Be Stronger, Recover Faster: 5 Easy Recipes for Cyclists, by a Cyclist

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or bland

Recipes for cyclists. (Sonya Looney)

I have been a professional mountain biker for the last six years, and, in the last three, I have done ultra-endurance stage races and one-day events all over the world. I joke that the reason I ride is so that I can eat. Good food is part of living well. But good food doesn’t mean you have to check the flavor at the door. I focus on cooking meals that not only taste good, but have health benefits and fuel me for optimal performance at my next race.

I tend to focus on foods that are high in anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Foods with such properties aide in muscle recovery and overall health. Physical exercise is a type of oxidative stress on the body, so antioxidants help negate the potentially damaging effects of free radicals and augment recovery time. Inflammation from exercise and some diet choices is common in athletes. Finding natural ways to control the effects of inflammation is also a key ingredient to faster recovery.


Sonya Looney
is a professional mountain biker focusing on ultra endurance and stage racing events. She was selected to the USA Marathon World Championships team in both 2010 and 2011.

Easy Recipes for Cyclists: Fish Tacos

Fish tacos. (Sonya Looney)

I turn to fish tacos over and over again because they are a great source of lean protein and the ingredients are simple and fresh. I like to use cod for the chewy texture. Tilapia is also a good choice, but it tends to fall apart.

Servings: 2

INGREDIENTS
4 small soft flour tortillas
1/2 lb cod or tilapia
Creole or cajun fish seasoning
1 T Olive oil
1 avocado, cubed
salsa of desired spiciness
1/2 lemon
1 can refried black beans
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 pieces romaine lettuce, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS
Heat olive oil in a pan. Lightly season the fish with creole seasoning and add to the pan. Cook over medium heat. Once the fish is cooked on one side, flip it and add another dusting of seasoning. Take care not to overseason the fish. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top of fish. In a small saucepan, heat the refried black beans. Put two tortillas on a plate. Smear the refried black beans to thinly cover the tortilla. Place fish over the beans. Add the lettuce, salsa, and avocado. For extra crunch, use a hard taco shell on top of the beans, and put everything else in the hard shell.

Sonya Looney is a professional mountain biker focusing on ultra endurance and stage racing events. She was selected to the USA Marathon World Championships team in both 2010 and 2011.

Easy Recipes for Cyclists: Sweet Potato Pancakes

Sweet potato pancakes. (Sonya Looney)

Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of carbohydrates for the endurance athlete. They are high in carbohydrates, but have a relatively low glycemic index (GI), which translates to a slower burn. High GI foods contribute to spikes in blood sugar and are not ideal. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin A and C, manganese, potassium, and beta-carotene. Some studies have even shown that the phyto nutrients in sweet potatoes reduce inflammation.

Cooking these pancakes in grapeseed oil enhances the flavor with a nutty taste. Grapeseed oil in itself has a multitude of health benefits, including being an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It also has a high smoke point, so it’s good for cooking in a pan.

Servings: 2

INGREDIENTS
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 T melted butter
Grapeseed oil for cooking
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup milk
Berries to garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Cut sweet potato into medallions and boil until soft (10-15 minutes). Mash with a fork on a plate. In another large bowl, stir egg until smooth. Add melted butter and sweet potatoes. Add milk. Note that the milk can be dairy, almond, soy, hemp, or whatever other variety you desire. Add in dry ingredients and pecans. Mix until smooth in a batter.

Heat grapeseed oil in a pan and pour 1/4 cup batter into the oil to cook. Garnish finished pancakes with berries of choice and maple syrup.

Sonya Looney is a professional mountain biker focusing on ultra endurance and stage racing events. She was selected to the USA Marathon World Championships team in both 2010 and 2011.

Easy Recipes for Cyclists: Cynthia's Paleo Trail Mix

Cynthia's Paleo Trail Mix. (Sonya Looney)

Quick, tasty snacks are sometimes hard to come by. Enjoy the filling nature of nuts along with their great flavor and natural sweetness. Nuts are touted as a heart healthy food choice due to the unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E, and sterols that all help lower LDL cholesterol.

INGREDIENTS
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 cup whole dry-roasted almonds
1 cup pistachios, unshelled
3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
4 T pure Grade B maple syrup
Coarse salt
1 cup dried cherries

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin seeds, almonds, and sunflower seeds and the syrup until evenly coated. Spread the nuts and seeds out in a single layer on the lined baking sheets and season with salt to taste. Bake the nuts, stirring several times with spatula or wooden spoon, until just golden, about 20 minutes.

Cool the nuts completely on the pan, then add the cherries and toss to combine. Store cooled trail mix in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sonya Looney is a professional mountain biker focusing on ultra endurance and stage racing events. She was selected to the USA Marathon World Championships team in both 2010 and 2011.

Easy Recipes for Cyclists: Sunny Scramble

Sunny Scramble. (Sonya Looney)

Sun dried tomatoes add a huge burst of flavor to any dish. Try them in your eggs and you have a healthy, delicious meal for any time of day. The secret seasoning in this recipe is turmeric. Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant. Studies have shown that it has legitimate cancer fighting abilities, and it’s tasty, too.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 T olive oil
5 eggs
2/3 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS
Cook rice in a rice cooker or in a saucepan. Heat olive oil in a pan. Mix eggs in a bowl until they are smooth. At this point, you can add 1/4 cup milk if you would prefer creamier eggs. Pour eggs into pan. Add sun dried tomatoes and turmeric. Stir in the rice. Cook and stir until eggs are to desired firmness. Add shredded cheese at the very end and salt and pepper to taste.

Sonya Looney is a professional mountain biker focusing on ultra endurance and stage racing events. She was selected to the USA Marathon World Championships team in both 2010 and 2011.

Easy Recipes for Cyclists: Spinach and Beet Salad

Spinach and Beet Salad. (Sonya Looney)

Beets come jam-packed with flavor and nutrients. They are touted as a cancer fighting root, packed with the phyto nutrient betalains, which provice antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. In addition, beets are high in folate, which helps cells regenerate (think recovery).

INGREDIENTS
1 package organic spinach
1 can sliced beets (or cooked fresh)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese
Olive oil with balsamic reduction (for dressing)

INSTRUCTIONS
Balsamic reduction, used for dressing the salad, is sweeter than the plain vinegar that is traditionally paired with olive oil. To make, bring 1/2 cup of balsamic to a boil. Take it off the heat and let it thicken. Place on salad and a sprinkle with olive oil to desired taste.

To create the salad, place spinach in a large bowl. Cut beets into cubes or medallion slices and place on salad. Toss the spinach and beets with chopped walnuts and dried cranberries, and garnish with cheese. Add the dressing and mix. Serve and enjoy.

Sonya Looney is a professional mountain biker focusing on ultra endurance and stage racing events. She was selected to the USA Marathon World Championships team in both 2010 and 2011.

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