Performance Nutrition

Performance Nutrition

If you are an athlete or responsible for feeding one, this post (and the performance nutrition posts to follow) is for you. When creating meal plans or recipes for athletes, there are unique considerations for each sport, but one thing they all have in common is how to create delicious meals that travel well.

From Dancer to Dietitian

I am delighted that beginning this month, I will be the working with the Mid-Columbia Ballet as their nutritionist. This is a company that is close to my heart, as it’s where I got my start. I’ll be sharing more about my involvement with MCB over the course of the season, but for now, I’d like to share a recipe featured in my recent #balletbento post on Instagram.

The pasta salad shown above was inspired by the need to create an entree that is delicious, travels well, is easy to eat, and packs a lot of vegetables. Sound familiar? You don’t have to be a dancer to enjoy this recipe, which works beautifully in a Bento.

Easy Meals for Long Days

Dancers are often at the studio or theater for long stretches of time, where they may or may not have access to refrigeration, and they may or may not have scheduled meal breaks (for other athletes insert: at the field, the gym, or the rink). Even if they do have a scheduled break, if rehearsals run over, there goes the break. If there is a time to eat, it may be short, with time for just a few bites. Regardless of how the schedule goes, dancers need to be well-fueled, yet feel light and energized by the food they eat. Packing foods that are easy to eat is key. Here’s where the pasta salad comes in. The pasta is easy to eat and easy on the tummy. I loaded this one with minced basil and kale to add big nutrition, without overwhelming bulk that can come from raw veggies or lovely, large salads. Since it’s summer and my garden overfloweth with tomatoes, in they went. For a shot of protein and fiber, I stirred in kidney beans. For a super easy, super tasty dressing, I used pesto. Mine came from Costco and features pecorino Romano from sheep’s milk.

Here’s how I put it together:

Performance Pasta Salad

  • 1 lb. Farfalle (bow tie) pasta
  • 2 c. Pear tomatoes (fine to substitute with cherry, grape, or chopped Roma tomatoes)
  • 4 large Kale leaves (more is better here) or substitute with spinach
  • 1 can Kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ~1/4 c. Fresh basil leaves
  • ~1/4c. Pesto
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Add enough salt to the water to make it taste like ocean water– this is how you season your pasta.
  2. While the pasta cooks, cut the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and mince the kale and basil.
  3. Drain the pasta, do not rinse, and stir the remaining ingredients into the hot pasta. The greens will wilt and their flavor will soften. Stir in the pesto and adjust the amount to suit your taste. Top with freshly ground pepper, fresh mozzarella cubes, or pine nuts, as desired. Tastes great warm or cold.

Note: Feel free to increase the amount of tomatoes and/or greens as a way to up the flavor and nutrition.

Here’s how it looked as part of a dancer dinner:

Stay tuned for more performance nutrition inspired recipes and nutrition strategies!