Maple Products for Athletes

February 20th, 2017

callie and maple products 006It won’t be long before the sap rises and maple syrup season arrives. Here are a few maple themed products from New England that can be used for sports fueling and hydration.

Drink Maple is described as “pure maple water, straight from the tree.” It is from Concord, MA and is marketed as a sports drink. An 8 ounce portion has 25 Calories, 6 grams of carbohydrate, and 40% of the daily manganese requirement. (Manganese does not have any particular known benefit for athletic performance.) This product has a little more body and sweetness than plain water.

Untapped, based in Richmond, VT, offers maple waffles and 1 ounce packets of maple syrup. The waffles are made with organic maple syrup and have 140 Calories and 20 grams of carbohydrate. They are a little drier and crumblier than I expected, but the maple flavor was pleasant. The Slopeside Syrup is billed as “all natural athletic fuel” and has 100 Calories, 26 grams of carbohydrate, and 60% of the daily manganese requirement. These could be used as carb sources during cross-country skiing, running,  cycling, or other activity.

Brown Cow maple whole milk yogurt is distributed by Stonyfield yogurt in Londonderry, NH. It provides 130 Calories, 23 grams carbohydrate, and 5 g protein. It is a “cream top” yogurt with a pleasant mpale flavor. It would make a good recovery snack.

If you are looking for a change from standard sports drinks and gels give one of these a try!

​© 2017 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Become a Competent Eater

October 28th, 2016


Would you like to take the worry out of eating? That’s just what Ellyn Satter, a Registered Dietitian and Family Therapist, recommends in her Eating Competency Model. Satter developed her model after seeing that though people often feel guilty or worried about food, they often don’t actually follow published nutrition guidelines. Her mission is to help people feel joyful and confident about eating.

Competent eaters demonstrate the following behaviors:

  • Feeling good about food and about eating…and not worrying about feeling good about it
  • Liking a variety of foods and enjoying learning to like new foods
  • Trusting themselves to eat the right amount (and allowing body weight to reflect genetics and lifestyle)
  • Taking time to eat regular meals and snacks and paying attention while eating


The Eating Competency Model has been studied and found to be associated with stable or improved BMI, improved diet quality, increased physical activity, and better physical self-acceptance. To help yourself become a competent eater, try the following:

  • Eat rewarding, regular, and reliable meals
  • Pay attention while you eat
  • Eat what you want and how much you want


For more information visit


©2016 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

America’s Original Superfruit – Cranberries are Good for You!

October 21st, 2016


Fall is cranberry season! One of the highlights of last week’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Boston was the opportunity to learn more about America’s Original Superfruit™. This tart and tasty fruit is native to North America, and European settlers learned to use them from Native American populations. They grow on vines in sandy soil.

Most cranberries are harvested by the “wet” method. The growing areas, called bogs or marshes, are flooded with fresh water and the cranberries float to the top. Each berry has 4 air chambers that are their flotation devices! (The air chambers also make fresh ripe cranberries bounce if you drop them!) Some berries are also harvested with mechanical pickers.

Milwaukee Nov. 8, 2006. (Photo Andy Manis)

Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C. They are also rich in polyphenols, particularly proanthocyanidins and quercetin. These naturally occurring plant chemicals give cranberries their “superfruit” status. Cranberries are associated with decreased inflammation, infection fighting, and healthier arteries. These properties make them a good food to promote a healthy brain, heart, urinary tract, and digestive system.

The MyPlate healthy eating guidelines recommend making half your plate fruits and vegetables. Cranberries can help meet your goals. They are naturally low in sugar- even lower than lemons – and require some sweetening to be palatable. 4 ounces of cranberry juice, ½ cup fresh berries, or ¼ cup dried cranberries is equal to one serving of fruit.

Cranberries can be used in so many ways. Most of us are familiar with cranberry juice based beverages. If you want less sugar you can buy unsweetened juice and lightly sweeten to taste. Dried cranberries make a good snack on their own and are also great in chicken salad, wrap sandwiches, oatmeal, granola, and yogurt or tossed on green salads. Fresh cranberries can be made into cranberry sauce, salsas, or barbecue style sauces. You can find many recipes at the US Cranberries website. Share your creations on Facebook!

Information for this article comes from the US Cranberries web site and from a presentation at FNCE given by Johanna Dwyer, DSc, RD, Professor of Medicine (Nutrition) and Community Health at Tufts University Medical School

© 2016 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN


Top Foods for Healing Ligament and Tendon Injuries

October 14th, 2016



Eating well is a key strategy for injury recovery, as outlined in an earlier post. Tendons and ligaments are made of collagen, and foods that support collagen formation may be beneficial to heal ligament tears or tendon ruptures.

There are several nutrients that support collagen synthesis.
* Proline, hydroxyproline, lysine and hydroxylysine are amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Gelatin contains ample amounts of these particular amino acids.

* Vitamin C works with amino acids to create collagen. You can get plenty of Vitamin C from citrus fruits, melons, berries, kiwi, and dark green leafy vegetables.

 *Flourine/fluoride is a mineral that supports tendons and ligaments. It is found in fluoridated water, tea, and fish.

 * Copper is another mineral that can promote healing. Dark leafy greens, dried fruits (prunes), cocoa and black pepper contain copper.

Try one or more of these approaches if you a recovering from a tendon or ligament injury:
– include a bowl of orange and grapefruit sections with sliced kiwi
– try a strawberry or cantaloupe/blueberry smoothie and blend in some baby spinach leaves
– enjoy a cup of hot tea or cocoa

– be sure to add some spinach or romaine to your sandwich
– try some Jell-o with fruit as dessert
– add a cup of homemade broth made from bones

– add a salad of dark green leafy vegetables and citrus sections
– enjoy some fish seasoned liberally with pepper and lemon

Hope you feel better and get back in the game soon!

​© 2016 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN


3 Fun New Approaches for Hydration

September 16th, 2016


Good hydration is a key part of every athlete’s training and competition plan. But even something as basic as hydration can get a contemporary tweak! Here are three new ideas I came across this week:

Tracking Teen Water Intake - At Greater Atlanta Christian School in Georgia, the Spartans Strength Program has developed a metrics program that started out with a focus on hydration. They set a hydration goal for each athlete based on 0.5 ounces of water per pound of body weight plus an additional 18-24 ounces/day for athletes in-season, training more than 2 hours/day, or who are heavy sweaters. This total was then divided into a set number of 16 ounce water bottles. Student athletes charted how many water bottles they consumed each day and compared their intake to the goal. Initial results showed an average of only 3.25 bottles per day. By the third month of the program, the average was up to 7.75 bottles per day, which met or exceeded the recommendation for most athletes. This simple method of measuring by counting the number of water bottles consumed led to improved hydration and the athletes reported feeling better.

Alternative Sports Drink – For athletes who are active for more than an hour, electrolyte replacement may be indicated, but not everyone likes to use commercial sports drinks or gels. This month’s Prevention magazine featured a recipe for a homemade sports drink created by Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an internationally recognized expert in integrative medicine. For her Coconut-Citrus Rehydrating Drink she uses coconut water, which is high in potassium, as the base for her drink. For 2 cups of coconut water she adds the juice of one lemon, lime or orange, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1-2 tbsp. natural sweetener such as honey. Sounds refreshingly delicious!

Science Fiction Meets Hydration – At La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego, students experimented with using drones for hydration delivery. Students in the Design, Thinking, Engineering, and Innovation class were looking for a solution for athletes who don’t have enough time between plays to run off the field to get a drink. The “Hydrone” consists of a drone + a water bottle + a dangling hose with a flow control clip. Future versions are expected to be able to serve more than one athlete. And the students who developed this are even working on an automated system so that a thirsty athlete can call the drone as needed! I can’t wait to see the future of this clever idea!

What are your best hydration ideas? Share them on Facebook.

© 2016 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

A Veggie Carb is a Healthy Carb

November 13th, 2015

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Eat healthy carbs. This advice is often given to athletes and couch potatoes alike, but sometimes it is hard to know which carbohydrates to choose. Fall is a great time to enjoy your healthy carbs in the form of roasted vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Popular and nutritious vegetables for roasting include:

  • Beets – good source of folate
  • Brussels sprouts – good source of vitamins C and K
  • Carrots – good source of vitamins A and C
  • Onions – contain bioflavonoid anti-oxidants and allicin (anti-tumor compound)
  • Parsnips – good source of Vitamins C and K and fiber
  • Potatoes (skin on) – good source of vitamins B, C, folate, and niacin and potassium
  • Rutabagas – good source of vitamin C
  • Sweet potatoes – good source of vitamins A,B6 and C and potassium
  • Turnips – contain vitamin C
  • Winter squash – good source of vitamin A

The roasted vegetables in the photo include beets, parsnips, turnips, onions, butternut squash, and carrots. They were seasoned with olive oil and dried herbs and roasted at 425° until soft. Simply in Season, a cookbook that celebrates local foods, suggests a ratio of 2 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp dried herbs (or 3 tbsp fresh) to 6-8 cups cut up vegetables. They suggests varying the vegetables used, but including at least one sweet vegetable (carrot, sweet potato or parsnip) and one stronger flavored vegetable such as turnip or rutabaga.

Have fun experimenting and be sure to share what works well for you!

© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Injured athletes can heal faster with sports nutrition

November 8th, 2015

athlete with back pain

Injuries can interrupt training and competition for even the most experienced athletes. When injuries occur, attention to sports nutrition can help get you back in action sooner. It can be tempting to slack off on your usual attention to eating well, but this is definitely not the time to indulge in junk food!

Three key nutrients for healing are calories, protein, and water. It can be challenging to adjust your calorie intake when injured. You want to promote healing, but avoid unwanted weight gain. You will need to consider how much your training volume has decreased and how aggressive your rehab regimen is. Calories should not be restricted too much, because you need to protect your existing muscle mass as much as possible. When you don’t eat enough calories, muscle may be broken down. There is also a calorie cost to the body’s healing process, and too few calories may slow things down. Focus on eating nutrient dense foods and avoiding highly processed and high sugar foods. Check your weight frequently and adjust your intake up or down based on trends that you notice.

Protein can also help protect your muscle mass. Proteins such as whey protein are high in branched chain amino acids (leucine, iso-leucine, valine) which are key for building muscle protein. You will want to spread your protein intake through the day. Be sure to plan a recovery snack for after each rehab session that provides some healthy carbohydrate and high quality protein. Examples might be cottage cheese and whole wheat crackers, yogurt and fruit, or cereal and milk.

Maintain good baseline hydration. Water is important for normal cell function and delivers nutrients for healing. As always, the quick and easy way to monitor hydration is checking your urine color. When you are well-hydrated your urine should be a pale yellow color like lemonade.

For more information about nutrition for injured athletes check out this information from the NCAA. If you aren’t sure about how to eat to maximize your recovery, consult with a board certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD.) A CSSD can help you to develop some meal and snack ideas to keep your recovery on track.

© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

An apple a day…

November 1st, 2015


In my recipe box is a mimeographed recipe attached with yellowed tape to a file card. It is the first recipe that was “mine,” and it comes from my seventh grade home economics class way back in 1967! When the ripe apples arrive each fall, this Apple Crisp recipe still gets the call to spice up our meals.

Apples are a consumer friendly fruit. They are convenient to carry around for snacks and lunches. In the refrigerator they store and keep well, and they will even stay fresh for a day or so in a fruit bowl at room temperature. A wide variety of preparations are possible from salads to desserts to side dishes.

Two of the ways I like to use apples as a side dish are:

  • Waldorf salad – cut up apples, halved red grapes, chopped celery, chopped walnuts or pecans, and some dressing (I use mayonnaise thinned with a little milk and lightly sweetened)
  • Sautéed apples – sliced apples sautéed in a little butter, lightly sweetened with maple syrup and seasoned with a sprinkle of cinnamon

The health benefits of apples are amazing, and support the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” A 2004 review from Cornell University looked at how the phytochemicals (natural plant based chemicals) in apples affect disease risk. Apple intake was associated with decreased risk for lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, asthma, and type II diabetes. In one study of overweight, middle-aged women in Brazil apples were even associated with weight loss. Apples are a good source of fiber (about 4 grams per apple), including soluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol levels.

The phytochemicals in apples (called flavonoids) are concentrated in the peel, so whenever possible include the peels in your preparation, as in the examples above. The concentration of beneficial phytochemicals differs among types of apples. Fuji and Red Delicious apples are two varieties with the highest levels.

Now, back to my treasured childhood recipe. Recently I have been substituting Quaker oats for the flour, and if I slice the apples thinly, I can leave the peels on. I also often add some chopped nuts to the topping. Please share any variations that you try!

Apple Crisp

Peel and slice: 2 apples
Season with: 1 tbsp. lemon juice

Work with pastry blender into crumbs:

¼ c. all-purpose flour
¼ c. light brown sugar (packed)
2 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. cinnamon

Place the sliced apples into 6” pie tin. Spread crumbs over apples evenly. Bake in 350° oven for 20 minutes or until tender.
Serve hot or cold, plain or with whipped cream or ice cream.


© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Will fish oil be the concussion treatment of the future?

October 17th, 2015


Does it seem like more and more kids are getting concussions? There has been an increase in the number of concussions in student athletes over the past several years. This has led to interest in potential nutritional approaches to prevention and treatment. In 2011 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released their report “Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury,” which was focused on treating military TBIs. The report identified some nutrients of interest for future research both for these serious injuries and for mild TBI (concussion.) These include omega 3 fatty acids, choline, creatine, zinc, resveratrol, curcumin, and other plant based anti-oxidants.

In mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) there is inflammation and damage to cell walls and axons that transmit nerve impulses. Animal studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids given before and after TBI reduce the effects of a concussion and enhance recovery. There have been a few human case studies which have shown dramatic improvements with very high doses of omega 3 fatty acids. This has led to hope that nutritional interventions can help to restore normal brain cell function and reduce inflammation in the brain following TBI.

Dr. Michael Lewis has developed “The Omega Protocol,” which he believes is a tool for management and recovery from TBI. This protocol advocates very high doses of fish oil (source of DHA and EPA, the important omega 3 fatty acids.) He stresses that this is a therapeutic use of fish oil, not just a nutritional use.

While a lot more research is needed before uniform recommendations can be made about nutritional treatments for concussion, there are some good general nutrition guidelines for optimum brain health and function.

  • Eat breakfast every day for improved cognitive function and alertness
  • Include plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables and spices to provide plant phytochemicals that protect cells
  • Include foods such as fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, and canola oil that are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids
  • Include good sources of iron such as lean meats, legumes, and leafy green vegetables to maintain normal blood levels of iron

It will be exciting to see if nutrition will eventually become a key player in treating concussions. The IOM report cautions, however that nutritional interventions don’t stand alone, but are complementary and supportive of other therapies.

Please note that the photo is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement of any manufacturer, product or dosage.

© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Fueling Your Soccer Match

October 1st, 2015

040Did you know that the average soccer player covers 5-7 miles during a game? This is definitely a sport with high energy expenditure! That means that you should do some planning around food and fluids. Fueling properly and staying hydrated will help you play well through the end of the game.

About 1-4 hours before your game you should have a meal that includes plenty of carbohydrates. Foods like pasta, fruit, cereal, potatoes, rice and vegetables are usually well digested and can top off your glycogen stores. (Glycogen is the fuel that your muscles use. You will really call on your glycogen stores as you get into the later minutes of the game.) You can also help your performance by “pre­-hydrating” – going into the game well hydrated. Drink 12-16 ounces of water a couple of hours pre-game, with another 4-8 ounces about 15 minutes before the start.

During the game you can consistently play hard by keeping up your fluid intake and getting some carbohydrate. Sports drinks can be very helpful here, because they are designed to provide both. (Sports drinks also provide electrolytes, particularly sodium, which your body loses when you sweat.) Try for about 4 ounces (4 gulps) every 15 minutes. If you can’t drink during the game, you will want to be sure to get your fluids during the half time break. If you prefer to drink plain water, try eating something like a few pretzels to give you carbohydrate and some sodium.

Practice your fueling and hydration when you are practicing your skills. That way you can learn what works best for you. Food, fluids, fun…have a great season!

© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN