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#CapsDevCamp Profile: Chef Robert Wood

Chef Robert wood provides food for the Washington Capitals and has provided lunch and dinner for #CapsDevCamp all week. His goal this week was to teach the prospects some new things about nutrition.

What’s been your approach to teaching the guys about nutrition this week?
We’re just trying to expose them to some things they’ve probably never seen before. Like Thursday, with the amaranth and the farro: amaranth is very nutrient dense and very good for them, especially when they are doing intensive training. It has ten times the amount of protein that wheat does. I try to expose them to different things that they might not get on a regular basis.

What are the most important nutrition rules for hockey players to know?
Variety is the most important thing. Not getting stuck on eating the same thing over and over again. Have multiple colors in your vegetables and multiple different kinds of fruit in your smoothies… different types of grains offer different antioxidants and different minerals so trying to have a variety in their diet. Which is difficult for a lot of these guys because they train so hard. They don’t have a chef at home, so trying to incorporate as much variety into their diet as they possibly can would be the most important thing from a training standpoint.

What are some recommended snacks?
Nuts are always great snacks. It’s a complete protein for a snack. The fatty acids and everything involved, and they’re easy, nothing complicated. Raw nuts are even better. They don’t taste as good as roasted and salted but they’re much healthier for you.

When you’re preparing a menu for a meal, what is your approach?
I start with proteins. So, I’ll have one leaner protein and one richer protein. Thursday, the beef was the richer protein and the boneless skinless chicken thighs were leaner.
Thursday was kind of a Latin-American theme, or kind of an, Island of the Caribbean theme.  So, Ropa Vieja is from Cuba. It’s Cuban pot roast. And Adobo rubbed chicken thighs, Adobo is a Puerto Rican spice blend. So I made some fun flavors there and then I made some ancient grains that they are not used to but I thought I could get them to eat it especially with some fun other flavors to override the strangeness of amaranth and faro.

What are your favorite grains?
Wild rice is one that’s fallen out of popularity, but it’s very very nutrient dense. It delivers way more protein than some of the other ones, like white rice. Wild rice is not even a rice, it’s a seed of a Native American grass. Quinoa is very popular right now, so that’s an easy one to start with and then I use that one as a bridge. All the guys know quinoa at this point and then I can use that as a jumping off point.

What about veggies?
Vegetables are always seasonal for me. Right now these guys are eating a lot of squash. Last night they were all looking at the yellow wax beans kind of like, “what are these chef?” I was like, “they’re green beans, they’re just yellow.” So lot’s of beans. Vegetables are always seasonal to me.

Eco Caters specify in Organic Local food, does that play into your philosophy as a chef?
Yes. I think one of the biggest reasons for us to do it is because of the quality of the ingredients, but also because of the effect on the environment. I don’t like any extra chemicals or things put into my food. Not only just from a flavor profile stand point or an ethical stand point but also because it effects health. The more chemicals and additives that we put into our bodies, the more damage we’re doing from a systemic standpoint.

— Deborah Francisco