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I met Kelly Newlon at the Run Mindful Retreat, ultra runner Timothy Olson’s running retreat in Boulder, Colorado. She and her husband, Morgan own RAD (Real Athlete Diets) in Boulder, Colorado, a small catering company that serves elite and amateur athletes. RAD is all about creating real, nourishing food: they source almost all their ingredients from small, local organic farms. And they are the kind of people you wish were your neighbors, compassionate souls who make everyone feel welcome. I’m pretty sure they’ve found a way to infuse their hospitality and generous spirits into their food, because I walked away from each meal feeling so completely nourished.
When she was introduced she gushed about what a pleasure it is to feed her athletes and how important the mission of her company is to her. But what Kelly didn’t mention was the fact that she’s a classically trained chef with years of experience and has run 37 road marathons and has seven 100 mile races under her belt. Her experience as a chef and unique insights as a runner, herself are clearly the driving force behind the company she and her husband have created.
Kelly has made a career out of fueling professional and amateur athletes and it is obvious that she loves every minute of it. I had the chance to talk to Kelly about RAD and her work:
Tell me more about how RAD came about?
I had always done contract work feeding elite athletes in Boulder on the side, but was doing so while working basically two other full time jobs. I just decided one day while driving home from work: “Why am I not feeding athletes full time? No one else is doing this, I want to do it.” By the time I had arrived home 10 minutes later, I announced to Morgan that I wanted to start a company that focused on feeding athletes really amazing food. Real food.
You fuel a lot of different kinds of athletes, how you tailor to each person individually?
It’s a pretty personal first step. I meet each athlete in person and we do an intake. I ask a lot of questions, the athlete asks a lot of questions and we build a trust and friendship. Food is part of the keys to an athlete’s success. It is paramount that each athlete trusts us to follow their personal needs and take care of them. Between dietary restrictions, eating disorders, allergies and personal beliefs, it can get deep in the beginning. Once all of the initial information is out of the way, it’s go time!
What types of food would you say are absolutely necessary for a runner who takes nourishing their body seriously?
Everyone is different. Too often do we “normal” folks read that our favorite athlete is following a “fill in the blank” diet and we are off and running with it before knowing if it is what works for us. However, no matter what diet we are following, PROTEIN is key. Everything else can be built in conjunction around protein. This stands from vegans to those who consume animal protein.
How can someone take your philosophy towards whole-body health and nourishment and apply it to themselves at home if a resource like RAD isn’t locally available?
The bones of our company are based on “real food” plain and simple. I love hearing clients tell us, “Your food is so easy. We had no idea how simple things could be so good for us.” Most folks don’t realize that the fewer ingredients the better and that eating well for what you need is far easier than anticipated.
What is the most gratifying part of what you do?
The friendships we have built through this little company are incredibly dear to me. Racing from one remote aid station to the next in the middle of the night, in the middle of the mountains to support our athletes is electrifying. Being able to do so with my husband as a business partner, is icing on the cake.
Want to re-create RAD food at home? Try Kelly’s recipe:
One favorite of our recipes right now is Chorizo with Sweet Potatoes and Kale. It is literally three ingredients. Ridiculously easy and contains protein, healthy fat, fiber and those dark leafy greens are beyond good for you.
Chorizo with Sweet Potatoes and Kale
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 lb ground Chorizo (sourced from a local farm is best or the chorizo can be substituted for ground Italian sausage or any animal protein substitute, if you are vegan. Be sure to add a tablespoon of avocado oil if you use an protein substitute)
- 2-3 stalks of Kale
1. Roast the whole (skin on) sweet potatoes at 350 until nice and soft, about an hour.
2. While the potato is baking, roughly chop 2-3 good handfuls of FRESH kale and set aside. 3. Once the sweet potato is done set aside to cool for a bit.
4. Cook the chorizo. Add ground chorizo to a large saute pan and cook thoroughly. You do not need to add any fat to the pan. The fat that renders out from the chorizo is enough. Once chorizo is cooked, turn the burner off. Immediately add the sweet potato and break up with wooden spoon. Add the kale and mix just to combine.