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In America’s speediest kitchens, the carbs are made from scratch and shared with love.
They’re all aces in the kitchen.
When it comes to high-quality nourishment, these women don’t skimp. Nor do they follow the rules of the latest health and diet fads. Whether it’s a warm, buttered slice of bread or a cake that would hold its own on the Food Network, baked goods are more than fuel for these distance stars; they’re also a passion and a conduit for connection.
Here’s what’s happening in some of America’s speediest kitchens:
Molly Huddle’s Sourdough
“Cooked” (the Netflix show based on Michael Pollan’s book) came across Huddle’s radar at the right time. In 2016, as she was moving from focusing on track competition to 26.2 miles on the roads, the bread episode aired. Carbohydrate requirements dialed up as she trained for her debut at the New York City Marathon—and her first batch of sourdough came soon after.
“It looked delicious and meditative and like a good hobby for someone starting the marathon, so I was inspired,” Huddle said. “Because, carbs.”
Today, Huddle is training for her fourth 26.2-mile race, the London Marathon on April 28, and is many batches of bread wiser. She makes a few loaves every other week or so, and said a buttered slice straight from the oven is her favorite way to eat it. Grilled cheese is a close second.
“It’s really cool to watch something you cultivated from what seemed like air transform really simple ingredients into a delicious, fluffy dietary staple,” she said.
If you’re intimidated by all of the steps that go into sourdough—which include making a sourdough starter from water and flour—don’t be. Huddle calls herself “a notoriously bad baker,” but follows this recipe from thekitchn.com.
“It’s really detailed,” she said, “so it was great for someone like me who didn’t know what they were doing.”
Emma Coburn’s Cakes
Coburn, the 2017 world champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, credits her mom for her prowess in the kitchen.
“She really showed me that cooking and baking should be fun and should make you happy,” Coburn said.
The 2016 Olympian, who isn’t afraid of a challenge like training or baking at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level in Crested Butte, Colorado, took those words to heart when she went away to college, and even more so after graduating, spending much of her free time experimenting in the kitchen.
Baking hooked her for two reasons: “I have a sweet tooth so I love the end product. I also love that desserts bring other people joy,” she said.
Though Coburn seeks baking inspiration via Instagram accounts such as @magnoliakitchen, @yolanda_gamp, and @thescranline, as well as baking stars like Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi, her favorite cakes are those she customizes for loved ones’ birthdays. A turtle cake and a “Paw Patrol Train Cake” for her nephew Auggie, who makes frequent appearances on his aunt’s social media channels, and a vegan s’mores cake for her friend and training partner Aisha Leer, a 2016 Olympian representing Jamaica, were especially memorable.
To bake like Coburn, check out her Instagram story “Cake.” She shows each step of an adaptation of Ina Garten’s chocolate sheet cake with buttercream frosting. Coburn is a fan of that recipe “because you can make it as chocolatey as you want and it is really light.”
Aliphine Tuliamuk’s Chapati
If she’s being honest, Tuliamuk, who is training for the 2019 Rotterdam Marathon, doesn’t enjoy making chapatis—unleavened flatbread that’s a staple in Kenya, where she was born—as much as she enjoys eating them. But it is fun, she said, “to see how they turn out, especially since I don’t measure the flour or any other ingredients.” It’s also fun to have a fresh batch of chapati on hand when that insatiable athlete’s appetite strikes at her home base of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Like pita, naan, and injera, chapati complements and rounds out nearly any type of food. Aliphine’s favorite way to eat it depends on the time of day. If it’s brunch, she pairs it with scrambled eggs and Kenyan milk (water, milk, tea and lots of sugar). Later in the day, she eats chapati with stews or soups—either meat or vegetable.
To make chapati at home, give Aliphine’s recipe a try (before winging it, as she does):
- 6 cups wheat flour
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (for mixing with dry flour)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (for shallow frying)
- Fresh rosemary leaves, chopped (optional)
- 2 glasses of hot tap water
- Mix flour, sugar, salt, and chopped rosemary (if using) together in a bowl. Add ¼ cup vegetable oil and mix until crumbs are gone.
- Add water, a half cup at a time, to the flour and mix. Continue adding water until dough is sticky but not too soft. Then knead it until it feels strong and stretchy.
- Transfer dough to a cutting board and continue kneading until it’s soft and your hands are clean (no dough on or between fingers).
- Cover dough with aluminum foil, a tight lid, or a clean towel, and let it soften and rise for about an hour.
- Once risen, divide dough into two. Roll one half on a flat surface, add cooking oil to it, and spread it evenly. Using a sharp knife, cut it into small pieces and roll each one into a ball. Do the same for the rest of the dough.
- For each dough ball, place on a flat surface, sprinkle a little flour on top, and roll out until it’s flat and thin. Add it to a frying pan heated to medium. Once the top dries and bottom starts to brown, flip it. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil to the top and spread it evenly. Flip it again and add a tablespoon of cooking oil to the top of the other side. Flip once more and let cook until browned all over. Do the same for the rest of the rolled dough.
Colleen Quigley’s Granola
Granola was Colleen Quigley’s answer to nighttime cravings for something sweet. Greek yogurt with berries and granola sounded like a more virtuous choice than ice cream for the 2016 Olympic steeplechaser, who lives in Portland, Oregon. But when she dug into the nutritional facts, she learned that many store-bought granolas are really glorified desserts, with more than 20 grams of sugar per serving.
“Since that was completely defeating the purpose of my ‘healthy’ dessert,” Quigley said, “I decided to start making my own so that I knew exactly what went into it and I could also customize it so that it had all my favorite things.”
Quigley, who recently won the 2019 indoor national championships mile, started with recipes from Run Fast. Eat Slow and Oh She Glows. Now, after much experimentation, her favorite type to make includes nuts, seeds, cinnamon, coconut oil, maple syrup, and cocoa powder.
“If I’m really needing something sweet, I’ll add some dark chocolate chips once it has cooled,” she said. “It’s so easy to make and as an added benefit makes your whole house smell absolutely amazing.” It also makes a unique gift and keeps well for a few weeks—if somehow it lasts that long.
Find Quigley’s own “Steeple Squigs Granola” recipe here. But don’t be a stickler; take the advice she gleaned from Oh She Glows to “follow your heart, use what you have on hand, and taste as you go.”