Plant-based runners: speedy grab-and-go meal ideas

Interested in eating plant-based but struggling to find simple, quick meals that are full of nutrition while still easy on the budget? The authors of Plant-Based Sports Nutrition have some tips and tricks for you.

Both registered dietitians, authors Dr. Enette Larson-Meyer and Matt Ruscigno suggest planning in advance as key to maintaining high-performance plant-based nutrition. Reading labels is important–with the many new plant-based alternatives to meat and cheese, it can be tempting to purchase whatever looks appealing. Check iron, protein, fat and calcium content, and look for options that have the equivalent nutritional composition of the products they’re replacing.

Larson-Meyer and Ruscigno also suggest adding a salad to any meal, with fresh and dried fruit tossed in to add both a diverse array of nutrients (calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, zinc, etc.) as well as carbohydrates. Adding nuts, beans or cheese (provided you’re not strictly vegan) can boost healthy fat and protein, as well.

It can be challenging enough to squeeze in a run alongside all the other things you may do in a day. Eliminate some of the stress by trying some of these quick make-and-take breakfast and lunch options.

Grab-and-go breakfasts

Have some fresh or dried fruit in reusable containers on hand, and grab one of the following to make your morning ridiculously simple.

Homemade muffins made with grapeseed or canola oil and whole grains (try Shalane Flanagan’s recipe here)

Whole-grain toasted English muffin with low-trans-fat margarine or nut butter and jam

Dairy or soy yogurt, fruit and granola parfait (made the night before in a to-go container)

Breakfast cookies (make your favourite oatmeal cookies with half the sugar, orange juice as the liquid, and add dried fruit, nuts and ground flaxseed)

Quick portable lunches

Pack fresh fruit or veggies and/or whole-grain crackers or whole-wheat pretzels along with one of these easy-to-throw-together lunches and some healthy cookies.

Tomato, avocado, and sprouts on a whole-grain bagel

Black beans, lettuce, avocado and salsa in a spinach or whole-wheat roll-up

Black-eyed-peas spread (1 can beans, 1/2 cup parsley, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp tarragon, garlic and pepper to taste) on flatbread or in a whole-wheat wrap

Dark leafy greens in a pita with chickpeas, kidney beans or white beans, and dressing of choice

Peanut butter, sliced banana, raisins and walnuts on whole-wheat bread

Red-pepper bean spread (1 cup white beans, 2 tsp finely chopped roasted sweet peppers, 1 tsp finely chopped scallions) on foccacia or flatbread

If you decide to maintain a plant-based diet for the long haul, keep your menu exciting by trying new foods and learning about nutrition. Once you nail the basics, planning nutritionally-balanced meals will become as much a part of your routine as training, and can be an enjoyable, easy part of your day.

posted Friday January 20th
by Keeley Milne