You might think that at the ‘PezCycling Test Kitchen’ we only undertake our continuing research into the efficacy of beer as a recovery aid but in fact we actually try out recipes. The latest concoctions come from a new book called Sport Smoothies, smoothies so outstanding that even we can make delicious ones.
It is universally recognized that eating and drinking properly (or, curating an effective nutrition and hydration strategy, as a pricey personal trainer might say) is key to good performance in athletic endeavours. We have come a long way from the raw eggs and Chianti wine that kept the riders rolling on the gravel roads of Tuscany, a time when steaks were seen as something you wore under your shorts to ease the pain. Today it is easy to find all kinds of sports nutrition advice and with the 21st Century’s vast selection of available foodstuffs you can maximize the benefits of what you are eating while enjoying something attractive as well as delicious.
“Sport Smoothies,” recently published by VeloPress, is a great little book written by Fern Green—yes, her real name and perhaps an indication of the slightly counterculture nature of the recipes. But everything is based on the idea, as stated in the introduction, that “the foods you eat on a daily basis are your body’s primary source of energy, so getting the right balance of nutrients is essential to fueling your exercise.”
There follows a succinct chapter on nutrition, specifically the three food groups—carbohydtradtes, fat and protein — and specific foods that are high in each of these elements are noted. Then the book launches the recipes, which are divided into four sections: Pre-Workout; Post-Workout and Recovery; Muscle-Building; and Carb-Loading.
Each chapter begins with a table that lists the smoothie recipes to follow and their nutritional content; the recipes follow, each of two pages with a photo spread of the ingredients needed and what the finished product will look like.
If you are not a wizard in the kitchen, no worries! All you need is your blender and the correct ingredients, none of which require special preparation. The recipes all are for single servings and it very unlikely you would ever need the suggested five minutes to get the stuff into the blender, unless you have to go shopping or something.
You probably will need to go shopping as many of the ingredients might be found in the kitchens of health food addicts or reformed hippies but not necessarily in the no frills manly kind of pantry (tortilla chips, salsa, beer, maybe bananas or beef jerky) with which so many of us are familiar. That said, the ingredients are readily available and are not just used in a single recipe. For example, almond butter appears in nine of the recipes. Things that appear often include chia seeds, lemon juice, peaches, almond milk, Medjool dates, hemp seeds, honey, and coconut water. Directions are all the same: “Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.” Well, sometimes you have to add a cup of water.
As an aside, don’t just grab the first almond butter you see. Like a certain celebrated hazelnut-chocolate spread beloved of Europeans and people who don’t read labels carefully, there are almond butters out there that are full of junk like palm oil and high-fructose corn syrup, so pay for the pure stuff if you want the maximum nutrtional value.
Some of us have fallen into a Predictable Smoothie Rut—protein powder, 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 cup of milk, over and over again—so it is most welcome that the recipes in “Sports Smoothies” are not aonly easy but quite imaginative.
The recipes may be straightforward but the results are terrific. We have tried numerous ones, primarily from the Post-Workout and Recovery section, and found each of them to smell great and taste even better. There is a big fruit component but vegetables such as kale and broccoli come into play as well. All of this is structured on getting the most food value in the most efficient (and tasty) way.
Typical of the more than 65 recipes is this one we enjoyed after our heavy workout today:
1 cup almond milk
1 banana, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon smooth natural almond butter
3 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
As the lady writes: “Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth” That’s it—510 drinkable calories. The only suggestion we would make to the recipes is that they will be even more refreshing if the liquids used are cold.
“Sports Smoothies” (originally published in 2017 in French as “Smoothies du Sportif”–so it even sounds good) is also beautifully designed, with crisp and clear illustrations and a useful index. It is an excellent addition to sports nutrition literature because it is simple enough to use, offers enough variety to make you return, and will help you achieve specific goals with the purpose-directed recipes.
“Sport Smoothies” by Fern Green
159 pp., illus., softbound
VeloPress, Boulder, Colorado, 2019
Suggested Retail Price US$15.95/C$20.70
For more information: https://www.velopress.com/books/sport-smoothies/
“Sport Smoothies” by Fern Green is available from AMAZON.COM HERE.
When not trying to figure out what cocao nibs actually are, Leslie Reissner may be found being a smooth operator at www.tindonkey.com.