There are so many fake foods masquerading as real foods nowadays that it frightens me. It’s usually dependent on whatever new food fad the media is promoting or celebrity doctor is hawking. Gluten free, wheat free, reduced sugar orange juice, fat free chicken patties, sugar free chocolate, vegan cheese, egg beaters and the list just goes on and on. They are rarely in their original form and are sometimes hardly recognizable.
Real food is one of the most important things for athletes, but yet, I find most are eating these fake “all natural” foods on a regular basis. This is not just a problem with meat eaters, but also for vegetarians and vegans. So what do we do when we are inundated with these food items and diet trends? Well, the first step is to remember that healthy food for athletes is not diet food. Following the latest low-carb, gluten free, low-fat diet is not healthy for the average person, let alone someone who is out there trying to get the most out of their body when cycling, running, swimming or maybe hiking the mountains. Athletes need complex carbs, complete protein and healthy fats.
So how do athletes start eating and cooking more real food without second guessing everything that is thrown at them? Below are some healthy cooking strategies to help make everyone feel better about what they are doing in the kitchen.
Half n’ Half
When you are making anything with ground meat like burgers, meatloaf or a bolognese sauce, start with using half lean meat like ground turkey or ground bison. Then combine with whole grains like cooked bulgur wheat or quinoa and some finely diced vegetables like onion, carrots and garlic. You still get the flavor and texture of the meat, but with less fat, calories and a whole lot more nutrients.
Yolks and Whites
Whole eggs are important for athletes as the yolks combines one of the best proteins for muscle recovery. However, not everyone can consume a 5 egg omelette everyday, but that also doesn’t mean you can not eat whole eggs. Try making a veggie egg scramble with some asparagus, onions, tomatoes, 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites and a sprinkle of feta cheese. You get a healthy dose of veggies, protein and flavor, without a lot of extra fat.
Baked, not Fried
You can’t blame a love for things like French fries, tater tots or fish n’ chips, but we definitely don’t need all the fat and calories that come with those foods or should we really eat them. A trick to making super crispy baked French fries at home is to slice the potatoes in batonnets and then soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes. This helps remove some of the starch that can make them soggy. Bake at 425F for 30 minutes, toss halfway through and you end up having some super crispy roasted baked potato fries.