The Crunchy Christian and a cookbook review

In Jewish and Christian scripture, the prophet Daniel was among the young men who were brought from Jerusalem to be servants to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. To avoid defiling himself and to show solidarity with his people, he refused to eat the “king’s meat” and subsisted on an essentially vegan, gluten-free diet.

The evangelical / Pentecostal / non-denominational Christian community has a sizable population that has embraced the message of eating “natural,” less processed foods that are lower on the food chain than feedlot beef and bacon. Some people took inspiration from Daniel’s abstinence, and now a number of churches across the United States often begin the year with a “Daniel’s Fast.”

I won’t go into the symbolic and significant spiritual components here, but the Daniel’s Fast is not sacramental so there are no hard and fast rules about the foods. The list is generally exclusionary – no meat, no dairy, no eggs. Most lists also exclude certain “processed foods” from the list – no white sugar, no white flour, no leavening, and so forth. For the past three years in which my own church has taken part in this Daniel’s Fast, you’ll have caught me eating dishes made with beans, whole grain rice and corn tortillas. Breakfast is usually oatmeal with added fruit. Smoothies made with avocados and silken tofu are also popular in the first month of the year at my church.

Still, I like a little variety in my meals, so I was delighted when this cookbook appeared at my front door the other week.

Racing Weight Cookbook

Before I continue, I should highlight that this is not a guide to vegan, gluten-free cooking. The endurance athlete nutritionist who developed the recipes in this cookbook nonetheless emphasizes the importance of variety and quality ingredients. It contains useful, yummy recipes I can use right now, but after this Daniel’s Fast is over, I plan to dig into the egg, meat, bread and cheese recipes, too.

I also appreciate that the primary author, Matt Fitzgerald, doesn’t actually like to cook. Yes, you read that right: a nutritionist and cookbook author who doesn’t enjoy time in the kitchen. He’d rather be running in the great outdoors. Does this sound like you?

And check out the title of this section when I flipped this book open for the first time.


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Beyond the introductory material about healthy eating for endurance athletes, about a third of this book is devoted to uber-simple recipes for the athlete who does not cook. Another third is for “The athlete with some cooking experience,” and the final third covers “Athletes who love to cook.” You start the racing season with a beginner’s Category 5 license and then work your way up from there.

The Racing Weight Cookbook is third in a series of “Race Weight” guides by Matt Fitzgerald to help the endurance athlete lose your winter flab and get to be the lean, mean, cycling machine you imagine yourself to be. The cookbook includes 100 delicious looking recipes, many of which can be prepared in under 15 minutes so you can hit the road.

Available in paperback edition only at book shops, stores specializing in endurance sports gear, and at online retailers such as Amazon and Powell’s.

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