A lesson in carb-loading with Tom Aikens and Lucozade

Marathons are fairly divisive things – people either want to do them, or at least understand the drive and have it on their one day list, or don’t.  Neither is right or wrong, we are just all different.  However, the one thing that everyone seems to agree on about marathons is this… carb-loading is bloody amazing.

It is more than amazing though, it is also very important.  I ask a lot of my body when I do long runs and it’s super important to make sure it’s adequately fuelled to do so.  Carb-loading doesn’t just mean eating junk food carbs though, although I definitely let rip with pizza and brownies after a long run.  I normally carb load with brown rice, sweet potatoes and wholewheat pasta.  However, even as someone who enjoys cooking, it can get a bit boring and repetitive to whip these up for every long run.  Therefore it was a real pleasure to receive a lesson on how to cook delicious and nutritious meals for endurance runners courtesy of Tom Aikens, of Tom’s Kitchen fame, and Lucozade.


Tom, who is about to run his third London marathon alone without even getting started on the other races he has taken on, took us through how to speedily whip up nourishing food that tastes delicious, powers you for a run and helps your body recover afterwards.  Sounds amazing? It was.  I have often written on here about my love of non fussy ‘real’ food.  I consider a healthy balanced meal one that is made from good ingredients and that fills you up.  This is especially important if you’re active.  Calories are quite literally units of energy.  If you want to fuel your body to be a better runner,  more defined and ‘toned’, or even just a well functioning one that helps you be good at your job throughout a whole working day then you have got to feed it accordingly.


We cooked two meals – a high energy salad and a big bowl of pasta.  I’ve posted the salad just because it was so delicious and the sort of meal that would convert anyone who says they don’t like eating healthily or salads.  It’s a combination of mashed sweet potato, poached eggs, spicy seeds, quinoa with broccoli, salad leaves and vinaigrette. It may take slightly longer to prepare then chopping up a few raw veg and opening a salad pack.  But that’s because it is just so much better.  It’s better for you nutritionally and because it’s tasty it’s better for your mind.  The full recipe and method is below.

My advice if you want to speed things up? Use normal seeds.

egg salad

High Energy Salad (serves one)
Perfect before a run due to high level of carbohydrate



  • 4g spiced and cooked pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp crushed walnuts
  • 3g sliced spring onions
  • 2 handful of baby spinach leaf
  • 4 -6 florets of lightly cooked broccoli
  • Handful of Watercress leaf
  • 4 heaped tbsps of cooked mixed red and white quinoa seeds
  • 1 tbsp of walnut vinaigrette
  • 2 x poached egg
  • 230g sweet potato
  • 16 cooked edamame beans
  • 1 kg of Broccoli
  • 400ml water
  • 150g Mixed Quinoa, red & white
  • 2g salt

Sweet Potato Mash

  • 1 kg of peeled sweet potato diced in 1cm dice
  • 40g honey
  • 50ml lemon juice
  • 20g walnut oil
  • 8g Salt
  • 200ml water

Walnut Dressing

  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 200ml walnut oil
  • 100g finely chopped shallots
  • 100g chopped toasted walnuts
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 x Large pinch of salt
  • 12 turns of milled pepper

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

  • 200g Pumpkin seeds toasted taken from butternut squash or bought in seeds
  • 1 fresh lime zest
  • Large pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 14 turns turns of milled pepper
  • large pinch of smoked paprika
  • small pinch of cayenne
  • 1g ginger powder
  • 1g mixed spice
  • 20g soft brown sugar
  • 20g melted butter
  • 80g Acacia honey



  1. Fill a large, shallow pan with water and bring to a simmer, adding some white wine vinegar (2-4 tbsp per liter of water and 12g salt per liter)
  2. Break the eggs into separate small bowls, and when the water is simmering, take a spoon and swirl the water round in the pan adding the eggs
  3. Poach for 3-4 minutes till the white is soft and the yolk is runny
  4. Once the eggs are cooked remove them from the pan and place into iced water. When reheating place into a pan of simmering water for two minutes, them on a small plate with some kitchen towel to dry them off
  5. Place the washed quinoa into a pan with the stock and bring to a slow simmer, cook for approx. 15-20 minutes till they are just tender and the husk has just separated from the grain, they must remain a little al dente, once cooked add 2g of salt – leave to cool
  6. Place all of the sweet potato puree ingredients into the pan at the same time, then cover with a lid and cook till soft on a med heat for approx. 12-15 mins
  7. Remove the lid and reduce any liquid that is left in the pan, then leave approx. 100ml liquid in the base – then mash
  8. Add the broccoli into boiling water with a pinch of salt and cook, BE CAREFUL not to overcook as it just takes a minute or two to cook. Must be lightly cooked, then refresh in iced water
  9. For the Edamame beans use the same seasoned water as the broccoli and cook just 200g at a time as you don’t need much for the salad, cook for just 1 minute then refresh in iced water and then leave for two mins to chill, then pick out of the shell
  1. For the walnut dressing place into pan with 150ml of sunflower oil, add the chopped shallots and garlic with the salt and pepper, place onto a low heat with a lid and cook for 3-4 minutes till just tender, add the vinegar, the chopped walnuts and remaining oils, take off the heat, and check the seasoning
  2. Once the pine nuts are toasted add them with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and then place onto an oven tray and bake at 170c for approx. 10 mins till they are caramelised


Construction of salad

  1. Place into the bowl, the cooked quinoa seeds, walnut pieces, spring onions, broccoli, edamame beans, and the salad leaves of watercress and spinach, then add the dressing and a little seasoning, mix well
  2. Warm the poached egg through in simmering water for a minute, then drain and season with salt and pepper
  3. Place in a shallow bowl the sweet potato puree into the middle of the bowl then ½ the mixed salad around, place the poached egg into the middle and the remaining salad up and around the egg. Then place the sweet potato crisps around the edge of the salad along with the flaked almonds and pumpkin seeds




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