A peek in the pantry of a pro triathlete

By August 28, 2015Triathlon

As a PhD student in pharmaco-economics at Virginia Commonwealth University and a professional triathlete who does two workouts a day, Julie Patterson has very little free time and is also on a tight budget. Despite her crazy schedule, she took some time to share her some insight about her diet with Edible Richmond. Here are the go-to ingredients that fuel her high-powered athletic engine with quick, healthy and affordable meals.


Polenta is filling and pretty inexpensive. Also, I have Celiac’s disease so finding carbohydrate options can be hard. I get Woodson’s Mill cornmeal, about two pounds for around $6. One cup of that makes three cups of cooked polenta. That’s two meals for me, although for the average person it would probably be many more.

High quality spices

Since I’m not buying a lot of ingredients, one way to get flavor is spend a little money on high quality spices. I use mostly Linda’s Garden Chipotle Blend and Italian Blend. I add the Italian Blend to polenta and the chipotle to stir-fried chicken or tofu.

Photos by Shell B. Royster

Tofu and tempeh

I’m not a vegetarian, but proteins can be expensive. Tofu and tempeh are more reasonably priced. I buy Twin Oaks tempeh already frozen to keep on hand. That means fewer shopping trips for me and it’s ready to go when I want to make a stir fry with whatever veggies are fresh and in season.  

Ice cream

Ice cream is my guilty pleasure. The best thing about Homestead Creamery vanilla ice cream is that it’s so rich I can’t eat exorbitant amounts at one time. It’s always a mistake when I buy cheaper ice cream. I eat it so fast that it doesn’t last. But with this, I eat one cup and I’m satisfied.


Last summer I went to Swift Creek Berry Farm to pick blueberries. I bring them home and spread them out on a tray to freeze them, then they’re nice and separated. If you just throw them in a bag they can freeze together. I use them for smoothies and blueberry pancakes. Mostly the pancakes.  

Photos by Shell B. Royster



Kefir is a good source of dairy protein. I use it in smoothies with frozen fruit, bananas, a little protein powder and maybe some V-8 to thin it out. Lifeway’s peach flavor is my favorite. This morning I put some of that on cantaloupe and there was some left over so I just drank it plain. 

Read more from Julie Patterson on her blog.