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Cookbook offers tips to relieve stress at rink and on road for hockey parents

11/03/2014 04:21 EST | Updated 01/03/2015 05:59 EST
TORONTO - Two hockey moms who have written a new cookbook are hoping young athletes will improve their diets when they read about what the pros eat.

Erin Phillips, who is married to Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, teamed up with recipe developer and food stylist Korey Kealey to write "The Ultimate Cookbook for Hockey Families," focusing on the foods that players need to fuel themselves for optimum performance.

Phillips came up with the concept for the cookbook on the first day of school two years ago. "Two of my kids had made competitive hockey and one of them was a figure skater and my husband was back in training camp and I just felt like I was cooking all the time," she said.

"I have a nutrition background and I was struggling to maintain healthy meals at all different hours of the day and thought basically, if I was struggling, I'm sure a lot of other hockey families, other sport families out there were as well."

The book includes tips and recipes from 27 hockey and skating stars, such as Kyle Turris, Dany Heatley, P.K. Subban, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Randy Robitaille and Steve Yzerman, who share their recipes and secrets for how they prepare for the big game and how they feed their muscles afterward.

"I've been a nutritionist for 10 years and when I tell parents 'do this, do this,' they don't really listen as much as when, I guess being a wife to Chris and being in that world, when I speak to kids they sort of listen and they really want to know the tips and the tricks and want to know what Chris eats and what all his teammates do," Phillips said from Ottawa.

"We wanted to write it so kids were empowered to take on their own healthy journey here and be able to get a little bit of advantage of what makes the difference and why."

The authors face off with daily nutritional requirements, along with pre- and post-game eating strategies and examples from the pros.

"My husband's been in the league 18 years and I've been around for 16 of those so we've met so many friends along the way," Phillips said. "We started off wanting to really pay tribute to the moms. Now as hockey moms ourselves we know what it takes and how much dedication and time and commitment to raise a hockey player."

Mothers, wives and girlfriends — along with women from the Canadian national team — offered recipes. "I have a little figure skater as well so I called two of my friends in the figure skating world and we have two of the Olympic athlete women in there as well," Phillips said, referring to Tessa Virtue and Jamie Sale.

Pros now favour eating their pregame meal seven to eight hours before to maximize their energy rather than just a few hours before. For children attending after-school or early evening practices, that means they should eat a proper lunch.

"Really lunchtime is the time when those lunches should not be hitting the garbage," said Kealey. "They go from maybe not eating a great breakfast to having no lunch, maybe a snack or two, go home and rushing and eating whatever they wolf down, so it's pretty hard to have energy when you're not properly fuelled."

Kealey, whose three children also spend a lot of time on the ice, advises planning and multi-tasking with food prep.

"Yesterday I was boiling eggs, so I've got hard-boiled eggs in the fridge for a protein snack on the go. Half of them I made into egg salad, so you can have those as a sandwich, as a wrap or you can have with crackers. And then at the same time I had some leeks and sweet potatoes and started making soup and then I'm always cooking quinoa.

"I always have a soup in the fridge, some quinoa or brown rice, some thing the kids can grab quickly — ham salad, egg salad, hummus, guacamole, chopped-up veggies. I think I spent an hour yesterday and I had four components kind of ready and then some basics."

There's an emphasis on stick-handling nutrition during tournaments. Phillips, for instance, is away about 10 weekends during the season.

"So you're not only driving there, you're eating on the road. Those are pretty intense schedules for the kids," she said. They need to eat healthful food rather than processed items to maintain energy to play in back-to-back games and avoid the "crashes" from consuming sugary snacks.

"When I leave it's not only looking after the one I'm taking it's looking after everyone else at home as well. We have a lot of how to pack your cooler and what to bring and tournament signup sheets so you're not eating at restaurants so the kids can actually bond and play ... in the hotels instead of sitting in the restaurant."

There are charts to help with assembling soups and lunches. In Sniper Smoothie, for instance, kids pick the liquid, fruit, veggie, protein, sweetener and flavouring. Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson always headed to the dressing room kitchen to drink a recovery smoothie after a game when it would be most effective, the authors write.

Proceeds from books purchased at participating Canadian Tire stores go to the Jumpstart Foundation to help underprivileged kids in that community play hockey.

Follow @lois_abraham on Twitter.

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