Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nutrition Station

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Back when we remodeled our house, we added a dedicated theater in the basement.  Outside of the theater we put a kitchenette in so we could prepare snacks and to be able to clean up afterward.  But we don't entertain a ton, and even if we did that's a very infrequent use of that kitchenette.

So now that I'm doing all this crazy training for the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race, I find myself preparing a lot of nutrition products. While actual meal food is prepared in our normal kitchen (and usually not by me!), any sort of shakes and smoothies are prepared in my nutrition station (ie. the kitchenette).  It turns out I have almost everything I need right there already.  As you can see below, we have a refrigerator, drawer dishwasher, and sink:

The drawer dishwasher is great because it's very easy to load and only half the size of a normal dishwasher.  Since my loads are small, that keeps energy and water consumption to a minimum.  Don't worry, blenders and even the very tall bicycle water bottles fit just fine.  Notice I have a single blender but two actual pitchers for it.  Turns out the cheapest way to do that is just to buy two blenders, so I have a spare motor I keep in the closet.  (Note: That's a normal Braun blender, which I like better than even the incredibly expensive Vitamax type blenders.  Some of these powder based nutrition products will aerate far too easily if the blend speed is high, and units like the Vitamax are just too fast.)  But this way I can wait to wash one until both are dirty, or I can prepare two different drinks at the same time and not have to wash one by hand.

Below you can also see what's on the other side of the sink...a small ice machine:

These aren't very expensive and are half the width of a dishwasher.  You can actually pair one with a small refrigerator that is the same size, too, if you like.  If I had this to do over again, I'd add a half-drawer freezer under the dishwasher, too.  For the frozen stuff I have a small dorm freezer just around the corner in another room, which is only mildly inconvenient.

The ice machine is great because a lot of what I do is fill water bottles and Camelbak systems with ice and water.  The ice the machine produces is relatively small cubes and you just scoop it with a big scoop.  These days most refrigerator ice is half-moon shaped and comes out of a dispenser, and there's simply no good way to get a lot of it into some of these different vessels as efficiently as the small cubes.

So what do I use this for?  My regular pre-workout breakfast is actually a homemade smoothie.  I blend ingredients like spinach, yogurt, milk, orange juice concentrate, a variety of frozen berries and mango, protein powder, fiber powder, flaxseed oil, fresh banana, etc.  My post workout shake is a product called Cytofuse.  Often I'll blend that before my workout after I make my smoothie.  I then put it in a Nalgene bottle and put that in an insulator designed for Nalgene bottles.  These will keep drinks cold in extreme conditions for quite some time, so they're great.  I also use these special caps on the Nalgene bottles if I'm going to be drinking directly from the bottle.  Much less chance of a mess!

Near the kitchenette is a closet, and that's where I keep my nutrition product stash:

I keep all my Nalgene bottles and other bottles in the cabinets above the kitchenette.  All my actual Camelbaks and spare bladders are in the closet you see pictured above.  I can easily hang a Camelbak bladder on the cabinet knobs above the sink for it to dry when I clean those, too.

So while I know most people can't just re-purpose a kitchenette or build one from scratch, I point all this out in case you are remodeling and are an endurance athlete, or in case you do have a similar setup you could be using.  Yes, it's quite a setup, but when you're training six days per week, sometimes multiple times per day, it's really nice to have everything for your nutrition in one neat and organized place.  There are a few tips in here that I hope will help even those who can't do something as self-contained, too!  Oh, and a lot of the above applies to making frozen liquor drinks, too.  Adapt as necessary.

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