When in dietary doubt, we ask nutrition experts to show us how to leverage our food for optimal performance. This time, we asked seven of our go-to diet and sports nutrition gurus to dish on their go-to meals. Their choices may surprise you.
Yoni Freedhoff, Assistant Professor at University of Ottawa and a Doctor Specializing in Obesity Treatment
Yoni Freedhoff wears many hats. When he’s not practicing medicine or teaching, he’s playing the roles of author and dad, so cooking healthy meals for his family needs to happen fast. To get it done, Freedhoff turns to eggsplosions—grilled cheese sandwiches with eggs cooked into the bread, similar to the classic “egg in a hole” breakfast dish. “I can have them on the table within 15 minutes of walking through the door,” he says. You can improvise your own version or give his favorite recipe (below) a try. It may sound indulgent—and it sure tastes like it—but if you stick with whole-wheat bread, you’re getting protein, complex carbs, and some healthy fat. Freedhoff’s other favorite trick for hassle-free healthy eating is being smart about leftovers. “We double or triple almost all of our dinner recipes, so we have a freezer stocked with ready-to-reheat food,” he says. Invest in an entry-level vacuum sealer to keep freezer burn to a minimum and ensure your frozen meals stay fresh.
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 slices sandwich bread
Salt and pepper
2 slices American, cheddar, or Monterey Jack cheese
Using a small empty can, cut a circle in the center of each slice of bread.
In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter.
Place both bread slices into skillet, break an egg into each, season with salt and pepper, and cook, swirling occasionally, until golden brown on bottom side (about two minutes).
Add remaining butter and flip bread slices. Place cheese slices on top, close sandwich, and cook until golden brown (about one minute).
“Amasian” Egg Scramble
Allen Lim, Founder of Skratch Labs
Exercise physiologist and coach turned chef Allen Lim understands how important it is to treat food as fuel, even when you’re crunched for time. Enter his favorite “Amasian” food—part Asian, part American. It’s delicious and packed with healthy ingredients. “When I’m super slammed, I make an egg scramble on top of sushi rice and some sauteed spinach,” Lim says.
1 cup dry sushi rice per person
1.5 cups water per person
Vegetable or olive oil
Bunch of spinach
Spices to taste
Rinse the rice to remove excess starch. Add to pot with water and cook according to package directions.
While rice cooks, saute a bunch of greens (we used spinach). “I’ll usually mow down an entire bunch of spinach by myself,” Lim says. He recommends using an exceptionally hot work coated with vegetable or olive oil.
Once the spinach wilts, remove it from the wok and scramble the eggs.
Pile the spinach and eggs on top of the rice. Season with your favorite spices for extra flavor.
Stacy Sims, Co-Founder of Osmo Nutrition, Exercise Physiologist, and Triathlete
Stacy Sims’ alarm clocks goes off at 5:30 every morning—even on weekends—to let her know it’s time to train. How does she do it? Sims will tell you that good coffee gets her out the door, and the breakfast she knows is waiting for her makes her hustle through workouts. “I always start the day with a protein latte: two shots of espresso, almond milk, whey protein, and vanilla paste for sweetness,” says Sims. When she gets home, she pounds one of two breakfasts—either a bowl of overnight oats (Sims soaks hers with almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla bean paste) topped with dates and Greek yogurt, or something she calls a banana omelet, which Sims swears tastes just like banana bread.
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
3 egg whites or 2 whole eggs
In a bowl, combine banana and vanilla paste and heat in microwave until mushy.
Stir in the eggs.
Pour the mixture into a hot skillet and cook it like a pancake. For more protein, eat the omelet on a piece of toast smeared with almond butter.
DIY Prerace Breakfast Sandwich
Matt Fitzgerald, Author of The Endurance Diet and Marathoner
Before marathons, Matt Fitzgerald chows down on a sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich with extra sausage. He orders the sandwiches from Schwan’s, a frozen-meal delivery company. “But if I’m flying to a race, I find what I can. Before Boston last year, I ate Jimmy Dean’s,” he says. Fitzgerald tweaked his racing strategy to include a high-fat prerace meal once he heard about the possible benefits of loading up on fat rather than carbs just before big events. He’s had no GI issues since making the switch, and this has become his breakfast of choice. Feel free to play with his template if you’d rather go the way of, say, turkey bacon and Swiss or avocado and mozzarella.
2 pork sausage patties
1 slice American cheese
English muffin, toasted
Scramble the eggs.
Stack eggs, sausage patties, and cheese on top of the English muffin.
Nancy Clark, Sports Nutritionist and Author
Nancy Clark, the team nutritionist for the Boston Red Sox, has an exceptionally surprising go-to dinner: a quick fish chowder. She says it’s “a balanced meal in a bowl, with fish, potato, onion, milk. Salty, satisfying, yummy.” It's a hefty serving of protein and carbs with some fat to keep you full, without sacrificing flavor. Plus, it’s even better the next day.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions, diced
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound whitefish (such as cod, tilapia, sole, or haddock)
1 can evaporated milk
Salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil, and then saute the onions until transparent.
Add potatoes, plus just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until almost tender (about ten to 15 minutes).
When the potatoes are almost tender, place the fish on top; cover and cook about five minutes or until the fish is done.
Stir in evaporated milk; add salt and pepper to taste.
Matthew Accarrino, Executive Chef at SPQR and Team Chef for the Hincapie Cycling Team
Matthew Accarrino is an avid cyclist by day, Michelin-starred chef at night, and team chef during race season, so his entire life revolves around fueling, depleting the tank, and repeating the cycle. He keeps it simple for post-ride meals at home, pairing quick-cooking lean proteins—like salmon filets and beef tenderloins—with nutrient-rich mashed sweet potatoes and a heaping portion of farmers’ market veggies. To make quick meals interesting, Accarrino uses unique spice blends that he picks up at specialty markets.
For dessert, Accarinno mixes no-sugar-added applesauce with a touch of yogurt, a spoonful of almond butter, and fresh fruit, then tops the whole thing with homemade granola. “It might sound weird, but the athletes I cook for love it,” he says.
1 cup no-sugar added applesauce
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon jam of your choice
1 tablespoon nut butter of your choice
1/4 cup granola
1/2 banana, chopped
- In glass jar or cup, begin with a layer of applesauce at the bottom. Continue alternating all ingredients to create parfait. If preferred, you can stir to eat. Serves one.
Big Burger Bowl
Elyse Kopecky, Co-Author of Run Fast, Eat Slow
Elyse Kopecky lets her body tell her what she should be eating. “Right now, I’m pregnant, running, and writing book number two, so my appetite has been crazy. My body is craving red meat, so I’ve been hooked on making burger bowls with grass-fed ground beef or bison,” she says. A burger bowl (the recipe below will be featured in the upcoming book Run Fast, Eat Slow: Volume 2) is a lot like a burrito bowl: it has a scoop of brown rice at the bottom, a patty over that, and tons of fresh veggies smothering the top. “I love topping it with guacamole or sliced avocado,” says Kopecky. Following her book’s principle of “indulgent nourishment,” Kopecky doesn’t believe in skimping or deprivation; instead, she votes for meals (like this burrito bowl) that feel like a treat but are jam-packed with nutrients.
2 cups short-grain brown rice
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup almond flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound ground bison, beef, lamb, or turkey meat
1 bunch asparagus, drizzled with olive oil
1/2 red onion, drizzled with olive oil
Salsa, guacamole, and cilantro (optional)
Cook rice according to package directions.
Preheat grill to medium-high. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine egg, feta, almond flour, salt, and pepper. Add meat and mix without overworking. Form into four equal-size patties about one inch thick.
Grill burgers about three to four minutes per side, or until a thermometer placed in the center reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit and the meat is no longer pink.
While burgers are cooking, grill asparagus and red onion; chop when cooked.
Divide rice into four servings. Top each with a burger, grilled veggies, and generous scoop of guacamole, salsa, and cilantro (if using).