Foods to Power Up Autumn and Winter Trail Running

Written by Stephen R. Santangelo for the Fall 2022 edition of our Trail Times newsletter. Stephen has been in the fitness industry since 1979 and created his own specialty exercises & programs based upon the anthropological movement of the human body.

Autumn color is a reminder we need to load up on a variety of colorful food, herbs and spices!

With the cooling temperatures and shorter days, our body’s metabolism changes and its nutritional requirements change. Our system moves from cooling foods in summer, to warming foods in autumn in order to help regulate our internal functions. The liver, lungs, kidneys and spleen are nourished with warming foods, spices and herbs from fall through winter.

Look for foods that are spicy, pungent, sour and bitter. Sour foods enhance the liver and gall bladder. Bitter supports heart and small intestine. Pungent provides strength for the lungs and large intestine/colon. Spicy foods enable one’s entire organ processes to support each other which is essential as part of a dynamic warm up and to elevate core temperature to 102F. This allows easier blood flow and oxygenation to all organs and soft tissue.

With over 40 years of nutritional guidance, for athletes, mostly runners, I have selected some of the best in both taste and results!

Pictured, are some of our favorite recipes which provide the needed properties to support the aforementioned organs. Whether we’re running the trails or hiking we always prepare our system with the right foods which have a synergistic relationship with our internal seasonal needs.

All ingredients are 100% organic. As organic farmers, we specialized in growing foods that are abundant in flavor and nutrition. There are a few foods listed in the recipes we have to purchase as organic since these are foods that do not grow in this part of the world, such as cinnamon. Although, we have our own beehives, these recipes will use organic cane sugar rather than honey, since it is more common and convenient for folks to use. We only use Einkorn flour. This particular grain has not been hybridized and is still in its original genetic/molecular structure. Einkorn makes all the difference since it has a much more robust flavor and sweeter, compared to modern day grains which have undergone numerous man-made changes since the early 1950s. Do not confuse hybrids with genetically modified foods; they are very different.

Photo: Stephen R. Santangelo.

Oatmeal-Banana-Applesauce Muffins:
1 egg, 1-1/3 cups of ripe mashed bananas, ¾ cups organic sugar, 1/3 cup applesauce. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 cup Einkorn flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1-1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 cup oatmeal.

For variety, you can add 1-2 drops of your favorite essential oil, ½ cup raisins, blueberries, chopped walnuts, almonds, pecans, ginger, nutmeg cloves etc.

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan with grass fed butter. In a large bowl, combine egg, banana, sugar, applesauce and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt.
Gently, stir dry ingredients and oatmeal into banana mixture. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until light brown. This will vary since not all ovens bake at the same rate. Remove muffins from pan and place on a wire rack to let cool and enjoy!

Power-up pre or post workout drink:
Ingredients: 1 each of red, orange and yellow sweet peppers, 3 medium carrots, 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, 1 orange (include the peel) and a little bit of cayenne, habanero or jalapeño to taste! Place ingredients, one at a time, into the juicer. Add water, if necessary, for easier consumption.

This drink contains over 100 different anti-oxidants, countless enzymes and a ton of vitamin C! What’s more important to understand about this nourishing drink is its power to restore health to damaged DNA by inducing two enzymes that repair DNA during the replication stage. These enzymes, 8-oxoguanine-DNA glycosylase 1 (hOGG1), and DNA polymerase beta (DNA poly beta), are both involved in the DNA base excision repair (BER) pathway. Along with this valued combination, there is more than just beta carotene in carrots! In all, there are six carotenes in carrots, α-, β-, γ- and ξ-carotenes, lycopene and β-zeacarotene in addition to xanthophylls and anthocyanins. The greatness part of this drink is it provides all the important nourishment for fall/winter training; sour, bitter, pungent and spicy to optimize organ function while out on the trails!

Post-workout delights: Coconut-raisin-honey bowl and stuffed sweet red peppers!

Photo: Stephen R. Santangelo.

Coconut-raisin-honey bowl:
1 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut, ½ cup of raisins, 1 tablespoon of really raw honey and a 1 tablespoon of almond milk or milk of your choice. Add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Stir all ingredients and enjoy the flavor! Serves 1 person.

Stuffed sweet red bell peppers:
*Yellow or orange bell peppers can be substituted for red.
3 large bell peppers, 2 cups chopped cabbage, 1/2 cup grated carrots, 2 diced medium tomatoes, 3 chopped cloves of garlic, 1 chopped medium onion, 2 teaspoons each of parsley, basil and dill. 1 cup of grated cheese if so desired!

Cut tops off of peppers. Save as much of the flesh as possible and chop up. Clean all seeds out of the pepper.
Blend all ingredients. Pack ingredients into peppers. Be sure it’s packed tightly. Place in baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and place in pre-heated oven at 350F/175C for 45 minutes.

Time may vary from oven to oven. Find what works best for you and eat with pleasure knowing you are getting an abundance of delicious nutrition. Serves 2-3.

There you have it! All the nutrients needed to keep you healthy and strong, in cold weather, on the trails!

Photo: Stephen R. Santangelo.

Editor’s Note: Are you looking for even more great nutrition advice for trail runners? Check out the following articles:

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