Ride and refuel

By Tiffany Cromwell

Tiffany Cromwell of Canyon//SRAM has spent nearly a decade as a professional cyclist, and knows the affect of a good diet on performance. This focus on nutrition has led to Tiff being as passionate about cooking as she is about cycling and she regularly posts images of her bright, mouth-watering, homemade dishes on her Instagram feed, @tiffanycromwell and even made Lizzie Deignan’s (née Armitstead) wedding cake. Here, she shares some of her nutritional knowledge and her favourite post-ride recipes.

“Refuelling your body with nutritionally poor food is like refuelling a finely-tuned sports car with cheap petrol. You just wouldn’t do it, unless you wanted your hard-earned investment to perform badly.

After a workout your muscles are damaged and depleted. But they are also biochemically primed to absorb nutrients and eating, or refuelling, after hard exercise is the quickest way to start the recovery process. This in turn will help your body respond better as you increase your training.

It’s important to start refuelling your body within the first 30 minutes of completing your training. I do this with 15-25g of high quality protein such as chicken, yoghurt or cheese alongside 1-1.2g of carbohydrate per kg of body mass. For example, if you weigh 60kg you’d eat between 60-72g of carbohydrate – that’s around one and half bagels, or a 200g sweet potato.

But the refuelling process doesn’t stop there. Within the first hour post ride it’s important to continue to replenish your nutritional stores by consuming a meal that has a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water. Do this and you will be well on your way to giving your body what it needs to perform at its best, just like that supercar.

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Post-ride fuel

I take my post-workout food game very seriously. I love to cook hearty and nutritious meals, usually from scratch.

There is a lot to be said for cooking with whole foods and avoiding processed ingredients. When I eat this way I feel a lot better on the bike, my body is functioning well, I don’t feel bloated or weighed down. Eating a balanced diet leaves me full of energy.

Often I’ll go down to the local farmer’s market in Monaco where I live and stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs that are in season. These will form the base of most meals. For protein I usually turn to seafood or dairy – salmon, tuna, eggs and various cheeses. My favourite form of carbs is quinoa, but I often play around with barley, wild rice and udon or soba noodles too.

Food for friends

Those who follow me on Instagram know that I love to throw a good dinner party. I enjoy cooking for others and I find that food is a fantastic way to get people to connect. For me, there’s nothing better than friends sharing amazing food and having lots of laughs.

Recently, during the Santos Women’s Tour in Adelaide (my hometown), I invited my Canyon//SRAM team up to my family home for a dinner party. Because it was summer I decided to create a number of fresh salads, each with its own twist, using the wealth of beautiful produce that we have on offer here in Australia.

I cooked up a Thai-style poached chicken and mango salad, a raw zucchini ‘noodle’ and cherry tomato salad, a roast beetroot, quinoa, legumes, kale and feta salad and poached salmon, herb and pearl couscous salad. I also decided to roast a big batch of sweet potatoes with rosemary, garlic and turmeric to offer the girls extra carbs. For dessert I kept it simple with a big tropical fruit platter and yogurt on the side. There weren’t any complaints with the food, so I think the team enjoyed it!

When I’m refuelling during the winter my style of cooking doesn’t change much. I still cook with fresh produce that I can source locally but the dishes will become warmer – think hot salads, hearty soups, curries, risottos, stir fries and recipes that will warm you from the inside out.

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Training through the winter months

During the early winter months I spend my time training around the Cote d’Azur where I base myself throughout the season in Europe. We are lucky that the winters are quite mild there and you can generally train all year round. The last two years I have also spent time training in Mallorca, Spain on our annual Canyon//SRAM pre-season December training camp. As Christmas comes around though, I escape the worst of the European winter as I head south back to Australia to spend time with my family and friends.

Pre-season training has changed over the years. It used to be just about riding long and slow miles for months and not introducing intensity until the New Year. As the important races of the season seem to get earlier every year my training is structured differently.

During the first couple of weeks I will just ride my bike with no schedule, slowly introducing the fitness again and going on feel and enjoyment. Then it becomes more specific with long days combined with strength work and time in the gym to help with building the power that I can’t achieve on the bike. December is where I start to incorporate intensity into my training but I still do the long hours to build that base back up. Once racing commences the hours back off and the training becomes focused on quality over quantity. Good recovery is big part of that.”

Here are a couple of my favourite winter recipes for refuelling:

Stuffed sweet potato with quinoa blend and dal

A flavour sensation that will warm you from the inside out, even on the coldest winter days.

Ingredients

Serves 4

4 medium sized sweet potatoes

The Dal

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp organic turmeric (use fresh turmeric, grated if possible)
  • 2 tsp organic cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp organic chili flakes
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 2/3 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups (900 ml) water
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, cut in boats
  • 70g spinach or baby spinach

Quinoa Mix

  • 1 cup quinoa (cooked as per packet instructions)
  • seeds of 1 pomegranate
  • ½ cup dates, deseeded and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves
  • ½ cup fresh mint, shredded
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • handful of sunflower seeds
  • handful of pumpkin seeds

Topping

  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml natural yoghurt or crumbed feta
  • fresh coriander

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/ 390F/ gas mark 6
  2. Give each sweet potato a small slit at the top and place them on a baking pan. Bake for about 45-60 minutes or until the skin is crisp and the flesh is soft. (Prepare the dal and quinoa while the potatoes are in the oven.)
  3. Place a large pot on a medium heat. Add the coconut oil, onion, garlic, apricots, ginger, turmeric, cardamom and chilli flakes. Sauté for a few minutes, until the onion is soft and the kitchen has a lovely scent from all the spices. You can add a splash of water if they start to get burnt.
  4. Add carrots and lentils and let cook for two more minutes, then add water and salt and give it a good stir. Decrease the heat when it starts to boil, put the lid on and let simmer for 15-25 minutes (depending on the lentils). Stir occasionally to make sure the lentils aren’t getting burnt. Add more water if needed.
  5. Remove from the heat when the lentils almost have dissolved, add tomatoes and spinach. Taste and add more salt or spices if needed.
  6. Cook quinoa as per instructions on the packet. Once cooked, remove from heat and add the pomegranate seeds, dates, zucchini, coriander, mint, lemon zest, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and mix well.
  7. Place each sweet potato on a plate. Make a cut at the top and take out some of the flesh whilst fluffing the remainder with a fork to give space for the fillings. Add a spoonful or two of the quinoa mix and the lentil stew into the potato (it doesn’t matter if it overflows out of the sweet potato and onto the plate.)
  8. Top with natural greek yoghurt or crumbed feta cheese and some fresh coriander leaves and ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Chicken and mushroom sweet miso udon noodles

Japanese inspired noodle dish, utilising fresh flavours from the land of the rising sun.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 packet (250g) udon noodles
  • 2 chicken breast fillets, chopped into bitesize pieces
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup (235ml) water or broth from udon noodles (as needed)
  • 1 cup mushrooms of your choice, chopped (I like to use shiitake mushrooms but you can use a mix of various Japanese mushrooms or also keep it simple with brown mushrooms)
  • handful of lightly toasted cashews, roughly chopped.
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 3-4 spring onions, chopped (use whites and greens and have them separated)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil or olive oil
  • salt, to taste

Sweet miso sauce

  • 4 tbsp white miso paste
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp mirin

Method

  1. Prep all of your ingredients and chop what needs to be chopped.
  2. Cook udon noodles according to package directions in a pot of boiling water.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine miso paste, maple syrup and mirin. Bring to a gentle boil, turn heat down and simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking continuously. The mixture should bubble slightly, but don’t let it burn. Set aside.
  4. In a medium pot or saucepan, heat coconut or olive oil on a medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, chilli, whites of the spring onions, chicken and sauté for a few minutes.
  5. Then add in mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and sauté until mushrooms are cooked down and the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Add cooked noodles (if you can time this well, add them right from the boiling water so the excess water helps to create the sauce).
  7. Add the sweet miso mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, and taste as you go. You might not use all of it depending on how light or sweet/rich you prefer your meal.
  8. If necessary, add water or broth from noodles to thin the sauce to your desired consistency (I like to keep my sauce on the thicker side).
  9. Turn heat off and stir in half the spring onion greens, toasted cashews, and sesame seeds. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more sauce if necessary.
  10. Serve into bowls and top with the remaining scallion greens, and sesame seeds.
  11. Enjoy!