The Australian Institute of Sport’s latest cookbook Survival From the Fittest, is the second cookbook in the series, a companion cookbook to their first Survival For the Fittest, and features a range of very easy, quick, and healthy meals, many of which were contributed by well known Australian sporting figures. There is also nutritional information, extensive information on eating for specific purposes, and reading food labels.
Reviewed by Magdalena Ball
Survival From the Fittest
By Louise Burke, Greg Cox, Nikki Cummings, and Ben Desbrow
Allen and Unwin Australia
Australia is a sport loving nation. Many people participate in sports, and athletes and athletics are lauded. The Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) is the country’s best known and most highly regarded sports training academies, and many of the countries Olympian and professional sports figures have trained, and continue to train there. An important aspect of training at the AIS is its food – food designed for athletes, to help them keep fit, and to promote maximum performance. There are cooking classes, demonstrations, and regular catering. The AIS’s latest cookbookSurvival From the Fittest, is the second cookbook in the series, a companion cookbook to their first Survival For the Fittest, and features a range of very easy, quick, and healthy meals, many of which were contributed by well known Australian sporting figures. There is also nutritional information, extensive information on eating for specific purposes, and reading food labels.
The information sections are very detailed, providing reasons for why specific types of athletes need to have low body fat levels, or why they should eat high energy, high carbohydrate foods while training. There are nutritional strategies, lists of good snacks, and information on things like preventing fluid deficiency, and sodium loss. Some of the specific purposes covered include eating for endurance, eating for team sports, eating for strength and power, and eating for skill and agility, all of which involve different strategies, and food choices. There is a section on challenges for the athlete, and a section on vegetarian eating. The back of the book provides chapters on eating healthily while travelling, self-catering, including shopping lists, meal plans, and easy one dish type menus. The recipes are divided into the standard sections of Starters, Soups & Salads, Grains, Pasta, Spice, Bakes & Grills, Sandwiches, Pizza, Treats, Quick Treats, and Muffins.
The food itself is definitely easy, and made up of generally easy to find, humble ingredients, but the book was produced in conjunction with Nestle, also one of the sponsors of the AIS, and the number of references to Nestle products and brand names, from MAGGI stocks, noodles, and pre-made sauces, to CARNATION milks, and Nestle chocolate chips, etc, gives this book a cheap feel, making it seem more like one of those books you get for sending in packet wrappers than like a proper cookbook. Also the recipes themselves are pretty basic, relying on a lot of pre-made supermarket sauces and products, which is great for the target market of young busy athlete types just learning how to cook or fend for themselves, but perhaps less appropriate for more experienced cooks. The recipes are fine though, and feature things like risottos, soups, polentas, beans, seafood and fish, lots of pasta, curries, a whole section on pizza (staple food of the young), stir fries, and very quick and easy treats and snacks. This is not a book to give to a gourmet, or even an enthusiastic amateur who loves to read cookbooks, but for a young sporty teenager, or anyone who is active, busy, and doesn’t do much cooking, the book is perfect. The nutritional information is sound, the recipes are easy, healthy, and will very likely work, even for first time cooks, and the book has a lot of information on the relationship between healthy eating and sporting performance.