Essential Sports Nutrition


Weekend recap: FOOD (from Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook)

Karel and I take our eating just as seriously as our training.
In other words, without counting calories, measuring food or recording/logging what we eat, we make a conscious effort every day to use food for nourishment, disease prevention and for fuel, while timing our nutrition with our training to best adapt to training stress. We do not have an off-limit food list, we never feel deprived, stuffed or guilty when eating, processed food IS consumed and we even eat gluten, dairy and sugar.  

What a refreshing statement seeing that so many athletes struggle with developing a healthy relationship with food and the body.

Having said all this, like any human being, creating a sustainable, enjoyable and healthy style of eating is always a work on progress. A typical week of eating for me is very different than how I ate 10 years ago and how I ate when I was a teenager. Even though I have been a vegetarian for almost 25 years, my definition of "healthy" eating has changed every year and it continues to evolve based on my love of cooking and trying new food creations. 

As someone who gets inspired by food pictures but feels overwhelmed and stressed when looking at a list of ingredients and instructions to follow, I have never been one to follow a recipe in a cookbook. That is, until I was given the Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook by Trimarni athlete Adam and his wife Taylor as a gift. As a Board Certified RD, health conscious individual and 11 year endurance triathlete, I am not only enjoying reading this cookbook but following the recipes (I still tweak the recipes a bit :)

I feel like this cookbook is a game changer for any athlete who wants to eat a more real food, varied diet. Why? Because the recipes are not only delicious but the ingredients are versatile. This cookbook does not prescribe to any diet fads but instead, includes a variety of starches, grains, oils, vegetables and proteins with plenty of gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and dairy free options depending on your dietary needs. 

I am having so much fun in the kitchen with this cook book and absolutely loving incorporating even more real food into our diet. For any athlete who feels like your eating strategies are based on calories, dietary trends, isolated food groups or restriction, I feel that this book will inspire you to eat in a more nourishing way, tasting food, eating mindfully and intuitively and above all, enjoying the fruits of your labor in the kitchen. 

And above all, I encourage you to eat a more varied, real food diet and to reduce the amount of convenient and heavily processed food in your typical eating regime. Spend more time in the kitchen with yourself, your kids or your spouse.

Need some real food inspiration?
Here are a few recipes that we enjoyed this past weekend.

(Note, I copied the recipes from the book but also omitted what I did/didn't do/use and added my notes. For example, many of the recipes call for toasted nuts or coconut and I did not toast the nuts before using them in the recipe). 

Moroccan Lentil Salad with Cauliflower Couscous
Pg. 96

1 cup dried green lentils, sorted and rinsed
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3 medium carrots, peeled and grated
2 cups loosely packed chopped kale, stems removed
1/2 cup chopped pistachios or almonds
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives (I don't care for olives so I left this out)
1 tbsp ras el hanout, Moroccan spice blend (1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp turmeric + 1 tsp cumin + 1/4 tsp ground black pepper)
5 cups cauliflower couscous
Dressing: Maple-Dijon Apple Cider vinaigrette

1. Place the lentils in medium pot, add salt and cover with 2 inches of water (my leftover tip: Double this portion of lentils). Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender, but not mushy, 25-30 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. 
2. Place the carrots, kale, nuts, apricots, olives and spice in a large bowl. 
3. Add the cauliflower couscous (see recipe below) and lentils and toss until evenly combined.
4. Add 2/3rds of the dressing (see recipe below), toss and taste. Add more dressing to taste, if needed. 
5. Cover the salad and place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve. 

To make cauliflower couscous (pg 156)
1 large head cauliflower (1.5-2 lbs)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Quarter the cauliflower head and cut off the individual florets. In a food processor (I use the Ninja Master Food Prep), place the florets, filling only halfway and pulse several times until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and continue with the remaining florets until all resemble couscous size granules.
2. In large skillet set over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the cauliflower, cumin, salt and pepper and cook, stirring continuously until cauliflower is soft but still crisp (about 3 minutes). 

To make Maple-Dijon Apple Cider Vinaigrette (pg 173)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 shallot, minced
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine the oil, vinegar, syrup, mustard, shallot, salt and pepper in a glass jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until emulsified.
For a creamy vinaigrette, omit the syrup and instead, add 2 tbsp tahini.
The dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. If the oil solidified, briefly microwave on low until melted. 

Cashew Pesto
Pg. 67
(Original recipe was an arugula cashew pesto but since I eat so much arugula in my daily diet, I omitted the arugula and just made the cashew pesto instead. The recipe called for 2 cups tightly packed arugula)

1 cup cashews or walnuts (I used cashews)
1 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 or 2 cloves garlic (I used 2 and it was very garlicky - which we like!)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp white miso paste (I couldn't find this at the grocery so I omitted it)
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Instructions1. In a food processor, combine the nuts, (arugula), Parmesan an garlic. Process until coarsely chopped. Add the oil, miso, lemon juice and zest. Process until desired consistency is reached.
2. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
3. To make a sauce (thinner consistency) just add more olive oil, broth or water.
You can add this to a sandwich, wrap or pita, toss in a salad or add on top of boiled potatoes. 

Giddy-up Energy Bites

Pg. 57

12 large Medjool dates, pitted
1 cup dried unsweetened cherries (I used dried apricots)
1 cup raw chopped walnuts
1/4 cup unsalted almond butter
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp finely ground coffee beans
1/4 tsp fine sea salt (I use pink Himalayan salt when I cook as it contains iodine)
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut

1. In a food processor, combine the dates, cherries, walnuts, almond butter, cocoa powder, coffee and salt. Pulse a few times to chop the ingredients and then process on high speed for 1-2 minutes, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl and beneath the blade with a spatula. Process until the ingredients clump together. 
2. Empty the contents into a medium bowl. Use your hands to shape the mixture into 24-walnut-size balls and roll each ball in the coconut (I combined the coconut into the blender and omitted this step of rolling the balls in the coconut).
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month or in freezer for 6 months. 
A great snack before an early morning workout. Just be mindful of how well (or not so well) dried fruit digests in your belly before a workout). 

Blueberry Lemon Cornmeal Scones
Pg. 59 - Karel's new favorite pre-workout snack!

Ingredients1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 /2 tsp fine sea salt
1 stick (8 tbsp) cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
2 eggs
1/3 cup whole milk Greek yogurt (I used 0% Greek yogurt as it was what I had in the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1 cup frozen blueberries

1. Position rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
2. In large mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
3. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it's the size of peas.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, vanilla and lemon zest. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in blueberries. The dough will be thick and sticky.
5. Drop the batter in large spoonfuls onto the baking sheet in the shape of a triangle. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.
Bake until lightly browns on bottoms, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool. 

Double Chocolate Teff Cookies
pg. 187 (I didn't have Teff flour so I used gluten-free all purpose flour)

These are SO good. Crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside. Vegan and gluten free.

3/4 cup teff flour  (I used GF flour)
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used 60% Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt (I used pink H. salt)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (I used canola oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. Add the maple syrup, oil and vanilla and stir just until combined. For a more tender cookie, cover the batter and refrigerate overnight prior to baking (I didn't do this last step - Karel was anxious to try these cookies!).
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Drop the batter by heaping tbsp 1 inch apart on the baking sheet (our cookies were a little bigger :)
5. Bake in the center of the oven until the bottoms are lightly brown. 12 minutes. Let the cookies cook for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. 

I am excited to try out more recipes next weekend. Except for the scones - Karel is asking for more ASAP! I think this time I will change up the ingredients and make cranberry orange scones.

For now, we have a lot of leftovers to enjoy (the best part about cooking!).