In the Kitchen

Three of the products in the Vega Sport line
Three of the products in the Vega Sport line

High-intensity training and endurance sports both require recovery, an element of training that athletes often ignore. That’s a shame, since just a little planning for recovery can improve athletic performance—better recovery means less inflammation and faster bodily repair, resulting in less down-time between workouts—while poor recovery can lead to extended muscle pain and soreness, and lack of energy.

Nutrition is the first element of recovery, and something you should start to take care of immediately—within 20 minutes or so of finishing your workout or event—for optimum results. Recovery nutrition is the first step towards replacing the nutrients depleted during your workout. Many athletes crave carbohydrates, and historical sports nutrition advice was to consume carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stored in the muscles (which is consumed during exercise). More recent studies indicate that a carbohydrate and protein supplement is more effective in replenishing muscle glycogen, and that the effect is most noticeable during the first 40 minutes of recovery; at least one study also suggests that a combination carbohydrate and protein would be also be preferable for weight-management programs. (See Ivy, et al., below) Sources I was able to locate differ on whether a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is best, but all agree that adding the protein enhances recovery.

A quick disclaimer: I was provided a box of Vega Recovery Accelerator packets to try out and review; per my integrity statement, all of the opinions below are my own, and there is no “sponsored” or pre-written text. The Vega team actively supports my local athletic community, and I have tried the other Vega Sport products and talked to Vega representatives at the Esprit de She 5k benefitting Silicon Valley Girls on the Run, the San Francisco America’s Cup boot camp workouts sponsored by Puma, and most recently the Livermore Half Marathon. This is significant because I’m predisposed to like any company that supports local athletics, even if I don’t care for their products very much. (If I do like the products, I’m more likely to patronize a company that supports local events.) At the Livermore Half Marathon I also picked up a sample of the Pre-Workout Energizer (which led me to buy a tub of it), and a booklet called the Vega Sport Nutrition Guide 2013.

Mixed with cold water
Mixed with cold water

Vega Recovery Accelerator is a plant-based beverage powder designed for post-workout recovery nutrition. It does not contain casein, whey, or soy, making it ideal for those with milk and soy allergies or sensitivities. Since it has no animal-derived ingredients, it is also suitable for vegetarians. On the nutrition side, it has a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, and contains 23 plant-based ingredients selected to support recovery by replenishing electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium), replenishing glycogen stores, and reducing inflammation (turmeric and cayenne). Turmeric contain a substance called curcumin, which studies show can reduce inflammation and counter some exercise-induced muscle damage. (See Davis, et al., below.)

One serving of Vega Recovery Accelerator has 80 calories and no artificial dyes or weird fake sugars (sweetness—and the carbohydrates, in part—comes from whole grain brown rice sweetener and stevia extract). The protein is a mix of pea protein and sprouted whole grain brown rice. Like all of the Vega Sport products, Vega Recovery Accelerator is Informed-Choice certified: it has been tested to ensure it contains no substances on the World Anti-Doping Agency list of banned substances. (You can read more about this certification at

On the performance side, Vega Recovery Accelerator is available in two flavors (apple berry and tropical), and in tubs or portable individual serving-sized packets. Unlike most sports drinks I have tried, it does not have a particularly appealing Pantone pretty color to it and when mixed in a clear glass looks more like cloudy apple juice than Kool-Aid (which I believe is a plus—no synthetic colors). My favorite aspect of Vega Recovery Accelerator is that it mixes easily and dissolves completely. (Chunky, gritty, sandy post-workout drinks are a pet peeve of mine.) I prefer my post-workout drinks cold, but both flavors also have a pleasant taste at room temperature (ice cold, it’s pretty tasty and not sickeningly sweet like many sports drinks).

Vega’s recovery products also include the Vega Protein Bar, and Vega Recovery Protein. You can read more about them, and download a free e-book at


Thumbing my nose at the many hours I was forced to spend getting chummy with The MLA Handbook (I prefer “the Bluebook” for law, and The Chicago Manual of Style for everything else), these citations do NOT conform to MLA format:

Davis JM, Murphy EA, Carmichael MD, Zielinski MR, Groschwitz CM, Brown AS, Gangemi JD, Ghaffar A, Mayer EP. “Curcumin effects on inflammation and performance recovery following eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage.” Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Jun;292(6):R2168-73. Epub 2007 Mar 1. (Abstract available online at

John L. Ivy , Harold W. Goforth Jr., Bruce M. Damon , Thomas R. McCauley , Edward C. Parsons , Thomas B. Price. “Early postexercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement.” Journal of Applied Physiology Published 1 October 2002Vol. 93no. 1337-1344DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00394.2002 (Available online at


In a marketplace evermore crowded with Big Food’s prepackaged pseudofoods, Clif Bar remains an independent, family-owned company producing bars with ingredients you can pronounce (and love). Also, I personally have to love a company that has headquarters in Emeryville, CA, once described by then-Alameda County District Attorney and future Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Earl Warren as “the rottenest city on the Pacific Coast.” Naturally I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to try the Clif Bar Mojo Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Bars and Clif Mojo Fruit & Nut Bars.  In a tag: #nomnomnom Box of Clif Mojo Bars The new bars come in Wild Blueberry Almond, Cranberry Almong, Coconut Almont Peanut, Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond, and Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt. Despite my love for chocolate, my favorite flavor is Coconut Almond Peanut. The dominant flavors are toasted coconut and nuts—NOT sugar!—and it makes a fulfilling snack.  Here are the ingredients:

Organic Peanuts, Almonds, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Coconut, Organic Rice Crisps (Organic Rice Flour, Organic Cane Sugar, Salt, Calcium Carbonate), Organic Inulin, Organic Honey, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor, Natural Vitamin E (Antioxidant).

Two Clif Mojo barsWhile I didn’t need to eat more than one at a time to feel satiated, I certainly wanted to eat them all. Eventually I did eat them all, but I did it one at a time so I could really taste each flavor. That made it harder to pick a favorite, but I’m a sucker for a coconut bar that doesn’t taste like it was made with sugary sticky oversweet leftover Mounds or Almond Joy. Two more mojo barsBefore I even tasted the bars, I surfed around the Clif website. Because there is so much green-washing and outright lying going on in the world of Big Food, or perhaps because I practice law, I’ve been pretty skeptical of anything provided in a press release.  (To be clear, I received the Clif bars with only a single-sided postcard featuring a photo of the bars, a short phrase describing each flavor, the suggested retail price, and the Clif Bar social media links. No press release.)

I decided to ask some questions outside of what I could find on the website.  This was both to satisfy my own curiosity and desire to use this blog to only endorse products that I love and believe in.  I was not disappointed!

Here is my mini-interview with Clif Bar:

Q:  I know that the chocolate is Rainforest Alliance certified, but can you tell me about the other ingredients? Are there any specific projects or programs with a single ingredient?

A: We use USDA-certified organic palm kernel oil in many of our bars, which ensures a strong ecological approach to palm oil production. Currently, 65% of our palm kernel oil is Rainforest Alliance Certified. Our organic supplier is currently working towards 100 percent Rainforest Alliance certification. We have worked with our suppliers to understand their commitment to positive environmental and community practices.

Q: What is Clif Bar’s involvement/commitment/aspiration in the Fair Trade department?  I know that the Fair Trade label has undergone some changes, and that it has never been accessible to many small and co-op farms; I’m more interested in the principles (working with suppliers and paying a fair price to the farmers historically disadvantaged by the global market) than the official label.

A: Fair trade is an important issue and Clif Bar wants to ensure a socially just and environmentally responsible supply chain. We recognize the importance of fair labor conditions, community development and environmental sustainability. As of June 2013, all of our CLIF Bars are being made with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa. In addition we have a responsible sourcing and supplier code of conduct that outline our minimum expectations of how our vendors do business as it relates to legal requirements, ethical practices, and labor conditions. Our code is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, and covers a full range of ethical trading issues focused on basic labor rights; including a safe working environment, the right to organize, and non-discrimination in the workplace, among many others.

Q: There is currently a certain amount of backlash in the twitterverse against “Big Food,” especially as big international conglomerates are buying up what used to be “mom and pop” organic brands.  Can you tell me more about Clif Bar’s plans for the future? Will it remain a family company for the foreseeable future?

A: We are an independent, family-owned company, continuing to make progress on our 5 Aspirations (Sustaining our Planet, Community, People, Business and Brands). To further invest in our future as an independent, family-owned company, we recently announced plans to build our own bakery in Twin Falls, Idaho, which is scheduled to open in 2016.

Afterwards, I felt even better about liking these bars, which are also gluten-free and low glycemic index. The Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond are both backed with a thin layer of dark chocolate. It’s not too much chocolate—after all, this isn’t a candy bar—but it is the kind of quality-tasting chocolate that doesn’t require snarfing down an entire bar. Ordinarily I don’t go for fruit in my bars, but the Wild Blueberry Almond and Cranberry Almond both won me over. Frankly, they are delicious.  I’d still choose the Coconut Almond Peanut any day though. One bar You can learn more about Clif Bar on their website, or by following them on Twitter (@ClifBar) or Instagram (@ClifBarCompany). Clif Mojo Fruit & Nut and Clif Mojo Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Bars are available now.

Disclosure: I was provided with a box of Clif Mojo bars, two of each flavor, to sample and discuss on social media.  I did not promise a favorable review (or any review, for that matter). Except where specifically noted above, all words used in this review are my own.

Hey there! I’m revisiting this post  back from the earliest days of my blog–can you believe I published it on April 10, 2014??–because now it comes with a giveaway! This giveaway is not sponsored by CamelBak or Nuun.

First, The Review!

Integrity Statement: CamelBak provided me with a Relay pitcher to review back in 2014. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. All opinions are my own. All words are my own, except where otherwise indicated.

So just how much water should be consumed on a daily basis for optimal health? The consensus among health experts, in other words those who look to optimize health and not merely look at the absence of disease as a sign of health, is that there is a chronic dehydration epidemic.  Paul Chek and Steve Meyerowitz recommend one-half of an individual’s body weight in ounces (90 oz. of water for someone weighing 180 lb.), while Mark Lindsay recommends 0.6 ounces times body weight in pounds (106 oz. for someone weighing 180 lb.) for achieving optimal health and mobility. Even greater fluid intake has been recommended for those individuals who are exercising and sweating profusely. While there seems to be no agreement between the researchers and the health experts, there is enough anecdotal clinical evidence to suggest that increased water consumption is warranted for achieving and maintaining tissue mobility and overall health for most individuals.

Evan Osar, Corrective Exercise Solutions to Common Hip and Shoulder Dysfunction, Lotus Publishing (2012) at 44. For National Hydration Day, I encourage you to stay hydrated!

out of the box Relay

Why am I dehydrated? My main problem is that I don’t like drinking room-temperature water.  I’ll drink hot water (in the form of coffee, tea, cocoa, or similar beverages).  Otherwise, I only like it ice cold.  Call me an American (but at least I know not to ask for ice while abroad, okay?). I’ve kept a filter pitcher in the fridge since the very first ones came out, to keep my water cold and fresh-tasting. I’m also somewhat obsessed with water bottles, and have amassed a collection of about a dozen in my quest to contribute fewer disposable plastic bottles to landfills and the plastic mass floating in the Pacific Ocean.  (Despite our best garbage-sorting efforts, most plastic is not recycled. In 2019, even less plastic is recycled because China stopped accepting American plastics for recycling. Why? We suck at recycling–there were far too many dirty items, non-recyclable “wish-cyling” items, and contaminants. Since I found half a sandwich in my apartment recycling bin, along with dental floss and used kleenex, I’m not surprised.)

Until the fall 2013 Fitness Magazine Meet and Tweet event, I thought CamelBak was not a brand for me. The CamelBak I knew was a hydration pack for longer distance runners (not me) and had a bite valve (not for me). In my defense, the association makes sense, since CamelBak basically invented the hydration pack. As it turns out, CamelBak makes a pretty excellent water bottle with a filter in the bottle—the CamelBak Groove Insulation—so the water is filtered as you drink it.  The drinking spout folds, make it spill-proof, and therefore perfect for me.  My CamelBack from the Fitness event became my go-to travel bottle, since the straw-like drinking valve prevents me from spilling it on myself as I drove all over the state of California for work; I eventually lost it during my work travels. Hopefully it found a good home. The double-walled bottle design is optimal for avoiding slippery hands and water puddles caused by condensation as cool beverages warm up, but the same design prevents it from being optimal for refrigerator storage. Also, it is too small to chill enough water to keep me steadily drinking.

My new RelayEnter CamelBak Relay. The Relay is a filtration pitcher with a 10-cup capacity, perfect for the fridge. (It fits inside the door.) CamelBak graciously offered me a Relay to test drive, and after just a week I decided to give away all of my other filtration pitchers. I’ll never need them again, since CamelBak has a lifetime “Got Your Bak” warranty. By the way, now that I’m in 2019, I still only use my Camelbak.

Filter close-upWhen I opened the box, my first thought was disappointment.  The filter is so huge compared to my old pitchers that I thought, “there is no way I can recommend a product that is going to generate more waste than what is already on the market.”  Then I read the directions.  Oops. Turns out the filters last four months (not 30 days) with regular usage, which means it generates LESS waste than my old filters. Win! This is “double-filter technology,” filtering the water first as you fill it up, and again as you pour the water out. The lid even has a built in reminder dial so you don’t have to remember when to change the filter. Win!Close up of the reminder

The most obvious thing to love about the Relay is that it fills up quickly. My old pitchers were very slow to filter the water, so I would end up standing at the sink as I filled the pre-filtration chamber, waited for it to filter, and then re-filled the chamber to achieve a full pitcher to put in the fridge.  Those days are over. The Relay filters the water about as quickly as I run the tap, meaning I turn on the tap and fill the pitcher—no waiting. Sure, you might be thinking this is a net savings of just five minutes per refill, but over the course of a year those five-minute periods add up to hours I could be running or sleeping!

My second favorite feature is the snap-shut lid. Despite my years in dance and yoga, you can just call me Grace in my tiny kitchen. The biggest peril with my old pitchers is that I’d pour a glass of water over ice just after filling the pitcher and knock the lid off, spilling the water in the pre-filtration chamber all over myself, the floor, the stove, and anything else nearby. With the Relay, that’s impossible.  The lid has two side-locking latches that snap shut, securing the lid tightly. So even if I managed to start pouring before all the water left the pre-filtration chamber—a move that would require Speedy Gonzalez-like agility, since the chamber empties so quickly—there is no way I can accidentally turn my desire for a drink into a shower.  Bravo!

The speedy filing and secure lid were designed in response to consumer requests.  According to the press release: “CamelBak Relay is the latest example of our commitment to promote hydration while eliminating disposable bottled water,” said Sally McCoy, CamelBak CEO. “We listened to our consumers’ frustration with existing water filtration pitchers and solved each complaint by creating an all-around better product that filters water fast, prevents spills and fits well into refrigerators.”

As a design aficionado, I also appreciate the pretty colors (and CamelBak sent me a blue one, my favorite!). I know, pretty colors shouldn’t make the water taste better…but if they make me like the pitcher more, I’ll want to use it more, which means I’ll drink more water.  Hydration, level up.

Camelbak_Relay_Sam_0727_CharRelay_BoxRightPour_PurpleFINALFinally, the taste. I currently live in an area with decent-tasting water but WWII-era plumbing.  According to CamelBak, “When tested to NSF/ANSI Standard 42, independent test results have shown Relay removes 97% of chlorine, taste, and odor.” I have not seen the test results, but I love the taste when I pour.

You can learn more about CamelBak and buy your own Relay at . The Relay is also available at Target (MSRP $36.99), and at this point in 2019 I’m pretty sure you can buy it pretty much everywhere–I buy my replacement filters using Amazon Prime.


In celebration of #NationalHydrationDay (no, I am not sure when that is, but I saw it in a tweet for runners, so it has to be a real holiday, right?) I am giving away a box of hydration goodies. One lucky winner will receive:

  • A brand new Camelbak Relay Pitcher! (In the box–but I accidentally left it in the sun, so one side is faded.)
  • A brand new Camelbak Fresh filter water bottle! (Not in the box–I accidentally squished it–but the plastic wrapper is still over the “straw” portion and the filter is still in the package, so you can tell it’s new.)
  • A  suite of Nuun products (see my review here: Happy Nuun Year!): 1 tube of Nuun electrolytes (watermelon), 1 tube of Nuun vitamins (blueberry pomegranate), AND a limited edition Nuun water bottle celebrating the Pacific Northwest!
  • Samples of other hydration products (as your taste may differ from mine)

This is only open to residents of the US and Canada. Sorry everyone, this is a big ol’ box, and postage is killer!

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