Some chefs struggle to figure out how to fit in healthy meals between long hours in the kitchen. Jason Roberts strategizes about how to fuel his body while riding his bike 600 miles in less than a week.
A TV regular and New Zealand native, Roberts was previously a cast member on The Chew and is the author of Good Food Fast: Deliciously Healthy Gluten-Free Meals for People on the Go.
He’s also one of the driving forces behind Chefs Cycle, a bicoastal event that brings bike-enthusiast chefs together to raise funds for No Kid Hungry. With Shake Shack’s Allan Ng, Roberts helped the event raise $25,000 in its first year.
This year, 50 chefs will participate in two 300-mile rides—from New York City to Washington DC from June 7—9 and from Santa Barbara to San Diego from June 14–16—and they’ve already raised more than $200,000 to end childhood hunger.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Roberts is doing the rides on both coasts, and on the day we spoke he had ridden 104 miles the night before and was planning a 120-mile training ride for the weekend. “I can do a lot of long rides, but for me it’s the recovery. I try to steer away from inflammatory foods like dairy or processed wheat, and I stay away from as much sugar as possible. The more processed foods you eat, the more it’s going to inhibit your recovery,” he says. “Nutrition is everything. No amount of cycling, or training, will make up for poor nutrition.”
To follow that protocol, Roberts cooks most of his own meals at home in New Jersey, where he let us get a peek at his colorful veggie selection, hydration plan, and more.
That’s an impressive variety of vegetables you’ve got there. When I’m eating really clean, I eat lots of vegetables, and I keep my fridge well stocked. But no meal takes longer than 10 minutes to prepare. For example, for breakfast recently I made some Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Farina. I added matcha tea powder to it, as well as cherries, coconut, and chia seeds. For dinner, I made a tapenade recently, so I heated a can of white beans, added some oil and tapenade, and made an egg white omelet with kale. And I drank another two or three liters of water. The hardest thing when you do back-to-back rides is recovery, and if you eat well, you recover well. I felt great.
You mentioned your serious hydration needs. Is that coconut water I see on the shelf? Yes, I prefer it over sports drinks because I worry about the artificial colors and stuff. It’s a great source of natural electrolytes. I sometimes add it to smoothies, too.
What about when you’re actually on the bike? Do you eat the packaged foods made for athletes then? I’m not a big fan of a lot of the GUs and training gels, but I’m a spokesperson for a product called BodyKey by Nutrilite—it’s under Amway. It’s gluten-free, non-GMO, and portion-controlled. We have bars and shakes, so it fits into my lifestyle for sports nutrition.
Is that a chicken I see under the veggies? Organic chicken. I go through one a week. This morning I boiled up a chicken and I’ll use it for four or five different meals. Tonight will be black lentils with kale and chicken. The byproduct is chicken stock, so I’ll make a chicken soup. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but the other thing I like is lamb cutlets. I’m very conscious of meat, portion-control wise. I don’t got overboard, and I look to a lot of plant protein.
And how about the root next to it. Is that a hunk of ginger? I always have plenty of turmeric and ginger. I do fresh turmeric in juices and a stir-fry. I tell people to count colors instead of calories all the time—beets, carrots, kale, fennel—that’s more important to me than anything else. How many colors do you think are in my fridge? —Lisa Elaine Held