Pre- and Post-Workout Meals in 15 Minutes

Postrun Meal: Chicken Sausage Pasta

How To: In a pan, heat one tablespoon olive oil, two cups frozen broccoli florets, and one cup frozen sliced bell peppers. Cover and cook until vegetables are warm. Remove from pan. Slice two precooked chicken sausages into rounds. Cook in the pan with one tablespoon of oil until lightly browned. Cook two cups fresh rigatoni. Drain pasta and toss with vegetables and sausage. Top with fresh basil, four tablespoons crumbled feta, and freshly ground black pepper. Serves two.

How Come: This well-balanced one-dish meal provides protein for muscle recovery and ample carbs to restock glycogen stores. The chicken sausage and feta replenish sodium, and heaps of antioxidant-rich vegetables lessen muscle fatigue caused by the free radicals we produce when we run. Just don't overcook your veggies. "A common way to destroy a vegetable is to boil it and then drain out all the water, which contains the nutrients," says Dikos. This recipe's quick sautee method keeps all the good stuff in.

Postrun Snack: Thai Beef Salad

How To: For the dressing, whisk together the juice of one lime, two teaspoons soy sauce, two teaspoons sesame oil, and a large pinch of red-pepper flakes. Combine two cups prewashed and precut romaine hearts, two cups preshredded cabbage, ½ cup mixed chopped herbs, and one thinly sliced scallion. Toss with the dressing. Top with eight ounces of precooked flank steak or deli roast beef and two tablespoons salted peanuts. Pair with whole-wheat pita chips. Serves two.

How Come: Beef is an excellent source of iron, which is essential for oxygen transport, and the body absorbs iron better from meat than plant sources. Avoid high amounts of saturated fat by choosing leaner cuts, such as sirloin, flank steak, and roast beef. Romaine lettuce, fresh herbs, and cabbage are good antioxidant sources. "Cabbage is a cancer fighter," says Dikos. Studies show that sulforaphane, a chemical found in the oft-overlooked vegetable, protects against cancer by increasing production of the enzymes that help flush out carcinogens.

Eat Better

The key to preparing fast meals is to stock your kitchen with nearly ready-to-use foods, such as frozen produce, which is just as healthy as fresh.

Checkout Express

A list of staples for making healthy, tasty dishes-fast.

Frozen Fruit
Blueberries (or mixed berries, cherries, or peaches)

Frozen Vegetables
Broccoli florets, bell peppers

Fresh Produce
Prewashed and precut romaine hearts, preshredded cabbage,limes, scallions

Plain yogurt, feta cheese

Nuts and Seeds
Walnuts, peanuts, almonds,cashews, sunflower and sesame seeds

Dried Fruit
Dates, raisins, coconut

Olive, sesame

Basil, parsley, and mint

Fresh or dried pasta, part whole-grain pancake mix, oats, whole-wheat pita chips

Precooked chicken sausages, precooked flank steak or roast beef cold cuts

Seasonings and Condiments
Soy sauce, red-pepper flakes, tahini, natural peanut butter

Maple syrup, honey, vanilla

The Quickest Fix

Prerun snacks that are ready to eat now.

You're going for a run in a half hour and your stomach is growling. What do you eat to tide you over without upsetting your stomach? Go for about 150 calories of low-fiber, low-fat foods that boost energy fast, says Cooke. Here are five of her favorites.

  • Handful of low-fiber cereal
  • A bagel with honey or jelly
  • A few graham crackers with a teaspoon of honey
  • Banana and a few nuts or teaspoon of peanut butter
  • Cup of fat-free yogurt
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