Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health
Springtime in Boston means longer days, warmer temperatures and sports! In addition to the beloved Red Sox games at Fenway Park, Bostonians also look forward to watching (either in person or on TV) one of the greatest and most grueling races in the world … the Boston Marathon. In April, around 25,000 runners set out for the 26.2 mile course from Hopkington, MA to Boston, MA. Approximately 500,000 spectators line the course annually, making the Boston Marathon New England’s most widely viewed sporting event.
Athletes know that proper nutrition during peak season is as equally important as proper training. Because marathon training involves 4-6 months of intense training it’s essential to fuel the body well. Runners treat their bodies like finely tuned machines and realize that what they eat directly affects performance during a workout AND how they feel afterwards – that same day and beyond. We should all think about what we eat as directly impacting how we feel not only in our workouts, but in our day to day activities. What types of foods should we focus on? Go back to the basics with whole grains, lean meats and fish, nuts, low-fat dairy and an abundance of fruits and vegetables. The great thing about nutrient-rich fruits and veggies (a favorite of Registered Dietitians) is that many are perfect for snacks at home, on-the-go and even as training partners. Produce provides healthy carbohydrates, which runners (and all of us!) need for sustained energy during a workout. What are some favorite fruit and veggie snacks?

Before training runs or workouts (incorporate carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein)

During training runs that last more than 90 minutes (focus on carbohydrates)

  • raisins, apricots and other dried fruit (nature’s candy)
  • freeze-dried fruit
  • sliced oranges and apples (along any marathon course, you will find spectators handing out orange slices – a refreshing energy replenisher)

After training runs (incorporate whole grains carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein)

  • smoothie (low-fat yogurt + frozen fruit + soymilk)
  • celery + light cream cheese
  • baby carrots + celery + hummus
  • sliced apples + reduced-fat cheddar
  • apples + light yogurt
  • whole wheat bread + avocado + turkey + veggies
  • your favorite pasta dish (see below for a fabulous springtime recipe)

My favorite post-workout salad, enjoy!

Asparagus and Artichoke Pasta Salad
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked dry whole grain penne or rotini pasta (or whole wheat pasta)
  • 1/2 lb asparagus spears, trimmed and cut in 2 inch pieces about 8-10 spears
  • 1 (14oz) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted red pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup can sliced ripe olives, drained
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Instructions:
1. Cook pasta according to directions on package, omitting any salt or fat. Add asparagus 2 minutes before pasta is done. Immediately drain pasta and asparagus mixture in a colander and run under cold water until cooled. Drain well.
2. In medium bowl combine artichoke hearts, red pepper, red onion and olives. Add drained pasta mixture. In another bowl mix together balsamic vinegar, canola oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Pour dressing over pasta mixture and toss gently, yet thoroughly to coat. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 8 hours in advance for peak flavors and texture.
Yield: 10 servings.
Information reprinted with permission from www.canolainfo.org

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