……or should I call this “Salty Snacks for Endurance Athletes?
It is hard to believe that my big race of the season, the Lake Placid Ironman, is less than 11 weeks away.  As my training is ramping up, I’m finding myself on a major quest to eat as cleanly as possible.  After all, I CAN’T control how fit other people are, how much natural ability I have (or don’t have) or who shows up on race day; but I CAN control what I eat (most of the time-LOL).
I’m finding that on the longer training stints (mainly biking, but some running), I tend to take in a lot of sweet food-dates, bars, performance drinks, etc.  After 4 or 5 hours of that sugar intake, I am ready for something salty and crunchy.  I’ve even been know to eat a few olives just before a long workout in an effort to keep that craving for salt at bay.  My day-to-day diet consists of mostly of salads, green juice, roasted vegetables, sweet potatoes, fruit, avocados, Daiya,  GT Kombucha, chocolate-chia-buckwheat cereal (my latest find), coconuts and nuts, green tea and some red wine. I’d be lying if I didn’t throw the wine thing in—you would think I was some sort of holier-than-thou food saint. I stay mostly gluten-free and vegan but I hesitate to call myself either of those.
Last Sunday, I was biking with my friend, Meredith.  We had hit the 3.5 hour mark and starting talking about food—mostly what we would like to eat (I think that was about the time we rode past Pizza Port in Solana Beach and took a huge whiff of that cheesy dough/oregano/garlic/hoppy goodness that was permeating the air…..I almost stopped my bike).  I had eaten 6 dates and a Lara bar and was ready for something salty.

100% Sprouted Pumpkin Seed from GO RAW--yeehah!

I’ve come across a couple of snacks that I have found satisfy that urge.  For all of you corn free/Paleo diet athletes out there, Go Raw has a line of raw, sprouted, dehydrated and Celtic sea salt-seasoned seeds that are terrific on there own or on top of a salad.   Because they are raw; 100% of the vitamins, minerals and  enzymes are still intact.  Because they are soaked and sprouted, the enzyme inhibitors are removed and the toxins released.  This process increases the life and vitality connected with them.   Because they are dehydrated; they are super crunchy.  And because I don’t always have the time to soak, sprout and dehydrate my seeds and nuts, I purchase them in a convenient one pound bag which will last me a couple of weeks.   As of late, I’ve been munching on the pumpkin seeds-one serving has 7 grams of protein plus a boatload of amino acids, zinc and iron.  Hard to believe that it was 8 years ago while racing in Kona that I was loading up on lowfat Cheez-ITS because I thought that they were good for me.  HA!
Onto my next find: Glad Corn’s amazing corn snacks.  These are a WAY better version than the corn nuts I ate as a kid. I know that there is much debate about consumption of corn (hello Paleo peeps……) and its healthy benefits (like some of you, I got a good dose of the intricacies of the corn industry when reading Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”.  If that won’t scare you out of eating corn, then I don’t know what will).  I found these at Jimbo’s-our local whole-foods market that has taken a strong stance against any and all genetically modified products (GMO products).  I figure that anything that I buy in Jimbo’s is safe. I don’t consume a lot of corn-as a matter a fact, I tend to go more on soy binges than anything (my 3-a-day green tea soy lattes have been a bit much as of late).  But because I eat only a handful or two of this wonderful salty-crunchy snack, I feel okay about my corn consumption.

Better than corn nuts........

My guilty pleasure has been the Salt and Vinegar Pop Chips. Their saving grace(s) is that they are low in calories (1 bag has about 360!) and gluten-free. But I know that they lean toward the junky side.  However, nothing tastes better during (yes, really….) or after a long run than half a bag of these along side a recovery drink.  Thank you Jessica and Chris Cover for introducing me to these last December.
So there you have it:  Several options to satisfy your salty cravings.  Good luck to all with your training, racing and eating.  Does anyone else have any suggestions?