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Want to ride like a pro cyclist? First, you need to eat like one.
Allen Lim is best known as one of professional cycling’s most progressive scientific minds. Over the years, the sports physiologist Ph.D. has worked with the likes of the Garmin-Transitions team, Team RadioShack, and Innovation for Endurance contributor Levi Leipheimer, helping the fastest men on two wheels refine their training and racing strategies.
During that time, Lim also learned a lot about the eating habits of the pro peloton. He was not impressed. “Guys would finish huge days in the Tour de France and be given a crusty baguette sandwich with salami,” recalled Lim. “I knew we could do better.” So Lim took it upon himself to improve the situation, cooking up meals that were both healthy and easy to make. The riders took notice and Lim soon added “food educator” to his long list of de facto job titles. That’s when he started fantasizing about having a cookbook that was in line with what he was teaching. “That way I could just tell them to eat the Chicken Marsala on page 75. Or make the beet juice or cook up the rice cakes.”
Recently, Lim’s wish became reality. Along with Chef Biju Thomas, Lim is co-author of the brand-new cookbook The Feed Zone: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes. The easy-to-navigate book includes 150 recipes complete with full-color photos, shortcuts, substitutions, and techniques to save time in the kitchen. Here are two of Lim’s favorite recipes:
ALLEN’S RICE CAKES
2 cups uncooked calrose or other medium-grain “sticky” rice
1.5 cups water
8 ounces bacon
2 tablespoons liquid amino acids or low-sodium soy sauce
salt and grated parmesan (optional)
- Combine rice and water in a rice cooker.
- While rice is cooking, chop up bacon before frying, then fry in a medium sauté pan. When crispy, drain off fat and soak up excess fat with paper towels.
- Beat the eggs in a small bowl and then scramble on high heat in the sauté pan. Don’t worry about overcooking the eggs as they’ll break up easily when mixed with the rice.
- In a large bowl or in the rice cooker bowl, combine the cooked rice, bacon, and scrambled eggs. Add liquid amino acids or soy sauce and sugar to taste. After mixing, press into an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan to about 1.5-inch thickness. Top with more brown sugar, salt to taste, and grated parmesan, if desired.
- Cut and wrap individual cakes. Makes about 10 rice cakes.
TIME: 30 minutes
TIP: We always use calrose rice, a strain of medium-grain rice common in Asian cooking. This variety cooks fast (in 20 minutes or less), retains a nutty flavor, and is just sticky enough to hold our cakes together. If you can’t find it, use another medium-grain rice or any kind marked “sushi rice.”
LIM SAYS: I started making these rice cakes at training camps and races to give riders something savory and fresh to eat while on the bike. They became a huge hit since almost everything the riders ate was pre-packaged and sweet. Not only are these rice cakes delicious, they also provide a consistent energy source that doesn’t upset the stomach.
3 medium beets, peeled
1 apple, cored
4 medium carrots, peeled
quarter fresh pineapple
1 cup chopped kale
half cup packed fresh parsley
1 cup chopped celery
- Cut the vegetables to whatever size works best in your juicer. Process according to manufacturer’s instructions.
TIME: 5 minutes
TIP: Peeling the vegetables will reduce the bitterness and make the pulp more usable as an ingredient later.
LIM SAYS: We started athletes juicing to increase the nutrient density of their diets without adding a lot of bulk. Beet juice has been used to treat ailments ranging from anemia to constipation. To maximize the entire nutrient value of the beet, save the pulp and blend it into dishes with a red sauce or use it as a base for veggie burgers. Beets in all their forms are one of the best foods for us. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and recent research has shown that they can even help improve the efficiency of exercising muscles.
—Jason Sumner, Bicycling Reporter
Photos Courtesy of VeloPress