Most athletes don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their day, which is bad because vitamins and minerals (provided in fruits and vegetables) run metabolism and help your body recover. Many people tend to think of juicing or cleanses when someone mentions eating more “green” foods. However, it’s important to consider “going green” as including more produce in general as athletes need more calories in their day and cannot afford to only drink special “juices”. By increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed in your daily diet, energy levels & recovery levels improve too! Each color of fruit or vegetable provides different combinations of vitamins and/or minerals so it’s important to include all colors.
Hydration levels also increase! Fruit and vegetables are made up of water along with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants helping you to recover from exercise, clear up skin and stay focused.
So how can you start including more “green” foods in your daily routine? Start here!
1. Hide veggies in other foods that you already like
Try spinach or kale in smoothies – it’s tasteless!
Chop up veggies to add to an omelet
Try making fries or spiralizing with zucchini, sweet potato or carrots
Fold spinach or arugula into casseroles
Put diced bell pepper, onion, and mushroom in your ground meat mix for burgers
2. Prepare them in creative ways
Roasted veggies: Cut them up, drizzle/toss them toss in olive oil, sprinkle on salt and pepper, and put them on a foil lined pan in the oven at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.
Stir Fry or Sautee: Throw slices of your favorite green in a pan with some oil on medium high heat for ~5 minutes until they become soft and lighter in color.
Grill: Place asparagus, carrots, etc. into a foil pouch with olive oil & seasonings. Toss onto the grill while your meat or other food is cooking.
3. Increase the fun factor
Corn on the cob
Celery sticks with PB or cream cheese
Stuffed bell peppers
Stuff Portobello mushrooms
Dip them – hummus, guacamole, bean dip
4. Jump on the cauliflower craze train
Mashed Cauliflower instead of potatoes
Cauliflower pizza crust instead of flour crust
5. Try easy & new recipes
Make “Chips” with kale or chard: Remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake @ 400 F for 10 minutes.
Chop up strawberries and walnuts and sprinkle them over a bed of fresh spinach for a delicious salad.
Find lots of ideas on Pinterest by searching the name of your favorite green!
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSDD, LD is a sports dietitian in the DFW area. She has worked with Texas Christian University Athletics, the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Dallas Soccer, Jim McLean Golf School and many PGA Tour players as well as with many middle school, high school and endurance athletes. Amy speaks at a variety of nutrition, athletic training and coaching conferences. She is an ambassador/spokesperson for the National Dairy Council, a Dairy Max Health and Wellness Advisory Council member and on the Speakers Bureau for Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Amy is also the co-author of “Swim, Bike, Run – Eat,” a sports nutrition book for triathletes.
Amy received her Bachelor of Science in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Master of Science in exercise and sports nutrition from Texas Woman’s University. She is also a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.