The breakfast (and pasta dish) of champions
Our food contributor is a competitive athlete turned food blogger and her partner Pablo is a champion decathlete. So the food round at Milly’s Barcelona home pulls off a double; looking good for her work with the nutritional knowhow to keep a pro athlete on the winning track…
What is your athletic skillset?
I competed in athletics from the ages of 12 to 24 in meets across Europe, and I’m so grateful for my experiences from the sport, including working as a volunteer for the European athletics federation as a youth leader in sport. A real highlight was interviewing Lord Sebastian Coe at the 2016 European Athletics championships.
My training is completely different now. I used to train six days a week, at times even twice a day. Can’t even imagine doing that now! For me, it’s all about moving my body in the way that feels right. Currently, I’m loving a mix of yoga, running and, of course as we’re in 2020, workouts from home.
An athlete’s job is to truly train hard and focus on what they can control and I’ve found this inspiring
What’s Pablo’s track history?
Athletics continues to be such a huge part of my life as my partner Pablo Trescoli is a pro athlete. We met at the Spanish indoor nationals in 2013. His twin sister Ana and I were close friends, and one thing led to the other. Nearly eight years later, here we are.
Pablo first became interested in athletics after watching the 2004 Olympics. Now, as a decathlete, he has represented his country Spain in competitions including the Junior world championships, European U23 championships, and senior European team championships. He is also the 2019 Spanish decathlon national champion.
As 2020 feels so out of control, with the Olympics being postponed and so many track competitions cancelled, it’s been unbelievable to watch Pablo develop over this past year. An athlete's job is to truly train hard and focus on what they can control, and I’ve found this so inspiring.
How do you go from track to kitchen table?
I truly found a love for food through athletics. Focusing on how we fuel and hydrate our bodies, and a positive mindset towards healthy eating can have a huge impact on performance. What do we eat at home? In a nutshell it’s maximum flavour with minimum effort. My goal, with my work, is to help people feel happier and healthier with the foods we eat and this is the same at home.
Pablo and I love food and eat a lot of it. Especially Pablo! Yet we both have quite a sensitive stomach so we use healthier ingredients to create our family favourite meals. But I don’t believe in a superfood to enhance performance or our wellbeing in general.
Food is important in any sport – let alone ten of them in two days !
Pablo’s everyday breakfast: A bowl of cereals and two pieces of toast with peanut butter.
What is key to a decathlete’s diet?
Food is important in any sport, yet alone ten of them in two days. (The decathlon is an athletics combined event of ten track and field events.) Pablo treats competition like training and he maintains a consistent diet throughout the season. Before a decathlon his meals are nutritionally dense, and the night before it’s an easy-to-digest meal such as a plate of rice, chicken and veg. Consistent food is key during sessions and competitions, so snacks are a decathlete’s best friend and Pablo’s favourites include bananas, nuts, raisins and energy or protein bars.
In the post-competition week, his daily calories increase to regenerate all the body’s energy. For most of the season he tries to hit 3,500 to 3,800 calories per day depending on his training level. What’s key is easily digestible calories, healthy fats, complex carbs and a sufficient amount of protein. A decathlete’s diet focuses on what we put in the diet rather than cutting out food groups.
I could eat porridge for breakfast, lunch and dinner which Pablo can’t quite comprehend
How do you keep each other happy in the kitchen?
Where to even begin – ha, ha! I’ve gotten used to Pablo’s multitude of jabs at my weird and wonderful concoctions, and my lunches are often made up of leftovers in the fridge. As a food blogger I create lots of recipes so sometimes my meals are a mix and match of what I’ve made that week.
We do find time and enjoyment in being in the kitchen together in the evenings, where we’ll often eat the same meals. I change the portion size and the protein as my diet is primarily focused on plant-based protein sources. Also, I could easily eat porridge for breakfast, lunch and dinner which Pablo can’t quite comprehend.
How do athletes do date nights?
No athlete's diet is perfect and, just like anyone, we all love treating ourselves. On Pablo’s rest days we squeezed in regular date nights. When based in London we ate at Franco Manca pizzeria, Wagamama and an occasional trip to Misato in Chinatown. One of our favourite foodie experiences was our Bali trip in 2019 and their incredible plant-based cuisine.
What’s in your fridge?
Almond milk, cow’s milk and cheese. (A lot of cheese – it’s one of Pablo’s favourite foods). In our kitchen cupboards you’ll find: Olive oil, nuts and seeds and nut butters for healthy fats, plus oat flour and almond flour for our baking. Our carb choices are: Rice, quinoa, oats, pasta and sweet potatoes. Plus, of course, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Power bowl pasta (serves two)
In a food processor blend the following ingredients:
20g fresh basil
40g sundried tomatoes
75g cashews (soaked and drained)
1 garlic clove
Juice of ½ a lemon
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
250g pasta of choice
100g spinach or kale
Two fresh tomatoes, chopped
Two salmon fillets, baked
In a pot boil the pasta and peas. Two minutes before the pasta is done add in the spinach to wilt. Combine the pasta sauce and pasta together, then serve in two bowls with your baked salmon and chopped tomatoes.
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