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Nutrition Tips

A Well-Stocked Pantry - By Jen Rawson

pantry ban nut art

Let's face it: our lives are becoming busier and busier. Between work, family commitments and our never-ending 'to do' lists, there is barely enough time to go for a run, let alone plan and prepare healthy meals.

Too often, we give little thought to the fuel we are putting in our bodies and opt for convenience over quality. Think of your body like a car: it runs fine on regular fuel but you can enhance its performance by giving it premium fuel. Sure, a Big Mac will get you through the day, but you will feel better and optimize your running if you eat high quality meals instead.

Of course, eating good quality food sounds like a great plan, but what about the time and effort it takes to do so? When someone tells me they don't have enough time to eat healthy, I tell them I don't believe it. The truth is, there are hundreds of nutritious meals that can be prepared in less than 20 minutes at home—as long as you've got the right ingredients on hand. If you stock your kitchen with some key healthy ingredients, you will eat a healthier diet. This is the first step to optimizing your run performance and maintaining long term health.

The Pantry

Instead of having a cupboard full of processed foods and treats, try stocking your pantry with these staples so you always have ingredients on hand for a healthy meal.

Grains Snack Foods Protein
A hallmark breakfast choice for runners. It's easily digestible, quick and can be made in a variety of different ways. Don't like porridge? Oats are also great to use in making your own healthy snacks such as muffins and granola bars.
Perfect for on-the-go snacking, nuts also provide healthy fats and fibre.
Dried or canned beans/lentils
These are an excellent source of protein and fibre--add them to spaghetti sauce, casseroles, soups, stews or salads.
Quick Tip:
Mash a banana or add applesauce to oatmeal to sweeten it naturally. Try adding egg whites to increase the protein content of your oatmeal breakfast.
Quick Tip:
Keep portions small, as nuts are high in fat and can add up quickly in calories. A serving should be 1/4 cup or about one palmful.
Quick Tip:
Dried beans and lentils can be prepared in large batches and frozen in individual portions for quick meals.
The pantry is the perfect place to store grains, which act as high quality carbohydrates for runners. There is no one best grain, so use a variety in your cooking.
Dried fruit
Another portable snack that provides carbohydrates. Perfect for running fuel during endurance events or when energy is needed on the go.
Canned tuna/salmon
Canned fish is a fantastic protein source that makes for incredibly fast meals.
Quick Tip:
To save time and money, make a large portion of grains at the beginning of the week and repurpose it. For example, extra quinoa used as a side dish can be made into a cold quinoa salad for lunch the next day or mixed into hamburger patties.
Quick Tip:
Look for unsweetened dried fruit as some have a lot of added sugar. Dates make an ideal snack – try adding nut butter for a tasty treat.
Quick Tip:
Think past the tuna fish sandwich— add canned fish into your hot or cold pasta, make it into burger patties or put it in lettuce wraps

The Fridge and Freezer

The fridge requires stocking more frequently than the pantry, but the fresh fruits and vegetables you pick up at the grocery store provide valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If you're on a tight schedule, make meals in large batches and freeze them into individual portions that can be reheated on days you're short on time.

Vegetables/Fruit Protein
Frozen bagged vegetables and fruit
The perfect thing to ensure you always have produce available for cooking. Frozen is just as nutritious as fresh and can be more convenient. Frozen vegetables require less prep work and can be easily microwaved as a side dish.
The days of worrying about eating too many eggs are over. Eggs are a convenient and versatile protein source.
Quick Tip:
When you have produce that is about to spoil in the fridge, blend it with water and freeze into ice cube trays. Add the cubes to your morning smoothies to increase vitamins and fibre.
Quick Tip:
Boiled eggs make a convenient snack and salad topper. Omelettes are a great dinner choice: fill them with vegetables and you have a healthy dinner that you can make in under 10 minutes.
Pre-washed/Chopped vegetables and salads
If time is a concern, paying for the convenience of prewashed or chopped vegetables can be the answer. If vegetables are prepared, you are much more likely to eat them than let them rot in the fridge.
Greek yogurt/Skyr/Kefir
Yogurt and fermented milk drinks like kefir are great sources of protein and carbohydrates. An excellent choice for breakfast or a snack.
Quick Tip:
Think outside the box with vegetables. Carrots are great as carrot sticks with hummus but can also be chopped into a stir-fry, shredded onto a salad or mashed and added into a pasta sauce.
Quick Tip:
Plain Greek yogurt or Skyr is incredibly versatile. It can be used to replace sour cream and mayonnaise in recipes, add creaminess to casseroles and add protein to baking.

Your body deserves high quality ingredients. Cooking doesn't have to be complicated and it doesn't have to be gourmet. If you shop weekly and keep simple, nutritious foods on hand, you can put together a quick meal after a run that will nourish you as well as provide the performance benefits you are looking for.

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