You figured this would happen, a pickleball cookbook.
I know. I know. It may not seem likely at first blush, considering that the sport’s mantra is “Stay out of the kitchen!”
But sports cookbooks are practically a rite of passage. So, this would be a sign that pickleball has arrived, and is ready to take its place among the pop culture that extends beyond the sports world.
Tennis has plenty of cookbooks. They’re often quite specific. They include one devoted to recipes to serve people while watching the U.S. Open. Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has his own “Serve to Win” cookbook full of gluten-free recipes. And there’s another one just devoted to tennis potluck dinner socials.
Football, as you might imagine, has flooded the zone with cookbooks for stadium tailgate parties. There’s a baseball cookbook that replicates food served in major league ballparks. NASCAR has a cookbook that’s aptly named “Fast Food.”
And yes, even WWE pro wrestling has its own cookbook, for those who want to try John Cena’s dessert recipe using Fruity Pebbles cereal.
So, it was just a matter of time that somebody would get the idea to launch a pickleball cookbook.
That person is Sherri Holzer, an integrative nutrition health coach from Nashville, Tennessee, who offers cooking-based online weight-loss courses and runs a healthy-eating nutrition blog.
“I was a tennis player and then I got completely obsessed with pickleball,” Holzer said. “Everybody was so nice to me, even when I called the paddle a racket.
“I saw that people often have gatherings before and after they play,” she said. “And this is what I do. I help people eat good, healthy, yummy food.”
Holzer became a USA Pickleball ambassador and soon found a way to integrate her love of cooking and healthy eating with her new favorite sport.
She expanded her “Simply Sherri” branding into an Instagram site called “My Kitchen Dink.” Food and pickleball are a natural connection, she said.
“The intersection of food and pickleball is community,” she said.
The social aspect of pickleball turns strangers into friends, and friendships often expand beyond the confines of the pickleball court and into people’s homes where they share food together.
Holzer sees pickleball fare going beyond the typical “sports bar” menu.
“Whether you’re already a pickler, or are interested in joining the fun, pickleball players need to maintain a nutritious lifestyle in order to play with energy, better memory and attention,” she said.
OK, that might activate a steamed broccoli alarm for some. But Holzer is aiming for a tastier intersection between healthy eating and satisfying pre- or post-sports grub.
“Players need high protein and fiber with resistant starch, which helps regulate blood sugar to keep your energy balanced while playing,” she said.
Her recipes are sometimes healthier versions of comfort food. For example, she suggests wrap sandwiches that use chickpeas as a base, a protein source high in fiber.
And yes, there’s a lot of pickling. Foods fermented by pickling are loaded with probiotics, the good kind of bacteria that supports a healthy digestive tract and immune system. And the sodium can reduce muscle cramps.
So, Holzer’s pickleball recipes include an entire chapter called “You’ve been pickled.”
Dill-pickled grilled cheese bites. Quick-pickled vegetables. Latka pickles.
“There’s a good bit of recipes involving pickles, because they add so much,” she said. “They have built-in crunch, built-in spice and the juice is so useful.”
Holzer is planning to launch her self-published cookbook, entitled, “Everything But the Kitchen Dink”, later this year.
When she does, it will be breaking new ground for her and for pickleball.