Cooking a Whole Foods Feast For a Large Party

If you were going to prepare a feast for 20 people, what would you prepare? What macro and micronutrients would you prioritize? What about supplements and superfoods? A lot of people ask me what I eat, how much I eat and why. As a professional athlete and someone who cares about the food that I put into my body, I'm constantly prepping food, experimenting with new recipes and ingredients, trying new things, and finding ways to maximize my performance and recovery through my diet. I think there's a tremendous benefit in learning about what others eat and how it affects their performance and day to day life. And I also believe that we need to experiment with our own diets to truly understand what works for us as individuals.  

At the moment I'm living in Provo, Utah with my San Francisco Fire teammates. We're a professional sports team in the National Pro Grid League. GRID is in its third year and I've written about the sport of GRID and why I love it so much. This season we're living in a hotel for the majority of the season which makes meal prep difficult. Luckily we have the support of Whole Foods MarketWe can stock up on healthy snacks, precooked food and more. It's made living in a hotel easy and I've been able to track my food consistently. Tracking my macronutrients has become a big part of my diet. I've seen tremendous gains in my performance, I have more energy throughout my day, I recover better and the quality of my sleep has improved. Do I think everyone needs to weigh and measure and track their food? Not necessarily. But if you have performance or physique related goals I believe it's extremely beneficial. If you're goal is to be healthy and fit so that you can enjoy life with your friends and family, then I think a whole foods approach is the most important. If you are interested in tracking your macronutrients in order to reach certain goals, there's a ton of resources out there. I work for Black Iron Nutrition and help athletes all over the world with their diets. It's an awesome way to get started, to learn more about how to track, what you need to fuel your activities, and access to a coach who can support you and hold you accountable. 

This past weekend we went as a team to the Sundance Resort on Mount Timpanogos and rented a gorgeous cabin. We hiked, explored and planned an epic Whole Foods Market feast. As professional athletes we're really good at working out, but that's only one aspect of a successful training program. Rest and recovery are critical components and we've had an awesome support crew to help ensure we're fueling, resting and recovering properly. We have therapists on hand to help with recovery and to help prevent injuries. As a team we use ROMWOD to stretch and mobilize. Our schedule is conducive for allowing adequate sleep and we're all on each other about proper hydration. And then of course there's nutrition. Which is what I want to talk about here. Like I've mentioned, I believe a whole foods, balanced approach is the starting point for a good diet because what you eat has a huge impact on how you perform. I have found that a predominately paleo diet works best for me because my body doesn't respond well to gluten and dairy. Some people can process them just fine, and in others they can cause autoimmune reactions and inflammation. I think there's a huge benefit in eliminating these known allergens to determine for yourself how your body reacts to them. Whether I'm meal prepping for myself or a group of 20, I take a similar approach. I worked with our team owner Paul Southern to come up with the menu for our cabin feast and these were the main things we wanted to prioritize:

  1. A good source of protein
  2. A variety of carbohydrates - starches, greens and fruit
  3. Healthy fats
  4. A variety of vitamins and minerals - micronutrients
  5. Fiber
  6. Probiotics
  7. A variety of herbs and spices - food that tastes good

By having a variety of food everyone in attendance was able to eat according to their own goals and we were all able to enjoy good food together. I also believe in a flexible diet approach and I don't think we should ever have to feel like we need to avoid a social situation because our diet is too restrictive. If you're interested in learning more about my approach to Flexible Dieting you can read about that in my Flexible Dieting blog post.

Here are a few of my favorite foods to prep and eat:

Protein:

  1. Organic chicken breast 
  2. Grass fed bison and beef - Good source of iron, zinc and Vitamin B
  3. Organic ground turkey
  4. Wild caught salmon - Great source of Vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids
  5. Pasture raised eggs - loaded with nutrients and HDL (good cholesterol). Although eggs are high in cholesterol, they don’t adversely affect blood cholesterol. Our liver produces cholesterol every day, when we eat eggs, our liver just produces less.

Carbohydrates:

  1. Sweet potatoes - great source of Vitamin A, fiber and potassium
  2. Raspberries and blackberries - high fiber, low sugar
  3. Greens - broccoli, kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, artichokes, etc. - loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals
  4. Butternut squash - great source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C
  5. Spaghetti squash - multifunctional for many recipes
  6. Rice - white rice is easy to digest. On intense training days I like to eat white rice to replace glycogen stores. I can eat white rice without causing inflammation, allergies and stomach distress that other gluten and wheat containing carbohydrates produce.

Fat:

  1. Avocados - high in potassium and fiber and loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids
  2. Coconut oil 
  3. Olive oil - rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids
  4. Nuts and nut butter

The feast we prepared turned out fantastic. We had so much good food thanks to Whole Foods Market.

Our epic menu included:

Thank you so much to Whole Foods Market Contra Costa & Tri Valley for Fueling the Fire this season!