California Adventures with ClifBar Pt. 1

All of my travel and accommodations for this trip were covered by ClifBar.  I was not compensated for writing this post or asked to share any of my experience.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Two weeks ago, I had an awesome opportunity to head out to California with other sports-focused dietitians for a nutrition retreat with the Clif Bar team.  Some of the other attendees are BIG in the sports nutrition field so while I felt a tad out of my league, I was excited to be a part of the whole experience.

After landing in San Francisco, we immediately headed to the Clif Family Winery in Napa Valley, Velo Vino, for lunch. 

Velo Vino

The tasting room is decked out in cycling decor and offers up specialty foods like preserves, nuts and vinegars in addition to Clif bar products.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch from the Bruschetteria food truck on site and of course, a small wine tasting.  The Bici (cute name, right?) was definitely a fave of mine!


After lunch, we made a quick stop to check-in at the Napa Valley Lodge where we’d be staying for the night.  I didn’t snap any pictures of the resort, but my room was gorgeous with a little patio that overlooked a vineyard.  We were able to freshen up a bit for heading out to the Clif Family Farm for a tour.

Cliff Farm

I’ll be sharing a little backstory of Clif Company, as well as more of their culture in Part 2, but the fully organic farm should start to clue you into how they roll.  Our tour was led by Farmers Brad and Drew and they shared all sorts of insight into how they handle growing all of the food for the food truck and more.  The Clif Family Farm is certified with CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) and Food Alliance.  The Clif Bar Family Foundation also created Seed Matters, an initiative to preserve genetic diversity among crops and support seed research. 

Seed Matters

There has been some controversy surrounding the recent Mr. Seed video that was released by Seed Matters, accusing the Clif Foundation and the producers of being fear-mongers and spreading misinformation regarding organic and non-organic farming practices.  I did take the chance to ask the Clif team about the video and the response was that Clif stands behind the messaging.  While I personally do not agree that the best way to go about encouraging organic farming practices is with aggression and vulgarity, I can appreciate that organic has always been important to Clif and that they continue to fight for their messaging.  

As for the farm tour, we got to see everything they’re growing including lettuces, onions, blueberries, peaches, their signature red flint corn.  They also have several bee hives on the property, as well as chickens and roosters.


After the tour, we gathered for an educational edible experience with Kate Geagan.  Kate walked us through some fun taste tests and opened our eyes to the variety of descriptors there are for foods.  She focused on the energizing foods Clif used in their bars and products: dates, apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, beets, etc. We also covered the importance of gut health in supporting our energy metabolism from the foods we eat.  It was a great refresher from a lot of the discussions at the Food As Medicine conference I went to in the fall, which was so interesting!

edible experience

The taste testing was fun and delicious, but after we finished it was definitely time for a good meal.  Everyone boarded our bus and headed over to the Clif Family Vineyard for dinner.  Executive Chef John explained the menu and actually prepared it right on site in the wood fired outdoor oven!  


We enjoyed Clif signature Red Flint Corn Polenta with Chanterelle Mushrooms (ahhhmazing!), Grilled Kale with Lemon Ricotta Salata and Radicchio Salad with Garlic Anchovy Vinaigrette and Pecorino.  There was also wood-fired chicken for the non-veg folks.  Oh, and plenty of delicious vino, as introduced by the winemaker Laura Barrett, who we got to chat with during dinner.

Vineyard meal

Most importantly, the meal ended with delicious mini sweets:  Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Plum Compote and Savory Herbs (weird/incredible combo) and Chocolate Budino with Whipped Cream and Sea Salt.  Of course, I had to try both and whoa!  I actually liked the Panna Cotta best, but you can’t go wrong with chocolate and sea salt!  Yum!

Dessert Clif

Dessert was the perfect end to our first day and we headed back to the Napa Valley Lodge for bed.  More on Clif culture and our tour of Clif Bar HQ to come in Part 2.  Stay tuned!

Your turn–Have you been to Napa Valley? Did you know Clif Bar Company also owns a vineyard and a farm?! When it comes to dessert: chocolate or vanilla?


SCAN Symposium 2016: Session Recaps

Woof.  I arrived home from Portland 3 weeks ago and I haven’t touched my poor laptop since then, except to post this Recipe Redux Challenge recipe.  Needless to say, my SCAN Symposium session recap is a tad bit late!  If you’re more of a foodie/travel junkie, you can click back to check out my adventures in Portland here, here and here. If you’re a nutrition geek like myself, you’ll want to stay here for today’s post.  



So, SCAN.  This was my first time attending the annual symposium for the Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition DPG and it definitely lived up to the hype.  The theme was “Prescriptions for Sustainable Health, Performance and Practice”, which meant there was a good balance of presentations on sports, wellness and sustainability. Some of the sessions I really wanted to sit in on were concurrent, so I had to choose one over another, but luckily SCAN friends were tweeting along with #ScanSymposium so I was able to follow along on both!  Since I want to share a little bit of the symposium here with you, here are some tidbits and takeaways from my favorite presentations:

The Science Behind the Multi-Systemic Health and Performance Benefits of Exercise in Aging Athletes MARK TARNOPOLSKY, MD, PHD, FRCPC

  • Direct quote: “Running is good for you.” There you have it, friends. #Research
  • When it comes to aging, exercise does NOT cause more oxidative stress.  Interestingly, exercise actually helps to lower oxidative stress by the up regulation of enzymes.
  • If you’re aging (side note: we all are!), you should be doing both endurance and resistance exercise.  Endurance exercise has the metabolic and cardiovascular benefit, while resistance exercise prevents against sarcopenia (loss of muscle). 


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Empowering Patients to Make Changes That Last
Mary Jo Parker, MS, RDN, CDN
Sherry Farrow, PhD

  • This session covered mindfulness-based behavior therapy ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)
  • ACT helps clients to accept their thoughts and feelings, connect with their values and the present moment and take effective action
  • It helps to identify that feelings aren’t good or bad…they just ARE.
  • The goal is to bring behavior more in line with values.  You’re not succeeding or “failing” (as you may feel like you are on diets), but helps to identify whether you’re living more or less consistently in line with your values.

How Sustainability is Shaping the Shopping Cart

  • The concept of sustainability is accelerating for many reasons including the synergy with nutrition science, food and diet trends and the social media amplification.
  • Sustainable eating impacts and is impacted by many factors, like nutrition, the environment, the economy, the food supply, etc.
  • To consumers, the word “fresh” is the ultimate symbol of quality of food.
  • Consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainability at the grocery store.
  • There is a movement toward reducing food waste (caused by rejection of imperfect produce, sell-by-dates, etc) with businesses like Imperfect Produce CSA and We Food grocery store in Denmark.Sustainability

When “Being Healthy” Goes Too Far: Assessment and Treatment for Orthorexia and Pathological Exercise

  • Neither orthorexia or pathological exercise have an official diagnosis code or standardized treatment.
  • Starving to death and exercising to death have the same effect on the body.
  • When it comes to treating orthorexia, education is not the issue.  The focus should be on behaviors and actions.
  • Higher levels of care (beyond the scope of a Registered Dietitian) may be needed in cases of orthorexia/pathological exercise.


Controversies in Fueling Ultra-Endurance Athletes: Insights from early humans to the drive-in window *IMO the most entertaining/interesting session of the conference
Brent Ruby, PhD, FACSM

  • It was exceedingly hard for our ancestors to maintain energy and water budgets–they weren’t running/”exercising” for fun.  Elevated TEE (total energy expenditure) would have been due to MESH (migration, escape, scavenging, hunting).
  • During the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles in Death Valley), an athlete can experience 100% total body water turnover! <—INSANE.  That’s 0.8 Liters per hour!   
  • When it comes to recovery, environmental impacts (hot and cold) are more influential than food and drink in ultra-endurance athletes.  

As you can see, there was a lot of inspiration and information flowing at SCAN.  The best part of all was being able to network with other dietitians in the sports and wellness arena.  I loved being able to meet and reconnect with my fave internet RDs, like Steph, Cara, Kelly, Heather and more.  SCAN definitely reinvigorated my sports nutrition love and got me excited about the future of my practice.