How Athletes Can Get the Most from a Vegan Diet

A new cookbook explains how to feed your hungry family or a group of marathoners without calorie-dense meats

These chocolate chip banana cookies are packed with nutritional energy. (Hannah McCaughey)

At this point, it’s old news: thriving on a meatless diet can be done. Ultra-­endurance athletes like Scott Jurek and Sage Canaday have ­forsaken animal protein with tremendous results. The No Meat Athlete Cookbook wants to help the rest of us do the same. “Our aim is to create simple, filling meals to fuel workouts and life,” says vegan health coach Stepfanie ­Romine, who cowrote the book with ultramarathoner Matt Frazier. “It’s a combination of Matt’s favorites and recipes I cook with my husband, who often bikes 200 miles a week and needs 3,500 calories a day.” Hitting numbers like that without calorie-dense meat is one of the challenges they hoped to address.  

The result is an uncomplicated guide to fueling a team of cyclists or a family of four. Dishes range from quick pre- and post-workout smoothies to slow-cooked meals, and the book includes guides to broad topics like oil-free cooking and vegan protein. Romine’s favorite recipe is the Calorie Bomb Cookies (24 of them deliver ­nearly 6,000 calories), which she developed in 2012 for her husband when he biked the 120-mile Rapha NE Gentleman’s race.

Ca­lorie Bomb ­Cookies

Ingredients (Makes 24 cookies)

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup raw walnut pieces
  • ½ cup raw sunflowerseeds
  • ½ cup shredded coconut (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse 2 cups of the oats in a food processor until finely ground, then transfer to a large bowl. Combine with the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining oats. Blend the bananas, sugar, oil, water, chia seeds, and vanilla until smooth. Add to the oat mixture and stir until combined. Add the chocolate chips, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and coconut. With wet hands, form ¼ cup of dough into a ball for each cookie and flatten to about one inch thick. Bake cookies for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Store in an airtight container and wrap in parchment paper for on-the-go eating. 

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