy bite sized portions that taste great!

Simple Snacks

Here are some quick, convenient, healthy ideas for daily snacks…not to mention, they taste amazing!

“Halvacado Bliss”avocados
Take one ripe avacado, cut it in half length-wise.
Remove the pit and pour in one tablespoon of your favorite dressing. Scoop it out with a spoon and Enjoy!

“Cottage Cheese Delight”
1/2 cup of cottage cheese in a bowl
1 teespoon of honey drizzled over top
handful of walnuts sprinkled on…delicious!

“Apple Butter Happy Time”
Cut one apple into quarters
Dip in almond butter

“Pickle Poppers”
Wrap half a dill pickle in organic roasted turkey breast slice, dip in mustard if you dare.
Pop it in your mouth and savor the flavor, yummy!