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THE VEGETARIAN MARATHONER’S MEAL PLAN

BREAKFAST: More-Vegetable-Than-Egg Frittata (recipe, below) and a Hearty Whole-Grain Muffin
One egg provides six grams of protein, nearly a quarter of your daily need for selenium, and 11 percent of your daily need for vitamin B12 , a nutrient that many vegetarian runners fall short on. The key is to eat the whole egg – not just the white – since most of those nutrients are found in the yolk. Vegetables add nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A and even iron. Pair the frittata with a whole-grain muffin for a quick and convenient source of complex carbs as well as a surprising amount of protein.

MIDMORNING SNACK: Coconut Almond Energy Bar
Making your own energy bars is easier than you think – and they taste way better than any store-bought version. Thanks to the almonds, cashews, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds in this recipe, these energy bars are an excellent source of zinc, a mineral essential for maintaining proper immune function.

Makes: 20
Total time: 25 minutes

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup whole raw almonds
1/2 cup whole raw cashews or peanuts
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped dates or raisins
1 1/2 cups tahini (sesame seed paste) or natural peanut butter
1 cup honey (you’ll need an entire 450g bottle)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Generously coat a 25cm x 40cm baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, almonds, cashews or peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and dates or raisins.

Put the tahini or peanut butter and honey in a microwaveable bowl and heat on high for 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. Add to the oats mixture. Stir until well combined.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and, with wet hands, pat into a rectangle about 2.5cm high (your rectangle will be about 25cm x 30cm). Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the bars turn golden brown. Do not overbake. The bars will still feel tacky in the centre but will firm up as they cool.

 

LUNCH: Chickpea, Cherry and Ginger Salad
One cup of chickpeas packs more than a quarter of your daily need for iron – that’s key for vegetarians, who may not get enough of this energy-boosting nutrient (and also 12 grams of fibre per cup, so save this for your post-run meal). Vitamin C – rich mandarin oranges ensure that your body absorbs as much of the mineral as possible.

Makes: 4 servings
Total time: 10 minutes

2 cans (440g each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can (310g) mandarin oranges
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup dried tart cherries
1 jalapeño chile pepper, minced (wear plastic gloves when handling)
1 cup chopped parsley
4 ounces feta cheese
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, add the chickpeas, oranges, onion, garlic, ginger, pecans, cherries, chile pepper, parsley and feta cheese. Stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and oil. Season with the salt and pepper. Pour over the chickpea salad and mix well.

 

AFTERNOON SNACK: Spinach-Kiwi Cooler, plus plain low-fat Greek yoghurt topped with Granola
The combination of iron-rich spinach and vitamin C – packed kiwi in this low-kilojoule smoothie helps vegetarians meet their iron needs. Blending it with almond milk instead of low-fat dairy milk keeps kilojoules in check, while adding banana helps offset the slightly bitter greens. Greek yoghurt is a concentrated source of quality protein, with 170g providing 17 grams. Topping it with homemade granola provides a dose of whole-grain carbs – minus the bad-for-you fats found in most store-bought brands.

Makes: 1 serving
Total time: 5 minutes

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup fresh spinach
1 kiwi, sliced
1/2 frozen banana, sliced

Combine the almond milk, spinach, kiwi and banana in a blender. Process until smooth.

 

DINNER: Tagliatelle with Peas, Chilli and Mint
Even though this dish contains no meat, it still provides 15 grams of protein. The surprising source: peas, which are also rich in iron, vitamin C and vitamin K, a nutrient that’s key for healthy bones.

Makes: 6 servings
Total time: 25 minutes

2 cups shelled peas
1 pound tagliatelle (use linguine or fettuccine as a substitute)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh hot chilli (such as Thai)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shelled peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove the peas with a sieve. Add the tagliatelle to the boiling water.

Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the hot chilli and peas, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.

When the pasta is tender, drain it, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Return the tagliatelle to the pot. Toss it with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the peas and chilli, mint and cheese. Add a bit of the cooking water, if you like, to wet the sauce. Serve garnished with more mint and cheese.

 

DESSERT: Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie
Chocolate chips, walnuts, and oats give these cookies a chewy and crunchy texture. They use less sugar than many traditional chocolate-chip cookies, but have plenty of rich sweetness thanks to the combination of brown sugar, dark honey and cocoa powder. The latter two ingredients also provide a dose of minerals, including zinc and iron.

Makes: 30
Total time: 50 minutes

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons dark honey, such as buckwheat
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups quick cooking oats
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips, or 115g chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a mixing bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, white sugar and honey. Beat on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat on low speed to blend well.

In another bowl, add the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Stir until well combined. Add to the wet mixture. Stir in the oats, chocolate and nuts.

Spoon the batter in 1 tablespoon mounds onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until set to the touch.

 

RECIPE
Mark Bittman’s More-Vegetable-Than-Egg Frittata
A runner for four decades, RW contributing writer Mark Bittman wrote about his semi-vegan diet for his new book, VB6, meaning vegan before 6pm.

Makes: 4 servings
Total time: 35 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced
Salt and ground black pepper
6 cups of any chopped or sliced raw or cooked vegetables, drained of excess moisture if necessary
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or mint leaves (optional)
3 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 3 minutes, or until it’s soft. Add the vegetables, raise the heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, anywhere from a couple of minutes for greens to 15 minutes for sliced potatoes. Adjust the heat so the vegetables brown a little without scorching. (If you’re starting with pre-cooked vegetables, add them to the onions and give a couple of good stirs before proceeding to the next step.)

When the vegetables are nearly done, reduce the heat to low and add the basil, if using. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pan is almost dry, up to another 5 minutes for wetter ingredients like tomatoes or mushrooms.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs with salt and pepper to taste, along with the Parmesan. Pour over the vegetables, using a spoon if necessary to distribute them evenly. Cook undisturbed for 10 minutes, or until the eggs are barely set. (You can set them further by putting the pan in a 175°C oven for a few minutes or by running it under the broiler for a minute or two.) Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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