Recently, I had the great good fortune to meet two pro triathletes: Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell.
Chelsea Piers hosted a Q & A event with the tri-sport stars and “Rinny” and “TO” good-naturedly indulged us while we peppered them with ridiculous questions like,
“How do you stay motivated?” and, “What do you eat before a race?”
To this last question, Mirinda admitted that she eats cupcakes before her races. Cupcakes. With icing. Specifically, she liked Whole Foods’ gluten-free cupcakes. She mentioned something about them being a perfect amount of calories and sugar — topping off what was hopefully a nutrient-rich diet the previous day.
Here I am eating oatmeal before I race, like a sucker, and Mirinda is chowing down on cupcakes. Later on, I questioned her privately, “You really eat cupcakes before a race?”
“She has a food blog, she might write about this!” a bystander cautioned Mirinda before she could answer.
At this, Tim piped up and said I should make them for the blog and call them “Rinny’s Racecakes”.
And so, I have. All the credit goes to Rinny for the idea and TO for the name.
Now, these cakes are a little different. They are gluten-free, but they’re made with beets which keeps them extra moist, and some say the Nitric Oxide in beets translates to better athletic performance…I’ll try anything.
The sea salt topping is for extra electrolytes, which can’t hurt on those hot summer race days.
Finally, how to get them to a race. If you’re lucky enough to be eating at home beforehand, then you don’t have this problem. But if you need to take your breakfast with you, you need to accomplish two things:
1. Minimize frosting mess.
2. Prevents cupcake squish (a real phenomenon.
To solve the first problem, I sliced the cupcakes in half and frosted them sandwich style. Easy!
For issue the second, I converted a simple bottle of Smart Water into a cupcake tote. Instructions follow!
What You Need:
For the Cake:
1-1/2 cups almond meal
½ cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1-1/2 cups turbinado sugar
2/3 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
4 small red beets, roasted
½ cup almond milk
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Colavita)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Frosting:
1-2 tablespoons of water
1 8oz package of vegan cream cheese (I used Daiya – I swear it’s good)
2 1/2 tablespoons of PB2 peanut butter powder (I used the chocolate flavor)
2-3 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar (depending on your need to sweetness
For the Top:
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
First, deal with the beets. I admit to being lazy and bought mine pre-roated. I’ve got a lot on my mind pre-race and I don’t really want to bother with roasting things, whatever they are. However, if you’d like to roast, here’s how to do it:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the beets in half and wrap them in aluminum foil.
Place the wrapped beets in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft when pierced through the center with a knife.
Remove the beets from the oven, allow to cool and then peel the skins off. Chop them into cubes.
Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees.
Place the cooled, chopped beets in a blender with the almond milk and puree until very smooth – so smooth you could drink it.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cacao powder and turbinado sugar. Mix all dry ingredients together.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, olive oil and vanilla extract.
Add the pureed beets to the egg mixture and mix to combine. Pour the wet beet mixture into the mixing bowl with all of the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
Prepare a cupcake tin by lining with cupcake paper or greasing with non-stick baking spray.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.
Allow the cupcakes to cool.
In the meantime, prepare the frosting:
Place the cream cheese, peanut butter powder, water and sugar in a medium bowl. With a hand-held mixer, beat until smooth. It’s best to add just a little water at a time, so the mixture doesn’t get runny. It should be the consistency of frosting.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, slice them in half cross-wise with a sharp knife and sandwich in some frosting on the bottom half. Place the top back on and garnish the top with the pink Himalayan sea salt (extra electrolytes!).
How to make the water bottle carrier:
What You Need:
1 bottle of Smart Water (drink the water first, you’ll need to be hydrated anyway if you’re racing)
1 exacto knife
Parchment paper for lining in between the cupcakes
What to Do:
With the exacto, slice the bottle of water around the middle so you have two same-sized pieces.
On the top half, make a small vertical cut, like the tails of a suit jacket. This will allow you to fit the top half into the bottom half.
Place a finished cupcake in the bottom half of the bottle.
Place a piece of parchment on top of the cupcake.
Keep stacking cupcakes and parchment alternately until it seems unwise to continue.
Secure the top half of the bottle over the bottom.
Race breakky to go!
On a side note, Tim was kind enough to write this message on his photo for The Box. I used it as a Father’s Day card: