One of the biggest barriers in healthy eating is the time it takes to prepare healthy meals. Americans are cooking less and less. Fast, pre-packaged, convenient foods are readily available now more than ever.
Athletes are one group who truly understand the relationship between healthy eating and performance, yet some either simply don't know how to cook or don't like to. If you aren't able to call yourself an Iron Chef, there are strategies and easy recipes that will ensure that you eat well.
Create Weekly Menus
Yes, it's an investment of time but those committed to eating well know that having a plan will result in perfectly balanced, nourishing meals. When you stick to a grocery list and only purchase what you need, you will end up removing tempting or impulse buys from your cart.
Manage Your Time
Time management is crucial for athletes who are also students, parents and full-time employees. Workouts, events and recovery are on the top of the priority list, not cooking. Athletes in charge of feeding themselves and their families require immaculate time-management skills. Washing, chopping and cooking in bulk, and freezing are great strategies to save time. Do all of these tasks while you are in "food mood," which is usually when you first arrive home from grocery shopping.
Gain Some Knife Skills
A good meal starts with a good knife. When you become handy with a knife, cooking becomes fun. It is important for athletes to be able to recognize and understand how specific equipment impacts their performance. Therefore honing proper knife skills, such as grip, balance and chopping, can save time in the kitchen.
Here are a few effortless recipes that any athlete can prepare (yes, even those of you who don't like to cook).
Asian Chicken Salad
- 2 tablespoons expeller pressed olive oil
- Juice of one lime
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 jalapeno chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups bagged leafy greens (be sure to wash again)
- 1/2 cup pre-shredded carrot
- 4 ounces premade rotisserie chicken (just pull it apart)
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup crispy Chinese noodles
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, sesame oil, jalapeno, salt and pepper.
2. Add the greens, carrots and chicken and toss to combine.
3. Serve the salad sprinkled with the sesame seeds, noodles and cilantro.
For optimum recovery athletes should consume a meal prepared with a mix of protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of completing exercise. A 4-ounce breast of chicken, especially the organic, pasture-raised variety, contains 35 grams of protein, every B-vitamin and all of the BCAAs (branch chain amino acids).
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