Athlete Style's Cheese Plate

I have something to confess. I've gotten into the habit of devouring embarrassing amounts of chips after long days on the bike. Last weekend, I knocked back an entire bag of Sea Salt Lundberg rice chips, including all of the crumbs. Even though I can justify all day long that I deserve those 600 calories of salty carbs, I know my body needs more nourishment than that after a 4 hour ride. 

My new favorite thing is putting together a quick cheese plate after rides. This way, I get a healthy dose of protein from the cheese and nuts and some carbs from fruit and other accompaniments. And, it's so much more socially acceptable - especially when eaten AFTER changing out of sweaty bike clothes.
All it takes is a quick visit to your grocery store's cheese counter or an artisan cheese shop. Pick up a few pieces of cheese and instead of reaching for the chips after a ride, treat yourself to this:
 

  
Athlete Style's Guide to a Healthy Cheese Plate

Good Bread. Use thin slices of good wheat bread (from Amy's Bread if in NYC ) or crisp pears instead of crackers. 
Small Pieces. Buy small pieces of a few different kinds of good cheese. If you buy a big piece, you will eat a big piece. The idea is to have just enough for a few bites of a few different cheeses. Not a big, filling feast.
Variety. Don't be intimidated by the hipsters who work behind the cheese counter. Ask for a taste of something that looks or has an interesting description. Have fun trying new things. And if you see a hunk of cheese that's too big, ask for it to be cut down (this saves money too!).  
Local. Try locally made cheese. I've been testing lots of California made cheeses.  Anything from Pt. Reyes is a win and Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk is a favorite.  Also, try Rogue Blue from Oregon.  
Nuts, fruit and other bites. Serve the cheese with other salty things like olives or, my favorite, cornichons. Add some sweet things like dried Turkish apricots and a little square of quince paste or other jam. I also like to serve crispy grapes on the side and always put out a handful of almonds or walnuts.
Meat. For a bit of protien, seek out La Quercia cured meats.  Just get a 5-6 very thin slices to add to the spread.  I know some people like it, but I trim off most of the fat.  Been doing that my whole life!
Wine. Because you deserve it: don't forget the cold glass of chardonnay or rose.  I really like the Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay ($27.99) and my friend Anabel recently turned me on to the Sables d'Azur Rose ($13.99).
I especially like that this looks so pretty, tastes so good and is SO easy to put together!
-Laurel