“Guidelines to help you start a healthier eating plan for 2015” by Becca Wroten

Eat Liberally

You can enjoy as much of these foods as you like. Remember we are not counting calories or fasting or anything like that!

Meat and Poultry: beef, lamb, chicken, duck, pork, wild game, venison, etc. When you can, use free-range chicken and grass-fed beef but don’t get wrapped up in it if it’s not feasible. Don’t be afraid to eat all parts of the meat. Don’t limit yourself to boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Fish: All fish is good but especially fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies. Wild is preferable.

Eggs: These are perfect and portable (when boiled, that is)! Eat the whole egg… if we weren’t meant to eat yolks, chickens would have egg separators. If it’s affordable for you, buy free-range but again, don’t get wrapped up in this detail.

Starchy Tubers: Yams, sweet potatoes, plantains, yucca… for now, white potatoes are not as good a choice as the others.

Non-starchy Vegetables: cooked or raw, doesn’t matter. This is really everything: artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chiles, cucumbers, eggplant, onion, any greens and lettuces, leeks, mushrooms, okra, squashes, tomatoes, etc. (green beans, sugar snap peas, and all beans/lentils/peas do not fall into this category)

Traditional Fats: Use leftover fats from cooking (beef tallow, chicken fat, bacon grease), Coconut oil, and olive oil. Also butter, but on this one splurge for the organic/grass-fed stuff.
Olives, Avocados, Coconut (unsweetened), Coconut Milk

Sea Salt and spices

Eat in Moderation

You can eat these foods, but not big portions and not multiple times a day. Pretty much once a day, reasonable portion is good here.

Processed Meats: Sausage, uncured bacon, jerky, salami, turkey or ham… here’s the thing, though, CHECK THE INGREDIENT LIST. You want them to just be meat, no added fillers and sugars and junk.

Whole Fruit: Let me say first, there is NOTHING wrong with fruit. Nothing. We say moderation simply because fruit does elevate the blood sugar and we want to try to keep the blood sugar even and consistent. Dried fruit is not optimal but fine in a pinch. Stick to a variety of fruits in their natural state.

Nuts and Seeds: sunflower seeds, almonds, brazil nuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, cashews, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds. Peanuts are legumes and should be eaten very sparingly. Try to keep to one handful a day.

Coffee: All tea and coffee are permitted. Try to limit the caffeinated (coffee and black tea) to 1-2 cups and before noon. Any later interrupts sleep no matter how well you think you handle caffeine. If you struggle with depression, mood swings, insomnia, anxiety, or hypoglycemia you will greatly benefit from eliminating coffee and caffeine in general.

Dark Chocolate: 70% cacao or higher and in small amounts. Read labels and try to purchase the one with the least ingredients. If you are sensitive to caffeine, keep this earlier in the day.

Vinegar: apple cider, balsamic, red wine, etc. apple cider vinegar has some especially beneficial properties. Try making your own salad dressing.

Full Fat Dairy: Really, once a day or less here. It must be full fat. If we were intended to eat reduced fat, cows would come with cream separators! This is a place to eat grass-fed and organic, as well. Grass-fed/organic dairy provides healthy omega 3’s not found in other dairy. If dairy is easy for you to eliminate, we recommend doing so.

Eat Sparingly or avoid completely

For best results, avoid these foods altogether. If you do eat them, no more than once or twice a week.

Grains: This means oats, rice, bulgur, wheat, quinoa, pasta, bread. If you want to have some grains, go with quinoa or rice. Avoiding wheat, bread and pasta is highly recommended.

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners: We are trying to get blood sugar under control and both of these wreak havoc on the body. If you need to sweeten something, try pure maple syrup, honey, palm sugar, or fruit/fruit juice. But limit it!

Beans and Legumes: peas, beans, peanuts

Alcohol: Relax. It’s just for now, for this month. Limit the alcohol to 1-2 times per week or for best results altogether.

This list is not a complete list but should give you a great guide to work from. Build meals around the foods in green with a spattering of foods in orange.

For more information check out Haka Fitness Nutrition 101 on Facebook

Becca Wroten’s personal journey in life has been greatly linked to sports and fitness from a young age. As an adult, she realizes the greatest things in life come from hard work, perseverance, and courage. It is this belief in the tenacious spirit and a love for movement that drives her program design and the design of Haka Fitness.

“You are beautiful!” by Anna Huthmaker

In the hallway of my house, I have giant pieces of paper tacked up on the wall with a bag full of sharpies. Anytime I learn something, have a brilliant thought, or come up with a goal worth pursuing, I write it on the wall. Things like, “do the hard work, and then detach”, and ‘Does this feed my spirit?”

Each one means something personal to me.

You see, this past fall has been kind of a rough one. I have no good reason to say that…..my friends and family are all happy and healthy, as am I. Life is really, really good.

But, still……

Do you ever go through those times where you know you just need to grow? You need to suck it up, do the hard work and learn something? After six months of vacillating between feeling like I was metaphorically stuck in cement, and spiritual highs where I thought “I am getting it…I am finally getting it!!!”, I have firmly landed in a place of wanting to be better.

My wall plays a huge part in that.

A few weeks ago, I went through a few days of, “Woe is me….I am ugly…I am not good enough…I have nothing worthwhile to offer.” You know the feeling, right? We all have it from time to time.

I was walking down my hall and a slash of orange writing spread across the top of my wall caught my eye. It said, “You are beautiful!”(With a few hearts drawn in for good measure.)

I didn’t write that on my wall.

I am not really sure who wrote it, or when they wrote it. As I stood there, I thought, ‘someone out there thinks that I am beautiful. Someone cares enough to take the time to write it on my wall, (and to include some hearts for good measure.)”

My heart filled with love and gratitude. What a great gift!! From here on out, anytime I don’t feel beautiful, I can just go look at my wall. There is proof positive.

And then, I got to thinking…. I know a lot of people that are really, really beautiful. And I bet that they have days from time to time where they just can’t see it. It made me want to go through life with a shirt that says in giant letters “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!”

Since I can’t do that, I will start with this…..Dames, you are beautiful.

Each and every one of you.

You teach me all year long about strength, friendship, humor, love, commitment, and determination.

And yes, beauty.

So the next time you are having one of those days where you doubt yourself, and think that you have nothing to give, here is a gift, from my wall to yours……

You are beautiful

Thank you all for being shining examples of beauty in my life!

A few more examples of my favorite kinds of beauty……

Hike Inn

“Why Vermont’s Long Trail” by Bren “Pokey” Miller

When I decided to expand from day hikes to backpacking and going on long distance trails, the next logical step was to decide where. Living in Albany, New York, there were plenty of lengthy trails nearby to choose from. The Long Path, Northville-Placid Trail, even the Finger Lakes Trail are right in my own state. Yet after much research, a multitude of factors tipped the scales to make the Green Mountain State’s pride the best choice for my maiden trek.

It’s the oldest long distance trail in the United States. That held a certain appeal to me. I am fascinated by the things of old. The pyramids, ancient trees, even historical buildings and artifacts. The oldest of the trails? No brainer.

Easy bail outs. Because the first half or so of the Long Trail is shared by the Appalachian Trail, it seems that “civilization” is but a short walk off the trail. With my lack of experience on long hikes and overnights in the woods, having that quick escape if necessary is a prudent choice.

Trees. Lots and lots of trees. Having grown up in the northeast, I am used to seeing pines, hemlocks, and birch trees everywhere. On my day hikes in the Catskills and Adirondacks, I find great calm and joy being surrounded by the trees and fallen leaves. Compared to the Southwest, where I expect to find sagebrush and cacti, which have their own enjoyment and appeal, the beautiful greens of home will provide a comfort to me that will be appreciated on that first trek.

Water, water, everywhere. It’s been written that to find water on the Long Trail, one only needs to look down. Some people report that rain is a near constant (as is mud), while others claim that to be exaggerated yet agree it is a wet trail with frequent water sources. I carry a hydration bladder and three ways to purify water. Gaining experience with plentiful supplies will be most appreciated before I venture to the more difficult routes just as the John Muir or Arizona Trails.

The high peaks. One of my goals on my bucket list is the Northeast 111, that is, the peaks above 4000 feet in New York and New England. All five of Vermont’s 4000+ footers are on the Long Trail. My plan is to hike northbound, taking the first half of the trail on my first attempt, then going back another time to complete the trek. The five high peaks are in that northern, or second, half. My goal is that my body will be in better shape to achieve that feat when the time comes to face that second part in the future.

Population. Unlike some trails where it is easy to go days without seeing another human being, because the southern part of the Long Trail is also part of the Appalachian Trail, it is a popular route with many hikers. As a solo hiker, there is a comfort in knowing that if something were to happen and I was not able to activate my personal locator beacon, someone would eventually come back and be able to provide assistance.

This post was contributed by Bren Miller. She is a middle-aged woman who lives with cats and takes care of her disabled brother. She discovered hiking last year and can’t get enough of it, despite her slow going due to her weight and lack of physical prowess. Her joys in life are my cats, my writing, and hiking. 🙂

“A Walk on the Wild Side” by Victoria Heckler

“Wild” is as much a movie about hiking as it isn’t a movie about hiking. It’s not a documentary about the beauty and wonder of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) nor a hiking how-to-guide – it’s a story of Cheryl Strayed’s journey to overcome her personal demons and come to terms with grief, loss and addiction as she hiked more than 1,000 miles of the PCT.

The movie is just under 2.5 hours long and although readers of the book will be quick to notice omissions from the book (like Strayed’s comical ice axe practice sessions and her inspiring encounters with trail angels), the movie stayed fairly true to the text and, to my gear geek delight, obvious care was taken to ensure that the backpacking gear used in the movie was consistent with the gear available in the mid-1990’s, when Strayed hiked the PCT.

Producers even paid a hefty sum to the Estate of Bob Marley to allow Witherspoon to sport a shirt bearing his likeness, as Strayed did in real life. (Why the hefty sum, you ask? Because Marley’s Estate did not like that the movie featured scenes of drug use. Oh, the irony…)

Both hikers and non-hikers alike will enjoy this movie and it’s definitely not one that you need to “read the book” before seeing, although some may find the film’s depiction of the events leading up to Strayed’s life in flashback format a bit disorienting at times.

Reese Witherspoon did a great job playing Strayed and gave her a depth of character that doesn’t necessarily come through when you read the book or hear Strayed speak in person. In fact, Witherspoon was so convincing in her grit and determination that I think I might actually prefer Witherspoon’s version of Strayed to the real Strayed herself.

Reese is supported by an all-star cast: Laura Dern plays her ailing mother; Thomas Sadoski (Don on HBO’s “The Newsroom”) plays Strayed’s ex-husband, and Gaby Hoffman (“Transparent,” “Girls”) plays Strayed’s best friend Aimee.

However, with the exception of Dern, none of the other supporting roles get enough screen time to even bother reviewing their performances. I initially thought that Dern, at 47, was not old enough to play mother to 38-year old Witherspoon convincingly, but after seeing the film, I think it was Witherspoon who was a bit too “Hollywood old” to play a 27 year-old convincingly.

There’s been much fuss within long-distance hiking circles about what effect mass-marketed movies like “Wild” and the currently-in-production movie “A Walk in the Woods” will have on the Pacific Crest or Appalachian trails. Frankly, after the gross-out scene of one of Strayed’s toenails falling off and her struggles to stand upright with a full pack on, I am not sure that anyone who has never hiked would be inspired to set foot on the trail, but if it does, then all the better.

All in all, I give this movie 4 out of 5 s’mores.


“Dehydrating Helped Me Improve My Trail Meals” by Debbie Wroten

I never thought I would try to dehydrate my food for backpacking.

It was so easy to go to the outfitter and buy Mountain House or some other packaged food. However, three summers ago I went on a 20 day backpacking trip—my first outing longer than 5 days.

I discovered that after eating the 4 dinners that I liked several times, the thought of having to eat any of them again gagged me. And the thought of having to eat another power bar or any other protein bar made me just want to forget about lunch.

When I was in town, I would load up on fruits and vegetables. I lost about 13 pounds on that trip and decided I had to have a better meal plan. The things that worked for a 3-5 day trip just weren’t working for a longer trip.

I needed better quality food that was better tasting and more nutritious if I was going to continue backpacking. After all I don’t really eat processed foods home nor do I eat foods that are low in nutrient density.

Dehydrating food for my meals seemed like a good place to start. I could control what went into my meals so I would have food that I liked in amounts that were satisfying to me. I have a Nesco dehydrator with 6 trays plastic sheets that I can line the trays with if I am dehydrating something like spaghetti sauce but most of the time I use parchment paper.

My favorite foods to dehydrate are:

*fruits — apples sprinkled with cinnamon, fresh pineapple slices, strawberries, and watermelon. The key is to slice the fruit evenly so that all the slices are finished at about the same time. I may do all the fruit at the same time since it uses the same temperature, but some fruits take longer. For example, a watermelon takes about 26-28 hours. Because of the sugar content of a watermelon I wrap slices in plastic wrap before putting in a Ziploc to keep the pieces from sticking. The key is to get all the moisture out. Why dehydrate fruit when they are so easily available at the grocery store? It is very hard to find fruit that does not have added sugar.

*vegetables — frozen mixed vegetables are easy to spread on a tray to dehydrate and can be added to anything. Many vegetables such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and acorn squash need to be cooked first. I usually roast them and then puree before spreading on a parchment paper- lined tray. Add any seasoning you like and you won’t have to carry seasonings with you. Canned black beans and kidney beans can be spread on the parchment paper to dehydrate and then use with rice for a tasty meal, especially if you remember to bring along single serving sour cream or even the powdered sour cream.

*meat — this is usually ground beef, sometimes plain but usually with taco seasoning. I can add this with any vegetable combination and some minute rice for a quick meal. I add the vegetables and rice before leaving home so I can play with herbs and spices. Beef and venison jerky are easy to make and there are a variety of recipes on the internet. It is very important to get all the moisture out or the jerky will mold.

*hummus — you can make your own or dehydrate your favorite brand. This makes a great lunch with crackers or flatbreads!

*leftovers – chili, spaghetti sauce, and hamburger stroganoff are three of my favorites and I plan to experiment with others this winter. I spread the food on parchment-lined tray and dehydrate.

Just a few things to remember:

*it takes planning to dehydrate your food but once you package it, you can toss it in the freezer until you need it

*I rehydrate each new food once at home to see how long it will take and how much water I will need. This also gives me a chance to play around with seasonings

*sometimes you will decide some foods aren’t worth it. I will never dehydrate tuna again—it is not worth the smell! Nor will I do bananas.

*your dehydrator should have various temperature settings. Fruits and vegetables need to dehydrate at 134* and meat 155*. Remember to make sure all the moisture is out

*I keep a notebook of foods that I have tried to dehydrate, the time needed to dehydrate, how much I packaged as a serving, and the amount of water need to prepare it. I write the amount of water on the package along with the contents.

I don’t get caught up in having “perfect” meals but I do want to have nutritious meals. After a day of hiking miles, pretty much anything will taste good. At the end of the day, my main goal is to have a satisfying meal that meets my nutritional needs and can be made with boiling water in less than 10 minutes with little or no clean up.

I can honestly say that this past summer I looked forward to my dinners every night of each of my backpacking trips. Now to improve my lunches!