Cooking for Competiton - A New Column from Susan Taves

A note from DressageDaily's "Boss Mare" Mary Phelps
The best part of my "job" is all the friends we meet throughout our travels, and how interesting people are when you get a chance to know them. We met Susan Taves and her daughter Ilanah an incredibly talented Junior rider, last summer at Silverwood Dressage. Susan and Ilanah came to Florida horse hunting, and to the Palm Beach Derby where she whipped up some tasty treats for our "Taste of the Derby" party, where we also served the award winning Pinot Noir wine from our friends vineyard - Quailhurst Wine. Check out what we hope will be the beginning of a tasty new column, and let us know what you think!

As the snow blankets our homes, our barns and even our horses up in the northern climes, it’s hard for us Yankee working stiffs to imagine that show season in Florida is in full force. If not for our DressageDaily updates, we’d be in the dark. While we scramble to push our horses up the levels, dose up an extra scoop of daily Cosequin, web surf for the latest and greatest in equine nutrition, riders tend to downplay the importance of human fitness and health.

Athletes have been refining their winning game meals and carb. building strategies to ensure game day prowess, for decades. Riders are no different. Stamina, alertness and fitness can make or break your ride on show day. In a sport where a fraction of a second or a 1/100 of a point can eke out a win, keen focus, endurance and proper hydration will give you the winning edge. Further, riding is unique in that riders compete well into their sixties (just look at Hilda Gurney) competing against people in their twenties and thirties.

So think calcium (and not just the women, we all need strong bones), iron to battle fatigue, magnesium to keep us calm and focused and myriad other nutrients to fuel our bodies and minds as we soar (or crawl for some of us) up the levels.

Maintaining mental and physical fitness regularly is the best bet, but how about a weekend strategy for a quick fix? Well, start out by chasing that morning caffeine with a big glass of water to rehydrate your cells. Try to steer clear from carbonated sugary soft drinks before your rides. They can give you side stitches and sugar rushes. Instead have a piece of fruit and a piece of cheese or a few sunflower seeds for a boost. Alcohol also depletes you of much needed vitamins and hydration and impairs your perception; although a glass of wine after your ride is a great way to unwind!
PhelpsPhoto: Ilanah meets Courtney King and Idocus

Simply speaking, there are three main nutrients in food: carbs. fats and proteins. Each category then breaks into too many subcategories to name. There are good ones and bad ones all around.

I wax heavy, so let’s just start cooking…

Night Before
Coconut Shrimp Curry with Pasta - 4 Servings
1 lb. fettucine, cooked in salty water until al dente or slightly firm
12 oz. peeled and deveined raw medium large shrimp
1 leek, white part only, diced
1 can lite coconut milk (not the sweetened coconut cream)
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Sprinkle half of the curry powder in the pan and “toast” it until it is aromatic. Add the oil and the shrimp. Saute one minute on each side. Remove shrimp and set aside.

Add leek, turn heat to low and sauté until transparent and soft. Add cumin and coconut milk. Stir through. Add shrimp and continue to simmer until shrimp are opaque and beginning to curl.

Don’t overcook as shrimp will become rubbery. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide pasta onto four plates and spoon shrimp mixture portions over and enjoy!

*stay tuned for ride day snacks and easy lunches

Susan Taves is the chef/owner of Sweet Cassava Culinary Concepts, Her career spans two decades of catering, food writing, consulting and teaching at the college level. Starting out as an edgy caterer for the music industry, she is classically trained in both culinary and pastry, having studied in the US and in Europe. Her food is global with distinct Latin Caribbean style and an emphasis on organic and sustainable product. Read more about her She will travel to cater. Susan and her daughter, Ilanah, are both avid dressage riders.

Serve award winning Pinot Noir wine from the Qualhurst Vineyards - Join their wine club!