If you ask ten different people why they don’t eat healthier, you’ll most likely get ten different answers. This shouldn’t really be surprising. We all have a lot going on. And even though they shouldn’t, our diets tend to take a back seat on the priority list.
When I think about my own situation, aside from running, I have a full time day job, and I also do freelance work and run a charity on the side. In addition to all that, I’m in the process of writing two books, and I could make a pretty lengthy list of random things that I do on a daily basis in addition to everything else, like helping my daughter Sara with her homework or feeding my dog. All of those things take time to do. Fitting in the time to also prepare healthy meals can be a huge challenge. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that.
Ironically, I wouldn’t be able to do all of the stuff I listed out above if I didn’t fuel my body properly. Sure, it’s easy to throw some frozen crap in a microwave for a few minutes and call it dinner, but whenever I eat that way, I end up spending the rest of the evening feeling sluggish and laying around on my couch watching TV when I could be doing something more productive. Not putting enough priority on your diet will ultimately affect everything else that you do.
So how do you find a balance between eating healthy and not spending too much time on meal prep?
Books like Meals on the Run are a good start. Runners World sent me a free copy of Meals on the Run to review and so far it’s been a huge help. Meals on the Run doesn’t contain a lot of text about dietary theory or why eating certain types of food is important (there are a couple sections that touch on that type of information in the beginning but that isn’t the point of the book). It’s primarily a straightforward cookbook with about 150 recipes in it. This might sound like any other cookbook, but there are three things that make the recipes in Meals on the Run unique:
- They’re specifically tailored to the nutritional needs of runners.
- They all feature fresh, minimally processed ingredients.
- They can all be made in a half hour or less and some of them take as little as 5-10 minutes.
This probably goes without saying (or else I wouldn’t be writing this post), but I’ll also add that everything I’ve tried so far has been delicious.
Meals on the Run is also laid out in a way that’s easy to find the recipes you want and even easier to cook them once you do. The first section of the book has a list of the most common ingredients used in all of the recipes and the most common tools and utensils used to prepare them. This is another time saver – if you keep you kitchen stocked with the ingredients listed, you’ll already have most of the base ingredients that you need available to prepare the recipes in the rest of the book. Recipes are also color coded based on nutritional preferences (Vegetarian, Vegan, Low Calorie, Gluten Free) as well as some other categories like being high in fluids for runners who want to hydrate before a race or recipes that are specifically geared towards recovery.
I could write more, but instead, I’m going to let the recipes speak for themselves. The three example recipes below and others like them can all be found in the book.
Meals on the Run retails for $26.99 and if you’d like to purchase a copy, you can find it here.
Blueberry-Walnut Pancakes with Maple Yogurt
These hearty pancakes will help you recover from your longest training runs. The addition of walnuts and maple yogurt topping, which is rich in protein, gives them extra staying power.
Makes 2 servings (2 pancakes each)
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 batch Multigrain
- Buttermilk Pancake Mix batter
- 3/4 cup blueberries
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat.
- In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and maple syrup. Set aside.
- Gently stir the blueberries into the prepared pancake batter.
- Add the butter to the hot skillet and swirl to coat the bottom. For each pancake, ladle 1/3 cup batter into the skillet.
- Cook about 3 minutes, or until bubbles form on the surface and the bottom is golden brown.
- Flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, until cooked through.
- Remove pancakes to 2 plates. Top each with maple yogurt and sprinkle with the walnuts.
Nutrition per Serving: 535 calories, 66 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 17 g protein, 25 g total fat, 6.5 g saturated fat, 692 mg sodium
Coconut Shrimp with Rice Noodles
Shrimp are a source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats and vitamin D, a nutrient shown to help reduce inflammation following a workout. Quick-cooking rice noodles, which require just a quick soak, are a great choice when you’re short on time.
Makes 4 servings
Total time: 20 minutes
- 1 package (9 ounces) rice vermicelli noodles
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
- 4 cups (8 to 9 ounces) broccoli florets
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 can (14 ounces) light coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons yellow curry paste
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Soak the noodles in a large bowl of hot tap water for 5 minutes, or until softened. Drain the noodles in a colander and then rinse them under cool water. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a wok or large, deep pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until pink and opaque. Remove from the wok and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to the wok, along with the broccoli and bell pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are slightly softened. Remove from the wok and set aside with the shrimp.
- Increase the heat under the wok to high and add the coconut milk,curry paste, and lime juice. Stir until heated through and well combined.
- Return the shrimp, vegetables, and noodles to the wok. Toss well to coat with the sauce.
- Serve garnished with the peanuts and cilantro.
Nutrition per serving: 517 calories, 66 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 25 g protein,
16 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 981 mg sodium
Southwestern Black Bean Wrap
For runners, beans are a perfect food—high in both protein and carbs, which makes them ideal for muscle recovery. Brown rice is a good source of manganese, a mineral that helps convert carbohydrates into energy.
Makes 1 serving
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1 whole wheat tortilla (8 inches)
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup baby spinach
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 avocado, sliced
- 2 tablespoons salsa
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Place the tortilla in the skillet and allow to warm for 1 minute. Flip and warm for 1 minute longer. Transfer to a plate.
- Add 1 teaspoon of the oil to the skillet and swirl to coat the bottom.
- Add the beans, rice, and spinach. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the beans and rice are warmed through and the spinach begins to wilt. Spread the mixture on one half of the tortilla.
- Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the skillet and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the egg and cook until scrambled. Transfer to the tortilla.
- Top the tortilla with the cheese, avocado, salsa, and cilantro. Fold up both sides of the tortilla, then roll it up, slice in half, and serve.
Nutrition per serving: 524 calories, 51 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 20 g protein, 28 g total fat, 7 g saturated fat, 727 mg sodium