Bread, fruit and eggs. A few of my favorite things in a recovery meal.
Are you confused as to the best method of recovery after endurance activity? I know it can be confusing to understand sport nutrition because what you eat around workouts is not what is preached by the media in terms of "heart healthy" eating. This is why I am a firm believer, health first, performance second. When I was at the Oakley Women event in LA this past week, I talked about fueling around workouts and my primary focus was to help the audience understand that we don't need high fiber, high fat, high protein around our workouts. We want foods to be quick to digest and to be energy dense. So if you are snacking on quick digesting foods throughout the day when your body is not active, this is where the confusion comes in as you are likely very vulnerable to your body around a workout and want to eat "healthy and clean". Pass on the salads, high protein/fat foods and fibrous foods around your workouts as that is not the time to be giving your body slow digesting foods. Learn to create a diet that keeps your body nourished and with stable blood sugar and you will find yourself better understanding how to properly fuel around workouts....without feeling as if you are going to gain weight or change body composition with higher glycemic foods.
The immediate consumption of carbohydrates post-exercise is critical for muscle glycogen repletion. Although your recovery "window" is open for 24 hours, the keys to a quick recovery (based on research) are consuming liquid protein as soon as possible post workout (no more than 30g for best absorption) such as whey or vegan protein powder, milk or chocolate milk, followed by a high glycemic carb breakfast with a little protein (a little fat is fine as well). Avoid stuffing yourself after a workout as the best recovery will come when you can eat every few hours to ensure adequate glycogen storage. If you are finishing a workout extremely weak or starving or feeling full/bloated, consider working with a RD specializing in sport nutrition to help you out with with your sport nutrition fueling regime.
For a yummy and healthy recovery meal: try to start with milk and cereal (ex. rice or corn based if you tend to have trouble with consuming foods after workouts) or fruit, veggie and whey/vegan smoothie as something small to kick start the recovery process. Then when you are ready for your actual meal, think about a variety of fruit for electrolytes, vitamins and minerals and to keep your immune system strong with lots of colors on your plate. Choose your easy to digest quality protein (ex. around 20-30g of protein in your meal such as 1-2 egg whites + 1 whole egg) and your starch/carb (around 40-70g carbs would be a good start to aim for depending on your workout volume/intensity) and I always believe in having some type of veggie with my meal so I used kale and garlic as pictured above with a little hummus on the bread and cheese on the egg. YUM!
Do you have those days that are super busy and the last thing you want to do is cook? Yeah, I have them too. BUT, I know that my busy and active lifestyle can be not be fueled off cereal and ice cream...or any other "quick" option that does not provide vital nutrients to my body and mind. My business keeps me busy but with athletes and fitness enthusiasts from around the world relying on me to provide practical information, to review food logs in a timely manner and to communicate passionately and realistically, I would be letting down others, along with myself, if I didn't make time to prepare nourishing meals. Additionally, with every meal comes a workout to follow the next day so it would be a disservice to my body to tell myself that I am too busy to cook and then get upset the next day that I didn't have the right fuel in my body to have an awesome workout.
I love casseroles because they are super easy. I think we all need go-to easy meals just as much as we should enjoy spending a little extra time in the kitchen. Although this meal took about 40-45 min to make, I wasn't in the kitchen more than 10 minutes so I was able to get things done around the house...thus still staying busy but with a meal ready for me and Karel when it was time to eat.
1 can favorite soup
Frozen veggies (enough to cover bottom of casserole dish
Seasonings of your choice
Panko bread crumbs
Grain or starch of your liking - I used brown rice, potatoes would be a yummy additional as well as you can stick them in the microwave or oven.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a glass casserole dish, spray lightly with non stick spray and place veggies in dish until 1/2 full. Drain 1/2 liquid from soup (unless you are using a broth based soup - then you can keep the broth for another time, I recommend a vegetable soup (vegetarian) or your favorite chunky style soup) and pour over the veggies. Use seasonings of your choice on top - ex. garlic, oregano, chili flakes, pepper, turmeric, onion, etc. Scramble two eggs and a dallop of greek yogurt together and pour over the veggie mix and lightly mix in until evenly combined. Sprinkle with bread crumbs (lightly) and bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove casserole from oven and turn off heat. Top with cheese when veggie casserole is firm and place in oven for 2-3 minutes to let cheese melt. Serve with 1/2 - 1 cup whole grain/starch and Enjoy!
Matzoh Pizza and Salad
As you may tell, I am not much of a sandwich eater. I've said it in the past but you can only stuff so many plants between two slices of bread. I use to eat sandwiches and when I travel I love a good PB&J for the road/plane or a filling egg, cheese and veggie sandwich from a local eatery. But on a day to day basis, sandwiches don't work for me because I like the volume and nutrient density in plant strong meals and I prefer to use my "bread" for workout nutrition (pre and post) and incorporate more whole grains into my meals instead.
As you may also know, I LOVE pizza. I don't think it's the triangle shape but the combination of flavors - marinara sauce, toppings, bread...yum! In my mind you can make a pizza out of anything or at least, enjoy the flavors of pizza anytime if you want to be creative.
For this yummy creation, I first created a delicious salad of mango, spinach, leeks, celery, carrots, tomatoes topped with a sliced egg (I eat 1 whole egg daily for health benefits). I think used my oven to roast veggies - I tossed peppers, mushrooms, onions and then tofu in a little olive oil and placed in a casserole dish and baked at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes until roasted. Karel had some leftover chicken that he cooked so I was able to use chicken for his pizza (rt side pic - with a little tofu since he likes it) and tofu for me (left side picture).
After the veggies were roasted, I took two Matzoh's and spread a spoonful or two of marinara and then topped with basil, oregano and garlic (dried herbs/spices). The oven was turned off so I just placed the 'pizzas' in the oven for 2-3 minutes until the cheese was melted and then topped each pizza with the toppings.
You could use any type of flat bread for this or fresh pizza dough which we often use. I really like Matzoh to eat pre workout because it has a good amount of carbohydrates for 1 slice to be combined with PB and banana slices but it doesn't leave you stuffed like bread or bagel before a workout.
It's not typical that Karel and I will have dessert after dinner.......I just don't see the point of eating after you eat? It's like everything that was prepared for dinner was forgotten and dessert is the only way to feel satisfied. Sometimes we need a little something sweet after a meal but that is often confused with a lot of something. Many times I find that people undereat throughout the day and thus overeat in the evening as our body has a natural way to regulate how many calories we need on a daily basis. Considering that we do very little activity after 8pm, it would be better for your metabolism to spread out your budget of calories throughout the day instead of eating a lot at one time or overeating on something sweet after a meal.
As you can see from my pic above, this is a "dessert" of mixed fruit. The key however is to not overdo it on any one thing. I used 3 strawberries, 4 orange slices and a few banana slices along with a few grapes. Not a lot as I was satisfied after my meal but just needed a little something after the meal. Another great option for dessert is 1/2 - 3/4 ounce dark chocolate which is another one of our favorites in our house.