Nicer Foods Be Nice Bar: A review

I have struggled with GI problems for a while, and nothing I ate or did seemed to change it. However, I recently came across the ‘low FODMAP’ diet and it interested me as it involves removing or reducing certain high FODMAP foods from the diet in order to relieve GI problems. I committed to trying it out only recently and so far so good!

You can find out more about the low FODMAP diet on the Nicer Foods website: https://nicerfoods.com/what-is-fodmaps/ 

Nicer Foods is a company which sells low FODMAP products in order to make it easier to stick to a LOWFOD map diet. Take a look at the range of products they have on offer on their website here: https://nicerfoods.com/

I recently tried out Nice Foods ‘Be Nice Bar’. These bars are low in fodmaps and packed with healthy ingredients that won’t leave your belly feeling uncomfortable.

bar

The bars are made with real peanut butter and have literally loads of chocolate chips- such a nice surprise when I opened them! The Be Nice Bar’s are made with all natural and wholesome ingredients, just like you’d use at home so you don’t need to worry about what you are eating.

Nicer Foods don’t use preservatives, so they recommend storing the bars in the fridge to keep them tasting fresh for as long as possible- but if you are anything like me, then the bars won’t stay around very long!

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I loved munching on the Be Nice bars after training, as the bars are easy to eat and carry with me in my bag. I also loved them as an easily digestible addition to my green banana nice cream breakfast (with an extra dollop of PB on top of course).

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Each delicious bar contains 7 grams of protein from natural peanut butter, rice, and quinoa- ideal for after working out, or to keep you satisfied until your next meal. As I mentioned, there are loads of bitter-sweet chocolate chips in the bars and these are dairy and soy free- so they won’t cause any problems for those with GI problems, or food intolerance’s. Just look at the list of ingredients to back me up!

The best thing about the bars in my opinion is that they are designed by dietitian and Nicer Foods co-founder, Kate Watson, so you can trust that they contain only FODMAP friendly ingredients! The bars are also great for those on alternative diets as they are vegan, dairy free, soy free, corn free, and certified gluten free- so as Nicer Foods says- we can all snack with confidence. Such a result!

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GoMacro Mini Bars: A Review

GoMacro started on a small organic family farm in 2004, and since then, GoMacro has become a nationally distributed natural foods company that believes in the pursuit of deliberate food choices and clean eating.

This farm is where it all started:

GoMacro sources only the highest quality plant-based ingredients from the top organic and non-GMO certified growers, and has maintained a steadfast commitment the company’s roots in farm, family, and ingredients.

GoMacro Bars are pretty awesome because not only are they tasty, but they are also 100% vegan, USDA certified organic, certified non-GMO, Gluten-Free, and made from mostly raw ingredients!

The bars come in two sizes- normal size and mini. We tried out the mini bars- and there are loads of different flavors!

bars

I mean just take a look at the variety of bars you can buy: https://gomacro.com/shop/product/macrobar-minis/ 

Mini_Box_Assorted

Here are all of the flavors you can get (they are available in normal size and in mini size):

  1. Protein Pleasure – Peanut butter chocolate chip
  2. Sweet Rejuvenation – Cashew Butter
  3. Protein Replenishment – Peanut Butter
  4. Prolonged Power – Banana + Almond Butter
  5. Protein Purity – Sunflower butter + Chocolate
  6. Wholehearted Heaven – Almond Butter + Carob
  7. Balanced Goodness – Granola + Coconut
  8. Sweet Revival – Sesame Butter + Dates
  9. Sunny Uplift – Cherries + Berries
  10. Protein Paradise – Cashew Caramel
  11. Morning Harvest – Apples + Walnuts

GoMacro MacroBar mini’s are ideal on the go, as a sweet end to your lunch, or as toppers to your favorite nicecream or smoothie bowl creations. I loved sandwiching two of the bars with crunchy nut butter and munching on it as easy post training snack.

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This here is the peanut butter choc chip bar which I was more than happy to eat straight from the packet- pretty unheard of for me as I usually like to add lots of toppings to my snacks!

Head to the GoMacro site for your bars now! They have given us a one-time only 40% off PROMO code for you, our lovely readers. Simply type in BLOGGER at the check out (https://gomacro.com/shop/) to redeem the code!

Also, it is worth just taking a look at GoMacro’s website as it is really cool and well designed! (https://gomacro.com/). And don’t forget that you can always keep in touch with GoMacro, and keep up with their competitions and giveaways by linking with them on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gomacro/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gomacro
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gomacro/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/gomacro/

One of the things that GoMacro is currently involved with is the Carlsbad Classic! They are the presenting sponsor of the Carlsbad Classic 2015 – a WTA 125k Series Event during Thanksgiving week 2015. Carlsbad, California is home to the GoMacro sales and marketing satellite office and they are really thrilled to support the local community and women’s tennis through this sponsorship.

How to Prevent GI distress whilst competing

The last thing you want whilst competing is to have to stop to use the toilet- especially if there aren’t any! But, all runners, even elite ones, can suffer with GI problems, and most do at some point in their running career.

Being vegetarian or vegan can put your GI tract under more stress and can increase the risk of GI complications because of the high fiber intake- which is unavoidable due to caloric demands of training. To offset this issue and to make sure that the GI tract is cleaned out before the gun goes off!

This is also true for all athletes- so make sure that breakfast is finished at least 2 1/2 hours before your race start time. This means that even if it means that you have to get up at 4 a.m. for a 7am race! When you have to get up that early for your pre race breakfast you will need to prepare your GI tract for it so, make sure that both the night before and two days before the race, you have a 10 hour transit time between dinner and breakfast. In other words, finish eating by 6 p.m. on both nights if you are getting up to eat at 4 on race day. Even though you may not be getting up in the middle of the night two days prior to the race, this will allow your dinner to properly digest and eliminate early the next morning.

There are a number of foods you should avoid in order to help reduce the risk of GI distress whilst racing. Ensure you cut out, or at least cut back on fatty, fibrous and processed foods because these will come back to haunt you mid-race! Ensure you avoid these items in the 24 hours before the gun goes off:

  • Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
  • High-fat cheese
  • Bran cereals
  • Sugar-free or “diet” snacks and beverages which contain lots of sweeteners that can play havoc with your stomach
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Fatty meats e.g. lamb

GI problem prevention meal plan for a 5-10km race (but the same guidelines apply for longer races- just be sure to up your calorie intake):

Higher intensity short races can increase the risk of GI problems. To avoid GI distress, reach for a breakfast that’s easy on your belly- so your pre-race meal should be low in protein and fat and include low-fiber carbs.

After the race, make sure to eat in order to recover- opt for a combination of carbohydrates and protein with a small amount of fat- orange slices, bananas, bagels and chocolate milk are all great options.

  • Lunch (20 hours pre-race): Turkey sandwich with avocado (or vegetarian alternative e.g. cheese or tofu), carrots dipped in hummus, a small apple and water
  • Snack (16 hours pre-race): Trail mix and water
  • Dinner (12 hours pre-race): Grilled white fish (or vegetarian alternative e.g. veggie burger), brown rice or sweet potato wedges, steamed vegetables and water
  • Snack (10 hours pre-race): Air-popped popcorn or a small bowl of cereal
  • Breakfast (90 minutes pre-race): Banana with 1/2 tbsp. nut butter or a smoothie and 16 oz. water or sports drink

Key pre-race points to prevent GI distress: 

  • Reduce high fiber food intake like legumes and bean the day before the race.
  • On race morning, do not eat granola or a large amount of nuts which are high in fat and protein and so are hard to digest.
  • Do not drink more than your normal amount of coffee or other caffeinated drinks.
  • Do not drink extra fluid replacement drink the day before the race- it usually contains sweeteners which can affect your gut. Your body will retain the necessary electrolytes from your normal daily diet and a reduction in your training.

Overnight Oats

If you have a hectic morning schedule like me, that leaves you with little time for a healthy breakfast, and leaves you with the option of only a bowl of cold cereal before you have to run out the door, then put down your spoon and read this….

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You probably already know that ready to eat, cold cereal, is not the best breakfast option for you. Not only are most of the cereal options low in nutrients and high in sugar but they are also unlikely to keep you full until lunch, or until after your workout. Porridge (oatmeal) is a much better way to start your day, and to ward off unwanted hunger pangs or weight gain. It has been found that people who eat porridge for breakfast are kept satisfied for much longer than their cold cereal eating counterparts, and can be kept satisfied for up to four hours after they put spoon to mouth!

cereal

However, it is not as simple as going out and buying the ready prepared porridge sachets. Although the instant varieties are good tasting, and on the whole better than cold cereal, they often have added sugars and artificial flavors which are not what you want to be putting into your body. Also, even the instant porridge varieties take time to prepare, and if you are anything like me, you just do not have the time to faff around and make up the porridge.

porridge

The solution: overnight oats. This is an awesome creation, that is great for your body, and great tasting. All you have to do to make yourself a great breakfast is to fill a mason jar or Tupperware container with grains, toppings, add-ins and a liquid like milk or water. Then you can put the container in the refrigerator overnight and while you’re sleeping, the flavors fuse together so all you have to do is enjoy it the next morning—no cooking required!

overnight

Here are some recipes to try:

  • Carrot Cake Protein Oatmeal

Per 1.5 cup serving: 265 calories, 5 g fat, 6 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 23 g protein

Makes 2 servings:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or you could use a mashed banana, applesauce or pumpkin puree)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Stevia (optional)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup protein powder (or additional oats)
  • Toppings of choice

In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. Divide between 2 small bowls, mugs, Tupperware containers or mason jars. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or for at least an hour (or more) so the oats soften and absorb the liquid). Top with chopped nuts, cinnamon, low sugar syrup, or vanilla Greek yogurt if desired! Enjoy cold, or if you have a little bit more time, microwave for 30-60 seconds to enjoy warm!

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  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Oats 

Per 1.1 cup serving: 308 calories, 11.3 g fat, 10 g fiber, 15.5 g sugar, 9.9 g protein

Makes 2 servings:

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 – 4 tbsp chocolate peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond milk (or other milk alternative)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, or to taste
  • Chopped nuts, chocolate chips and/or peanut butter, to serve

Mash the banana in a large bowl or container. Mix in the pumpkin puree, Dark Chocolate Dreams, cocoa powder, chia seeds and vanilla extract. Add the rolled oats, almond milk and maple syrup and mix until completely combined. Taste, and add more maple syrup if desired. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or put the lid on the container) and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning, divide the oats between two bowls. Top with chopped nuts, chocolate chips and/or peanut butter. Enjoy!

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  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Oats 

Per one cup serving: 319 calories, 14.4 g fat, 8.6 g fiber, 5.1 g sugar, 13.4 g protein

Makes 4 servings:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups old fashioned or quick whole grain oats
  • 2 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or other milk alternative)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 heaping cup all natural peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-3 stevia packets (optional)

Add strawberries and 2 tsp chia seeds to a small microwavable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Mash with a fork then set aside. Mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Add strawberry chia sauce and oatmeal mixture in alternate layers in four glasses, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Serve in the morning with added toppings if required.

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Ginger and GI Distress

Digestive health is usually overlooked until indigestion, gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation occur and force us to take notice.

When it does occur most people reach for the range of bottled, strange colored liquids that promise to ease discomfort available in the shops. But there is a far better, more natural, way to deal with digestive distress- ginger.

ginger

The use of ginger dates back hundreds of years. Ginger is one of the most powerful foods associated with alleviating gastrointestinal distress, such as bloating. It can also help to ease nausea and motion sickness.  Ginger can help to eliminate intestinal gas and it can also act as an intestinal spasmolytic which means a substance that relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract.ginger

anti gas

But why would you go for ginger when there are so many medications available? Well, most medications have negative side effects and also only mask symptoms. They do not, in most cases, resolve them.

Ginger is different, it has no negative side effects and even has some extra benefits. Gingerol is a compound in ginger which acts as a potent anti-inflammatory- it can reduce inflammation that can cause aches and pains throughout the body.

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Ginger can also help to soothe nausea in for pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness and can also act as a source of folic acid, which is a key vitamin in preventing birth defects.

I still wasn’t sure about ginger, as I am not the worlds biggest fan. But, a study done by the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology helped to change my opinion. The study found that ginger stimulates the movement of food through your stomach into your small intestine by assisting with the muscle contractions associated digestion.  They also found that ginger could stimulate enzymes to break down food so nutrients could be more easily absorbed.

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40% of people suffer from motion sickness and as I said, ginger can help with that too.  In a recent study, it was found that ginger was shown to be more effective than many commonly used over the counter drugs for motion sickness. So why not keep some ginger sweets in the car next time you go on a long trip.

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However not all ginger is the same. It is available fresh year round and so there is no excuse not to buy it fresh ginger rather than the dried form. Pure ginger contains higher levels of gingerol. When selecting your ginger, it is best to look for firmness and smoothness. In addition there should be no mold. There is no need to worry about ginger going off as fresh ginger can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks if unpeeled.

fridge

It is important to remember, especially if you haven’t cooked with ginger before, that adding ginger in the beginning of the cooking process will subtly add flavor but adding it at the end will result in a very strong, evident taste. So if you don’t like the strong taste of ginger try add it at the start of cooking.