A Hockey Nutrition Tour with Linda Staal
By: Pearle Nerenberg, Sports Dietitian for the Cambridge Group of Clubs in Montreal
This winter I have been helping Quaker Oats spread the message that oats are the ideal hockey food. I owe a big thank you to Quaker Oats for organizing the opportunity to meet hockey fans all over Canada and to work with Linda Staal. Read on to get some nutrition tips and to learn about my nutrition adventure with Linda.
What a week I had! It started in Montreal with a late night radio talk show after the Montreal Canadians played the Carolina Hurricanes; and my week ended 5 days later with a daytime show in Kitchener, Ontario. What was I doing? I was answering the very important question “What should I feed my young aspiring hockey player?” I am a sports dietitian, a hockey coach, and a former hockey player and when I was teamed up with Linda Staal this past week we were an unstoppable duo when it came to giving hockey parents good nutrition guidance. If you weren’t already aware, Linda has 4 sons who are playing professional hockey. 3 of her sons are playing in the NHL. I would say she had to be a professional herself to be organized with meal times, and snack times considering that at one time there were 4 different elite athlete schedules to manage. The important thing that I learned from Linda is that being prepared makes a big difference. Her golden advice is to pack a tournament kit if you are going to be on the road for a few days. I think this is excellent advice because tournament schedules are unpredictable and arena food can-NOT be counted on to provide good options for your young athlete. Tournaments can also be tough to plan for if you are not familiar with the restaurants and grocery stores in the area. Here are some food items I suggest to pack before you leave for a tournament:
Instant oatmeal and microwave safe bowl
Dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, and apricots
Dry roasted nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews
UHT milk (does not need refrigeration) or chocolate milk
I was often asked what kids should be eating before a game or practice.
My answer: Young athletes should be aiming to eat a high energy, fibre rich source of carbohydrate (the hockey fuel) 2 to 3 hours before their activity. Because we were talking about breakfast I strongly suggested OATS.
The most challenging notion I faced was when an interviewer described oatmeal as bland and boring. I couldn’t disagree more! Oats are so versatile. I happen to love oatmeal when I make it my special way. I use milk instead of water to add protein to the meal. The MVPeaches and Honey recipe is delicious when you make it with milk! There are other ways to eat oats besides oatmeal though. The hockey team that I coach learned this one tournament morning at 6AM when I woke them up 3 hours before game time to eat Champions Banana Oat Pancakes (see the recipe below). These pancakes were cooked into the letters of the word C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N-S, hence where the recipe name comes from. They had so much energy that game that the pancakes are now part of my regular tournament recommendations. If you cannot make pancakes at the hotel you can easily make them at home and toast them or microwave them in the hotel restaurant.
3 mashed bananas
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 tbsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of brown sugar
1/4 cup of plain yogourt
1 tsp of vanilla
1 cup of quick cooking oats
Add 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda.
Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl and let stand for 5 minute.s
Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix into wet ingredients. Stir until well combined.
Spoon batter (approximately ¼ cup portion) onto a lightly oiled non-stick frying pan set to medium heat. Cook approximately 2 – 3 minutes on each side. (These pancakes take longer to cook through than with typical pancake recipes).
Enjoy with yogourt and fresh fruit for added natural sugar and protein.
I have to say, even as a professional sports dietitian I have leaned a lot from Linda Staal’s experience. When it comes to feeding your hockey players learn from those hockey moms and dads that have come before you and seek out professional guidance from registered sports dietitians.
More about Pearle…
Pearle Nerenberg Chairs The Hockey Nutrition Network (www.hockeydietitians.ca) along with other members of Dietitians of Canada. The network is newly formed and is dedicated to linking hockey players and hockey organizations with sports dietitians who have an expertise in hockey nutrition. She is currently writing a book “The Nutrition Edge”, which promises to be a colourful guide to answering common questions teenage hockey players, parents and coaches are asking about sports nutrition. The Nutrition Edge will offer meal plans and food guides.
To learn more about Pearle and Nutrition Athletica, visit www.nutritionathletica.ca