Summer Grocery List
This season brings the bikini body craze, long hours of outside activity, and different fueling needs! To eat better this summer, I suggest choosing the best season foods.
Endurance athletics can take a real toll on an athlete’s body. To achieve the best performance, recovery, and overall health, it is important for the athlete to eat foods that will have a positive effect. While there are no ‘bad’ whole foods, there are some that may benefit the endurance athlete more than others. It is also good to vary one’s eating with the season in order to get the most nutritional benefit from fresh foods. Foods that are eating at their peak typically contain more nutrients as well as flavor. Due to supply and demand, when a food is in season, it is typically cheaper which gives us even more reason to fill the grocery cart with these goodies. This article will explore these super seasonal foods with tips on the proposed benefits, best way to incorporate into your diet, and a recipe or two.
Grocery Store Tips:
Get the most out of your shopping trip by doing a little prep at home before hitting the market.
Survey your fridge and pantry to know what you already have.
Write out a meal plan.
Make a list and try not to stray from what you need.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach!
Your best bet is to find a local farmers market to load up on the freshest local items, but if there isn’t one available, most normal grocery stores will carry a quality supply of food. Follow these guidelines for a quality shopping trip:
Grab a carry basket, not a cart. You’ll work your wimpy cyclist arms more by carrying your load. Plus, the smaller cart means less room for junk; get what you need and get out!
Start with the perimeter, this is where the fresh, whole foods hangout. Go around the store once before going into the aisles.
Fill your basket with the bright, colorful produce, fresh lean meats and seafood, and dairy first as these will be the bases for all your meals.
Next move into the aisles and choose natural, unprocessed grains, seeds and nuts to round out your meals.
Once you have your foundation, pick your extras: sauces, condiments, supplements, and any packaged foods. Try limiting these items to reduce your use of ‘extras’.
While premade packaged foods are a general health ‘no-no’, it is important for a cyclist to have a few on hand options for rushed times and fast fueling.
Always aim to look for single ingredient foods. Beyond that, limit your selection to labels you can easily read, understand and have few ingredients.
Your healthful shopping trip shouldn’t stop when you leave the store. To get the most out of your trip, take time for a few extra steps once you get home:
Instead of shoving all your goods into the fridge immediately, spend a few extra minutes on some food prep. You’re more likely to use your produce if it’s prepped and ready to go. Chop, dice, clean, slice and store in bags or containers so everything is ready to use.
If you can, spend time immediately tossing together some complete meals to be able to easily eat healthfully throughout the week.
Look for these seasonal summer foods while shopping!
Benefit - This fruit contains high amounts of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which has been found to target muscle cells. Studies show that consuming cherries and pure cherry juice can lead to decreased muscle soreness after hard workouts. The little stone fruits also contain melatonin which helps promote sleep which endurance athletes need a great deal of.
Use –Try incorporating cherries into your recovery fuel plan for the most benefits.
Recipe – Blend 1 cup pitted cherries with 2 cup vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop protein powder, and 1 frozen banana. Feeling more adventurous? Try this smoothie recipe!
Benefits – 1 Tbsp has 17g of simple carbohydrate, making a tablespoon of honey the perfect, natural energy source for athletes. There is a reason Honey Stingers was created! Beyond supplying a quick energy source, honey is packed with B vitamins and trace minerals. While you shouldn’t rely on honey for your daily vitamin needs, you can count on its immunity boosting effects to keep you healthy all season long. Honey can also help soothe GI stress, which many athletes suffer from. Some people also find honey to be a sleep aide.
Uses – Eat honey before or during your training to promote energy levels. Also, try consuming just before bed for a soothing sleep aid.
Recipes – This one is too easy! Just watch the quantity you use… but add to smoothies and homemade sauces/dressings for flavor and sweetness.
Benefit – Athletes can take advantage of the hydrating effects of watermelon since the fruit itself is 91% water. Pair that with the 314mg of potassium and 21g carbohydrate per cup, and you’ve basically got yourself a natural sports drink. Watermelon is also loaded with vitamin A, and Lycopene at only 46 calories per cup. One study found watermelon consumption to assist with lowering recovery heart rate and reducing muscle soreness due to the fruit’s amino acid L-Citrulline.
Use – Consume watermelon before a workout to increase hydration. Try adding ½ watermelon lemonade + ½ water in your water bottle for an energy boost mid workout.
Recipe – Try a slushie beverage by blending ice, 1 cup watermelon, juice of 1 lime, and 1 tbsp chia seeds together.
Benefit – Endurance athletes consume their fair share of sugary foods to keep glucose levels high. However, consumption of these foods should be focused around the activity and taper to healthier, fibrous, complex carbohydrates during less active parts of the day. Corn is actually a grain that is rich in fiber, making it a great food for snacking or replacing other carbohydrates on your plate. While all corn varieties are nutritious, choosing blue corn will increase your antioxidant consumption. Corn is also naturally gluten free, making it an ideal source of natural carbohydrate for those athletes avoiding gluten due to GI issues or intolerance.
Use – Eat as a snack or at meals post exercise.
Recipe – Season and eat straight off the cobb for an easy, nutritious side dish or try cutting off the kernels and mixing into a fresh salsa for a more carbohydrate rich condiment.
Benefits – These little fruits are loaded with the healthy monounsaturated fat. This fat helps fuel sustained activities and can even help lower lipid levels. Remember that the body pulls from more fat calories when doing LSD type exercise. Besides the fat content, avocados are nutrient powerhouses. Per ½ avocado they provide 435mg potassium, 7g fiber, folate, B6, C, K and more.
Use – These fruits are extremely versatile. Because they are easily digested, eat them before LSD workouts to help sustain you or add small amounts to any meal to improve the satiety of your dish.
Recipe – Scoop out an avocado, fill with an egg and bake for a filling breakfast. Also try slicing overripe avocados, freezing them in ziplocks, then adding to pre workout smoothies for sustained energy.
Benefits – Bring on the heat! If your summer isn’t hot enough, add some chilies to your diet. Due to the capsaicin content, hot peppers are mostly known to help speed up your metabolism and adding satiety to your meals. This is great news for any athlete needing to control their weight. This phytochemical also is thought to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain relieving substance.
Uses – Because spicy food can be a common GI irritant, eat chilies in small amounts and not before workouts or right before bedtime.
Recipe – Try making a big jar of pickled chilies and using them to top burgers, salads, tacos and more!
Benefits – Herbs such as basil, mint, tarragon, and thyme are all summer plants. As a whole, herbs pack a nutrition punch. In a small amount, you get a high percentage of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However it is the phytonutrient power that really put herbs over the top. These unique plant specific phytochemicals and nutrients provide the body with inflammatory and germ fighting properties. As athletes, the immune system is overly stressed, so including herbs can help keep your immunity boosted.
Uses – Try growing your own! These plants are easy to manage, cost effective, and you’re more apt to use them if they’re right at your fingertips! Skip the sauces, which are loaded in simple sugars, oils, and sodium! Instead finish any dish with herbs to enhance flavor in a natural way.
Recipes –Adding an herb salad to any meal is an easy (and natural) way to add flavor. Simply julienne an assortment of herbs and toss together. If you want something a little more indulgent, try blending them to make a ‘Green Goddess’ dressing.
Benefit -Coho salmon is at its peak in July and August. Take advantage! This fish supplies a great amount of Omega-3s (3,600mg/serving). Everyone needs omega 3s, but athletes will especially benefit from this powerful anti-inflammatory. Omega 3s have been linked to everything from improving blood flow to brain function. Along with the healthy fatty acids to fuel your endurance engine, there is ~40g protein in each 6oz serving!
Use – Since the protein won’t fuel energy stores, eat salmon during the off season when you’re trying to lean out and for meals post endurance workouts.
Recipe – I love this simple creation from Whole Foods ‘Salmon and Sunshine Rice’ but simply grilling it with lemon and herbs will do the trick as well. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/wild-coho-salmon-sunshine-rice