May 1, 2014
By Kim Dannies
Races, rides, games and matches are filling the spring schedule as we take our play outside, burning calories and growing wonderfully ravenous. The difference between hitting the summit—or hitting the wall—is determined by your belly fuel, so delicious nutrient-dense meals should be a daily priority for athletes of all ages.
Boosting iron intake is key: the hemoglobin in our red blood cells is what moves oxygen around the body, but it can’t pick up that oxygen without adequate iron. This is especially important for female athletes. Pair a squash-base soup and pinto beans tossed with wilted spinach and full-fat butter for a blockbuster meal. Add some dark chocolate and nuts for dessert, and you are good to go.
Protein for muscle growth is essential for building new tissue and creating red blood cells—think lean sirloin, chicken or tofu a few times a week paired with a millet or quinoa salad on a bed of greens, studded with avocado, peppers and cucumbers. Adding fresh ginger to the dressing mix fights cytokines, the compounds that cause inflammation. Avocados deserve a daily role in salads, sandwiches and smoothies. They are super-rich in vitamins, fiber and heart-healthy fats.
Many athletes like to train early, remaining in a fat-burning fasting mode, so an ideal meal following a 60-90 minute workout is a cheese and spinach omelet with yogurt and berries. This has the right combination of protein and “clean” carbohydrates—the kind that will boost energy, not leave you in a carb coma.
Grilled peach & chicken quesadillas
A quick, nutrient-dense recovery meal
Prep the following ingredients on the weekend to have “at the ready” all week long:
grilled chicken breast; grilled peach halves; crumbled goat cheese; peach jam or peach salsa; arugula or spinach; roasted tomatoes or salsa; ripe avocados and large gluten-free tortilla shells.
Heat griddle. Assemble the quesadillas by adding desired amounts of chicken, peaches, goat cheese and greens to one half of the tortilla. Add a dollop of peach jam. Place on hot griddle and fold tortilla in half. Leave for 5-6 minutes, until cheese starts to ooze.
Top with roasted tomato or salsa, and smashed avocado.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.