For at least a decade, “superfoods” have made a buzz-worthy appearance on your instagram explore page. From coconut oil and acai to celery juice and apple cider vinegar, food trends do a great job at marketing their unexplained superpowers. But what exactly is a “superfood?”
To preface this article, I will admit that no single food can cure your health ailments (sorry, not sorry celery juice!) or solve any preconceived body complaints that you may feel. Realize that a healthy diet includes a variety of foods across all food groups (grains, milk/yogurt, fruits, veggies, oils, meat/fish/poultry).
Rather than focusing on superfoods, let’s look at a few favorite bites that dancers can incorporate into their daily meals plans. To do this, I’m sharing my Rule of the 3 R’s: Refuel, Rebuild, and Recover. Let’s take a closer look:
Refuel with Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates provide a steady source of energy for longer periods of time.
Oats contain a specific type of fiber, beta-glucan, which helps rid the body of unwanted cholesterol. This means that oats are great for heart health!
Chia Seeds are rich in fiber and essential omega-3 fats, promoting healthy digestion, high energy levels, and a feeling of fullness between meals and snacks. Whether ground or whole, these tiny seeds plump in liquid, making them a great addition to oatmeal, dry cereal, and smoothies. Bonus: These seeds are a great source of calcium, which promotes bone health – great for preventing stress fractures!
Rebuild with Protein
Protein contains essential amino acids, the building blocks for muscle growth.
Greek yogurt is very high in protein – more than twice the amount as regular yogurt – leaving you more satiated for longer periods. Bonus: It is a wonderful source of calcium and vitamin D to support healthy bones.
Eggs (yolk included!), though eggs sometimes receive shade as a food high in saturated fat, I’m giving them two thumbs up. Egg yolks are rich in vitamin B12, choline, biotin, and folic acid, all of which keep you energized.
Quinoa and Farro are great choices for vegan or vegetarian dishes. Though quinoa is technically a seed, it pairs well as a grain. Farro is an ancient grain also high in protein. Similar to animal proteins, quinoa is abundant in the amino acid lysine, making it a “complete” protein.
Repair with Healthy Fats and Colorful Produce
Unsaturated fats provide anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce natural inflammation from exercise. Fresh produce is also abundant in the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed to control the body’s natural response to wear and tear.
Blueberries’ phytonutrient content boosts immunity and improves memory – great for long rehearsals and memorizing choreography.
Flax Seeds are high in omega 3 fats, which work to repair the body and reduce inflammation after a long day of rehearsals. Add ground flax to anything from oatmeal and smoothies, to salads and parfaits. Tip: use ground flax, which is better absorbed when compared to the whole flaxseed.
Nuts are a great source of fiber, protein, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants! Bonus: Almonds/Almond butter is especially high in iron, helping to prevent anemia – a chronic disorder that causes fatigue.
Ready for Recipes? Try these!
- Toasty Oats: Cook a handful of rolled oats in a dry nonstick skillet over medium-high heat on your stovetop, stirring occasionally until they are golden brown (5-7 minutes). Add to a homemade trail mix (try dark chocolate chips, almonds, & walnuts) for an extra shot of energy between classes.
- Oats, Nuts n’ Berries: 1/3 cup rolled oats (cooked with low fat milk), topped with cinnamon, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, and 1/4 cup fresh or frozen berries. Add a dollop of Greek Yogurt for an added boost of protein.
- Honeyed Yogurt: Mix 1/2 cup yogurt with a dash of cinnamon, a sprinkle of flax, a drizzle of honey, and 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries.
- Salmon in 20: Poach, bake, or grill salmon with a homemade rub of onion powder, garlic powder, and lemon juice. In just 10-15 minutes, enjoy with a side of sautéed spinach and 1/2 cup cooked brown rice.
- Sweet Quinoa & Kale: Top sautéed kale and sweet potatoes with 1 cup cooked quinoa mixed with 1/4 cup dried raisins for a tasty Meatless Monday. Drizzle honey for an added boost of antioxidants!
- AB & B Sandwich: Spread natural unsalted almond butter onto whole grain bread. Add sliced bananas for a boost of potassium to prevent cramping.