In addition to my swim goggles, bike, and running shoes, I'd like to include kitchen tools in my list of Ironman training essentials. Because just as important as training your body, is fueling your body, and these were the 7 key tools and appliances that possible.
1. Food Processor
With long training days spanning upwards of 8 to 9 hours, and a race day that would be even longer, I knew I could only stomach so many energy gels, bars, and the like. My husband and I both craved real food to fuel out training sessions. Inspired by this and a batch of banana cookies, I created my own version of energy bites. With the power to quickly mash bananas, grind oats, and bring big batches of dough together with ease, the food processor lived up to its name and saved me (and my sanity) from making these bites by hand week after week.
It would have been a very sorry, sorry state of affairs without my Vitamix to whip up post-morning workout (and often pre-evening) smoothies and protein shakes. Looking back on those eight months of training, my smoothie consumption went up about ten-fold.
My Favorite Smoothies and Protein Shakes
3. Sheet Pans
Three words: sheet pan dinners! In my opinion, these are the ultimate one pan (or pot) dinner. Chicken thighs, or the occasional sausage, and a array of whatever veggies I had handy were the standard for my sheet pan dinners at least once a week. Sheet pans are the secret to success for dinner that come together with little effort and just as little clean up.
4. Electric Pressure Cooker
My electric pressure cooker was the miracle appliance that saved dinner (and saved me from many trips to the crappy pizza shop down the block) when my meal planning efforts got derailed. From brown rice to lentils, to eggs and chicken, this helped me get food on the table fast.
5. Slow Cooker
The slow cooker often felt like the gift that kept on giving. Often times it was like, coming home to find that someone else cooked dinner for me. This appliance was crucial for getting dinners on the table. Training for an Ironman deepened my love for the slow cooker, big time. There was usually some upfront planning, as with any meal, but I largely stuck with dump-and-cook recipes.
My Favorite Slow Cooker Dinners
6. Electric Tea Kettle
When your schedule includes 15 to 20 hours of training per week, with some sessions that call for a 4:30 am wake up — coffee is essential. Depending on my mood, I use a pour over or French press. Either way, the first step is always firing up the electric kettle.
In training (and in life) I'm a creature of habit. I find what works and I stick with it. I've eaten the same pre-race breakfast before almost every race I've done, and I stick with it before most of my long rides and long runs. No reason to mess with a good thing, right? My go-to is an English muffin (toasted just right) with nut butter, sliced banana, and honey.
The Ironman Kitchen
I started training for my first Ironman in January 2016 and quickly learned in addition to all the swimming, biking, and running, nutrition and diet would be just as important to make it across the finish line. This series details the kitchen lessons that fueled my journey. It turns out a 140.6 mile race is one of the best ways to perfect meal planning, figure out what kitchen tools are essential, and decide how to stock a pantry for success.