Welcome to this month’s blog post – apologies for the delay in getting this one live but June was a busy month! But busy is good, and I’ve in fact been occupied with A LOT of nutrition work and little projects. So read on to hear all about my exciting news, different concoctions I’ve been stirring up in the kitchen, and a hot topic too!
In the Know…
I’ve done it! After months of hard work and research, I am so proud to say that I am now a qualified Sports Nutrition Advisor! Completing this qualification has boosted my knowledge of so many important considerations in terms of food to fuel exercise, as well as the specialist nutritional needs of different populations and types of athletes. Not only can I now apply this knowledge to athletes (recreational or otherwise), but also for myself as a vegetarian recreational athlete – and that’s perhaps the most useful part. Finding out what my macronutrient needs are and the kinds of micronutrient deficiencies I could be at risk of has been so helpful! I now know the best meat-free sources of protein, vitamin B12 and iron – and at the moment these are my biggest priority due to their importance for my recovery.
If you are vegetarian and also find difficulty in getting adequate intake of these nutrients yourself, then leave me a comment and I’ll share my favourite sources with you! Or if you have any other dietary needs/want to discuss food for active lifestyles then you’re more than welcome to share your thoughts too!
Recipe Round Up
For anyone who’s been following my Instagram you’ll have seen a lot of ‘find this in my upcoming blog post…’, and though I’m sorry about the delay, I hope these great recipes will make up for it and be worth the wait. I have 3 of my favourite recent recipes for you: my easy-peasy brekkie bars, a simple spicy one-pot dish, and the ultimate indulgent yet ridiculously healthy avocado brownies! All of the rest of my recipes can be found on the Instagram page!
Easy Brekkie Bars (Makes 6)
These were an experimental bake that I made for my mum whilst at home this weekend – the pressure was definitely on! Everyone has different tastes, and so I made two varieties of these – a choco-nut version for my mum, and a peanut butter granola version for myself. Since the choco ones are prettier and were more of a hit they’ll feature here, but get in touch if you’d like the recipe for the others.
- 100g oats
- 15g chopped nuts of choice
- 15g dried fruit of choice
- 200ml almond milk (great flavour from this, but other alternatives, including regular cow’s milk, would work too)
- 1/2tsp vanilla essence
- 10g melted dark chocolate to top
- Mix all dry ingredients together, then add in the milk
- Leave the mixture for 10-15mins to absorb the liquid
- Pour the mixture into a lined baking tin and cook for 15-20mins at 200degC until firm and golden
- Once cooked, remove the mixture bars from the oven and leave to cool
- Top with the melted chocolate, allow to set, then divide into 6 bars
When made as specified by this recipe, each bar has:
Spicy One-Pot Eggs
This really was a simple ‘throw it in’ dinner, and it combined some of my favourite foods and flavours. Spicy beans, cool avocado and delicious runny eggs…what could be better?! Barely any recipe needed for this, but you’ll find it below anyway!
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 can choice of beans (I used cannelini for the texture)
- 1/2 avocado, diced
- 1/4 red onion
- 1 sliced garlic clove
- 1/2 flat mushroom, or 4 cubed button mushrooms
- 200g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1-2tsp paprika (you decide the level of heat!)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- A few stems of fresh coriander
- 1/4 lime
- Seasoning (freshly ground black pepper and sea salt really make the difference)
- Chilli flakes to serve
- Dice vegetables and fry in olive oil for 4-5mins
- Add in the tomatoes, beans, paprika and seasoning, then allow to simmer for 10mins until the tomato sauce begins to thicken. Stir in a few stems-worth of chopped coriander
- Make space for two eggs in the frying pan and crack them in
- Place the pan in a hot oven (only if ovenproof!) or alternatively under the grill for around 5 mins until the eggs are cooked to your liking
- Top with the diced avocado, lime juice, chilli flakes and more coriander to serve
This ended up being such a high protein meal due to the eggs and beans, but there are a whole host of other nutrients too: healthy fats from the eggs and avocado, carbohydrate and fibre from the beans, vitamin C from the tomatoes, antioxidants from the chilli, onions and coriander..definitely a complete meal with plenty of health benefits!
And Lastly…Avocado Brownies
After seeing endless Pins and Instagram posts of these healthy treats I couldn’t resist giving them a go for myself. Using previous posts for loose inspiration, I got to work on creating my own recipe, and the end result was pretty good! Gooey, chocolatey, and no hints of avocado at all! Everything a brownie should be, but with a lot of added goodness! A bit of basic nutritional info is below, as is a preliminary recipe that I’ll be updating soon.
- 2 small avocados (weighing a total of around 200g)
- 20g cocoa powder
- 4 tbsp honey
- 1tsp vanilla essence
- 150g wholemeal plain flour
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1tsp apple cider vinegar
- 200ml almond milk (I used unsweetened, but sweetened would obviously work very well in these)
- Pinch salt
- 10g melted dark chocolate to top
- Mash or blend the avocado until a smooth paste is formed
- Add in the wet ingredients (except for the milk) and mix. Then do the same with the dry ingredients.
- Add the milk a little at a time and continue to mix until a smooth batter is formed
- Bake in a lined deep baking tray for 25mins at 200degC until the top is firm. Note that the top will colour very quickly, but it won’t be burning and still may not be cooked! Ensure that a knife can be inserted then removed with only a little of the brownie mixture on (you still want it to be a bit gooey, remember!)
- Allow to cool on a wire rack, then divide into 12 portions and enjoy! (OPTIONAL: You can melt down a little bit of dark chocolate and drizzle this over the top like I did for extra indulgence!)
These brownies were so chocolatey and rich that you won’t even notice the avocado in them! Hidden veggies are great in baking because it’s such an easy way to add in so many nutrients! As a result, you’ve got a delicious brownie that’s also a great source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, dietary fibre, iron and potassium!
Hot Health Topic
For my final feature of this blog post, I just want to finish off with a quick look at a relevant health topic. This post I’m going for fuelling for fitness! I thought that since we’re in the prime of summer sports, with the World Cup in full swing, Wimbledon taking centre court and the Tour de France fast approaching, that it would be nice to take a quick look at nutrition for sports and fitness.
Like any individual, athletes require food to keep their body systems running at optimal, but there are extra demands that training and competition place on their bodies, and thus their nutritional demands. As a result of this, athletes in particular require a higher energy intake, as well as higher intake of individual nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, B vitamins, calcium and iron – to name just a few! This is so that their bodies are able to recover in preparation for the next training session/event. But looking at these Summer sports in particular, it’s important to recognise that there is the likely additional demand of heat exposure – especially with all of this sun we’ve been having in the UK recently! Therefore hydration is essential and should be proritised before, during and after exercise sessions. This isn’t just for athletes, however. We should all be considering hydration when exercising in the heat, as heat illness can be very dangerous.
Whilst I feel as though I have a good understanding of sports nutrition from degree and additional studies, I never stop learning! I’ll be using the wealth of sports that are currently being broadcast everywhere we turn as an opportunity to increase my knowledge. Just by watching a match it’s easy to pick up on a few nutritional practices that athletes carry out: frequent drinks breaks, use of cold towels (we’ve all seen this in tennis!), quick snack intakes… So if you’re interested in sports nutrition, make a few of your own observations from games, or keep a look out on social media – it’s likely that you’ll see a few cheeky pictures of some deliciously healthy recovery meals! But remember, the practices of athletes – whether it’s the types of snacks/meals they’re eating, the timing of these, or any supplement use – are specific to the individual and may not be suitable for you, so just be wary if you want to give things a try for yourself.
A good starting point would be to watch this short video by BBC Sport which gives an insight into what World Cup Footballers are fuelling themselves with, all from the capable hands of top sports chef, Jonny Marsh. Believe me, you’ll be wishing you were an elite footballer when you see the incredible feasts this clever cook whips up in the kitchen!
That’s it for this blog post! Apologies for the long delay in getting this one published; it’s been a work in progress for a while, but hopefully you’ve found it to be a useful read and have taken something positive from it. Please get in touch in the comments section with any feedback, questions and thoughts you’d like to share – I love hearing from my readers! For now enjoy the sun, enjoy the sports, and enjoy the recipes!