As she was gearing up for the biggest race of her life in the 2010 Winter Games, Olympian Julia Murray was unknowingly laying the groundwork for a life after ski racing.
Like many good ideas, it came quite accidentally, in the family kitchen in Whistler where she was looking for ways to fuel her body for training in those years of singular focus.
She found her secret training weapon in quinoa — for breakfast.
Now she's sharing her secret. It's called Jules Fuel. And it hit Whistler shelves a few days before Christmas — the same day as Murray's 25th birthday.
"It's just been such a long time in the making, so to actually see it in real life is pretty cool," said Murray, bubbling with excitement while on a break during a jam-packed holiday schedule where she is booked solid at Whistler Blackcomb with the "Ski with an Olympian" program.
Murray is a Whistler golden girl — born and bred in the mountains, the only offspring of two ski champions, an Olympian both on the slopes and off where you can't help but be infected with her energy and passion.
She began making her own "superfood" concoctions at home about two years before the 2010 Games as she tried to find ways to optimize her training.
The quinoa breakfast set her up for an energy-filled morning, where she wouldn't get truly hungry until 1 p.m.
"It's definitely something that you can easily train on because your energy is sustained throughout the day," she said.
There is a reason why quinoa is rated one of the top health foods. It's high in protein, a complex carbohydrate with low glycemic index, low in calories and it tastes good, too.
Murray's recipe includes: goji berries, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, rolled oats and Thompson raisins. It's 100 per cent organic, vegan, high fibre and antioxidant rich.
It's taken hours of work to find the right balance — something that tastes good, is easy to make and offers optimum health rewards.
She first began selling it at the Whistler Farmers' Market in 2012; this year she has focused on getting it ready for prime time. It's now at stores around Whistler including the Creekside Market, Olives, Quantam Vitamins and Purebread, with plans to expand in the New Year.
Meanwhile, Murray has been going to Capilano University, working on communications and business marketing courses. She officially retired from racing in 2012.
"I needed some other challenge in my life after retiring," said joked.
She found that, and then some, by starting her own business.
"It's a lot more work than I anticipated," she said.
"A lot of entrepreneurs in Whistler were helping me out a lot."
The Jules Fuel journey has inspired her to follow a new dream. She is now working on becoming a registered holistic nutritionist.
"(Jules Fuel) is what inspired me to do it," she said, of going back to school. "And I really love learning about what's good for your body and the combinations of things that work well."
She's working on new combinations of Jules Fuel, too — two different flavours are in the works, giving the original recipe a little extra kick. The first will include cacao and cinnamon, the second coconut and nutmeg.
And the future is looking bright as she works to get her cereal into Vancouver stores like Whole Foods in the New Year.
Murray will be on hand doing samplings in Whistler on Friday, Jan. 3.
She will be at Olives in Function Junction from 12 to 2 p.m. and at the Creekside Market from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Pop by and try out Jules Fuel.
Murray isn't going to share the recipe that has taken hours and hours to perfect! But here are her tips for enjoying Jules Fuel and getting the most out of it.
The instructions are on the pack but here you go:
Put all the superfood fuel into a pot
Add two cups of water
Bring to a boil
simmer for 10 minutes
At half a cup of cooked Jules Fuel per serving, there will be six convenient, ready-to-eat breakfasts that can be stored in the fridge.
Julia's Favourite Toppings:
Fruit, like apples and pears
Homemade apple sauce
The only sugar in the pot comes from the raisins so if you need a sweet kick add some agave, maple syrup or some flax seed oil for flavour
Two more tips:
1) Add the fruit directly into the pot to the water and the fuel.
"Then it's like a fruit-crisp kind of breakfast," said Murray
2) Soak the fuel overnight in the cups of water. In the morning bring to a boil and simmer for seven minutes. The soaking allows the nutrients and vitamins in the seeds and grains to be released from the enzyme inhibitors and increases the bioavailability of proteins, giving Jules Fuel an added kick.