U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympics

Nov 26 U.S. Paralympians on Thanksgiving food and training

By Jamie M. Blanchard | Nov. 26, 2013, noon (ET)

With two days until Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, USParalympics.org asked some of the nation's top Paralympic athletes to talk about everything Thanksgiving, including their favorite Thanksgiving dishes and how their training affects their celebration. Stay tuned throughout the week for more Thanksgiving chatter with U.S. Paralympians and hopefuls. 

Tuesday's questions

Who does the cooking for your Thanksgiving meal?

Lindsay Ball, alpine skiing
“Everyone does some cooking and brings something for the meal. We have everything it seems at Thanksgiving.” 

Megan Fisher, cycling and triathlon
“We have taken turns over the years hosting Thanksgiving dinner.  I love making mashed potatoes!  They're my specialty. Thanksgiving dinner tends to be fairly traditional; turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, acorn squash, green beans, and salad.  I avoid the pumpkin pie and leave that for everyone else to enjoy.  Instead, I make a dessert called ‘icebox cake’ that includes layers of chocolate ganache and a special sweet bread called ‘lady fingers’.   I top it off with whipped cream and raspberries. The recipe has been in my family for generations.”

Lee Ford, archery
“My sister Terry and I take turns. It's always turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, turnips, carrot soufflé and lots of different kinds of pie.” 

Josh George, track and field
“For the past couple of years my brother has done most of the cooking, aided by my dad and uncle. My mom does the baking, however, and takes care of the pies and rest of the desert. Throughout the day everybody in the house treks through the kitchen, however, and invariable ends up chopping or stirring something. We usually eat all the traditional foods. My brother makes a killer turkey and always gets creative with the stuffing. There is always a sweet potato dish as well as something with green beans. We typically have a couple of salads to choose from as well. Dessert is a mess of pies and homemade whipped cream.”

Tanner Gers, track and field
“My mom is the mastermind in the kitchen. Her troops are my wife and sister in-law. It is typically a two-day operation though, so that dinner can be served on-time, at 1 p.m. In the past several years, we moved to a turducken and I love it. Mom also prepares her famous Cajun bread, which I will miss this year as I am cutting gluten from the diet, and gumbo. Those are the favorites that are usually on our table. Our evening Thanksgiving will be spent at my wife’s sister’s house. Hopefully Rosa’s sister will cook some tamales. It’s tough to eat healthy and eat Mexican but this is a gluten free dish I enjoy eating.”

Cortney Jordan, swimming
“When I am home my mom, my dad and I cook different parts of the meal together. My sister usually stays away from the kitchen but provides a lot of the entertainment and joy. We have turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, bread, gravy, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin cake. My family likes to eat.”

Augusto Perez, Nordic skiing
“My wife. I am a good cook but I make a mess so my wife says. She is right. We usually have turkey, Puerto Rican rice with grandules, Russian potato salad/cold Spanish potato salad, tembleque , which is a Puerto Rican coconut dessert, and coquito, which is a Puerto Rican Christmas rum drink.” 

Jenny Sichel, rowing
“Everybody usually brings at least one dish with my grandmother filling in the holes. Each year we deep fry a turkey to golden goodness. We always have pearl onions in a cream sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy made by grandma using tons of heavy cream and butter, bourbon mashed sweet potatoes with a toasted marshmallow blanket, the best stuffing I have ever tasted – Grandma’s of course, at least one homemade pumpkin pie and potentially some lima or string beans since they are my father’s favorite.”

Ian Silverman, swimming
“My grandmother is an amazing cook and she cooks the entire meal.  Nobody can hold a candle to her cooking.”

What is your favorite part of your Thanksgiving meal?

Chuck Aoki, wheelchair rugby
“The best part of my Thanksgiving at home is the delicious scalloped potatoes my mom makes. They're better than yours. Sorry about it.”

Lindsay Ball, alpine skiing
“This year I am most excited about the pumpkin cheese cake that my mom is making.”

Megan Fisher, cycling and triathlon
“I try to include a perfect combination of everything in each bite. As for my favorite side dish, that’s a hard question.  It's a tossup between stuffing and mashed potatoes.”

Lee Ford, archery
“My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the turkey and gravy, I can never get enough. My favorite side is my carrot soufflés, tastes like a dessert but it's sugar and gluten free and super yummy.”

Josh George, track and field
“My favorite part of the meal is right at the beginning when you are hit by all the amazing smells wafting from the table as each dish gets passed around. As far as side dishes, I absolutely love sweet potatoes and always make sure to reserve a nice piece of plate real estate for whatever the sweet potato dish is.”

Tanner Gers, track and field
“My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the duck. It is a nice fatty meat, loaded with flavor, and my favorite side dish is the candy yams tied with Cajun bread. Candy yams are just awesome and Cajun bread is a spicy, meaty, gob of incredible, so I’ve got to develop an almond meal version of the recipe.”

Cortney Jordan, swimming
“My favorite part of Thanksgiving is getting to have a nice meal with the people I care about most. I don’t think I can choose one dish. I’m a swimmer. We eat everything! Stuffing? Turkey? Potatoes? I’ll eat it all.” 

Kevin McKee, sled hockey
“My favorite part about Thanksgiving is being with family and laughing and catching up with what is going on in their lives. As for food, one of my favorite dishes is broccoli surprise. It is a mixture of broccoli cheese and rice. My grandmother makes it every holiday.”

Augusto Perez, Nordic skiing
“Being a naturalized citizen, I like the whole Thanksgiving experience of giving thanks to all those who helped you as the pilgrims did when the Native Americans helped them through a tough winter. I like all the food until my wife gives me the plate and the calorie count.”

Jenny Sichel, rowing
“My favorite part of the meal is the realization that there are still pies to be eaten after all my dinner food has disappeared.  My favorite side dish is definitely the marshmallows on top of the bourbon sweet potatoes.”

Ian Silverman, swimming
“It’s one of the few times a year everyone is together for a nice meal so it’s great to enjoy each other’s company. My grandma always likes to make something different so I can always expect something good.  I like the stuffing with spinach and brie and, of course, pumpkin pie.”

Does your training/competition affect your Thanksgiving celebration?

Chuck Aoki, wheelchair rugby
“When I lived in Arizona and was training, I spent a couple lonely Thanksgivings on my own, so it kept me from celebrating at all really. But now, it's my day off so I just go for it.”

Lindsay Ball, alpine skiing
“I am lucky enough to be spending Thanksgiving at home with my family so I will not be training.” 

Megan Fisher, cycling and triathlon
“I usually manage to squeak in a training session early in the day so I can have the afternoon to relax.  In regards to eating, I try to subscribe to the philosophy ‘Eat to train, not train to eat’ and avoid over-eating.  As a cyclist, I am keenly aware that any extra weight I put on I will have to carry up every hill.” 

Lee Ford, archery
“Luckily for archery, Thanksgiving is the break between the outdoor season and the indoor season. I don't have to shoot as much, but it’s fun to go outside in the Georgia air and shoot some arrows while we wait for things to bake.”

Josh George, track and field
“I am fortunate that my competition schedule is usually finished by Thanksgiving and I am only doing offseason training. I will train every day during the lead-up to Thanksgiving but I may take the holiday off and pretend to be a fat kid for the day.”

Cortney Jordan, swimming
“Yes, unfortunately I have missed a few Thanksgiving celebrations due to training or competitions. It’s tough at times but I have a remarkably understanding and supportive family. They have even made me Thanksgiving meals before or after Thanksgiving so we could still celebrate together. And it is always worth it in the end. For example, I missed Thanksgiving in 2006 for the world championships in Durban, South Africa, so I feel like I can’t complain too much.” 

Kevin McKee, sled hockey
“This year my training will not be affected by Thanksgiving. I'm going to be in Chicago this year so I will be able to train in the morning before I feast on food in the evening.”

Augusto Perez, Nordic skiing
“Yes, I think since I am competing for the U.S. team, I have been home for Thanksgivings only twice.” 

Jenny Sichel, rowing
“I am quite lucky that I am currently training in Boston and can easily drive home for my Thanksgiving celebration.  Although in the past, I have made my own Thanksgiving for friends because of training.”

Ian Silverman, swimming
“I’ll drive out to my grandparent’s home after practice Thanksgiving morning.  Everyone else will probably arrive the day before, but I have to stay back to train.  Also, my dad always takes my brother and me to New York City for the weekend.  He grew up there and he loves to take us to shows, comedy clubs, shopping, etc.  My brother and dad will drive up on Friday, but I will take the train up after practice on Saturday morning.  I don’t have a big meet coming up, but this is an intense training time and I don’t want to lose ground.”

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