As athletes we always try and push the boundaries of what our bodies are capable of. We train so that we are that much stronger, faster and every time we step on the court. Sadly, there is only so much our bodies can do!
To do anything our body needs energy. When we participate in a high intensity activity like squash it is a huge drain on your body’s resources. Squashhq.com – one of the assorted websites that offer information about Squash, is one area to locate all of the information that is necessary. This means to squeeze that little bit extra out of our bodies we need to make sure it’s fueled, and refuel it once it runs out of gas.
This requires a bit of a balancing act. We need to eat early enough before we exercise that our bodies are done digesting before we exercise. However, our bodies also need to have a source of energy. We haven’t even touched on replenishing your body afterwards…
Don’t worry! I know this sounds like an impossible task, but it really isn’t. I’m here to give you a simple guide on how to keep your body performing optimally.
Understanding what your body needs
Let’s start with glycogen. This is the storage of carbohydrates inside the body and your main source of energy during aerobic exercise. When you practice a high-intensity sport these levels get depleted.
Carbohydrates rich foods also have a GI (Glycemic index). Foods with a high glycemic index, spikes your energy levels quickly, but then also crashes soon after. Low GI foods release energy much slower as a more even and longer lasting source for your body.
We also need to keep our bodies hydrated. Hydration helps the transportation of nutrients around your body, and without it you are likely to suffer cramps, headaches and tiredness.
Another important supplement for your body is protein. Protein helps in the recovery of muscle mass after intense exercise. It can also be a secondary source of energy.
Now let’s see how we combine all three of these for optimal performance.
Here is what you should eat to keep your energy levels up, but also finish digesting before we play:
● Eat carbohydrate rich foods with a low GI 1-4 hours before the match. Some protein should also be included. For example:
○ Lean meats/fish
○ Bread with baked beans/cheese/meat
○ Yoghurt and fruits
○ Pasta with a low fat sauce
○ Sports bar, milk shake, cereal with milk (1-2 hours before).
● Drink around 500ml of water, you can have another cup or two right before the match
● Don’t start hungry! If you need to have a sports drink/bar before the game.
Bring some water no matter how long you play and take sips whenever you can catch your breath or when you feel thirsty/dizzy. If you are playing longer than an hour, use a sports drink to replenish the nutrients lost through sweat.
Now it’s all about recovery and replenishing all the nutrients, as well as glycogen levels we depleted during the game.
● Drink 1.5x the amount of weight lost in water. This means for 1 pound drink 500-750ml of water.
● Within 30 min of finishing you should eat around 25gm of protein and just over 1gm of carbs per 2 pounds of body weight. This will help your muscles recover.
● If you need to play again the same day, within 8 hours keep some protein and carbohydrates handy. You will need both to recover as well as store up energy for your next game! A peanutbutter sandwich or some grains will do.
You may have noticed that things have been very sugary in the Lindsay Cooks kitchen of late. Between the little pieces of Peppermint Caramels I nabbed here and there to the Espresso-Chocolate cookies, I have been in need of a something healthy and filling.
Similarly to the Kale, Mushroom, and Radicchio salad and the Butternut Squash Soup, this salad came together from what I had in my pantry and a little inspiration from a salad fromBklyn Larder.
They make an Israeli couscous salad that is flecked with parlsey, sherry-soaked golden raisins, and chopped almonds. I loved the surprising crunch of the almonds hidden inside the fluffy grains.
Although I wouldn’t say no to a bowl of their version, I like that mine is an entire meal in a bowl. The cabbage gives it heft, and the pumpkin seeds and nuts give a boost of protein.
Make your own! (Serves 2)
Bring 1 1/4 cups of water to boil in a small saucepan. When the water is boiling, add 1 cup ofIsraeli couscous and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 8 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, keep covered and set aside.
Heat a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil and heat until it shimmers. Add 2 cups chopped cabbage, (about 1/2 of a large cabbage head,) and cook until tender but still has some crunch. Combine the cabbage with the couscous, 2 tablespoonsdried cranberries, 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, and 2 tablespoons roughly choppedalmonds. Drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
It didn’t take long after moving to Park Slope, Brooklyn, before I noticed the pervasive neighborhood trends. You may have heard about the overbearing mommies or that the locavore movement is standard fare. Though I am grateful for the latter, it is two trends I least expected for which I am the most thankful.
I appreciate the seasonal decorations on almost every stoop. As a holiday lover, and a decoration addict, October surprised me with pumpkins in front of every brownstone. Now, I feel like a kid again with all the houses in December-holiday mode. A nighttime stroll reveals cozy interiors with bedecked halls and a lit tree, or a menorah on the livingroom window sill.
The quirkier Park Slope proclivity is the furniture, books, knickknacks and what-have-you that is left up for grabs. Although the temptation arises to nab what is there for the taking, I have always resisted. But I guess you can only stay on the outside of the group for so long…
Recently, my neighbor left a stack of food magazines outside. Even though Drew and I were headed out on a walk, I couldn’t resist a stack of old Saveur and Food & Wine magazines. I flipped through a few and saw that their previous owner did not have my habit of tearing out pages of interest. I quickly carted the stack back down the block, unlocked the gate, and stashed them inside.
Our walk resumed, and throughout, the memory of my magazine windfall popped into my thoughts a few times. Each time, my heart jumped as I anticipated finding delights within. Although I read these publications’ websites, for me, the experience of flipping through the pages of the magazine and seeing glossy, full-page food photography is unparalleled.
My bonanza totaled 12 issues, and I am still reading my way through the stack. On a recent night I fell for a photo of peppermint caramels in the 2009 Christmas issue from Saveur Magazine, and knew I had to make the tantalizing recipe pictured. The polkagriskola, as these peppermint-topped caramels are known in Sweden, looked delectable.
As a confection-making novice, and someone with an unspoken fear of caramel in general, I was not drawn to the peppermint caramels because I was confident in my skills, or because I knew how to go about it. I simply loved the photograph. I am a sucker for beautiful food styling and food photography. I love natural light, I am drawn to sweets, and I like the food to look as though I’d want to take a bite, if only I could taste the page!
It proves that a little styling and good lighting can go a long way, especially if you’ve gone through the work to make such a gorgeous dish. Check the original photo out here. Even low-budget photographers like me can benefit from advice that an experienced photographer or food stylist uses. Get outside and use natural light. Think about what would make you want to eat the dish. The best way to learn is just practice, practice, practice. If I feel uninspired, I might even try to mimic the shot, to see how those results were achieved.
I’m not likely to leave a tray of these peppermint caramels outside my apartment – the squirrels would scarf them down before any lucky passerby. However, I did turn this batch of polkagriskola into four gifts. Using some old tea tins, I packaged up four portions of these holiday candies and included the recipe on the back of each card. (And don’t worry, I saved some for myself!)
Yesterday, I overcooked the most beautiful head of cabbage from the farmers’ market. As I considered the pan’s contents, turning the mushy cabbage into a silky soup appeared to be the best option. But I thought, “Purple Soup? That couldn’t be delicious!” Weird-colored food makes me cringe.
On the Fourth of July at sleep-away camp, the kitchen tainted the milk blue and red with food dye. Although intended to be fun, in my mind, they might as well have put poison into my milk. Blue milk? No way!
Then, after college orientation camping trips, my first meal was cold, green-colored scrambled eggs with ham and a side of green milk! Designed to delight new freshman, I felt nauseated and hardly stomached three bites.
Thinking back on those meals, I realized they were all artificially tinted. This soup at least, would be naturally purple.
I tried a bite of the cabbage again and it was clear: the only way to salvage this was with soup. I carefully transferred the magenta mess into my blender, added some vegetable broth, blended for a few minutes, and voila! A healthy, creamy, delicious soup was born.
Chop one head purple cabbage into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the cabbage and toss to coat in the oil. Add 1/2 cup water, cover, and cook until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to distribute the cabbage. Transfer the cabbage to a blender and purée until smooth. Add 3 cups vegetable broth and pulse until combined. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and garnish with greek yogurt or sour cream.
Last November, I made this cake from Smitten Kitchen. I stumbled upon the recipe after searching for a dessert that combined pear and chocolate. Hoping for a treat that would be relatively quick and easy, this cake looked perfect. It wasnt until I had already laid out the ingredients, that I realized brown butter played an integral role in this cake. You may have noticed a theme on Lindsay Cooks, of brown butter worship. I stir it into Pecan Pie, and cook scrambled eggs with it. Its that good.
Its so good, that I added brown butter to the title of this cake. After whipping the eggs into a velvety consistency, you sprinkle the batter with pear and chocolate. But then, as it cooks, the batter rises and covers them, creating a golden exterior that conceals the treasures within.
Its the kind of cake you could bring to a New Years Day brunch. It looks like a regular cake, but one bite reveals the perfect trio of brown butter, pear, and chocolate. I like to think it symbolizes the good surprises 2011 will hold. And either way, its delicious.
Make your own Brown Butter, Bittersweet Chocolate, and Pear Cake!
1 cup all-purpose flour, scooped and leveled with the flat side of a knife
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room-temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup sugar
3 pears, peeled, in a small dice, (about 1 1/2 cups)
5 ounces chocolate, chopped to fill 3/4 cup (about 1/2 inch wide)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line with a parchment paper round, butter again and dust with flour, set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.
Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume)
While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and cook until dark golden brown in color. Swirl the pan as the butter melts. The foam will reside and the butter will have a nutty smell and an amber color after about 6 to 8 minutes. Scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Using a flexible spatula, scrape all the brown bits and butter into a heat-resistant measuring cup.
Add the sugar to the eggs and whip three minutes.
Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to lose volume, turn the mixture down to stir. Add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined — no more than a minute from when the flour is first added — and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. It is very important not to over-whisk or fold the batter or it will lose volume.
Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes, or a tester comes out clean.
Every year, our Christmas breakfast consists of the same five components. Each is integral to our family tradition, which leaves little room for modifications. The traditional morning feast consists of grapefruit, orange juice, breakfast sausage, Merks Coffeecake and scrambled eggs. This year, I thought the eggs could benefit from a dose of brown butter, and a little culinary school knowledge.
At culinary school, one entire day was devoted to eggs. Even if you are an egg-lover, upwards of 10 egg dishes is excessive. Though I dont often make baked eggs in cream or a rolled omelette, I only use a modification of the French scrambled eggs technique I learned
Making creamy, soft scrambled eggs is very easy. Instead of rapidly stirring the eggs, and cooking them until dry, this method produces fluffy, light scrambled eggs.
The key is to use a spatula and slowly move the cooked outsides inwards. As you gently stir the eggs, its important to watch for the moment when theyre almost cooked. Then, remove the pan from the heat and fold the eggs in on themselves until all surfaces are just done. Then, you add butter, to stop the cooking and instead of tight, dry curds, you have soft, heavenly eggs.
As for the addition of brown butter? Well, youre already melting butter to cook the eggs, might as well make it the most delicious version of butter there is.
Make your own Brown Butter Scrambled Eggs!
In a medium bowl, whisk together 6 eggs, 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, and a hefty dose of freshly ground black pepper. Whisk until the yolks are broken and the entire mixture is uniform in color. Set aside.
Now make the brown butter: Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter and cook until dark golden brown in color. Swirl the pan as the butter melts. The foam will reside and the butter will have a nutty smell and an amber color after about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the eggs to the pan. The pan will be very hot from making the brown butter, so the eggs on the outside of the pan will immediately cook. Gently fold these towards the middle of the pan with a spatula. Let the process repeat, folding the outside cooked parts into the center until the eggs are in large curds and look almost cooked, about 4 to 5 minutes. (They will look wet and shiny, but have distinct forms.) Turn off the heat, and keep folding the eggs in on themselves until cooked, and not shiny. Add 1 tablespoon butter, season with salt and pepper, and serve!
In college, one of my closest friends, Arielle, had a deep love for Argentina. If that love had one physical form, I think it would be dulce de leche.
She always had a jar in our fridge, and I grew to love the endless combinations that dulce de leche enhanced. Peanut butter on toast? Top it with dulce de leche. Banana? Better with dulce de leche.
It’s actually very easy to make, and instead of boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk with the risk of an explosion, I used a double boiler, and let steam work its magic while I cooked other things.
Make your own Dulce de Leche!
In a medium saucepan, bring about 4 inches of water to a boil. Pour 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk into the top of a double boiler and place on top of the boiling water. Cook, stirring periodically, for 1 to 1½ hours until golden brown. (Cook longer for a deeper colored dulce de leche.)