How Lottie Bilidirici helps fuel America’s top distance runners.
Lottie Bilidirci is a chef, health coach and triathlete from Brooklyn who specializes in plant-based recipes specifically designed to fuel athletes. Keep up with her training and recipes at runonveg.com.
Running with a professional athlete is intimidating enough, much less at 10,000 feet above sea level. But when Kara Goucher invited me to attend her Podium Retreat last October in Breckenridge, CO, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. We had met a year earlier at her first retreat in Napa, became friends, and decided to bring my favorite healthy snacks to her next running retreat.
Kara is one of America’s most decorated and idolized long-distance runners. Her performances at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, 3rd place finish at the Boston Marathon, and advocacy for clean sport have made her a role model, if not a hero, in the running community, especially among women.
Before the retreat, I stayed with Kara and her husband Adam and son Colton in Boulder, CO. Kara was incredibly busy training for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, so I offered to make dinner. That night, I made BBQ glazed salmon, cauliflower mash potatoes, Mexican-style loaded sweet potatoes and kale salad, with apple crisp for dessert. Kara loved it and posted it on her Instagram.
After several meals Kara told me, “I’ve never slept so little, trained so hard and felt this good. You need to stay and help me with my nutrition as I train for the Trials.”
Every dish I created had the same goal—recover and replenish so she could train hard, recover fast, and do it all over again. Even my desserts include protein and calcium-rich foods to promote recovery and rebuilding. Kara’s hard work on and off the track combined with the significant help from her coaches, support system, and nutritional fuel were getting her fit fast.
Optimizing your nutrition can give you that extra edge in your training. Athletes often get intimidated and don’t even attempt it or quickly become discouraged. That’s why I’ve found the success of a great recipe is simplicity. I am excited to team up with Strava and share some of my and Kara’s favorite recipes for athletes.
Morning — Peanut Butter Banana Bread
This is the first recipe I ever created. It’s quick, easy to make, and tastes like your morning oats all rolled into a moist peanut butter banana bread. I never use added sugar — this gets all its sweetness from dates and bananas. You can also use almond butter instead of peanut butter or make them as muffins and freeze them — perfect for when you’re on the go in the morning. Kara loved it as dessert. Try the banana bread recipe >>
Entree — Twice Baked Mexican Style Sweet Potato and Apricot Pistachio Glazed Salmon
I always advise athletes to practice race nutrition during training. The combination of complex carbohydrates and protein in this meal makes it the “perfect fuel the night before a hard long run,” according to Kara. Sweet potato helps store glycogen so you avoid hitting the wall, salmon and pistachios provide protein and healthy fats. I love making this recipe having the leftovers the next day. Cook it yourself, see the sweet potatoes and glazed salmon recipe >>
Dessert — Flourless Fudgey Chickpea Blondies
These blondies are a game changer. Not only are they as easy as throwing everything in a food processor, but you will never know they’re made of chickpeas Loaded with protein and fiber, they will satisfy your sweet tooth while your muscles thank you. Having a protein-rich snack before bed can help aid recovery. Just be warned: they are addicting, and it’s hard to stop at one. See the blondies recipe >>
Photo courtesy of Gaby Grebski.