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Fuel Your Morning Workout with These Vegan Meals
The idea of a plant-based diet sounds appealing, but can it fuel a tough workout? Check out these expert tips for how to mix a vegan and athletic lifestyle.
It’s been said that veganism is the way of the future, and anecdotally, the number of athletes turning to a vegan diet is growing worldwide. With that growth comes an increased curiosity among exercise enthusiasts about what a vegan athlete lifestyle may entail. An obvious starting point: Learning how to create vegan meals that meet all necessary nutrition requirements for athletes, without feeling locked into a limited range of food options. The perfect solution to this is to master the 80/20 formula, wherein you aim to eat 80 percent of your meals as vegan, and cut yourself some slack for non-vegan meals the other 20 percent of the time.
Here’s the truth that many people not familiar with vegan eating miss: Veganism is not some weird, obscure diet. Any meal can be made vegan, whether it’s an on-the-go lunch before a workout or a celebratory dish post-race. These are the fundamentals to creating nutrient-rich vegan meals:
• Base: Grains, pasta and proteins create a solid foundation.
• Layer: Broccoli, beans, peppers, onion, other vegetables and seasonings add flavor.
• Topping: Nuts, seeds, condiments, fruit and more dress up any dish.
It’s that simple. Everything from bowls, overnight oats, pizza, pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches, wraps and smoothies can be made using this formula. Curious? Get started by planning your next breakfast with the following dairy-free, plant-based recipes.
Vegan Chickpea Omelet with Cashew Hollandaise (serves 2)
This recipe comes from Julia Murray, a former elite athlete and registered holistic nutritionist. A vegan for six years, Murray knows that many athletes worry about getting enough protein on a plant-based diet. “This is one of the most common questions I get,” says Murray, who created an 80/20 Plants app to help coach people who want to go vegan. “Protein is easier to get through a plant-based diet than people realize—every plant has protein, and as long as you’re eating enough calories and enough variety, you will easily attain your protein requirement.”
If you’re training hard and aiming to build muscle, says Murray, focus on the higher-protein foods like legumes, tempeh, tofu and seeds. This delicious omelet is made using chickpea flour which is packed with protein.
• 2 cloves garlic
• Choice of veggies diced (mushrooms, peppers, spinach, red onion)
• Flax oil
• Vegan cheese (suggestions - Chao, Black Sheep, Gusta, Violife, Daiya or Miyokos)
• Avocado slices
• 1½ cups (350g) firm tofu, patted with paper towel to remove excess liquid
• ⅓ cup chickpea flour
• ½ cup unflavored plant milk
• 2 tbsp tapioca flour
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp onion powder
• ½ tsp turmeric
• ½ tsp black salt
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast
• Dash of pepper
• 1 tsp of vegan butter for oiling the pan
• ¾ cup cashews, soaked overnight (or 10 minutes in hot water), then strained
• ¼ cup lemon juice (juice of 1½ lemons)
• ½ cup unsweetened, unflavored plant milk (almond, coconut or soy)
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• ¼ tsp sea salt
Sauté garlic and veggies in flax oil. Set aside.
Blend all omelet shell ingredients (not filling) in your blender until smooth.
Test the texture: Dip a spatula in the mixture. If the mixture stays on the spatula, but is on the verge of dripping, that’s perfect.
Turn a pan to medium heat and add the vegan butter.
Pour half the mixture onto the oiled pan and set timer for 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Do not touch.
When the timer goes off the omelet should be darkening on the top, maybe with a few bubble holes. Cover with half of your fillings. Fold one side over to create your vegan omelet. Place lid on the pan and let cook for a minute to melt the cheese.
Make Hollandaise: Blend all sauce ingredients until smooth!
Serve with avocado slices and a good drizzle of hollandaise sauce.
Overnight Buckwheat Oats
This easy breakfast recipe from Murray is packed with fiber and nutrients and can be made every few nights to get you through your early-morning workout. Feel free to be generous with the toppings. For even more vegetables in your diet, you can replace the buckwheat oats with 1 cup grated zucchini. Additionally, if you’re a fan of carrot cake, you can replace the buckwheat with 1 cup grated carrots.
• 2 cups oats
• 3/4 cup buckwheat oats
• 1/2-1 cup frozen blueberries
• 1/4 cup walnuts
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 tsp maple syrup
• 1tbsp cinnamon
• 2 tbsp chia seeds
• 1/4 cup goji berries (or raisins)
• 2 cups plant milk
• 1 tsp matcha powder or cacao powder (optional)
• Chopped dates (optional)
• Coconut yogurt (topping)
• Chopped strawberries and bananas (topping)
Mix all ingredients except toppings together in a large bowl.
Let soak for 15 minutes or overnight in the fridge
In the morning, add your toppings and enjoy.
Give these vegan recipes a try to start your day and see how you feel. If you find you have more energy for your workouts and less of a mid-day crash, you might consider adding vegan dishes for lunch and dinner, too. (You can find plenty online or on Murray’s 80/20 Plants app.) And if you decide veganism isn’t for you, that’s okay, too: There are still plenty of other ways to fuel your next workout.