Healthy Travel Snacks + What is a Mangosteen Anyway?

I love traveling because it means I’m most likely off for a new adventure. However, I don’t like being out of my normal healthy eating routine while en route to my final destination.  I recently got back from a trip to the beach. We traveled by car and I packed baby carrots, celery sticks and almonds for the car ride. With four adults and three teen boys in the car, my stash didn’t last long and I regretted not stowing away more sustenance for the road – like many of the travel-friendly snacks from my post on healthy purse snacks.

purse snacks

Of course, with all the man-sized appetites in the car, it was only a matter of time before we hit one of the Whataburger fast-food establishments that are so prolific in the one-stop light towns of Texas. As my mom and I found out, even Whataburger has begun to offer some healthier options including an Apple & Cranberry Chicken Salad with Low-Fat Pepper-Honey Vinaigrette. There is also the no-top bun burger trick that I’m fond of – take off the uber-bready top bun of my hamburger – cut the burger in half and then re-sandwich together for a double-decker ½ burger. All of these tricks kept me lean, mean and in fighting shape for some bad a$$ery on the beach.

jennifer fisher - - what fitfluential and 46 years looks like

Today I am travelling by plane to Seattle to meet with my Hood to Coast Relay teammates and sponsor, Nuun Hydration, before we hit the van for our 200 mile race from Mount Hood in Oregon to the beach of Seaside.  I did this same race last year (read all about it) thanks to the fine folks at Nuun Hydration, a Seattle-based company that makes a sugar-free electrolyte tablet in tons of delicious, yummy flavors. These electrolyte tablets are perfect for runners, triathletes, golfers and other people who are working hard and sweating all day in the sun. By the way, my team is named after one of the new flavors – Cherry Limeade!  Follow the adventure on the thefitfork’s instagram feed. #nuunhtc #teamcherrylimeade

e me high jump

Since most airlines don’t serve meals anymore (would you really want to eat these high-sodium, high-fat, highly unappetizing meals anyway?), a traveling girl such as myself is either subject to what she can find in the airport concourse (again, usually yucky) or what she brings along. I think I have just enough time this morning to make a delicious recipe I found at Cooking Light in a collection of their 75 Healthy Snack Ideas —  Honey Glazed Almonds.  These spiced nuts are made quickly on the stove top rather than being baked for an eternity in the oven.  Plus, the sweet-spicy nuts (kicked up with Chipotle powder) store well in an airtight container for several days, although I’m sure they’ll be gone before my plane change in Salt Lake City.


I’m also taking some of the new products from SunRype, including the Mango Mangosteen Fruit Source Bar made with all natural ingredients and no preservatives whatsoever. Each 100% fruit bar features 2 servings of fruit with this particular flavor featuring the Mangosteen. So WHAT is a Mangosteen anyway? I thought it was just a cute name for “mango,” but, in fact, the Mangosteen is actually a purple super fruit indigenous to Indonesia and now grown in warm, tropical environments including South America and South Asia. The exterior of this uncommon fruit is purple, but only the white inner flesh and juice is edible.  But, it’s well worth eating the Mangosteen as studies have shown that it has super-powered antioxidant properties (especially high in xanthonoids) that has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the risk for cancer. While the juice has high astringency value properties and has been used topically to treat acne, I would not recommend rubbing the fruit bar on your face!

mangosteen collage

What Goes Up Must Come Down, What Goes In Must Come Out

Also known as “The Trails and Entrails of the 2012 Hood to Coast Relay”

Some of you may have heard that I just got back from running the famous Hood to Coast Relay on a team sponsored by Nuun Hydration. Whoo-hoo!  It was truly the realization of a 16-year dream to take part in this almost 200 mile journey from the snow-capped Mount Hood all the way down to the sandy (and quite chilly) beach of Seaside, Oregon.  And, to represent for an awesome company whose product I firmly believe in and actually do drink made the experience all the more exceptional, as did hanging out with the 35 other like-minded runner-blogger-foodie-fashionistas. Holla!

Amanda, Marjorie, Jennifer, Katie, Elizabeth . . . and Erin is running!

I’m not a very savvy race recapper; I’ve forgotten my race leg times, my mind and my photos are fuzzy, and I’m just staring at the big bag of swag donated by generous sponsors (thank you) that I will eventually need to dig through and provide thoughtful reviews. However, I do clearly recall important details about the trip such as the food and drink. It’s all perspective and priorities, people – and this is The Fit Fork after all!

When I finally rolled into Seattle (Nuun HQ), the pre-running party had been going on for at least a day. Since I missed out on the female bonding at the Seattle Mariners game, the morning run-swim and the insider tour of Oiselle, I hoped that my attempt to sweeten up these girls with Jamba Juice smoothies would bear some fruit. Thanks to the yummy, slushy goodness of flavors like Razzamatazz™, Strawberry Whirl™ and Aloha Pineapple®, I felt as welcomed as the new girl at school whose mom sent in cupcakes to mark the occasion — only healthier!

What Blogger-Runners Do - Tweet About Everything!

Soon, we’d meet up at Nuun HQ for a variety of activities including a taste-testing of not-yet-for-sale secret flavors whipped up by the company president, Mason Reay.

Nuun Hydration Tablet - Top Secret Flavors Coming to you Soon!

The frenzied scavenger hunt across the city of Seattle sent me into a few moments of tourist distress. Alas, we only had time to stop, snap pictures and tweet our location at a number of foodie locations including Pike’s Market, a famous Donut Shop, the Original Starbuck’s Coffee.  I’m definitely will need to revisit these places at my leisure on a future trip!

The pre-race dinner, catered by Bucco de Beppo, was a smorgasbord of healthy Italian dishes to suit the rainbow of food restrictions in the group. I am not at all being snarky here when I point out that Team Afternuun Delight covered quite a slice of the nutritional spectrum from dairy-free, soy-free and gluten-free to plant-based and low-carb. Kosher? Raw only? If I missed some, post in the comments. I always like to hear about a new diet lifestyle. I felt tempted to throw in my personal preference which is the Paleo Diet (fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, with the exclusion of grains, legumes, refined sugar, and processed oils). But, then I remembered I follow the “100-percent Paleo, 80-percent of the time” mindset; meaning vacations, even a running vacation, almost always fall under the other 20-percent of the time. This would be my mistake.

Race day we were up at the crack of dawn, but didn’t have to take off until later in the morning. This meant a quick trip to Specialtys Bakery near the ballpark where the-nicest-ever-employee Colin hooked me up with a Southwestern Egg Sandwich on bread. Yes, bread!  After loading into our respective vans (six ladies to each and some darn nice ones riding with me), we headed out of town and only made it as far as the Panera Bread in Tacoma. Here the whole gang noshed on our favorite menu items (me, Barbeque Chicken Salad) while local lunchers looked on with a combination of bewilderment and, I’m just guessing, awe and admiration at our sparkly skirts and rainbow striped arm-warmers.

Most of our remaining day and a half would be spent inside the 12-passenger van, except when it was time to run our respective legs, visit one of the 529 port-a-lets (they called ‘em “Honey Buckets” and I came to know ‘em well), or hang out for some down time at an exchange. This meant we relied on rations piled up in the back of the van except when our intrepid and highly entertaining driver Tyler, a Nuun employee, would pull over to grab us a snack.

Tyler, Elizabeth and Jennifer cutting loose at a exchange point.

Rations consumed in the van:

  • Nuun Hydration tablets (favorite flavors were Kona Kola and Strawberry Lemonade)
  • 12 Chiboni Yogurts  (the official yogurt of the USA Olympic Team and Team Afternuun Delight)
  • Lots of Kind Snacks – Granola and Bars
  • 14 bananas
  • 8 bagels
  • Peanut butter
  • Homemade brownies (I never got one!)
  • GNC caffeine chewies
  • Saltines
  • Graham Crackers
  • Trail Mix
  • Gummy Bears
  • String Cheese
  • Assorted beers
  • Muscle Milk
  • Assorted energy drinks (consumed by driver and, err, me)
  • Coffee
  • Random ham sandwich and hamburger stops

You know you’re committed to eating right when you bring food along with you on a trip. Wish I had that much stick-to-it-iveness; maybe I wouldn’t have had so many stomach issues. The crazy lady (love ya) in the back seat delighted us with an endless array of healthy options on the go, some actually good!  Kale chips, sprouted raw pumpkin seeds, tuna fish in a can (she courteously went outside to eat that), beans, rice milk, berries, kombucha and more.

After we finished our first round of legs, we had arrived in Portland. Since it was after midnight, we parked the van and walked over to the closest place open and serving food, the Bunk Bar. At this time of night, you can’t be picky. Another Egg Sandwich for me (top bun off but loaded down with bacon ) and split a local brew on tap with a teammate. Was hoping that beer would help me go to sleep during our 2 hour layover in the parking lot. But, alas, it was the indigestion and adrenaline that so wanted me to stay awake.

Hydrating at bunk bark with beer and Nuun.

My second leg at 8am was fueled in quality style with a Monster Absolute Zero followed by a banana and yogurt for recovery. The remainder of down time until my third leg at 5pm included no sleep, a long traffic jam through the countryside of Oregon, overindulging in trail mix until I couldn’t even look at the bag anymore, and a stomach ache that refused to be resolved.  Several days of magnesium, caffeine and fiber supplementation were failing me, there seemed to be no solution to my hormonal-travel-naughty-eating induced problem.  The whole van was pitching in to help, amazing how close you can become with people when “living” in such close quarters.  Rumors from another team van were flying; apparently the Aspaeris Pivot Compression Shorts, a gift in our goodie bag, were literally squeezing the #@$& out of some of the girls. It was worth a try, but I was foiled from the get go. My pair was missing.

Apparently, all types of digestive problems are common during the 28+hour relay, as evidenced by the van for the team Great Bowels of Fire. 

Third leg was run around 5pm after a late afternoon filled with heartbreaking drama including a nasty, sprained ankle by a sweet teammate and picking up lost runners who had run miles out of their way out on the course. It was really touching, and a great lesson for me, to see everyone rallying together to emotionally boost up the injured and upset. It wasn’t about winning the race or how fast or cool a single person was; it was about finishing together regardless of the circumstances.  And we did!

To celebrate, we partied down at the beach as guests of Nike. Local hefeweizen, pulled pork, smoked turkey, salad and such.  It was good, it was all good.

Entrance to the 2012 Hood to Coast Relay Nike Party

After a midnight van ride and another sleepless night in Seattle, I started working my way back to Austin. A Kind Bar and Starbuck’s Chai Latte held me for breakfast and a spinach salad with feta and craisins was a not-too-bad airport layover lunch. And, when I got home at 7pm, everyone was waiting for dinner! Hurray! Fajitas on the fly.  Oh yeah, and I unpacked. Everything. All problems solved.

Thank you Nuun Hydration for such a wonderful experience and all the support from your employees. It was both harder and easier than I thought, does that make any sense?  Loved it!


Mom-Approved Chocolate Protein Pudding Pops Recipe (Good for Grownups, Too)

Whew, it’s crazy time! Just got back from a beach vacation with just enough turn-around time to accomplish 7 loads of laundry, take the kids to the dentist and restock my pantry for the hungry boys I’m leaving behind. Oh, where am I going?  To the Pacific Northwest, where I will run on a Nuun Hydration sponsored team in the Hood to Coast Relay; you might have heard me mention that before! If you didn’t it’s just a little 198 mile jaunt from Mt. Hood to Seaside, Oregon that I split up with 11 other teammates No biggie!

Needless to say, I’m so pooped I could pop . . . literally!  I’m leaving behind some homemade Chocolate Protein Pudding Pops for the kiddos as my way of saying “remember your dear old mother as she’s hauling butt down a mountain.” If you’re as old as me, you probably remember similar frozen confections hawked by that famous Huxtable in the 1980s. Back in the day, my brother and I convinced my mom (aka “the sugar sheriff) to hook us up with these tasty treats because they “contained wholesome milk and all the goodness of pudding frozen on a stick.”  In my version, I’ve added whey protein powder to round them out nutritionally, an “ah-ha” discovery from the recent extraction of oldest son’s wisdom teeth. Enjoy!

Chocolate Protein Pudding Pops Recipe

  • 1 box (4-serving size) instant pudding, chocolate
  • 2 cups fat free milk or milk alternative
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder, chocolate
  • 1 cup fat free non-dairy whipped topping

In medium bowl, whisk together pudding mix and protein powder until combined. Whisk in milk until smooth. Pour approximately ¼ of mixture into another bowl; fold in whipped topping until combined with pudding mixture.  Fill frozen pop molds about 2/3s full of pudding and top off remaining space with the pudding-whipped topping mixture. Add stick tops to the molds and set in freezer overnight.  Makes about 6 pops, depending on mold size.

Note: You can use any type of molds you like, even empty yogurt cups with wooden sticks. However, I double love this fun star-shaped set by Tovolo:


Also, don’t forget to stock up on your Nuun Hydration tablets, summer is still going strong and you need to drink lots!  In the promo box, type in “bloggerslovenuun” for a 15% discount off your total order.

Running For Team ‘After Nuun Delight’!

after nuun delight team runnning Hood To Coast Relay HTCRIt’s been a crazy few weeks in my running life, from my ‘Big Boston Marathon Meltdown’ on April 16thto a jubilant redemption 12 days later with an older-age P.R. in a local 5k (18:44).   Between the highs and the lows, I’ve scarcely had time to report about some exciting news that is unfolding to become the biggest adventure of my year . . . maybe my decade. Drumroll please . . .  I will be joining the exclusive all-female blogger Team Nuun to run the famous Hood to Coast Relay at the end of August 2012. As the largest (not to be confused with ‘longest’) relay race in the world, the 31st running of the Hood to Coast Relay begins in Mount Hood, Oregon and travels all the way down to Seaside – 199 miles!  Not to worry, I won’t be running almost two hundred miles alone, I’ll have 11 other runners that I will share legs with – literally and figuratively!  Our official team name is going to be “After Nuun Delight” – cute, huh?!

How to use Nuun Hydration.

Nuun tablets are easy to use on the go.,

So if you are new to Nuun, let me give you the skinny on the important product details. Nuun is a hydration tablet that is dropped into 16-ounces of water where it fizzes up Alka-Seltzer style – oh, but it tastes so much better!  Available in 11+ refreshing flavors (I like Strawberry Lemonade and Lemon Tea), Nuun has absolutely no sugar and less than 8 calories per serving – yet doesn’t sacrifice important electrolytes needed to power through a marathon, bike race or other active endeavor. And, if your biggest workout is bar hopping, it’s rumored that a Nuun tablet dissolved in water and consumed before bed and another upon awakening will lessen the effects of a hangover. I wouldn’t know, but I’ve heard.