U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympians on Thanksgiving cooking, food

By Jamie M. Blanchard | Nov. 20, 2012, 11 a.m. (ET)
Kelly CrowleyKelly Crowley, who won two bronze medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, enjoys Thanksgiving desserts the most.

With two days until Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, USParalympics.org asked some of the nation's top Paralympic athletes to talk about everything Thanksgiving, including their favorite Thanksgiving dishes and how their training affects their celebration. Stay tuned throughout the week for more Thanksgiving chatter with U.S. Paralympians and hopefuls. 

Tuesday's questions

Who does the cooking for your Thanksgiving meal? 

Victoria Arlen, swimming
“My mom and I usually bake and cook as well as my aunts and uncles and dad cook too. Pretty much everyone pitches in when it comes to cooking. We serve all the Thanksgiving classics: turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, peas, salad, stuffing as well as some family tradition dishes such as mini pies, grandma’s stovies, which are yummy potatoes, and of course tablet, a Scottish dessert my grandma always makes but never will share the recipe.”

Cat Bouwkamp, wheelchair fencing
“For the big Thanksgiving meal in my family, there's usually around 25 of us. All the aunts and my grandma cook the turkey and bring side dishes.”

Steve Cash, sled hockey
“The cooking is a combination of dishes that is brought by each household when we come together for Thanksgiving. Dinner usually consists of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing and other foods commonly associated with the holiday.”

Kelly Crowley, para-cycling
“Everyone. It's potluck style. The dishes have been pretty much exactly the same for the last 35 years: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, two kinds of stuffing – one with giblets, one without, creamed onions, green beans, orange-glazed yams, potato rolls. Oh, and my grandma's spinach salad.”

Ryan Estep, wheelchair fencing
“There will be around 20 family members at my family’s Thanksgiving so everyone ends up cooking something. But the three grandmothers of the group cook the majority of the meal.”

Lex Gillette, track and field
“My family is a well-oiled Thanksgiving cooking machine. Each person brings a dish to complete the all-star spread. So, someone will bring the turkey, ham, another may bring mac and cheese, rice and gravy, cabbage, another will bring green beans, candy yams and potato salad, someone else will have the collard greens, coleslaw and corn bread, and another person will bring the cakes, cobblers and my absolute favorite, sweet potato pie.”

Emmy Kaiser, wheelchair tennis
“Usually we have Thanksgiving at our house so my mother, sister, and I do most of the cooking but each family usually brings a side or dessert or something as well. We usually have turkey of course, and stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, glazed carrots, sweet potato casserole, derby pie and whatever other desserts we decide to make.”

Taylor Lipsett, sled hockey
“In both my wife’s and my family, everyone contributes to cooking. My wife always makes her famous loaded mashed potatoes, and I make sweet potato casserole, which is basically a dessert. In addition, we also have your typical Thanksgiving food such as turkey – we always smoke ours, ham, smoked brisket, homemade stuffing, green bean casserole, broccoli and rice casserole, a number of different pies and our very own secret family recipe boiled custard for dessert.”

Angela Madsen, track and field
“I prepared the meal for many years but have not for many years. Recently, Thanksgiving has been at Deb’s mother’s house. The meal is usually American traditional, turkey and all the fixins.”

J. Dee Marinko, sitting volleyball
“Lucky for me, I just worry about the eating and not the cooking. My mom and sister do the cooking. We have turkey and ham and all the trimmings.”

Asya Miller, goalball
“When I am in Colorado, Mama Armbruster does the cooking. This year, I am spending Thanksgiving in Portland, Ore., with one of my teammates.”

Kerri Morgan, track and field
“Cooking will be a group effort this year for me, my parents, aunt, uncle and cousins.”

Justin Zook, swimming
“I am actually not sure who is cooking this year but we usually have the traditional turkey, potatoes, a few vegetables and then more dessert than anything else.”


What is your favorite part of your Thanksgiving meal?

Victoria Arlen, swimming
“I love everything to do with Thanksgiving especially mashed potatoes and stuffing and gravy. I do love peas on the side too.”

Cat Bouwkamp, wheelchair fencing
“My favorite part of the meal is definitely the pumpkin pie. Perfect ending.”

Steve Cash, sled hockey
“My favorite part of my Thanksgiving meal is that you get to taste a variety of cooking styles because almost every dish comes from a different person. Although, I would say my favorite individual dish is my mom’s potato casserole, it is unique but at the same time goes well with everything else.”

Kelly Crowley, para-cycling
“Dessert is my favorite. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, lemon bars, chocolate cream pie, coffee. Now that I'm vegetarian and my husband is a chef, his contributions are usually my favorite. I love his Brussels sprouts, no matter how he prepares them. And my mom's orange-glazed yams taste nostalgic, which is funny because growing up, those were my least favorite.”

Ryan Estep, wheelchair fencing
“My favorite part of the meal is definitely all of the sweets. Pecan pie is my favorite.”

Lex Gillette, track and field
“There are so many things to choose from, the sounds of chitter-chatter at the dinner table, the laughter, the ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’ from the guys watching football games, and the sound of toddlers feet running through the house, all of the sounds of a fun and loving family. My favorite thing is sweet potato pie hands down.”

Emmy Kaiser, wheelchair tennis
“My favorite part of the meal is the derby pie of course. If you haven't heard of it, you haven't lived yet. [Derby pie is a chocolate and walnut tart in a pie shell usually with a pastry dough crust.] My favorite side dish is probably the sweet potato casserole or the mashed potatoes. My family thinks it is weird but I always put honey in my mashed potatoes which makes it delicious.”

Taylor Lipsett, sled hockey
“My favorite part of Thanksgiving is spending time with my family. Since I am so busy traveling, training, workingand going to school, I don’t get to see my family very often, so this is a great time to catch up with everyone! And my favorite dish is definitely my sweet potato casserole. I could eat it until I am sick.”

Angela Madsen, track and field
“My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the gathering and reuniting with family and friends. My favorite dish is mashed sweet potatoes with pecan crunchy topping.” 

J. Dee Marinko, sitting volleyball
“I would have to say dessert is my favorite. My wife makes a great banana pudding. It’s the best.”

Asya Miller, goalball
“My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is mashed potatoes and apple pie.”

Kerri Morgan, track and field
“I like it all so it is a close call but probably mashed potatoes and gravy are the winner.”

Greta Neimanas 
Greta Neimanas says canned cranberry is her favorite Thanksgiving dish.

Greta Neimanas, para-cycling
“Maybe it’s trashy or uncouth to enjoy this so much but my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the jellied cranberries- the type that comes in a can and slide out still shaped like the can. It’s a total, not-so guilty pleasure that I reserve only for the holidays. My mom always makes a really nice cranberry orange relish dish with fresh cranberries and oranges that everyone loves but I won’t touch it. I always stick with the canned deliciousness. It’s just so good! Since I’m pretty much the only one who eats it, especially given the choice between that and fresh stuff,  there is always plenty.”

Justin Zook, swimming
“The best part about the meal for me is getting to sit down with some family members who I do not get to spend time with and catch up. With work and swimming being basically a full-time commitment, I find it hard to keep in touch with some of my family members. Also, I really enjoy getting to sit down and watch football with my dad.”


Does your training affect your Thanksgiving?

Victoria Arlen, swimming
“This year I'm fortunate enough to be able to be home with my family. I am having surgery today, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, so I will not be training or competing this week.”

Cat Bouwkamp, wheelchair fencing
“Since I'm taking time off of serious competition, my training isn't going to affect the holidays this year.”

Steve Cash, sled hockey
“No, in fact I would say Thanksgiving affects my training as I tend to over eat. Not to mention having the week off from school makes it a lot easier to slack.”

Kelly Crowley, para-cycling
“I'm extra motivated to get a good hard ride on Thanksgiving morning.”

Ryan Estep, wheelchair fencing
“My training schedule is very light right now so I will be able to go and spend the day with my family.”

Lex Gillette, track and field
“Absolutely not. Studies have revealed that the athletes who work hard typically work hard to pack on the pounds at Thanksgiving, and they work even harder to lose them once Thanksgiving is over.”

Emmy Kaiser, wheelchair tennis
“I tend to have a little bit of lots of things. Even on other days, I tend to eat many little meals not one big one. I do the same thing on Thanksgiving because I would prefer not to have a stomach ache the rest of the night and I get to try everything. It is the best of both worlds.”

Taylor Lipsett, sled hockey
“I train extra hard around the holidays so that I can really let loose and enjoy all of the great food without feeling too guilty. And luckily, I have never had to miss Thanksgiving for a competition.”

Angela Madsen, track and field
“I consider surfing cross-training. If I am traveling, there is always a fitness center in the hotel, a 24 Hour Fitness or a military installation nearby. I provided my partner Deb’s mom with a Concept 2 Rowing machine, good for her and also available for me to use when we go there for the holidays.”

J. Dee Marinko, sitting volleyball
“I have been pretty lucky that we have not had a competition on Thanksgiving. As for training, we get a couple days off to enjoy the time with our families.”

Kerri Morgan, track and field
“Not this year. Thanksgiving did impact my training last year with getting geared up for the Paralympic Games in London.  This year, the Thanksgiving meal will be my cheat day.  I like to give myself cheat days when I am in the off-season.”

Greta Neimanas, para-cycling
“Training and competitions usually affect the length of time I can spend at home when I go back. However, this year we don’t have a winter track world championships so the holidays won’t be as impacted as they have the past few years. It’s a welcome break and nice opportunity to spend time with people who can get neglected during the competition season.”

Justin Zook, swimming
“Usually training and competition do not affect my celebration. I take the long weekend to recuperate and gear up for the following week of training and work.”

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