The chef for the U.S. Ski Team shares the meals and snacks he prepares for the athletes during training and the Winter Games
Eat Like An Olympic Athlete
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McDonald’s may be the most notorious cuisine inside the Olympic Village—track star Usain Bolt revealed in his memoir Faster Than Lightning that he inhaled approximately 1,000 Chicken McNuggets during his 10 days at the 2008 Beijing Olympics—but many athletes require more wholesome sustenance during competition to perform at their peak.
While the Village does offer a variety of cuisines to accommodate all the different cultures and dietary demands at this international event, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) has taken steps to make sure its athletes have access to the same meals and snacks they ate during training. The USSA commisioned Chef Allen Tran, a registered dietitian with a background in sports nutrition, to travel with the alpine ski team throughout the season, and this February he will be stationed just outside the Olympic Village at a nearby USSA campus, cooking up a storm for superstars such as Julia Mancuso and Mikaela Shiffrin.
So what fuels these gold-medal bodies? “It's important for athletes to get enough protein to support their performance in training and competition. Because some are vegetarian, I have to use plant-based protein sources. While beans are a good option, it gets boring. So I like to use almonds instead to keep it fun—they don't just add nutrition, but also flavor,” says Tran.
Here, Chef Tran shares five healthy recipes he will prepare at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi so you, too, can eat like an Olympian.
Almond and Kale Pesto
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1/2 cup Blue Diamond Roasted Almonds (or raw or slivered almonds)
1 1/4 cup baby kale leaves
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Add all ingredients to a food processor. (Recipe can be prepared in a blender but may require additional olive oil to blend smoothly.) Puree until smooth. Makes 1 1/2 cups pesto.
To store, refrigerate with plastic wrap pushed directly onto surface of pesto to prevent browning. To freeze, spoon small portions onto a wax paper-lined small plate or baking sheet, freeze, and transfer to plastic freezer bags.
RELATED: 10 New Ways to Eat Kale
Smokehouse Almond "Dukkah" Seasoning
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1/2 cup Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (found in the Asian section of supermarket)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Chop almonds very finely with a food processor or knife. In a dry skillet, toast coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds just until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer seeds to a spice grinder. Allow spices to cool, then grind to a coarse powder. Combine ground seeds with almonds, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Mix and use to season meats, like salmon or beef steak. It's also great sprinkled on crusty bread or raw vegetables, like carrots and radishes drizzled with olive oil. This seasoning will keep for a least month if stored in a jar in a freezer.
Red Pepper Dip
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1 jar (15 ounces) roasted red bell peppers, drained
3/4 cup Blue Diamond Roasted Salted Almonds
3/4 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
In a food processor, add all ingredients except olive oil. Process until smooth, scraping down sides of container if necessary. With processor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through lid opening and blend until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning (add salt or lemon, if needed). Serve as a dip, like you would hummus, or a serving sauce for poultry or pork.
Spiced Cauliflower and Almond Soup
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1/2 cup sliced Blue Diamond Almonds, plus extra for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Sriracha-style hot sauce, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon “Garam Masala” spice (can substitute 1 teaspoon each ground cumin, cinnamon, and coriander)
1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Greek yogurt, for garnish
In a dry skillet on medium heat, toast almonds until lightly brown and fragrant. Remove from pan and reserve. Cook garlic in olive oil for 30 seconds, then add hot sauce and garam masala, stirring for about 1 minute. Add cauliflower, reserved almonds, and stock. Cover, turn heat to high until boiling, then lower heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Blend soup until smooth. Serve with extra toasted almonds, 1 squirt hot sauce, and 1 dollop Greek yogurt.
Photo: Getty Images
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8 cups rolled oats
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 dash kosher salt
1 cup Natural Blue Diamond Almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix first eight ingredients (oats through almonds) in a large bowl to combine. Spread into two rimmed baking sheets, making sure there is only a thin layer of mixture on each sheet. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring midway, until just lightly toasted. Remove from oven, add cranberries and coconut. Let granola cool, spreading out on the baking sheets for a crunchy texture.