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It’s Time to Eat! Test Riding “The Feed Zone Cookbook”

June 5, 2012

We’ve talked a lot about gear and a good amount about riding here, but we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to fueling for a ride. A number of weeks ago I told you about Skratch Labs Hydration Mixes, which have since become a staple in my water bottles. The other thing that has become a staple? Food.

Yes. Food. Or what I’ve taken to calling “real food” with my riding buddies. And it all started on Valentine’s Day.

To show her love, my wife got me a copy of The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim. Yes, the same Allen Lim behind Skratch Labs.

Not just for athletes, The Feed Zone is full of great recipes!

The Feed Zone Cookbook is easy-to-read and professionally illustrated with great photographs of all of the foods whose recipes are included. Organized around specific meals—breakfast, dinner, etc.—the Feed Zone is also easy to explore. It has two short forewords by pros Levi Leipheimer and Timmy Duggan, who just soloed to victory in the US Professional Road Race Championships at the end of May. But the best, non-recipe portion of the book has to be Allen Lim’s 27-page introduction.

Dr. Lim’s explanation for how and why the book came about, as well as his ideas on what and how to eat spoke to my wife and I as we took turns perusing this section. Sure there are great scientific tidbits in there, but “real world” observations like that cooking can often be just shy of a chore—and the conclusion that it doesn’t have to be, and that “real food” can fuel you better than most anything else was, somewhat sadly I suppose, an eye opener.  These are things that many of us know, but so few of us routinely put into practice.  The Feed Zone makes it much easier to accomplish—more on that later.

The other great thing in the introduction is the explanation of what you’ll need in your kitchen, both in terms of staple ingredients as well as handy tools (re: rice cooker).  Dr. Lim talks about the role of carbohydrates, proteins, sugars, gluten, salt, as well as eggs, rice, meat, and more. But he also talks about how to get around in the kitchen and things to consider both when making a recipe and making a plate at meal time. There are also a number of short sidebars that outline some basic concepts and thoughts on preparation, consumption, tools, and more. In short, there’s a lot of easy instruction on how to use the cookbook as well as your kitchen.

A favorite breakfast from The Feed Zone.

For the recipes themselves, they are for the most part uncannily easy. Each recipe, taking one page, not only lists ingredients and preparation instructions, but also lists number of servings, nutritional content for each serving, many list special tips, such as suggested ingredient substitutions or additions, and—making it easier to plan—preparation time. Many of the meals we’ve made in my house—angel hair with bacon and sweet corn, chicken pasta salad, orzo and basil salad, and sweet potato cakes to name a few—all take 30 minutes or less to make. With me playing bike racer on Thursday nights and many weekends, my wife being a long-distance runner training for her seventh marathon, and a two-and-a-half year old, we’re looking for every extra minute we can find.

Of course, a cookbook with a bunch of easy recipes is one thing. Having those foods be enjoyable is entirely different. Thankfully everything we’ve made from the Feed Zone has been spectacular. Not only are the foods colorful and flavorful, but they’ve been satisfying and filling. And, our daughter has eaten everything as well and loved it all. And, because many of the recipes start with basic ingredients, it’s easy to pre-prepare meals and make extra, which becomes tomorrow’s lunch or a post-workout snack later in the week.

An on-the bike recipe that’s also great post-ride.

So there are great recipes for meals. But, my favorite section is the load of recipes for what the Feed Zone calls “portables.” These are foods that you can eat “on the go,” including on the bike. You’ve probably heard of Allen Lim’s famous rice cakes. I’ve made them, eaten them, and shared them with friends and they’ve become the other staple on my rides. And I am here to tell you that every one of my friends that has tried them has loved them. They are, as they say, the real deal. Yes, prepackaged food can be easier in terms of prep (i.e., you just go buy it) and packaging, and there are some good options for prepackaged foods out there. But the enjoyment from a home-cooked “meal” on the bike is really second to none. And with a host of recipes, from savory and sweet options to vegetarian and gluten-free ones as well, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

I’ve been bugging Pookie in the buyers’ office about this book for some time. At least since I started bugging him about Skratch Labs Hydration Mix. And now you’ll find The Feed Zone Cookbook at Bicycle Sport Shop. I’d recommend a copy to anyone.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Keith permalink
    June 5, 2012 12:24 pm

    Ditto on recommending this book. Allen’s Rice Cakes are my favorite on the bike, but it certainly doesn’t stop there. Great stuff! The only word of caution I would extend to us recreational riders is to be careful not to “eat like a pro” unless you’re willing to burn calories like a pro. A bit of awareness and moderation seems to work well in this though.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone that cares to improve their health through eating good!

    • djcurtin permalink
      June 5, 2012 3:31 pm

      Thanks for reading, Keith! I agree, portion control is key–but it’s hard since the recipes are so good! Happy riding–and eating!

  2. June 5, 2012 4:26 pm

    I’ve already made the bread cakes three times since getting the cookbook. They are great for long weekend rides. I actually look forward to pulling one out of my jersey each time I want to eat.
    And I occasionally eat one at home before a hard trainer ride.
    The good thing is that the bread cakes freeze well and can be saved until needed.

    • djcurtin permalink
      June 5, 2012 4:35 pm

      Merlin: I’ve loved all the portables that I’ve made, but the bread cakes are particularly good–and the kid loves them! Thank you for reading!

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