The Outside Blog

Adventure : Nutrition

The Next Energy Bar Revolution: Real Meat

It powered Shackleton, Mallory, and Amundsen, and now dehydrated meats are being pressed into energy bars. They’re just as easy to stash in a pack or pocket for a long run or hike, and they’re usually higher in protein. The only bone of con-tention: the taste. You’ll either love it or hate it.

Epic: A mix of meat, nuts, and dried fruit—and that’s about it. This Paleo-inspired snack has something most trail foods lack: omega-3 fatty acids. Available in bison, beef, and turkey. ($8.50 for three bars)

Omnibar: According to Brent Ruby, the physiologist behind Omni, the bars are designed with the precise nutritional balance of complex carbohydrates and protein for optimal energy synthesis. Made from Montana-raised beef, they’re intended for sustained activity—four hours or more. Comes in four flavors, including roasted peanut and mango curry. ($3)

Tanka Bar: A sweeter, softer take on beef jerky. Think organic bison plus cranberries—a recipe based on the Lakota food wasna, a type of pemmican. ($3)

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The U.S. Ski Team's Favorite Meal

As staff nutritionist for the U.S. Ski Team, Allen Tran has cooked hundreds of meals for America’s best and boldest downhill and cross-country skiers. During the summer, at the team’s off-season training center in Park City, Utah, he oversees everything from breakfast to the recovery station, stocked with chocolate milk and homemade granola. In the winter, he’s tasked with cooking the athletes’ favorite recipes while traveling to some 15 events around the world.

His philosophy is simple: flavorful foods, quality ingredients. In the morning, he serves carbohydrates and a small amount of protein, like oatmeal with nuts, to fuel the skiers all day. At night, he turns to ingredients that are high in protein and iron, like lamb and garbanzo beans, to speed athletes’ recovery. “When I plan a menu,” says Tran, “I look for a lean, high-quality protein, slow-burning carbohydrates, and a green vegetable or fruit that’s high in antioxidants.”

At the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, Tran will prepare standbys like flank steak fajitas and “brinner”—breakfast for dinner. Also on the menu: his popular Jamaican jerk chicken with plantains. “Our athletes love big flavors,” says Tran, “and this dish has them.”

Jamaican Jerk Chicken


3 green onions, chopped
1 habanero chile pepper
3 garlic cloves
1/2 inch fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons honey or dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 boneless chicken breasts


1. Combine the first ten ingredients in a food processor and blend to a coarse marinade.

2. With the machine running, add the vinegar, tamari or soy, and oil, and mix thoroughly.

3. Coat the chicken breasts in the marinade and refrigerate overnight.

4. Before cooking, bring the chicken to room temperature (about one hour).

5. Heat grill or oven to medium-high (400 degrees) and cook chicken until browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning- occasionally. Serve with roasted plantains.

Roasted Plantains

4 plantains, completely black and soft to the touch


1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Slice the pointed ends off each unpeeled plantain.

3. Cut in half lengthwise, then lay flesh side up on a baking sheet.

4. Roast until soft and the exposed flesh is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

5. Peel and serve!

More Meals from Top Athletes

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Chef Biju Recipes: Spicy Kimchi and Soft Tofu Soup

Probiotics have made a thunderclap impression on nutrition the past few years—ever since we noticed the beneficial menagerie of bacteria in our stomachs—and many have been choking down swarming mouthfuls of Kombucha to aid their digestion (among countless other functions, possibly) ever since.

Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center are mostly behind the push but warn that the little we actually know about probiotics has privileged marketers to make uncertain claims about probiotic products. So, cross your fingers and plug your nose; drink up, I guess.

Or, if you have doubt, continue on the probiotic path without making potentially dubious compromises on taste, and try out this spicy soup. (It's the Pascal's Wager of probiotics.) Chef Biju Thomas has a recipe for a classic Korean restaurant tofu jigae, low in carbs and high in protein, that's enriched with probiotics from kimchi—fermented cabbage and spices—in a decidedly culinary, non-medicinal treatment.

Sure, But Go Back to "Fermented Cabbage and Spices"

Fermented Napa cabbage comprises the most common version of kimchi, but you could also use radishes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, and all sorts of seafood, says Biju. Napa cabbage provides a medium heat. If you prefer it spicier, include any type of fresh peppers or dried red chilies (or chili paste…or Sriracha). Otherwise, the stalk and tofu should mellow the heat.

What If I Don't Care About Probiotics?

You mean in relation to this recipe? Well, for approximately four servings (2 cups each), here is what else you'll get out of it:

Calories: 185

Fat: 9.5 gm

Carbs: 10 gm

Protein: 16 gm

Cool. Let's Make It.

OK. Get these ingredients to start:

  • 2 cups kimchi, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 quart low sodium stock (any will work)
  • 1 package of soft or "silken" tofu
  • 1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon liquid aminos or low-sodium soy sauce


  • 2 jalapenos, chopped or cut into strips
  • 1 stalk scallions, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon GoChuJang (Korean Chili paste) or Sriracha
  • Eggs

And the rest is very simple:

  1. Mix kimchi and vinegar together
  2. Add mix to stalk and tofu
  3. Add any optional chopped vegetables or sauces you want at this point
  4. Bring this to a low, rolling boil
  5. Adjust salt to taste
  6. Crack in eggs if you'd like and let them cook until the whites set
  7. Put that Campbell's soup snowman kid to shame in so many ways

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