GOAL: To give rock climbers practical sport nutrition for at the gym or at the crag.


E-mail your questions and comments to: onsitenutrition@gmail.com

Dec 29, 2008


Hello All!

Hope the Holidays are going well. I have received a great gift this season...my rock climbing research paper has officially been published!!!

You may remember my September 22, 2008 blog post, where I described my research study on two guys who essentially ate rice for a month-long climbing trip. I wrote a scientific paper on the study, and it has been published!

My paper is titled: "Following 2 diet-restricted male outdoor rock climbers: impact on oxidative stress and improvements in markers of cardiovascular risk".

It is in Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 1250-1256 of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

You can find the paper on the journal's website at: http://pubs.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/rp-ps/journalDetail.jsp?jcode=apnm&lang=eng

Thanks to all those who helped out with my research! Hopefully more research into rock climbing is yet to come!

Krystal Merrells

Dec 16, 2008

Crag Cooking

Hey, it’s the holidays!! That means some climbers are packing up and heading to better temperatures and outdoor rock.

With nothing but a pot, a stove, and some utensils, its unlikely you will be cooking up a turkey at the campsite. But this holiday season, prepare more then just a pot of rice for your post-climbing meal.

Here are some simple recipes that you can cook at the crag.
For ingredient measurements that are “close enough”, use:
• 250 ml on a Nalgene bottle = 1 Cup
• Any camping mug ~ 1 Cup
• Any camping spoon ~ 1 Tbsp
• Half of any camping spoon ~ 1 Tsp

Vegetable Couscous and Chickpeas
This is so delicious and incredibly simple! I don’t even need to look at the recipe anymore to prepare it.

2 Tbsp of oil
½ an onion and as much minced garlic as you like
1 Cup couscous
1 Envelope of vegetable soup mix (Example: Knorr, but any brand will do)
2 Cups boiling water

1. Heat oil in pot.
2. Stir/sauté onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add couscous to pot. Stir to coat grains with oil: 2-3 minutes.
4. Take pot off of burner.
5. Boil ~2 cups of water in another pot and add to couscous. Stir and cover.
6. Let couscous stand for ~7 minutes (it will almost quadruple in volume).
7. “Fluff” couscous (stir it) and serve it with chickpeas.

1 Can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
2 Tbsp of oil
Herbs and spices of any kind (Examples: basil, oregano, cilantro, thyme, bay leaf)

1. Heat oil in pot/pan/pot lid.
2. Add chickpeas and constantly stir.
3. Add herbs.
4. Ready when chickpeas are soft.
5. Mix in with couscous.

This goes good with fresh zucchini if you have access to fresh vegetables:
1. Cut zucchini into even slices.
2. Fry in pan until soft.
3. Add whatever herbs you like or soy sauce (if available).
4. Grate cheese on top (optional).

Tuna Casserole
This is one way to rock Macaroni and Cheese. You can use any pasta in place of Mac n’ Cheese…just be sure to add some cheese to the recipe. Add a fruit and a glass of milk to this dish and you’ve got yourself a complete and balanced meal.

1 Box Mac n’ Cheese
1 Can tuna
2 Cups of vegetables (canned, frozen, fresh)
1 Can cream of mushroom soup

1. Make Mac n’ Cheese.
2. Add rest of ingredients to Mac n’ Cheese.
3. Stir and eat.

Coconut Risotto
You can purchase coconut milk in cans that do not need to be refrigerated, and bell peppers will last about 4 days in cooler drier environments (from my experience). Cumin is an awesome spice that makes a lot of things taste better…I suggest you get some ☺ Mix in some lentils or some canned tuna to this recipe to add a source of meat or alternatives.

1 Cup of rice
2 Tsp cumin
2 Bell peppers, minced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
½ Cup coconut milk

1. Cook rice, mix in the rest.

Burrito Night
I can’t take credit for this “recipe”, but I love burritos ☺ If you’ve been to Hueco Tanks, you know you can order up some fresh homemade burritos in the meat market behind the Vista Mercado for only a couple of bucks. You can also easily make burritos with just one pot at your campsite:

1 Can of chili
1 Can of refried beans
Carrot, grated/peeled/minced
Bell peppers, diced
Tomatoes, diced
Cheese, grated (optional)

1. Combine chili and refried beans in pot. Heat until bubbly.
2. Turn down heat and add vegetables.
3. Spoon mixture into tortillas, add cheese. Fold and enjoy.

* This is messy, but delicious.
* Add any other vegetables you like.
* Use vegetarian chili if you don’t want any meat.

What about pulses?
On climbing trips, you may like to bring different types of pulses (beans, chickpeas and lentils) because they store well and are a good source of protein when fresh meat isn’t always available. Dry pulses may need to be soaked before preparation. Here are some soaking methods you can use when you only have access to dry, and not canned beans or chickpeas:

Overnight soak method (not for lentils or split peas)
1. Rinse beans and put in water: throw away those that float or are shriveled.
2. Soak in 3 to 4 times the amount of water. Ex. 2 cups of beans would need 6 to 8 cups of water.
3. Soak for 10 hours.
4. Simmer until tender with lid partially covering: This requires a long slow cook.
a. Simmer times:

Garbanzo (chick peas): 4 hours
Mung beans: 3 hours
Soy beans: 2 hours
Pinto: 2 hours
Black beans: 1.5 hours
Kidney: 1.5 hours
Black-eyed peas: 1 hour

b. Add water while simmering to replace water that has been evaporated

Short soak method (especially used for lentils or split peas)
1. Rinse beans and put in water: throw away those that float or are shriveled.
2. Bring beans in water to full boil for 2 minutes.
3. Remove from heat.
4. Soak in the hot water for 1 hour.
5. Return to stove - simmer in same liquid until tender (if not already).

* Without soaking, beans would need to be boiled for several hours (twice as much water and twice as long as above), which may be a waste of fuel.

* Do not use hard water or add salt or lemon juice to the water, as these will prevent softening of your beans and chickpeas.

General Tips
From my climbing trips, I have learned a few tips to help keep variety in my diet, and to assure I’m getting foods from each food group everyday. If you have any tips that have worked for you, send them to me at onsitenutrition@gmail.com, so that I can share them with everyone else! Here are my tips:

Vegetables and fruit
  • Bring a variety of dried fruit: apple rings, dried pineapple, banana chips, dried mango, raisins, craisins, etc.
  • Buy potatoes and yams (sweet potatoes), avocados, apples, oranges (anything with a tough outer skin or that needs to be peeled): these last longer in the trunk of your car, or in the food containers at the campsite.
  • Other vegetables that may last longer outdoors are: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas.

  • Try different kinds: pasta, couscous, quinoa, oats, rice, hot cereal, cold cereal…mix it up! If you get bored with your food, you’ll eat less, which means your body may not be getting all the fuel and nutrients it needs to recover and climb hard the next day.
  • Pancake mix: just add water, fry, and you’ve got pancakes! You don’t even need syrup: add chunks of fruit into the mix and top with peanut butter or Nutella.

Milk and alternatives
  • Get milk powder: it’s cheap, it’s an extra source of protein (same protein as in those protein powders some of us buy) and you can stir it into your morning cereals or into certain soups.
  • Try shelf-stable milks: you can get these in regular cow milk or soymilk. These packages are aseptic containers that don’t need to be refrigerated until opened. You can buy these in 1 L sizes, or juice box-sized containers.
  • Yogurt lasts longer: yogurt lasts longer then milk when not refrigerated because yogurt is slightly acidic. The last time I was in Hueco, we bought those yogurt tubes…they were great to throw into our crash pads and have for lunch on the mountain. Yogurt cups also work well.
  • Cheese: harder cheese tends to last longer.

Meat and alternatives
  • Experiment with pulses: beans, chickpeas, lentils.
  • Add nuts and seeds to trail mix, breakfast cereals, wraps and pastas: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, etc.
  • Spread peanut butter, almond butter, soy butter on sandwiches, wraps, crackers or fruit.
  • Beef or other jerkys may be high in sodium, but it may satisfy what some of you are craving.
  • If you have frequent access to a store, you could purchase some eggs and hard cook them.
  • Canned tuna and salmon are common favourites: add them to any pasta or other grain dish.

A lot can be done to oatmeal to make it more of a balanced meal:
  • Top with dried or fresh fruit: raisins, apple rings, craisins, banana chips, berries.
  • Add milk powder when preparing.
  • Mix in a spoon of peanut (or other nut) butter.
  • Stir in seeds.
  • Add in flaxseed: flaxseed is becoming very popular in nutrition news. It is a source of omega-3 fats, and an excellent source of fibre, meaning it may help keep your bowels moving when some climbers’ diets may be a bit refined ☺ You can buy flaxseed in seed form, ground up, or powder form. The form changes the taste.

Wherever you travel to this season, enjoy the climbing and enjoy your food!

Happy Holidays,

Krystal Merrells