4 Quick Meals for Busy Athletes

Crunchy Cocoa Chili

A 2011 European Journal of Nutrition study found that polyphenol antioxidants in cocoa can blunt the muscle-damaging effects of oxidative stress resulting from exercise. "Canned beans are a good source of carbohydrates and lean protein, the two key nutrients runners need for exercise recovery," Scritch-field says. Furthermore, University of Arkansas scientists determined that soy protein, which is abundant in tofu, can stimulate protein synthesis, making this no-fuss vegetarian chili a smart postexercise meal option.

More: Pre- and Post-Workout Meals in 15 Minutes

Here's how: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 diced onion and one 8-ounce package of sliced cremini mushrooms; cook 4 minutes. Stir in 1 block of firm tofu (diced), 2 teaspoons cumin powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon jarred, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste; cook 3 minutes. Add one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, one 6-ounce can tomato paste, one 15-ounce can each of black and kidney beans (drained and rinsed), 1 cup frozen corn, and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder; simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with crumbled whole-grain tortilla chips on top.

Serves: 6
Total time: 40 minutes

Switch Hits

Use frozen peas to replace corn.

Cook lean ground chicken breast with the onion instead of tofu.

Swap the tortilla chips for shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

Mini Salmon Loaves with Salsa

"Canned salmon is a very rich source of DHA, a type of omega-3 fat that promotes brain health and helps lower blood triglycerides to reduce heart-disease risk," says Scritchfield. What's more, University of California researchers discovered that DHA can improve skeletal-muscle blood flow during exercise. Just be sure to check that the label says "wild salmon" to avoid high mercury levels. Oats have fiber and magnesium, a bone-building mineral that may also slash diabetes risk by improving insulin sensitivity.

More: 3 Tips to Add Real Fiber to Your Diet

Here's how: Combine two 5-oz. cans wild salmon (drained), 1 cup frozen chopped spinach (thawed), 1 diced red bell pepper, 2 tablespoons chopped dill, juice from 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup quick-cook rolled oats, 2 large eggs, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture among 12 lightly greased muffin cups and bake at 375??F for 20 minutes. Let cool before unmolding, and serve topped with jarred salsa.

Serves: 4
Total time: 30 minutes

Switch Hits

Try canned crab instead of salmon.

Swap out red bell pepper for diced frozen asparagus.

Trade spinach for collard greens.

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