Runner Superfood: Quinoa Review

Before we get into my thoughts about quinoa, let me brag for a minute. February I had the goal of 450 miles on my bike. I got sick the second week of the month and only got 40 miles that week. I have to say that Leap Day totally saved my bacon — I hit 459.23 miles yesterday with a 20.0 mile ride. My fitness levels are improving significantly for so early in the season. I thought 2011 was a great cycling year, but CTL score is 32.1 as of today and was only 22.4 as of March 1, 2011. I still have a long ways to go — it peaked for my A race in 2011 at 93. But, I still feel really good about where it is right now.

Second, I got into my A Race again for 2012. LOTOJA is a 206 mile road bike race that starts in Logan Utah and ends in Jackson Hole Wyoming. For those of you who use power, The TSS score on the race is a 546, I used 5,855 kJ to finish, and it took me 11:02 of saddle time. I got 10th in the King of the Mountain contest for the Open Category, and I felt like I had a great race. I raised money through the Huntsman Cancer Institute’s program call the Huntsman’s Hometown Heroes for cancer research and have decided I will do the same in 2012. I registered for the program and am really pumped to train this summer to hopefully put up a sub 11:00, which translates into 10:30 of saddle time. I think I can do it because we have recruited some serious riders to help with the effort. Rick LaBelle (who is my nemesis on climbs), Juston Puchar (who has another gear on the flats and pulls like a ox), Josh Leder (who is super fast), Brent Williams (who podiumed in 2011 with Rick) and we are returning all the riders in our group from 2011. Curt LaBelle and Dan Hendriksen will also be returning. You can read my 2011 race report if you really want to know how it went.

That also means I will be raising money for the Hometown Heroes program this summer. I know you all had planned on sending me something for my birthday at the end of March, so save your money and donate it instead. I have some very close family members who have lost and others who are winning their fights with cancer. If you want to hear the stories, go to my Fighting Cancer page.

And one final thing — Jake made it safely to Afghanistan. Love that kid.

Quinoa is the Greatest

A couple of years ago, a client who is a strength and condition coach in Kentucky told me about quinoa while we were having lunch at this Quaker restaurant. I bought a bag at his suggestion and always meant to try it, but never had the motivation time to actually make it up. It was a new food and I was actually a little nervous about giving it a go. Fast forward to today and my mindset changed.

So I have this friend named Jason who lives in Dallas, the town where I grew up and quite possibly the greatest city in the world. Where else can you see women in boots and running shoes on the same day? But I digress. He writes this great blog called CookTrainEatRace where he details his triathlon training and healthy eating. He has several great recipes on his site and looking at him, the guy runs his engine lean and mean. I asked him how to prepare Quinoa correctly and he graciously sent me a couple of ideas on how you can cook up quinoa and keep it healthy.

I took his ideas and made some up for my family last Saturday night. I baked some chicken and made a green salad to go along with it. I kept it simple for the first go round — I boiled the quinoa in chicken broth at a 2:1 ratio. My son Hoss loved it and my wife, she was not sold on it. I think it needed more flavor for her. I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I saved the leftovers and had them for lunch on Monday and I was really sold on the stuff. It tastes fantastic cold. Many people will use it in cold salads because it is so awesome.

Last night I decided I needed to tighten up my diet for the next three weeks so I made enough quinoa for lunches for two or three days, depending how hungry I am. I made it with chicken broth at a 2:1 ratio and then I added a small can of green chilies and taco seasoning. I boiled that for about 25 minutes and then added a can of red beans (a fancy name for kidney beans) and let that cook for another 5 minutes. Holy flavor explosion Batman! The flavor was amazing and the dish really filled me up. I ran the numbers and here is how the nutritional content broke down:

http://26.2ismycooldown.comI am no Registered Dietitian, but this looks like a pretty solid lunch. I actually only ate half of the dish, which was a ton of food and will definitely keep me dang full. My thought in putting this “Dirty Quinoa” together was I wanted protein with an appropriate level of fat content while keeping calories low. I ate a bowl of cherry tomatoes with it, so don’t think I have an eating disorder or anything. The amount of protein and fat in quinoa is not the only trait that makes it attractive as a runner or triathlete’s superfood. There are a lot of things I did not know about quinoa before that I think I should share with you.

Quinoa is Great for Athletes

There are lots of reasons why quinoa should be a part of your diet, even more so than rice and pasta. Check out what I found after a simple Google Search — I know you have to click on this image to be able to read it, but it is worth your time to do it. DO IT!

http://26.2ismycooldown.comThe reason I love it is because an hour after I eat a decent sized meal of quinoa, I can get out an run or ride. I don’t know about you, but when I eat wild or brown rice, it feels like it is sticking in my stomach. It feels like it is just sitting in my gut, which is not a comfortable feeling when I am active. I get the same feeling from pasta, regardless of the makeup. But with quinoa, that feeling is just not there. I feel light during my workout. The energy levels that it provides is pretty amazing too. I think I am pretty secure in calling quinoa a superfood for athletes.

So get out to your local healthfood store and buy some quinoa and test out some recipes that you will find on Jason’s blog or do what I did and spend some time making up one of your own. It is simple to prepare and tastes great too! I think I may start using it as my pre-ride and race food. Here is how I prepared it (yes you have to click on the image — sorry):

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...