By Jessica Kelley
What fires up USSA athletes to fly down the Birds of Prey super G, soar off a 120-meter ski jump or sprint through a lung-busting cross country course?
It sure isn’t a soggy bowl of Cheerios and a lukewarm cup of coffee.
We set our alarm extra early to rise and shine with Resi Stiegler, Steve Nyman, Liz Stephen, Bryan Fletcher, Ashley Caldwell and Taylor Fletcher to peek at their pantries and see the absolute best ways to start an athletic day. From omelets to donuts, we’ve got a week’s worth of recipes to help you perform better whether you’re tackling a training day on the slalom course or a recovery session on the couch. Vegetarian? Gluten-free? We’ve got you covered, too.
USSA High Performance Chef and Dietitian Allen Tran, meanwhile, offered his take on each recipe to explain the in’s and out’s of the nutritional needs of each athlete. Bon apetitit!
Alpine skier Resi Stiegler: Omelet
“My mom fed me steak for breakfast when I was a kid, so that’s probably why I will always do better with a big hot meal,” says Resi Stiegler, who has developed a gluten allergy that increases her focus on protein. “I have to get a lot in for breakfast otherwise I get very hungry.” She sticks to what has always worked well: an omelet mixed with veggies and turkey sausage.
Resi’s Omelet Recipe:
1 oz. goat cheese
Handful of cilantro
Homemade salsa (chopped green onions, parsley, chopped tomatoes, juice of half a lime)
½ cup mushrooms
Handful of arugula
How to make it:
Scramble eggs in a bowl until well mixed. Pour over greased pan. Cook on low heat until the eggs begin to cook. Add in remaining ingredients evenly over the eggs. Flip one half of the egg on top of the veggies and sausage and cook until the eggs are cooked through the middle. Serve over the top of arugula.
Allen’s take: This recipe is perfect for a short but intense strength session. It’s light on the stomach but still supplies a good amount of protein to maintain the large, powerful muscles needed for downhill alpine skiing. For strength workouts, fewer carbs are needed unless the workout extends longer than 60 to 90 minutes (add a carb like sweet potatoes in that case). The goat cheese made from goat’s milk can also be easier on the stomach versus cow’s milk products, for those with lactose intolerance. Arugula also contains high amounts of nitrates (as much as beets), which helps blood vessels dilate and deliver more oxygen to the muscles.
Alpine Speed Skier Steven Nyman: Steven’s Ultimate Pancakes
After the best season of his career last winter, Steven Nyman’s hitting the gym hard again this summer and needs just the right fuel for hard training days. “This meal gives me a lot of carbs, but also good fats in the morning,” he says, “which gives me sustained energy throughout my morning workout.”
Steven’s Ultimate Pancake Recipe:
1 cup Pamela's gluten free pancake mix
¾ cup almond milk
Full-fat Greek yogurt
Big spoonful of coconut oil
Fresh fruit (whatever is in season)
Justin’s hazelnut butter
How to make it:
Mix the dry ingredients together. Once mixed add in milk and eggs and stir to the proper consistency. Add coconut oil to a hot pan and pour in pancake mix. Cook until a knife comes out clean from the center. Place on plate and add butter, then toppings of Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, hazelnut butter, and Slopeside Syrup.
Allen’s take: Steve is one of our larger athletes on the team — 6 foot, 4 inches and 220 pounds) and needs a lot of calorie-dense food to maintain his weight and muscle mass throughout the long alpine downhill season and to be successful as a power athlete. The whole eggs, full-fat yogurt, coconut oil, butter and nut butter helps keep the calories high, and the eggs, yogurt, and nut butter add protein to rebuild muscles after intense strength sessions.
Cross Country Skier Liz Stephen: Vanilla Cinnamon Chia Flax Oatmeal
“If you give the engine crappy gas,” says Liz Stephen of her fueling philosophy, “it’s not going to perform as well as it would with the high-grade gas.” Knowing that she burns up to 1,000 calories per hour while training and competing, she fills up on a rich but easily digestible oatmeal.
Liz’s Vanilla Cinnamon Chia Flax Oatmeal Recipe:
3/4 cup oatmeal
1.5 cups water
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. ground or whole flaxseed
1 tsp. chia seeds
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Fruit (Liz always has frozen blueberries on hand that she adds to the oatmeal as it’s cooking.)
Maple syrup or brown sugar
How to Make It
In a small saucepan add all the ingredients above and cook at medium temperature until it has reached your desired consistency. Add the toppings of your choice.
Allen’s Take: This breakfast is perfect for fueling a longer endurance training session, as the oatmeal, fruit and maple syrup together provide a blend of fast and slow-burning carbs for activity. This meal is designed to pack nutrients and be light on the stomach. Flaxseeds and chia seeds are nice bonus additions as they add fiber and omega-3 fats. Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants; any kind of frozen berries are easy and convenient to keep on hand for oatmeal, smoothies, or recipes like berry pancakes.
Nordic Combined Skier Bryan Fletcher: Eggs and Toast
The USSA Nordic Combined Athlete of the Year, Bryan Fletcher has a nutrition strategy that helps him train for the rigors of two distinct athletic endeavors. “The ski jumping event requires the athlete to be light yet powerful,” he says, “but the cross-country skiing section requires significant calories to fuel this endurance activity.” Fletcher likes to pair his breakfast with coffee, water, and USANA vitamins to fill in any gaps he may have in his nutrition.
Bryan’s Toast and Eggs Recipe:
2 pieces of toast
Two eggs, sunny-side up
Salt and pepper to taste
How to Make It:
Toast each slice of bread, add butter to taste. Add butter to a hot pan and add eggs. Cook sunny-side up. Add one egg to each piece of toast. Add salt and pepper to taste and top with avocado slices and sriracha sauce. (Or add spinach, cheese, tomato and make a breakfast sandwich.)
Allen’s take: This recipe would be perfect on a ski jumping day, as it’s lighter but well-balanced with carbs from the toast, protein from the eggs, and healthy fats from the avocado and eggs. Sriracha is a favorite condiment for a lot of our skiers; it adds a ton of flavor and heat without many calories.
Taylor Fletcher: Overnight Oats and Toast with Poached Eggs
Taylor Fletcher, who earned his third World Cup podium last season, plans ahead for long training days by getting part of his breakfast ready the night before. “It’s really nice to wake up and not really have to do much in the morning for breakfast,” he says, “as the best part is already waiting in the fridge.”
Taylor’s Overnight Oats Recipe:
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 small apple, diced into small pieces
1/4 cup almonds chopped or sliced
Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
1 mashed banana
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl or tupperware container and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl or tupperware and store in fridge overnight. It’s very tasty cold, or you can warm it up like oatmeal.
Taylor’s Breakfast; Part Two, Toast and Eggs Recipe:
2 pieces of butter toast
2 poached eggs
Healthy dose of Sriracha sauce on top
Allen’s take: This two-part breakfast is what’s needed to fuel a long cross country training session. It might seem like a lot of food, but the endurance half of nordic combined requires a large amount of carbohydrates as fuel, and the carbs are plentiful here, from the oats, the various fruits, honey, and toast. Also, the mix of carbs from whole food sources will digest and release energy slowly, so there’s a steady stream of fuel to the muscles for the whole duration of an endurance session. Endurance athletes still need protein to maintain their muscles, and yogurt, milk, nuts, and eggs supply that.
Aerialist Ashley Caldwell: Breakfast Tacos
Ashley Caldwell ended last season second, in the overall World Cup standings and has since spent the offseason working on new tricks while maintaining the basics. She turns to breakfast tacos to start the day. “The combination of ingredients is safe to eat,” she reports, “right before a long, hard session of triples back flips.”
Ashley Caldwell’s Breakfast Tacos Recipe:
Two uncooked tortillas
Two eggs, scrambled
¼ small onion
½ cup broccoli
½ cup peppers
½ cup mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
How to make it:
Oil a round pan and add tortillas until cooked through. Remove tortillas and set aside. Add broccoli, peppers and mushrooms. Cook until tender, then remove from heat and set aside. Add in scrambled eggs and cook to desired consistency. Add eggs and veggies to the tortillas. Serve with salt and pepper and green salsa.
Allen’s take: Aerialist skiers are much like gymnasts on snow; they need to be strong, lean, and flexible. These breakfast tacos keep it light but balanced in carbs, protein and fat. Ashley also practices a vegetarian diet, so eggs are a staple because they are one of the highest quality meat-free proteins available — quickly and fully used in the body. Corn tortillas are naturally whole-grain so they digest slowly, and the veggies and salsa are colorful and vitamin-rich.
Rest Day/Lazy Day
Windy Ridge Bakery Cronuts
Once a week, Windy Ridge treats customers — including many USSA athletes — to a cross between a donut and a croissant. Butter, sugar and fat make the cronut a Sunday indulgence.