Monday, 13 October 2014

Dawes Rides a Shovel Head (Alex Moore)

When I was in school (not that long ago, 3 months maybe..), we had a poster, in the outdoor education department, of Steve McClure on Dawes Rides a Shovel head E8 6c. When I first saw it, I was inspired, Steve has his heel way up high, a facial expression that showed he was trying hard and a reasonable gap between him and his gear.

"Is he worried about the fall?" I asked 

"Is he pumped?"

"Why would he not tie his shoe lace for an onsight?!"

I couldn't help but let my mind wonder, would I be scared, pumped, I didn't give a load of thought to the shoe lace thing, I wear Velcro shoes so...

Great Langdale Valley (Raven Crag on the right)
With that in mind, yesterday afternoon was an eye opener. I was at about half way up the route when I discovered that a no hands rest could be attained by standing on a good ledge and pressing your face in-between the wall and a good block hold, this rest was, at best uncomfortable, inefficient but novel. as I relaxed, around 200 medium sized fly's evacuated the gap in the block.. Id say it'll come off without too much effort. 

Once rested I moved on to the most committing and technically demanding part of the climb, as I moved off I saw one of the fly's had got out, and, almost immediately got stuck in a well placed spider web. I felt bad for the guy, 24 hours to live and he/she was facing immediate doom.

As you can tell from the tangent about fly's above, I was not in the right state of mind to be doing this, I fell above the crux, thankfully not onto the peg I had bent the week before (which I hope to replace soon). 

After the disappointment of the fall, I was annoyed with myself for going about the move in just the wrong way, having done it on gri-gri I just expected to make it, this was not the case, I fell a fair distance, albeit a safe fall. I took all the gear out but one quickdraw clipped to a piece of tat, which I used to lower off. 

Alex Moore below Thrang Quarry
 on a wet day (yet dry rock) 
My second attempt when a lot smoother, no fly's, no train of though that nobody needs to hear about, just climbing and trying to keep a cool head. At the crux I made the powerful moves with a fair amount of power scream going on, (sorry for breaking the peace at the crag). while going through the hardest move, a press into and undercut, I remembered a friend shouting "make that rock ya b***h". so, while close to laughing at that I took a rest at a good hold before making the classically pictured move to the last jugs and hard move. 

Once again the peace at the crag was broken, as I celebrated my top-out. I'm so pleased that this was my first route in the lakes, hopefully the first of many in my three years here. 

I intend to replace both the damaged peg and the cord on the route, as many more falls will likely see them break. Also the condition of this gear may put people off climbing the route, which would be a shame.        

                            

Sunday, 5 October 2014

It's All About The Climbing - By Jen Wilby



Bloody hands forgive the pain,
To reach the top, a higher plain,
And if you fall, forget the shame,
It's all about the climbing.

Jamming pro into the crack,
pulling through the nice lieback,
Chalk and cliff bars for a snack,
It's all about the climbing.

Overhanging, painful pump,
Highball topout, then you jump,
Smack the crashpad with a thump,
It's all about the climbing.

Flag the crimper for the clip,
Oops, you're sketching, then the slip,
Just sit back and take the whip,
It's all about the climbing.

People ask just why it's done,
They don't think it looks like fun,
And my answer, there's just one:
It's all about the climbing.

Something there that drives us all,
Men and women, tall and small,
Something calls us to the wall,
It's all about the climbing.


Writing these blogs get’s harder and harder every month, mainly since I moved up North, no longer do I have the mad rush to get up North when the weather is good, no longer am I pushed for time, trying to get absolutely everything out of that one weekend, no longer do I spend 8 hours in a car, totally wrecked…all for the climbing. Now I’m here, in the heart of God’s own rock, looking out of the window to check the weather, having a lie in, deciding what to do when each day comes…life is pretty sweet and so much more chilled than it used to be, which means writing these blogs is becoming harder, it’s not that life is less entertaining than it used to be, I guess I’ve just settled…for now at least ;)

The last blog was a hard one to write due to the mixed bag of emotions that came with August, so since then I’ve taken a step back from training and taken each day as it came. Deciding whether to train and what to train, even if to train at all, on the day, rather than in advance. It’s chilled my mind out a lot more, but also put me in a state of “where is my climbing going and what do I want out of it”. This weekend was a weekend of no climbing, despite being in North Wales, it was a weekend of eating a lot of food and consuming large amounts of beer, among other things and whilst it was an awesome weekend, it got me thinking about the fact that it’s all about the climbing and maybe I’ve gone too far over to the other side



After the weekends events I popped into the Llanberis Pass to see how conditions were, I didn’t have time to venture any further from the roadside stuff, but as soon as I was out into the Pass, looking at the mountains, touching the (wet) rock and looking at the stunning water falls, it reminded me about the climbing and where I want to be.

September has made life up here a little more exciting, with the conditions dry and getting cooler. There has been the odd morning where the first signs of frost can be seen, glistening branches, that chilly breeze, the other dogs walkers huddling and slightly grumpy at the change in the season, with that one dog walker…smiling, frantically texting those who will share the excitement…it’s all about the climbing. 

Drooping in the Cold

A chilling breeze roars through the now Fall trees
Sending adrift the barely held orange and red leaves

Nature's breath begins swirl in my direction
Unsettling the ground as it unravels
Freezing its audience and crowd during its travels

Hell bent flower drooping over in the cold
Tear drops freezing as the stem begins to fold

The ice envelopes around each piece of life
Re-fortifying our short amount of time


North Yorkshire’s climbing is different to that of the Peak District, it’s edgier, meaning you can get away with slightly warmer conditions, so the season has begun. Our first stop…Earl Crag. The last time I was there was for my 25th Birthday, which involved a lock in at the local, copious amounts of the local brew and a bit of punting around. Which means I can’t remember anything from that trip, so I was keen to go back and check it out.

Previously I’d been told to go to Earl with someone who is psyched as it’s a tough crag. “Bah” I thought, “I’ve got enough psyche – how hard can it be that you need more people?!”…well…after the first visit I was wrong to underestimate this comment. Earl Crag is brutal, not only physically but mentally. It requires power and technique, it’s a little like font, things are desperate, unless you know the way, which can be a frustrating and exhausting path!

It’s been awesome though, after three weekends in a row there, I’ve become a little more stubborn and bull headed J and it’s been so much fun feeling like I was learning to climb all again and taking satisfaction in a climb, no matter what the grade.

I am back to learning to climb again, back to the start – as odd as that sounds, those of you who know will know I lost my way, I’m not back on track yet, but I’m getting there and Earl Crag has been an awesome way to get back to it.

There are some amazing lines there, the one that’s stood out of me so far is lager lager. An awesome slopey rail line along a flat wall, requiring technique, power and precision along with some super strong shoulders J It’s also a ground up problem…my favorite! So it’s been awesome throwing myself on this and totally destroying myself!

The spring flowers, the autumn moon;

          Summer breezes, winter snow.

          If useless things do not clutter your mind,

          You have the best days of your life.


It’s all about the climbing and when people ask why I climb, I do find it hard to explain to non climbers why I do it and love it. So those of you who are reading this and are climbers will know of those rare moments when you are climbing, you complete something and when you get to the top you have no idea how you got there. You were in the present, not thinking about the past or the future and it’s the only real time you are free. I had one of these rare moments at Earl on Ron’s Arete, it’s a huge swooping slabby arĂȘte and I’m a lover of scaring myself, so thought I’d jump on it. From the moment I stepped on, everything else was forgotten and before I knew it I was at the top, the whole climb just flowed from one move to the next and it was beautiful.



Handy Andy is another “classic” at Earl Crag and is a pretty cool line, I’m keen to go back to this for the stand, it was odd starting off a block! 

Handy Andy Video

One of the advantages of being so close to everything is the opportunity to explore other crags and go to places which may only have one or two cracking lines. Goldsborough is one of these crags. Situated in County Durham, it’s one of the most remote Yorkshire locations and is an amazing peaceful, tranquil place. A must for anyone's list!

I went to Goldsborough to try Beth’s Traverse, a long (in my world) mega crimpy traverse. It’s a cool line, but more lock off strength and skin is a must before a return visit!








It’s now October and about four weeks before a two week trip somewhere, as usual I have no idea where and will think about it nearer the time, all weather dependent. I have to admit it’s crept up on me, work has been mental and I’ve been working long hours and it’s worn me out mentally, and I think it’s this that has made time pass so quickly, so it’s another mental week ahead, then I’ve decided to become and unsociable recluse for a while and get a bit more focus, I need to find that line and not sway too much either side. Before the Swissie trip last year I spent the two months leading up to it with lots of training, and weight dropping and I think it paid off, so I’m a little nervous to see how my “preparation” for this trip is going to go…

For now, it’s every day as it comes…but all about the climbing

Happy Days!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

James Garden in Albarracin


Heres a short video of a problem I climbed called Bindu in Albarracin, Spain. Enjoy

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Hunters Moon-Alex Moore


I sat in my harness, swinging gently from the slightly overhung, near blank rock. In a befuddled voice I asked again, "A Dyno, really? from here to there?"
Alex Moore on the second ascent of
 Hunters Moon  E7 6b/c
"Yep, maybe use a crimp to help?"

Maybe not, I thought as a felt the small ripples in the wall, that I only wish I could hold. I gave the move just one more go before getting lowered to the ground so Tom could work it out.

On his first attempt Tom was only inches from the hold, on his second he had hit it dead on, although unable to stick it, The move is not really far (although too far to reach), its just made hard by being unable to get much force off the holds your going from. He then tried with the use of a crimp, using it as an intermediate and getting his feet high in the break, he was able to stick the move, almost static. He moved on to the top section, which isn't a push over either, involving a hand jam and a long reach to a crimp, more delicate moves follow. 

After top-roping a couple of times we were ready to try the route on lead, Tom went first, climbing quickly through the first section and taking a fair rest in the good holds of the break. Then the moved in to position for the crux, feet high and long reach to the crimp, then a quick jerk to the poor hold, shouting as he did so, which echoed in the Gully, adding to the already tense atmosphere. A few moves later Tom could rest on two hand jams in the break before committing to the the last hard moves of the route. And he'd done it, Found the route, put the stakes in so we could get to it and climbed it.           
Tom Bunn on the first ascent of
Hunters Moon E7 6b/c
After eating a bit of bagel, we went back down to the base of the route so I could give it a go. I felt dubious from placing the first gear to only reaching half way between the crimp and the ledge... The fall passed me by in my frustration, I came close the the base of the route, but the fall was safe and the gear was good. 

I pulled up the rope to the break and from there down climbed the crack taking gear out as I went. Back on the floor I thought it through in my head, I was more confident in a way, no longer scared for the fall. 

       
  I started up the route again, placing gear just as I did before. I took a sort rest at the break, moved on to the ledges and got my feet high, Made the long reach to the crimp and by twisting my knee further in I inched up the face, moving weight onto the crimp. Finally I lurched forward catching the ledge. More high feet and more big moves saw me to the next crux, almost too pumped to place gear I pulled over the top of the route. Celebrations were in order, and I still had half a bagel for such an occasion. 

A fantastic route for sure, the grade really does sit on a knife edge between 6b and 6c. We left the crag as a massive orange moon loomed overhead, hence the name, Hunters Moon.                   



Tuesday, 9 September 2014

BAT ROUTE 8C by Adam Jeewooth

4 days after my last blog on the 2nd June I Crushed  “Bat Route” Fr8C at Malham.  This is now one of the most popular 8sc at Malham and up there with best routes I’ve done.  The pressure of working away, holidays  and the threat of hot weather coming in forced me to give it my best shot one evening after work on the 6th of June.  The following link is a video of my ascent on the top crux of the route – I was emotional to say the least    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6ooFHQLZ1U


Adam Jeewooth resting on Bat Route 8C
 

 
Adam Jeewooth on Cave Life

Adam Jeeowoth Buzing after Bat Route (photo Nick Bamber)

Adam Jeewooth in Janets Foss after Gordale
Since then I have climbed in south Wales and also had a few trips to Kilnsey and Goredale having some fantastic times with great friends and family.  In Gordale I climbed another 2 of the best routes in the country – Cave Route right 7B+ and Supercool 8A+.
Over the last 3 weeks Orla, Ruby and I have also spent some time in north Wales.  We  had a nice walk up Snowdon in the rain and I climbed at the diamond for the first time and loved it ticking the classic lower grades at the crag.  We have also had a fantastic 2 week trip to Ireland in the van touring.  Although I didn’t climb there as it rained every time I got to any blocs.....  After a full 2 weeks rest and recovery I’m more keen than ever to get out and crush.  Since arriving back Ive been out to the local crags, Malham, Longridge an Kilnsey. 

OH YEAH BIG NEWS– Get involved with the new Evolv Nexxos....... out now in the UK.... I LOVE THEM
Boom 8c Jee lol

Good Friends and beer after walking snowdon
The Diamond........WOW

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Story of August...never forget who you are. By Jen Wilby



“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Lao Tzu


The scary thing is you do all this work and you fail. Is it better to try and fail or not to try at all? We all know the logical answer to that question, so why ask it? Sometimes your brain play’s mind games with you, sometimes it put’s you off kilt and on tracks which you never anticipated going down.

This is a tough blog to write, I’ve been struggling to put this month into words as it’s been a mixed bag of emotions…

The story of August …

For those who have followed the blog you’ll know I put together a training plan to take me right trough until the bouldering season and I was so psyched about putting it all together and seeing the results. I’ve swapped some sessions to play on the woody board, now named “The Crimp Shrine” which we are fortunate to have in the garage. This has been good as it’s all about power and strength and it’s not a forgiving board, but it is so much fun.





I’ve also been trying to do a lot more finger boarding, something which I haven’t been able to do due to constant finger injuries. I’ve always considered my finger strength to be my main strength, give me something to crimp on, no matter how small and I will make it work.


So it was time to try the one arm hangs….



I’ve said before that this is, by far, the hardest thing in my training, it literally drops me! So much so that I can’t do more than one session in 7 / 9 days and my fingers are totally gone during this time. So I’ve been super disappointed that I haven’t been able to push this part of the training more, I’ve probably only done 4-6 sessions of this since I started, which means that doubt has crept in as to whether I will be ready to do what I want to do this season.

I thought a great test would be to get on this stunning line:



We had the perfect opportunity when we went to visit a friend in the Peak and the wind was blowing! I’ve tried bit’s of this before but was always unable to link the middle to end part. For those who have tried it, I know the holds might look big, but with poor feet it’s basically a sideways campus on your fingers… no better test of finger strength, core and lock off strength.
I had an awesome couple of hours on it, linking most of it, figuring out my beta and working it until I couldn’t anymore. It’s a physical beast! It felt amazing to walk away knowing I had improved significantly from the last session. So why was there something in the back of my mind which was telling me I could have done more? So it begins…
My climbing partner’s weakness was always his finger strength, if there was a dirty crimp, or a slot (he’s got large hands) he was more than 9 times out of 10 unable to touch it. So Jerry’s Trav, for him, was his “will never do” problem, so he was a bit reluctant to go. I knew from the first time he stepped on it that day, he was going to do it. He walked across it, didn’t look like an issue, and then he kept throwing laps on it. Whilst I was so happy he had done something he never thought he would do, I knew that the training he had done on his fingers was paying off – so the thought that I knew I was having issues with my fingers hung heavy on my heart and mind. It just kept building…





Then it was on to North Wales for the Bank Holiday weekend, which has been planned, against all the planning rules we have, way in advance…the plan was to get the parents to look after the dogs and head to The Sheep Pen. I couldn’t have been more excited. On any normal weekend, if we had seen the planned forecast, we wouldn’t have gone, but I wasn’t planning on giving up a weekend up at the Pen without the dogs, I’d never been before.
Well… this video shows the story of Bank Holiday Weekend in North Wales:


Even watching that video, makes me emotional. As you can tell the weather was less than ideal, but I expected that. What I didn’t expect was for my fingers to totally die on me. After Pill Box Wall I felt like I had done a route and had got so pumped that I couldn’t feel my forearms. This feeling continued for many days after. Which made the Sheep Pen a mental challenge, one which, and I don’t normally say this, I failed at.
It wasn’t the weather, it wasn’t that I didn’t get much done, it was the fact my forearms felt like lead and I couldn’t even give the other problems a good go. For the first time ever, I wanted to leave and forget the whole thing. Normally I’m quite positive and just being out is a blessing. Something had changed and not for the better.

I spent the whole journey back silent, not lost in my own thoughts but totally numb. I crashed and burned…

On the Monday I had planned to get up and finger board and then do a session down the wall. Numbness turned to anger. I wasn’t going to train angry, so I spent the time trying to figure out what the heck had gone wrong.

Stress. I believe I had totally lost all sense of reality, why I climb and who I was and was totally stressed. I should have guessed as I’d not been sleeping well, was agitated, snappy and many of the other thing associated with this silent killer.

The answer…let it all go. Forget about the training and forget about the season. So I’ve changed my plan and decided to climb more, whether it be at the wall or outside. Just climb, bring back the fun, go try things, but the main thing I learnt from that weekend is about warming up. I used to be able to jump on anything to warm up, not any more. So I’ve decided to mix climbing with yoga. I’ve dabbled with yoga before but never felt the need for it. With the stress and frustration I’ve felt this last month, I’ve had the calling and yoga totally focuses my mind and chills me out – that is a blessing. So I’m doing one day of climbing and one day of some yoga to help me stay grounded. What ever will be will be. It’s not that I’ve given up – I just need to go back to who I am and it’s not all about the training, it’s about having fun and trying things, getting out of my comfort zone.

I guess The Arch Article – Finding Fun & breaking Plateaus by Taking it easy has put into words what I couldn’t, it’s worth a read.


Apologies if this blog is poor read, I’ve written it a million times and tried to be more positive, however this month has just been one of those times I’ve lost my natural flow – time to regroup.

On the plus side – the weather is cooling down and I am very much looking forward to getting back outside, it’s been somewhat lacking this year!

Happy Climbing <- Ironic!

Friday, 29 August 2014

CoolBean Bars – Home made no-bake protein bars packed with good stuff - created by Karen Varga

How much protein you need seems to vary considerably depending on who you're asking, but the most consistent guideline that I’ve come across is to multiply your weight by 0.8 (not very active), 1.3 (active or pregnant), or 1.8 (extremely active) to get a number of how many grams of protein you need based on your weight in kilograms. So if for example you weight 65kg and are generally active then you’ll need roughly 85 grams of protein a day. 

You can get protein from a number of different foods, but you’ll find that it can be quite hard to get as much as they recommend if you lead an active lifestyle. The other thing to remember is that while a sirloin steak does give you a high dose of protein, it also contains a large amount of saturated fats and cholesterol. Fish contains a very good source of protein, but some fish also contains mercury and there are guidelines on how much of that fish is ok for your body. So it is a good idea to do your homework on what foods you rely on for protein and be aware of what their limitations or negative properties are. 


Which protein bar to choose??
As a vegaquarian (veggie & fish eater) I’ve had to become a lot more conscious of making sure I do get enough of the essential components in my diet, with protein being one of the most crucial of these. I use protein shakes, but sometimes I want something I can sink my teeth into! I’ve tried various protein bars but the problem I find with the commercial bars is that they are very high in sugars, or even worse, sweeteners, as well as carbohydrates and saturated fats (most often sunflower oil, palm oil or palm kernel oil), and of course artificial flavourings and colourings. Also the quality of the protein in them is not always the best. 

It’s all in moderation though, and some of these protein bars are not that bad. But I wanted a protein bar that is high in good quality protein, low in carbohydrates and sugar and artificial stuff, but tastes great! After searching high and low I could not find anything that provided this off the shelf, so decided to make my own!

The CoolBean Bar is packed 100% with good stuff.  And they’re pretty damn tasty too! (well, at least I think so :)

Before I give the actual recipe, let’s go through the ingredients that make them so healthy and tasty ...

OATS
Although carbohydrates often get a bad rap, oats are one of the most underrated health foods.  Oats provide sustained-release energy (low GI), which means they have a low effect on your blood glucose level and insulin production and help to stabilize your blood sugar and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. They are also full of vitamins and nutrients, can aid in the prevention of disease and even help you manage your weight.

I like to use the natural raw “chunky” oats.  Rolled oats (quick cooking oats) have been steamed, pressed and dried, which removes some of their fibre content, which accelerates digestion and raises the food's GI.  The chunky oats also just have a chewier texture which I like.

WHEY PROTEIN
Whey protein contains all of the essential amino acids (EEAs), making it a complete protein source. It’s particularly high in a class of EEAs referred to as branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs. 

Whey protein is one of the most easily digested proteins by the body.  In fact, it is key to understand a bit about this, otherwise you’ll be wasting your money on drinking whey protein shakes where most of the protein isn’t even being absorbed by your body!

Whey is absorbed at a rate of about 8 grams to 10 grams per hour, and navigates your gastrointestinal tract within a matter of 1.5 hours. This means that the maximum amount of whey your body can absorb from a shake is about 12-15 grams.  Anything over that amount just passes straight through. Having your shake with milk instead of water helps to slow down the absorption rate a bit, something about the protein in the milk combining with the whey protein which slows it down (you can read more about it online). 

This is also what inspired me to create my CoolBean Bars ... the additional proteins and fibre and such like in the bar help to slow the digestion process and enable the body to absorb the maximum amount of protein it can.

I like whey protein but there’s nothing stopping you using whatever your preferred type of protein is.  I use a protein isolate, as opposed to a concentrate – concentrate tends to be more affordable but does not contain as high a protein concentration and contains a lot more carbohydrates.  I also use a non-flavoured version as I don’t like all the added sugars and sweeteners and such like, and much prefer to flavour my bars or shakes with healthier options like cocoa powder, peanut butter, coconut, fresh or frozen fruit etc.  That way I can also enjoy different flavours and not be stuck with a massive tub of just one flavour.

RAW CACAO NIBS
Cacao nibs are bits of the same cacao beans that go into chocolate bars, however they are less refined than chocolate liquor or cocoa powder and thus are more nutritionally potent.

Health wise, cacao nibs' greatest claim to fame is their flavonoid content. Flavonoids are antioxidants also found in tea, grapes and berries, and they appear to improve health by altering cell-signaling pathways. They say more research is needed, but some studies also suggest that flavonoids might help prevent cancer as well as brain ailments such as Alzheimer's disease.  Cocoa has also shown to reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Cacoa nibs are quite bitter and it might take a bit of getting used to for you. When I first heard about them and their benefits I immediately ordered a couple of bags online, and as soon as they arrived I excitedly added some to my cereal, expecting a nice chocolately (but healthy) kick. But whenever I bit into one the taste was really quite bitter and I didn’t like it. However I now love the cacao nibs and the taste of them! – this shift in my taste buds may be down to a gradual getting-used-to-the-taste thing, or it may be down to the fact that I have become an 85% dark chocolate addict, and have greatly reduced on my sugar intake per day, which means I don’t need much sugar for things to taste sweet and have gotten to quite like a bit of bitter :).
  
PUMPKIN SEEDS
These yummy green seeds are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. On the protein side, 100 grams contains 19 grams protein ... just slightly less than the protein-per-gram content in a chicken breast!  They are a good source of several minerals, including iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, which is good for the heart, as well as zinc, a mineral that supports healthy immune function.  These seeds also supply niacin, or vitamin B3, which aids in circulation, and are said to have certain anti-Inflammatory benefits. They do have some fat content (30%) but almost all of this is heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats ... so the good fats!

DESICCATED COCONUT (unsweetened)
Besides just being a delicious addition to almost anything (I add desiccated coconut to my cereal, porridge, protein shakes, yogurt, nut mix, and even to my Indian and Thai curries :), coconut contains lots of minerals, fibre, and substances that boost immune function and help your body fight disease. 
Raw coconut is rich in medium-chain triglycerides, which convert into monoglycerides and medium-chain free fatty acids during digestion - two substances your body uses immediately for energy rather than storing as fat.

In addition to their metabolism-boosting properties, medium-chain triglycerides may curb hunger more effectively than other forms of fat, leading to a lower calorie intake over time. As a result, the specific fats in raw coconut may promote a healthy body weight and help you shed unwanted pounds.  For me it’s not so much about the weight bit but more the fact that coconut contains healthy fats which appeals ... you need some fat in your diet so better for it to be heart-healthy fats.

ALMONDS & ALMOND BUTTER
Almonds are naturally low in the dreaded saturated fat, with a high percentage of the fats found in almonds being of a poly- or mono-unsaturated nature. The unsaturated fats found in almonds are known as oleic and palmitoleic acids and, much like the fats that are found in olive oil, these help reduce bad cholesterol whilst increasing good cholesterol! Almonds are also a nut high in fibre, and they are packed full of vitamin E. The high levels of vitamin E found within almonds helps to boost immune support. They contain high levels of magnesium and calcium, which alongside the vitamin E promotes improved levels of immune function and overall health. Almonds also contain manganese and copper, which help produce and raise energy levels, and can also aid in the stabilisation process of levels of blood sugar.

And just like the coconut, I find almonds to be extremely more-ish ...  life for me would just not be the same without almonds and almond butter!

The important thing to note of course is the type of almonds and almond butter that you use.  The nutritional benefits of raw vs roasted almonds are apparently exactly the same, with the only difference between them being that roasted almonds are digested more easily by the body due to the change in texture (raw almonds have a rigid texture). So really on that front just go with whichever you prefer.  If you choose roasted then make sure that they are dry roasted (i.e. not oil roasted), and do not get salted almonds, whether raw or roasted.  For my almond butter I also only use products that do not have any added salt, sugar or palm oil ... just 100% pure roasted (or un-roasted) almonds.

COCOA POWDER
Cocoa powder comes with the same health benefits as the Cacao Nibs above, just in lower doses as it is more refined. I’ve read things about cocoa having anti-depressant benefits, anti-cancer properties, lowering LDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of blood clots, increasing blood flow to the arteries, lowering high blood pressure, and boosting cognitive performance!  That’s a lot from a little bean :)

These benefits are an added plus, as the main reason for adding the cocoa powder is for the flavour and a little bit of sweetness.  Again quality is important – I like Green & Blacks cocoa powder which is just 100% pure organic cocoa powder, no sugar or anything else added.

FLAXSEEDS (LINSEEDS)
Flaxseed is categorized a super food - a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Flaxseed is an ancient food, prized for its healing properties as far back as 650 B.C. Today, most people eat flaxseed because it is a source of healthy fats, fibre and other disease-fighting nutrients. Flaxseed can be eaten whole or ground, but note that the body cannot break down the hard outer shell so either you need to make sure you chew your tiny flaxseeds to break the shell or grind them!  As such, I find it easiest and most beneficial to pop them in the food processor or blender and grind them first.

Flaxseed is low in saturated fat and high in cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fat. It's also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are recommended as part of a heart-healthy diet. It is high in fibre, and much of the fibre in flax is soluble fibre, which attracts water and forms a gel. Soluble fibre slows down the emptying of your stomach, making you feel full longer, and it helps to stabilize your blood sugar. There is also evidence that it may help reduce your risk of cancer, but this is not conclusive yet.

SWEETNESS
As you can see from the above ingredients, these CoolBean Bars are really low in sugar (in fact, there is only 2 grams of sugar per 100 gram of bar).  As mentioned above, I have consciously tried to reduce on my sugar intake, and now find that I’m able to appreciate the natural sweetness in raw food types a lot more. As such, the CoolBean Bars get their flavour and “sweetness” from the coconut, almonds and almond butter, cocoa powder and cinnamon.  Even the pumpkin seeds have a slight sweet taste for me!

But depending on your preferred sweet-levels you might want to add a little something more.  For some healthier options you could add a bit of honey, raisins and/or dried cranberries, or dark chocolate chips. I often melt some dark chocolate and drizzle it on top of some of the bars ... for those harder training sessions when I need a bit ova sugar boost!

So without further ado, here is the recipe ...

Cool Bars!
~CoolBean BARS~

Ingredients
Makes about 9 bars (approximately 40 grams each) - I often double the recipe to make a bigger batch

  • 1 cup Oats
  • 1 tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp Raw Cacao Nibs
  • ¼ cup Unsweetened Desiccated Coconut
  • ¼ cup Pumpkin Seeds (unsalted)
  • ¼ cup chopped Almonds (roasted or unroasted, unsalted)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp Flaxseed/ Linseed (ground or crushed)
  • 1 cup Whey Protein powder (isolate)
  • 1/3 cup Almond Butter (or Peanut Butter if you don’t have Almond Butter)
  • ¼ - ½ cup Milk (see guidelines below on how much milk to add)


Method

  1. Spread the oats out on a baking tray and dry roast at 180 degrees Celsius for about 15-20 mins. Every 5 minutes or so, give them a stir so they get evenly roasted. Leave them to cool a bit on the side.
  2. Mix all the ingredients from the oats down to the flaxseeds in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the whey protein powder, almond butter and milk. This will be a very sticky gloopy mush!
  4. Now add the protein/ almond butter/ milk gloop to the dry ingredients and get your muscles out because now comes the hard part ... mixing it all together!  It is really stiff work but you want to make sure it is all mixed up evenly, and that all the dry ingredients are mixed in. I mix with a sort of stabbing/ cutting motion. If you’re on the higher side of the milk content (see below) then the mixing will be easier, but still quite hard work.  In the end you will have a pretty firm blob of protein bar!
  5. Press the blob out onto a baking tray (or anything similar ... the bars are unbaked so it doesn't need to be an oven dish) to the desired thickness. Mine are usually about 1cm thick. I usually break off pieces from the large blob and mash it down, then add another blob and so on.
  6. Put the tray into the freezer for about 20-30 minutes.  This just helps to harden it which makes it easier to cut (less sticky and more compact).
  7. Cut into desired shapes and size.  I usually cut mine to be rough rectangles of about 4cm x 5cm x 1cm, and about 40 grams in weight.

How much milk to add?
I add the milk so the bar is not too dry or powdery. Less milk means it will be dryer and more crumbly, more milk means it becomes more chewy and softer. I usually add about a 1/3 cup of milk (a bit more than a ¼ but not quite a ½).

Due to the milk content in the bars, they need to be kept in the fridge, and will only last in the fridge for max 2 weeks.  So I wrap mine in foil and keep them in the freezer, and just keep a small supply handy in the fridge. They are fine to be out the fridge for the day, so grab one before heading out to the crag or before work, and it will be fine to eat later that evening at the climbing wall.  If you don’t end up eating it then you can put it back in the fridge and it’s usually fine the next day. But definitely don’t leave it out the fridge for too long!

Nutritional content of the CoolBean Bar/ per 100 grams
Energy 1960 kJ
Protein 36 grams
Carbohydrates 18 grams
~ Of which sugars 2 grams
Fats                            28 grams
~ Of which saturates 6 grams
Sodium 0 grams

The CoolBean Bar contains just over 33% protein, and has a 2:1 protein to carbohydrate ratio.  It’s super low in sugar and contains zero sodium (I think we get enough sodium from all the other food that we eat during the day!). It does contain quite a high fat content, but as detailed above, almost all of these fats are the healthy fats which are an essential component in ones diet.



So stop reading and get mixing and make yourself some CoolBean Bars!