Supporting Athletes Virtually
Whether you have been working with your athletes on fueling for a competition, race or upcoming (and now postponed) season, their training certainly looks a lot different now. What’s not different is the need for your athletes to be properly fueled to power their performance. Potatoes are the perfect whole food performance fuel solution. Potatoes provide the carbohydrate, potassium and energy your athletes need to perform their best. To help you support your athletes virtually, here are several resources for nutrition and athletic professionals.
Tips for Purchasing, Storing and Cooking Potatoes
Here are some tips from America’s potato farmers on how to purchase, store and prepare potatoes at home:
How to Shop for Potatoes
- Vegetables are often described as perfect and imperfect. As you are stocking up, imperfect potatoes are just as good. If cuts, bruises or discoloration are present, just cut these off before cooking.
- You can also find dehydrated and frozen potatoes in the center of the store and they require minimal preparation.
- Also available are freshly cut and ready-to-eat products in the deli and prepared foods aisles.
- And don’t forget the potato chips, as everyone could use a bit of joy.
How to Store Potatoes
- Do not refrigerate or freeze fresh potatoes before cooking.
- How long do potatoes last? It depends on the conditions in which they are stored. Store potatoes in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place, avoiding high temperatures such as below sinks or next to appliances.
- Be sure air can reach your potatoes. Either store loose or in plastic or paper bags with holes.
- Don’t wash potatoes before storing as dampness will lead to early spoilage.
- Check potatoes regularly and remove any that show signs of spoilage as this will spread to the others.
- If potatoes begin to sprout, you can still cook them. Just remove the sprout and cut away any green areas.
- Of course, you can also use sprouted potatoes as a fun kid activity by placing them in a container of water with the sprouts in the air and watching them grow.
How to Cook Potatoes
- Potatoes can be baked, boiled, roasted, mashed, fried, air fried (here is a chance to use that new appliance from the holidays), microwaved and grilled.
- Here are some of the favorite ways to prepare potatoes:
- Baked potato in the oven or microwave.
- Au gratin, which sounds complicated but is simply thinly sliced potatoes baked with some cream, salt, and pepper.
- Roasted by cutting into pieces and tossing with oil, salt, and pepper or dried herbs and putting in the oven.
- Mashed, because is anything more satisfying and simpler than cutting up potatoes, boiling them in water until soft, adding milk, butter, salt and pepper, and smashing?
- Don’t forget that many dishes, such as potato salad, can be made ahead and enjoyed later as long as they are stored in the refrigerator.
- Leftovers can easily be transformed into new dishes; mashed potatoes can become potato pancakes and baked wedges from dinner can be mixed in a scramble with eggs the next morning.
Helping Athletes Fuel Independently
Athletes can have poor quality diets, inadequate cooking skills and may struggle to meet sports nutrition recommendations for optimal performance. Culinary education and empowering athletes to fuel independently with simple, convenient and easy to prepare foods is a critical skill. Anthony Zamora, RD, an executive chef of a professional sports team, recently presented “Tactics and Techniques to Help Your Athletes Fuel Independently” via webinar for the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA). This webinar provides tips, tricks and best practices that you can use with your athletes to help them gain culinary skills and learn easy sports nutrition recipes. This topic is especially important now as athletes continue to train and fuel from home. The webinar slides have been posted here and the webinar replay can be accessed here.
Easy Performance Recipes
Here are a few potato performance recipes designed for athletes of all culinary abilities and made with familiar ingredients.
- Potato Mini Dippers with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
- Performance Potato Salad
- Loaded Potato Flatbread
- Green Up! Potato Smoothie
Plant-based Performance Fuel
Are you working with athletes who follow a plant-based diet? Or have your athletes been asking you questions about plant-based fuel for performance? Check out this new resource developed with Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN, that can be used to educate athletes about the role of plant-based protein in performance meal planning.