Trail Runner’s Book Review: Sport Smoothies

Sport Smoothies: More than 65 Recipes to Boost Your Workouts & Recovery, written by Fern Green. Published by ATRA member VeloPress, 2019. Reviewed by trail runner Laura Clark. Laura is an avid mountain, trail and snowshoe runner who lives in Saratoga Springs, NY, where she is a children’s librarian.

I must admit I have been a hit or miss (mostly miss) sport smoothie drinker. I know they are quick and easy to blend and provide, at the very least, an encouragement to drink more liquid before and after workouts. Regarding pre-run, I am just in a hurry to get out there and as for post-run, I do sip water on my runs and figured I had it covered. For me, smoothies are rather like stretching, a debatable ritual, reserved for rare moments of free time.

Author Fern Green, a chef, food stylist and author, seems to understand exactly where I am coming from, making smoothie implementation as pain-free as possible. Individual sections: Pre-Workout, Post-Workout & Recovery, Muscle Building, and Carb-Loading are preceded by a tan two-page chart detailing calories, protein, fat, carbs, fiber and sodium for each recipe, enabling you to pinpoint location by merely flipping through a sea of white paper. There is a supplemental Table of Contents on the front cover flap, facilitating easy access to appealing recipes.

I shared the volume with a friend, Alex Raftery, who is a Culinary Institute of America chef and she was impressed by the eye and texture appeal. Pages are sturdy and would stand up to frequent use without tearing. (I did spill a bit and discovered that, if attacked instantly, most evidence can be wiped clean with a paper towel!) She was particularly impressed by the layout: a picture of the 4 to 6 ingredients needed on the left side and the resulting shake on the right, accompanied by concise directions and nutritional benefits. A food stylist’s delight! The only drawback to the format was that the book had a bouncy binding. The pages would not lie flat, a disadvantage when you need both hands to measure and slice.

Many of the ingredients are those you might have on hand already: bananas, strawberries, blueberries, yogurt, spinach. Others might take some shopping: coconut or almond milk, chia seeds, Medjool dates, almond butter. But none are so exotic as to necessitate searching out specialty stores. For my first batch, I selected smoothies which relied on basics like bananas, strawberries and yogurt and for liquids, chose coconut milk and water. In this way, I was able to blend a variety of drinks without excess shopping. For my next round, I plan to sample a few unfamiliar ingredients, easily getting an introduction to various new foods combined with old favorites.

I brought the first batch, Yo Strawberries and Pink Basil to our Saratoga Stryders Mix-It-Up-Mondays casual trail runs. Yo Strawberries was a big hit, with a familiar pink milkshake color. Since folks were rushing to the trailhead directly from work, they appreciated the fact that I was able to whip up the concoction that morning, seal it in a thermos and have a sip-and-drive snack. The recovery drink was less successful. I am not quite sure why, but perhaps the combination of basil and strawberries is an acquired taste or else folks were in too much of a hurry to get home.

The author (center w/ green scarf) at the Saratoga Stryders 5k Fun Fun/Walk at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park.

While I had occasionally blended a random selection of smoothie ingredients, I was never really certain if what I had concocted would enhance my workout. Now I can confidently match my nutrition to my training plan, increasing my liquid intake beyond plain water as well as painlessly adding more fruits and veggies to my diet.

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