To Boost Health
Creamy Cocoa Oatmeal
Stick-to-your-ribs steel-cut oats are packed with beta-glucan. According to a 2011 Nutrition Journal study, this soluble fiber can help slash LDL (or so-called "bad" cholesterol) levels. Research shows cocoa antioxidants help relax blood vessels, ease blood pressure, and improve circulation. Ground flaxseed is rich in omega-3s, which reduce inflammation in arteries.
Simmer this In a pot, boil 1/2 a cup of steel-cut oats and 2 cups each water and milk. Simmer 15 minutes. Stir in 1 mashed banana, 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed, 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1 cup water. Cook 10 minutes. Add 1/3 cup each walnuts and dried tart cherries. Serve with maple syrup and blueberries.
More: Breakfast Smoothie: Fuel Like a Pro Triathlete
To Reduce Stress
Salmon Coconut Curry
An upcoming race has you on edge? Eat salmon. It contains DHA and EPA, omega-3s that can reduce stress levels, according to Ohio State University scientists. When participants took fish oil daily for 12 weeks, their anxiety levels dropped 20 percent. Similarly, a study by researchers at the University of Rochester found that fish omegas can reduce depression symptoms. Splurge for wild Alaskan salmon, which is more sustainable than farmed.
Simmer this Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a pot. Add two chopped shallots and two minced garlic cloves; heat two minutes. Add 2 cups chicken broth, one 14-ounce can light coconut milk, two cubed sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon each minced ginger and curry, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon each cayenne, salt, and pepper. Boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add 1 pound skinless cubed raw salmon, 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, and juice of one lime; simmer five minutes. Garnish with cilantro.
More: 5 Simple Fish Recipes
To Tame Inflammation
Pork and Brown Rice
In a study published this year in the European Journal of Nutrition, people who ate diets high in whole grains, such as brown rice, showed lower signs of internal inflammation, which can hamper heart health and exercise recovery. Often overlooked, lean pork tenderloin has a 6-to-1 protein-to-fat calorie ratio, along with a high amount of selenium, an antioxidant that may ease exercise-induced oxidative stress in the body.
Simmer this Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a pot. Cook one diced onion, 1 pound sliced raw pork tenderloin, and two minced garlic cloves for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup red wine; simmer five minutes. Add a 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, 1 cup water, 1 cup brown rice, 1 diced bell pepper, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon each cayenne, salt, and pepper; simmer 30 minutes.
More: Get Lean With Protein
Chef Biju Thomas's tips for making the best soups and stews:
Ease up on oil: Use too much and it will make your meal greasy. Add just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
Get the gear: Use durable, enameled cast-iron or stainless steel pots—not aluminum, which may scorch.
Leave room: Fill the pot only three-quarters full so steam can circulate and concentrate flavors.
Put a lid on it: While simmering, place the lid on the pot to help lock in the flavors and speed cooking.
Sear foods first
To build flavor, brown meats and saute vegetables like potatoes and carrots before adding liquids.
More: 5 Simple Rules to Maintain a Balanced Diet
Perfect your nutrition to boost your performance. Sign up for a race near you.