Dance and Dine: Eating Healthy All Day Long

We LOVE springtime. Not only does it mean that we are in the heat of Regionals, but it also means that Nationals are right around the corner! Outside of dance, springtime also means plenty of sunshine, warmer temperatures, and an abundance of fresh foods picked right from the garden.

And since our dancers are working particularly hard during competition season, those fresh foods couldn’t come at a better time of year. Forget diamonds, healthy fuel is a dancer’s best friend! With that in mind, we’d like to share a few of our favorite meal and snack ideas geared to provide solid nutrition  for the hardworking dancer.

Rise and Shine!

Breakfast. They say it’s the most important meal of the day, and that could not be any truer for the dancer. Starting the day out with good fuel will ensure you are at your best first thing. Consuming a larger breakfast that is high in complex carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat will keep you feeling fuller longer and energized until your next meal [source]. Here are a few examples:

1) These Oatmeal Cookies  include the carbs and protein you need to get going! Plus, they have the added bonus of looking absolutely delicious…

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2) This Banana Chocolate Shake is one of our very favorites! The secret is that you must use pre-frozen riper-than-ripe bananas to get the perfect texture and flavor. Add a scoop of protein powder and you’ll be full ’til lunchtime.

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3) This Potato, Ham, and Spinach Frittata covers all of the bases, too! Swap garden fresh spinach for the frozen variety and you’ve got the perfect springtime breakfast.

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Lunch Break

Lunch can be easy to forget about if you are feeling full after breakfast and are working hard on the dance floor. But, your body will need to be replenished, so be sure and make a point to stop and eat, even if you feel too busy. According to this LiveStrong article, you will want this meal to be satisfying, yet not too filling to avoid after-lunch fatigue and/or stomach distress, so watch portion size. Here are some ideas to get you started…

1) Martha Stewart’s Ham & Cheese Croissant features an unexpected twist: the addition of sliced pear and watercress. If you’re not a fan of watercress, swap it out for fresh spinach or your favorite green. Serve with grapes as pictured for a simple and satisfying meal.

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2) Swap regular noodles for whole wheat, and this BLT-inspired pasta salad will meet all of your needs. Pair it with your favorite springtime fruit (think apricot, mango, or honeydew) and you’ve got the perfect lunch!

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3) For a twist on the regular turkey sandwich, why not wrap it up with your favorite cheese and veggies? Throw in a side of fruit and you’ve got an easy, nutritious lunch!

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[Photo Source]

Snacktime! 

By the time afternoon rolls around, you are probably post-workout and starving! These snack ideas will quickly replenish the fluids, carbs and protein that your body needs.

1) Drink, drink, drink. While water should be the first thing you grab during workouts, there are a few other drink options to quickly refuel your body post-workout that do not have the chemicals and added sugars found in the typical sports drink. Our top pick? Coconut water.  It’s naturally high in electrolytes and quickly hydrates the body [find more benefits here!]. Our next choice would be a small glass of 100% fruit or veggie juice (be sure to skip the varieties with added sugars), along with a healthy snack, like fruit or nuts.

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[Photo Source]

2) This apple dip not only looks delicious, it is the perfect mix of protein and carbs to refuel that body. Just be sure to opt for natural peanut butter that is free of added sugars or high-fructose corn syrup.

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3) Need something easy-to-grab? All-fruit and nut bars, like these Larabars, are a great option. With only a handful of real-food ingredients, these bars are not only nutritious, they are delicious, and quite filling!

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What’s for Dinner?

Even though you’re done with your physical activity for the day, it is important to stay well-hydrated and have a healthy dinner – especially if you have another day of challenging workouts ahead. For dinner, choose foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, which provide energy; lean protein, which helps repair damaged muscles tissue; and healthy fats, which help your body function at an optimal level (source).

We like these options:

1)  This recipe for One Pot Lazy Stuffed Peppers has it all: great flavor, good protein, lots of veggies, and easy clean-up! Swap the white for brown rice and you are good to go.

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2) For an Italian-inspired meal, check out this delicious version of Baked Ziti. Swap the regular for whole wheat noodles and add a side of oven-roasted broccoli for a meal so satisfying you’ll forget you’re eating healthy.

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3) If seafood is what you’re feeling, this recipe for Parmesean Crusted Tilapia is a must-try! Add a side of this amazing Baked Asparagus and Paula Deen’s Baked Sweet Potato Fries (our favorite) for a meal so delicious ‘you’ll want to slap your momma’ [although we don’t recommend that…a nice hug for cooking you such a fantastic dinner would probably be better!].

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So if you dread meal-planning as much as we do sometimes, perhaps this will help get you going in the right direction. For a quick lesson in how to plan the perfect meal, check out these lists of good sources of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. With those three all-stars, you’ll have a meal routine that will always win!

Have a favorite recipe of your own? Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or Instagram to share them with us!

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