Last Fall, on my pre-Sjogren’s food blog, Midwestern Exposure, I wrote about the attraction the Midwestern Gentleman and I felt for the culinary traditions of the Tarahumara people of Copper Canyon, Mexico. My interest was piqued by the health benefits of their traditional, indigenous diet, while the Gent’s interest stemmed from the Tarahumara’s long-distance running culture.
Happily, this Tarahumara nopales (prickly pear cactus) recipe still fits into our anti-inflammatory eating plan. I’m still experimenting with corn tortillas, to decide if they work for me, or if I will need to limit my intake. Corn products can increase the inflammatory response in some people (notably, this can be a problem for those suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis), in part because of corn’s high levels of omega-6 oils. However, I’ve been learning from my research into nutrition and autoimmune diseases that one of the trickiest aspects of treating autoimmune diseases is the fact that the same disease will manifest quite differently in different people — a result of that particular patient’s genetics, biochemistry, allergies and sensitivities, eating and exercise history, and so on. Since building an anti-inflammatory eating plan means giving up so many things (sugar being the major culprit for me so far), I am loathe to cut down on the diversity of my diet any further until I know for certain that a given item adversely affects me. So, for now, homemade corn tortillas and polenta are still occasionally on the menu in our household.
The Gent recently wrote a great blog post about the high sugar content (which is highly inflammation-promoting) in commercially available runner’s “nutrition” like Gu, protein bars, and energy drinks. He’s followed it up this week with his experiments with Pinole, the traditional “nutrition” used by the Tarahumara to keep them distance running at peak performance. Pinole can be drunk as a beverage, mixed into a gooey gel, or baked into wafers. The Gent goes for easily portable wafers, and includes his pinole wafer recipe.
How do you fuel your workouts, whether you’re into distance running or some other activity? If you have some tips for low-sugar, portable snacks, we’d love to hear about them!