Thursday, 27 September 2012

energybits Superfood Experiment

 This marks the inaugural product review on Running from the Runs.  To give you some background on how this came to be - energybits  has been all over Twitter for the past few months engaging with health and fitness bloggers, sports enthusiasts, #runchat, #fitblog etc.  I first took notice when they followed me and through various Twitter chats we mutually engaged in.  What really caught my attention was their call-out to bloggers offering samples in exchange for a short post with your thoughts on the product.  And what is the product?  energybits are made from spirulina algae, a super-food full of vitamins, minerals and protein.  The catch?  It is algae, definitely green and does smell like a fish tank.  However, being a non-coffee/tea drinker, I have dreamed of the day I might find something to boost my energy and carry me through the morning, a workout, a run or a rough day.  In addition, I am not what you might call a natural carnivore - I do not love protein, but know I have to find ways to get more into my diet.  So, it was a pleasant surprise when my "bits" arrived in the mail - with no shortage of literature on energybits and their other products.
The very comprehensive sample package I received, complete with literature!
For this post I wanted to give you a general overview of the product based on the literature and share my very early opinion, but I definitely intend on following-up with a second post once I have had the opportunity to thoroughly test them out.

Here are some quick facts:

  • The only ingredient is algae - there are no additives
  • 1 calorie per bit
  • 12 bits is equal to one serving and they recommend 20-30 a day minimum
  • A bag of 1,000 bits costs $115.00 on their website
  • You can either chew or swallow - I recommend swallow (see fish bowl comment above)
  • According to their literature, a serving contains approximately 64% protein as compared to meat which contains approximately 22%
  • Increased energy and endurance
  • Improves digestion (this will be interesting from an IBS perspective!)
  • High in antioxidants
  • Curbs hunger
Paula over at the Big Green Pen has written an informative and well-researched post about them as well.  It would be worthwhile to check out her post as she has some great links relating to algae.

I have had the opportunity to test drive them twice in the past week.  The first time was Sunday after a meeting as I was heading to the gym.  I took them when I arrived at the gym and hoped that would be enough time for them to kick-in. One recommendation, have a tissue nearby after you have taken them as there will be a little forest green residue on your fingers.  Swallowing them was not a big deal at all and for someone as finicky as I am, I would anticipate that most of you can handle it just fine!  In terms of energy level - I did not notice a huge difference at first, but I did make it through the workout and when I got home I certainly felt energized.  I think there is likely a need to determine how soon you should take them before exercise.
The second time I tested them was on Monday morning and, again, I did feel slightly energized.  I do have a confession to make though - I did happen to eat a piece of dark chocolate each time I tested them, so I am a little unsure as to what effect the chocolate may have had (70% dark).  I promise that next time I will keep the chocolate far away to ensure I have an accurate picture of how the energybits are working!
As you can see, they are very small, which makes them easy to swallow!
Stay-tuned for the follow-up to this post to find out how the rest of my energybits experiment has panned out!

Have you tried energybits, spirulina or other algae-related products?  If so, I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Field of Dreams indeed!

The season for corn on the cob is now well underway, therefore, as a brief tribute to that golden deliciousness I thought I would share some thoughts on the matter.  I fondly recall many summer evenings shucking corn on the back deck of my childhood home, the smell of it cooking, the butter and salt dripping down my chin and that first delightful bite.  This experience ranks as highly as fresh strawberry shortcake.

My husband is from Iowa, home to the Field of Dreams and one of the ultimate baseball movies of all time.

"If you build it, he will come" and "Is this heaven?  No, its Iowa."  One year my husband surprised me on Easter Sunday by stopping in Dyersville at Iowa's main attraction. Despite the fact that we had not hit corn season, it was pretty magical to be there.  My Dad was far more impressed with this quick roadtrip than any European adventure I have had, or ever will have.

Unfortunately, that is where the magic of corn ends for me.  Corn wreaks havoc on my body.  It is guaranteed that if I eat this, I will land on my porcelain throne in less than 30 minutes.
On summer nights I long to eat it, but only ever attempt it a maximum of once each summer.  On a long weekend.  With no plans.  With a toilet in very close proximity.  You only get burned once by an experience such as this.  That sweet, innocent-looking, unassuming corn.  Who would have ever thought that it could be so dangerous?   Explosions of flavour indeed!  Corn is such a reliable laxative that when I feel gassy or bunged up I will make a bowl of popcorn and then - hallelujah! - problem solved.  I do not find popcorn as potent as fresh corn, but it certainly does the trick.  
So, as you tuck into some of summer's finest, when it is uniquely acceptable to ingest copious amounts of butter and salt, I will be eating carrots.  Or celery, sans butter, thinking of the field of dreams.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Déjà vu or nostalgia?

Déjà vu is this week’s prompt for GBE2 (group blogging experience) … to be completely honest I had no idea how I was going to tackle this topic.  I was hesitant to share a moment where I can recall experiencing déjà vu; in fact, I am having trouble recalling a specific incident.  Instead, all I could think about was the word nostalgia, which is not quite the same as déjà vu.  Déjà vu expresses the sense of having seen or experienced something already – this can be related to either a positive or negative experience.  Nostalgia, however, is always associated with a positive recollection, perhaps a happier time.  

Nostalgia is often a sensory experience, triggered by smells, sounds, touch, taste or feel.  For example, the smell of someone’s home.  On a few rare occasions I have caught a fleeting whiff of something akin to the scent of my home in Angers, France with my dear French (host) mother Janine.  When I encounter this familiar scent I have a moment of pleasure and longing for that time, one of the happiest in my life.  

The smell of sunscreen is also a trigger for me, prompting memories of both my childhood and adolescence, spent, for the most part, on a beach swimming, lifeguarding, coaching and generally having a blast.  

People often associate music with certain moments or time periods in their lives.  When you hear a song on the radio that you used to listen to in high school, it generates memories from what feels like a lifetime ago.  In high school we used to listen to a lot of Dave Matthew’s Band while hanging out, participating in underage drinking and shuffleboard tournaments.  

Tonight I am headed to Citadel Hill in Halifax to catch Ben Harper in concert.  Ben Harper has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember.  I have no idea who introduced me to his music, but it was likely during a summer of lifeguarding.  I have carried his music with me for the last 10 years and await his latest albums with eager anticipation.  I am lucky enough to be taking in this concert with a dear friend from my junior high and high school days, someone who has indulged my Benny obsession for as long as I can remember, my partner in crime from my time at the beach, or maybe just my partner in crime for life.  

Nostalgia can also be the feeling you get when you return to a place from your past.  My return to Angers during my honeymoon made me nostalgic for my carefree days of pastry eating, wine drinking, French speaking and new love.  Walking through the streets of Angers with my new husband (whom I met and fell in love with in Angers) was pleasurable, eerie and regretful.  Eerie because the people we once knew were, for the most part, no longer there.  It was the exact same and at the same time very different.  It was regretful because it made us yearn for that life, where we had no responsibilities, where everything was new and exciting, where food tasted so damn good, where the lifestyle is so unlike our life in North America.  

As a final thought on nostalgia, or déjà vu, or however you would like to term it, we are having a rocking good dinner tonight of roast chicken with vegetables.  As my husband and I debated over how to prepare it, we thought of the many times Janine made roast chicken for us in France.  She had a way of injecting flavour by putting cloves of garlic, butter and thyme under the skin of the chicken. 

We briefly reminisced and engaged in friendly debate as to how to prepare it.  My final thought is on that wonderful smell, which brings back so many memories of dinners shared with loved ones.  If only I could share that with you tonight!