Superfoods for supersports

Cynthia Stone
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I took grief for not posting game day recipes for the Super Bowl, so if I ignore the Olympics I’ll be run out of town on a bobsled.

To say I’m not interested in watching sports on TV is a bit of an understatement, but I’m endlessly fascinated with how these super athletes fuel their highly tuned machines. They take in thousands of calories on training and competition days, so you’d think they could blissfully ignore their consciences and scarf cheeseburgers and fries and pizza and whatever else they want.

Of course, that’s not true. As I waded through the swamp of sports blogs I realized there’s no joy in eating like an athlete. They talk about carb loading four hours before certain types of events and how many handfuls of nuts and seeds they must take in. The thing that really caught my attention, however, was how many items they crossed off their superfoods lists every day. Now that, I can do.

Porridge with Bananas and Honey

Start your day tomorrow with no fewer than three superfoods. Don’t tell me this isn’t a recipe, because I’ve had some really nasty porridge. This is creamy and delicious and keeps in the fridge for three or four days and reheats perfectly, although you may want to add a little water to loosen it up. The only downside is you must think of it the night before because this is definitely not your average instant oatmeal in a packet.

Whether this makes enough for 4 or 8 servings is up for debate, but I’ve never thrown any away, so judge yourself accordingly.

4 cups cold water

1 cup old-fashioned large cut oats

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

1 banana per person

1/4 cup honey

Combine water, oats and salt in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on the lowest possible temperature for 30 minutes. Stir often and add water if mixture gets too dry.

Remove from heat and stir in milk. As soon as the pot is cool enough, put it in the fridge for overnight. The next morning, put the pot back on low heat and bring up to a simmer, stirring often. Add more water if the mixture is too stiff.

Pour into serving bowls and top with sliced banana. Drizzle on the honey and enjoy.

Beet, Quinoa and Spinach Salad

What superfood list doesn’t quinoa appear on? If you’ve never had it, don’t be afraid. It’s easy to cook and delicious as a side dish, but my favourite way to serve it is in a warm salad. This one hits about six items on your must-eat list. It’s so packed with flavour you won’t even notice that it’s also packed with nutrients, and that’s a good thing because you won’t be able to stop at a small serving. This should serve 4 but it probably won’t.

2 medium beets

1 cup quinoa

1-3/4 cups water

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

4 cups baby spinach leaves

2 oranges, peeled and cut into segments or sliced

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup roasted unsalted pistachios

2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Boil beets for 30 to 45 minutes, until a knife blade easily pierces the flesh. Remove from water and cool just until you can touch them. Rub off the skin — rubber gloves will save you embarrassment later — and cut into bite-sized wedges; set aside.

Follow the instructions on the quinoa package if it has any. If not, rinse as you would rice then combine with water, salt and cumin in a heavy-bottomed pot.

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and replace cover while you finish the salad.

Combine spinach, orange segments, onion, pistachios and cilantro. Toss to combine then stir in quinoa and beets. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over top. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Coconut Yogurt Cake

Yes, I realize cake is stretching my credibility in this superfoods column, but honestly, cake is food for your mood. This recipe is great as a dessert with cream cheese icing or coconut custard, but it’s also fantastic for snacking in front of the TV. And you can’t deny that coconut and yogurt are on all those lists.

This cake will serve 8 to 10 sports fans or 2 Olympic athletes.

1 cup soft unsalted butter, no other

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. coconut extract

2 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. each baking powder and baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt (low-fat is OK but don’t use fat-free)

1/2 cup fine flaked unsweetened coconut

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and coconut extract. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Whisk or sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add alternately with yogurt, making three additions of dry and two of yogurt. Stir in coconut.

Pour into a well-greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan. Bake at 350 F (325 if using a dark pan) for 50 minutes or until a tester in the middle comes out clean.

Cool 15 minutes in the pan then remove and cool on a rack.

Now maybe I’ll start thinking about those TV snacks. Stay tuned.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.

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