Bike racing is a tough, unforgiving discipline that requires focus, strength and endurance. But do you think all cyclists are super thin or scrawny? Then you haven’t met any track cyclists. Track cycling is over 100 years old and takes place on a velodrome at speeds nearing 60 miles per hour. There are a variety of track races but they all require one thing: being able to pedal a single speed fixed gear brakeless bicycle at incredibly high speeds. And like sprinters in track and field, this requires a tremendous amount of leg strength for power and output.
So for our next installment in the Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes Series, I’d like you to meet 3 track cyclists who know that eating vegan doesn’t compromise strength and speed on the track. I mean, how many people do you know that require special pants to fit their quad muscles into?
First we meet Kevin Selker of Boulder, CO. We met Kevin while in Colorado filming with Modern-Day Pentathlete Justin Torrellas and he even makes a brief appearance in the Runner Megan Hebbe episode where I fail miserably at cross-country skiing. Kevin, despite being a PhD student, won 30 track races in 2012! And this year (this weekend actually!) he’s headed to the Collegiate National Track Championships. And it’s his wonderful lasagna recipe that we feature below.
Next we meet Jack Lindquist, formerly of Los Angeles, who now resides in Portland, OR where he manages the one-of-a-kind bikeshop/coffeebar/bar Velo Cult. Jack is a long-time friend of mine and whenever anyone mentions vegans being weak I mention that he can deadlift over 500 pounds. That’s a quarter ton he can pick up off the ground!
Lastly we meet Zak Kovalcik of Portland, OR. Like Jack, Zak is a former bike messenger. He also realized he can go really fast on a bike and decided to ‘pursue’ it. And as you’ll see he has the big wins to prove it. I also want to mention that he rides for the Sizzle Pie Team, mostly because they have kick-ass vegan pizza and a great ‘slice and salad’ special that I always hit up when I’m in Portland!
Here it is, episode number 11:
How great is that? To read more about Zak winning TWO national championships in 2012 check out this article. And isn’t Kevin the nicest guy ever? It’s hard to imagine that someone so incredibly nice could be so competitive. I love that we met him for the first time and he was making this lasagna, and now you can too!
Kevin Selker’s Homemade Chickpea Cheez Vegan Lasagna
Adapted version of an adapted version of the lasagna from Passionate Vegetarian cookbook.
Makes one very large or two normal-sized lasagnas.
1-2 cups homemade breadcrumbs (when you don’t finish a loaf of bread in time, leave the leftover slices out–I leave them on top of my fridge–to dry out, then process them and store. The best bread makes the best breadcrumbs. Store bought breadcrumbs are usually awful.)
Couple cloves of garlic
More parsley or carrot tops or fresh italian herb of your choice
2 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Process the breadcrumbs with the garlic, adding the oil while the blade is spinning. Then add herbs and salt and pulse once more. Set aside.
1 quart (32oz) Prepared chickpeas (If you cook these at home add a teaspoon of baking soda when they’re boiling–it speeds cooking and helps them get extra soft!) Reserve some cooking water from the chickpeas
3 cloves garlic
2 TBSP cornstarch
Handful of flat leaf parsley or carrot tops
Puree the chickpeas in a blender or food-processor. (NOTE: To save time you don’t have to clean it after making the bread crumbs) Add the garlic and starch and puree until smooth, adding the reserved cooking water if needed. The consistency should be like a very soft hummus. Add the parsley or carrot-tops and puree to combine. If the beans were unsalted, add a bit of salt, otherwise probably don’t–it’s OK if this sauce is not very salty.
1 large onion, chopped
Several cups vegetables of your choice. Favorites include:
1 cup roasted bell peppers, chopped
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
Large handful of dried tomatoes, chopped
Large handful of olives, pitted and sliced
Sauté the onion for a few minutes, and add the vegetables in order that they need to be cooked. Do not overcook, as the lasagna will bake also. Some (most) vegetables won’t need to be cooked much or at all, so just add these at the end and kill the heat. Add half of the tomato sauce.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TBSP flour (whole wheat or white)
1 TBSP chopped garlic
1 TBSP tomato paste
1.5 cups vegetable broth or water (you can use bouillon also)
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon (pro-tip: you can use the same lemon!)
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the flour, and mix, being careful not to burn the flour. Next, add the garlic and tomato paste and mix well. Incrementally mix in the vegetable broth and continue to stir, smoothing out lumps. Bring to a simmer for a minute, then lower the heat and add the lemon juice, zest, and wine. Done!
1 quart (32oz) Tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought marinara)
About 12 ounces of lasagna noodles, either prepared or no-boil
Preheat oven to 350. Cook the lasagna noodles as desired. On the bottom of the pan, put about 1/4 cup of the lemon sauce: enough to coat the bottom. Then put a layer of noodles. On top of the noodles put half of the vegetables, then another layer of noodles. Spread all of the bean filling evenly and top with remaining vegetables. Top with a final layer of noodles. Pour the lemon sauce over the top and remaining tomato sauce (if there is room). Wrap tightly in foil and bake for 45 minutes. Then turn oven up to 450-500 and take the lasagna out. Remove the foil, topping the lasagna evenly with the breadcrumbs. Bake until the breadcrumbs are slightly browned. Let the cooked lasagna rest for a bit before cutting, serve warm.
Enjoy and let me know how it turns out for you! And if you are ever in Portland, Oregon there is more to do than eat so you should stop by Velo Cult and say hi to Jack!