One of my hobbies besides triathlon training is cooking nutrient dense (real food) meals! I really enjoy cooking and often try new recipes weekly. I find I am just as passionate about nutrition as I am about fitness. The two go hand and hand. You will not see results if you care about one and not the other. Training for my Ironman has made me more aware of my nutrition than ever before. I have always been a ‘health nut’ and have never been a junk food person or a yo-yo dieter. I’ve always just LOVED eating healthy and it’s just part of who I am. Fueling properly for my training is vital to my performance, and that’s why I’ve been trying lots of new power foods!
I thought I would share some of these ‘power foods’ with you plus their benefits!
Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition. They are a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K, but are particularly rich in dietary fiber, lean protein, folate and iron (source). Since they are rich an Iron, lentils are the perfect power food for female triathletes who may need extra iron with serious endurance training.
Hemp is considered one of the world’s most nutritious plants. Hemp seeds contain all of the essential amino acids making them an ideal source of protein for vegans and raw foodists. The essential fatty acids are abundant in hemp seeds and come in a ratio that is highly beneficial to humans. Magnesium, iron, and potassium are in good supply along with fiber. Some of hemp seed’s supply of antioxidants comes from its vitamin E content. (source)
Millet is as a good source of some very important nutrients, including copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Gluten-free, highly nutritious, great energy source – ideal for athletes, complete protein source when combined with legumes (source).
Dino (Lacinato) Kale
To begin, Tuscan kale, like all kales, is extraordinarily nutritious: a cup provides more than 100 percent of the daily value (DV) of vitamins K and A, and 88 percent of the DV for vitamin C. Like other members of the brassica family such as cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts, kale is a rich source of organosulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention. (source)
Purple vegetables, such as this cabbage and others like eggplant and blueberries, contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are chemicals that protect body cells, decrease the spread of cancer cells, and more. Purple cabbage contains 36 different types of antioxidants, including the health-giving anthocyanins. There is evidence to suggest that purple cabbage helps build a healthy brain and a healthy heart and acts as a fat burner. (source)
Researchers looked at four groups of vitamins and other phytochemicals – including vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene — in 25 varieties of microgreens. They found that leaves from almost all of the microgreens had four to six times more nutrients than the mature leaves of the same plant. But there was variation among them – red cabbage was highest in vitamin C, for instance, while the green daikon radish microgreens had the most vitamin E (source). I love putting these little greens on top of my salads!
Here is a recipe with some of these super foods combined into one dish!
I made the Over the Rainbow Cabbage Salad from ‘Oh She Glows’ plus the Lemon Tahini Dressing from ‘Oh She Glows.’ I added Hemp seeds, Tuscan Kale, Arugula, Microgreens and Green Lentils! You could add Millet too for extra carbohydrates post workout session! I could eat this meal all day long!
Over The Rainbow Cabbage Salad with Tahini-Lemon Dressing (from Oh She Glows)
Yield: 4 servings
About 6-7 cups of roughly chopped red/purple cabbage (I used 1/4 of a large cabbage)
1 carrot, shaved with a peeler into 2-3 inch strips
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 handfuls of fresh parsley, chopped finely (or use other herb)
Half a batch of Lightened Up Tahini-Lemon Dressing (or make the full batch and save for later)
3-4 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds (or use hemp, sunflower, etc)
Salt & pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Toast the seeds for about 8-10 minutes, watching closely. Remove and set aside. (I used Hemp seeds, non-toasted)
2. Add several cups of water into a kettle and bring to a boil. Lightly rinse the cabbage and slice in half, through the stem. Slice each half, in half again and roughly chop. You’ll want about 6-7 cups.
3. Add chopped cabbage into a strainer in the sink and pour the boiling water over top. Quickly rinse with cold water. This helps soften the cabbage slightly. Roughly dry the cabbage with a hand towel.
4. In a large bowl, mix the chopped celery, pepper, cabbage, shaved carrot, and parsley.
5. Prepare the dressing by whisking all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. The salad tastes best when the dressing is mixed just before serving, so I suggest you portion out how much salad you will be eating for the meal and then add on your desired amount of dressing & mix well. Wrap up any leftover salad and place in the fridge and do the same with the leftover dressing.
(I doubled the recipe in order to use up all of the cabbage and to have leftovers!)
Lightened Up Tahini-Lemon Dressing from Oh She Glows
Yield: Just under 1 cup of dressing
1/4 cup Tahini
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup Nutritional yeast or a bit more, to taste
2-4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
1 tsp kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 tbsp water, or as needed
1. In a food processor, add all ingredients and process until smooth. Makes just under 1 cup.