– Recipe & Photos by Casey Weaver –
With no big race to shape this month’s recipe, there was little I could do to keep myself from slipping into my natural comfort zone. And given that my apartment is a stone’s throw from three taco shops (it was almost two after a midnight blaze nearly turned El Super Taco into a smoldering pile of beans and cheese last week…great work LAFD), a carniceria, and a Mexican market…that comfort definitely lies somewhere south of the border.
The almost unanimous recovery food of choice for SoCal riders may be the burrito, but Mexican cuisine has more to offer than massive amounts of meat and beans wrapped in a tortilla. Fresh fruit abounds in the tropical regions of the country, giving rise to numerous sidewalk juice stands selling “aguas” and “liquados”. In essence, aguas are fruit blended with ice and water; liquados are pretty much the same, though with the substitution of milk for water. To me, the beauty of these drinks lies in that simplicity. They are not smoothies as most of us know them.
If you source ripe, seasonal fruit, the addition of sugar to aguas should be unnecessary, which makes them all that much more satisfying. And because fruit is mostly water and is full of natural sugars, they are not a half bad natural alternative to recovery drinks, too.
The following drinks all require the same preparation: Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and hit “on.” Blend until smooth. Each makes one drink.
1 Ѕ cups cubed, very ripe cantaloupe
Ѕ cup cold water
Ѕ cup ice
1 T plain, low/nonfat yogurt or sour cream (t-r-u-s-t me)
1 T lemon juice
pinch of salt
Melon should have a higher status than “filler in a restaurant fruit salad”—the taste of a ripe, seasonal melon is truly unrivaled. Although cantaloupe is available pretty much year-round in supermarkets, it is best when it is in season during the summer months. Look for cantaloupe and other melons at your local market.
Cantaloupe, like many orange fruits and vegetables, is naturally high in Vitamin A, and the often-celebrated antioxidant superhero, Vitamin C. It also contains a fair amount of potassium, and essential electrolyte. Combine those with a pinch of salt to round out sweetness and you’ve got yourself some pretty enjoyable fluid replacement.
Green Melon and Mint Agua
1 Ѕ cups honeydew (or other “green/white” melon)
2 average size mint leaves
Ѕ cup ice
juice of Ѕ lime
Ѕ cup water
pinch of salt
This could very well be the most refreshing summer drink on the planet. Something about the combination of a green melon, such as honeydew, and mint is just plain refreshing. And with the lime juice, it becomes a unique combination of mojito, island fruit juice, and “spa water” (as in the relaxing health facility, not tub of warm water). Again, you are best to use very ripe melon, to the point that it is almost too sweet to be eaten by itself.
Rice Milk Horchata
1 Ѕ cups unflavored rice milk (refrigerated type preferred)
Ѕ cup ice
1 T cane sugar
Ѕ t vanilla
1/8 t ground cinnamon
Although not fruit based, horchata is still considered an agua in Mexico, and is, without a doubt, my favorite. Unfortunately the horchata you have probably seen in shopping malls cascading down a plastic fountain right next to the Orange Bang is full of artificial flavors and is an unfair rendition at best, and the homemade stuff sold on the street (you don’t have horchata vendors on your street?) is often filled with heavy cream or other less-desirables.
This version calls for rice milk, making it great for those that can’t do dairy, and is little more than combination of a few other natural ingredients. Rice milk contains a fair amount of natural carbohydrate, great for post-workout replenishment. For a more serious (and just as tasty) recovery drink, add a scoop of unflavored whey protein powder. It’s good.
These drinks should get you through the rest of the racing season and summer. Once the season is really off, we’ll talk about how to take the level of enjoyment one step further.
About The Author:
Casey grew up in the kitchen inspired by his mom and grandmother, who ran the catering and cooking instruction company, Cooking in the Canyon, in Brentwood, Ca. He is the creator of the website CulinaryCompetitor.com a recipe resource for athletes who love good food. He received his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from UCLA, currently races for the NOW-MS elite amateur cycling team, and coaches endurance athletes with Velo-Fit, llc.