Bellingham High tennis alum thriving thanks to vegan lifestyle

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 16, 2014 

Vicki Cosio

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

After 24 years of hard work, Vicki Cosio was one step away from joining the U.S. Tennis team at the senior level. Last year had been the most successful in her playing career. She received a query letter from the U.S. Tennis Association in November 2013, which is sent only to the top 8-10 players in each age group in the country.

"A lot of the players are former professionals, so the competition is really tough," said Cosio, who is now 50 years old, in a phone interview.

From her humble beginnings as a member of the tennis team at Bellingham High School, Cosio had entered the upper echelon of tennis players in the United States. She wasn't selected for the team this year, but is striving to make it.

Cosio, who was Vicki Sprigg before she was married almost 20 years ago, graduated from BHS in 1981, where she began playing tennis as a junior. She taught herself the basics of the game by hitting the ball off of her garage door, without any lessons.

Cosio was named team captain her senior year and advanced to the state tournament. She was told she was the first Red Raider girls' tennis player to make it to state.

"I really wasn't very good, but I had a lot of heart and stubbornness," she said. "I promptly lost in the first round."

Cosio moved to Felton, Calif. after high school and went into law enforcement and just recently retired. She took a break from tennis for a few years, but picked it back up when she was 25 and hasn't stopped since.

"I find that if you quit when you're older, you're done," she said. "It's so jarring on your body (to stop and start), and if you come back you're more subject to injury."

Cosio is still self-taught, but her husband, Roy, who is a former professional tennis player from Peru, gives her pointers from time to time.

"I get into a mode and go, 'I want to work on this' and ask him for help," Cosio said.

Cosio uses her court coverage to keep the ball in play and wear down her opponent in most matches. She plays a lot of younger players in tournaments that usually overlook her for her age.

"I know when they see me they think they can kick my butt, but afterwards they go, 'Oh my God!'" she said.

Cosio attributes her high stamina to her vegan diet. She went vegan in 1999 after being vegetarian for years, and after reading a book on the treatment of animals on dairy and egg farms. After her recent retirement from law enforcement, Cosio wrote her own book - a vegan cookbook focused on Peruvian cuisine.

"Peruvian is well known for topping dishes with fried eggs and boiling eggs," Cosio said. "I wanted to show people how delicious it is, and how you can make it vegan."

Her vegan diet gives her more energy and fuels her success in tennis, Cosio said.

"Because of my diet I have more stamina, speed and resistance than any of the 16-year-olds that I play," Cosio said. "I'm a counter-puncher; I grind people down, keep the ball in play and open up the court until they break. I play off of what they're giving me and can beat most people with my legs."

Cosio has yet to play in a tournament in 2014, but is looking forward to playing in a couple of competitions once more begin in April. Her book, "Peruvegan: Easy, Cheesy, Cozy & Creamy Peruvian Recipes," is available on Amazon.com in paperback for $8.99, or for Kindle for $5.99.

Reach Alex Peterson at alex.peterson@bellinghamherald.com or at 360-715-2285.

COSIO'S VEGAN RECIPIES

LOCRO

This stew is the ultimate in "yum" and the best way to enjoy winter squash. The finished dish is like eating a bowl of creamy mashed potatoes and butternut squash.

?2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (raw)

?2 cups vegan no-chicken broth or vegetable broth

?1 onion, diced

?2 tablespoons olive oil

?2 cloves of garlic, minced

?2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste

?1 tablespoon aji panca paste

?1 teaspoon cumin

?1 1/2 teaspoons salt

?1 cup soy milk or nut milk

?3 medium yellow skinned potatoes, diced

?1 cup fresh or frozen corn

?1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas

?Soy milk, as needed

?1/2 cup Garlic Cashew Cheese (see page 4)

Place butternut squash and broth in a medium pot. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place contents in a blender and blend. Set aside.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic, aji amarillo paste, aji panca paste, cumin and salt. Cook for two minutes. Add butternut squash puree, soy milk, potatoes, corn and peas. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, approximately 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat. Add additional soy milk, if a thinner stew is desired. Add Garlic Cashew Cheese and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over rice.

Serves 4 to 6

GARLIC CASHEW CHEESE

Oh my!!! Wait until you try this. You will wake up thinking about what you are going to make, just so you can put cashew cheese on it!! It's delicious ON anything and delicious when ADDED to anything.

?2 cups raw cashew pieces (soaked in water overnight)

?1/2 cup water

?1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned) or apple cider vinegar

?3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

?1 1/4 tablespoons of mellow red miso

?5 - 8 cloves of garlic

?1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

?Dash of agave nectar (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.

You can also add a big handful of rehydrated sundried tomatoes, for Sundried Tomato Cashew Cheese. Or, you can add chopped fresh chives for Garlic Chive Cashew Cheese.

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.

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