Monday, October 4, 2010

13.1: The (Vegan) Carbo-Loading Meal

If you run, you probably look forward to carbo-loading as much as the next person.  I mean, really, who doesn't love an excuse to eat a bunch of carbs?!  If you do not run, runners load up on carbohydrates to store glycogen (energy) in our muscles.  We need as much energy as possible to blast through those miles! Of course, there are a few rules to abide by:

1.  Be conscious of your timing.  Your body doesn't know that you have a race in x-amount of hours.  It needs time to digest the foods you put into it.  The later you eat, the better your chance of having excess food inside your body during the race.  Yuck.  This can lead to all sorts of race-day problems.  Eat an early dinner the evening before your race, and get plenty of sleep (not that I'm one to talk...).

2. Portion control!  Just because you have an excuse to eat lots of bread and pasta doesn't mean you should gorge yourself on a never-ending pasta bowl.  Eat a dinner that is in normal portion to how you would normally eat.  Your body doesn't need extra surprises the night before your big day!

3. Limit your fats and caffeine.  Again, I am not one to talk.  But, the rule of thumb is: no excess fats and/or caffeine 24-48 hours before your race.  I've learned my lesson on this one: I will no longer consume multiple avocados with my pre-race dinner, and chug 3 coffees the morning of my race.  Limit your fats, and only allow yourself one cup of coffee a few hours before the starting gun goes off (or have some soothing peppermint tea: peppermint helps with stomach discomfort).

Without further ado, here is my go-to meal for carbo-loading:

(Vegan) Carbo-Loading Pre-Race Dinner

(Vegan) Lemon Pesto Pasta with Baked Tofu and Avocado & Sun-dried Tomato Sammies
- Whole grain pasta
- One block of extra firm tofu
- Non-stick cooking spray 
- Favorite spices (stay away from spicy ones that may upset your stomach)
- Sun-dried tomato bread
- One avocado*
- Sea salt 

For the pesto:
- The juice of one lemon (or half if you're not a lemon nut like me)
- Two cups of fresh basil leaves
-  Four cloves of garlic 
- 4-5 tablespoons of pine nuts 
- 4-5 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

* Be careful with the avocado.  Fats take longer to digest.

1. Start the tofu ahead of time.  I usually put about 2 hours aside for pressing the tofu.  Use your favorite method to press the tofu; this is mine (it is not terribly green): Wrap the tofu in a few paper towels, and place on a plate with a few heavy things on top (I like to place my roommate's huge container of protein powder on top of a cutting board).  After 15 minutes, repeat this process again once or twice.  The idea is to get the water out, and to flatten the tofu to about half it's original size.

2. Preheat your oven to 400°F.  Begin boiling your water for the pasta.

3. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Cut the tofu into pieces (I like mine to be about the size of a crouton), and place on the sheet.  Spray the tops with non-stick cooking spray, and place in the oven.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, flip them over, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  It will appear golden brown when finished.

4. While the tofu is baking, start cooking your pasta according to the instructions on the box.

5.  This is usually when I will make my pesto.  Throw all of the dry ingredients into a food processor or blender.  Once you've got the beginnings of a pesto, throw in the EVOO and process again.  Remove, squeeze in lemon juice, and put aside.

6. Get a medium-sized bowl and throw in a good amount of your favorite spices.  These will coat the tofu.  I like to use a mixture of lemon pepper, sea salt, and this wild "Grilling Seasons: Vegetable Seasoning" that my roommate bought and forgot about.  It's a mixture of onion, garlic, black pepper, sea salt, cumin, bell peppers, coriander, oregano, and cilantro (and it's all organic!).  Throw in your tofu and get tossing!

7. Once your pasta is done and drained, you can mix in the pesto and tofu.  Yum!

8.  Finally, the sammies.  These are so easy it's kind of embarrassing.  Quick note: I LOVE AVOCADO.  I will use any excuse to include them in every single meal.  All these babies are is slices of avocado and sea salt on sun-dried tomato bread (mine is from Le Bus, Mmmm)!  Press in a panini maker or just leave as is! 

Serve with a tall glass of water (you have to hydrate!!), and enjoy!  If you use this as your pre-race meal (or even if you don't), please tell us how you did in the comments!  Good-luck (or just, happy eating:))!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing - this will come in handy pretty soon :)