Healthy recipes for athletes

Oct 20, 2011 at 8:57 a.m. ET

As an athlete, you may be well-versed in the specific power foods that boost your training, performance and recovery, but do you have a handle on how to prepare those foods so you look forward to sitting down to your meals? We turned to marathoner Meg Galvin, world master chef and healthy cooking expert at, to share a few of her all-time favorite athlete recipes. Here are three healthy recipes featured in her new book The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight.

Mago salsa and grilled fish

1Go for whole grains

Whole grains are an unparalleled source of complex carbohydrates that can fuel and refuel your muscles.

Blueberry flaxseed muffins

The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose The Weigh

You can breakfast on these "berry good" muffins, or try them any time of day. "These are great for a snack, before or after a workout," says Galvin. "Smear them with a bit of peanut or almond butter as pre-run fuel, eat as a healthy sweet treat after a meal or pack in your purse for healthy eating on the go."

Serves 12


  • 1 cup quick oats (do not use instant oatmeal)
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1?2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1?4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1?4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3?4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup blueberries, washed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseeds, roughly ground


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray the muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray or line the wells with paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk and let the mixture stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix with a fork to blend and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg, applesauce and brown sugar using a hand mixer at medium speed for 3 minutes.
  4. Blend the oat-buttermilk mixture into the egg mixture, then stir in the flour mixture until just combined (try not to overwork the mixture). Fold in the blueberries. Fill muffin cups 3?4 full and top with a sprinkle of ground flaxseed.
  5. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Per serving: 139.2 calories, 1.5 g total fat, 18.5 mg cholesterol, 320.5 mg sodium, 38.1 total carbs, 3.3 g dietary fiber, 3.7 g protein

2Reach for lean protein

Protein is essential for building muscle as well as for muscle repair after hard workouts or sports events. Skinless poultry, lean beef and fish are excellent choices to put on the athlete's plate. If you're on board with chicken and beef but blanch at the thought of cooking fish, Galvin has a few easy tips and a delish fish dish.

"If there is one protein that people are afraid to cook, it's fish," says the athlete chef. "Fish is lean, quick-cooking and versatile; there's no need to fear it." Most important, Galvin promotes fish because it is packed with protein, which is what an athlete's body needs to repair itself after tough workouts.

Quick tips for cooking fish:

  • A general rule: Fish requires 10 minutes per inch of thickness no matter the cooking method.
  • Good fish doesn't need much seasoning – just a squeeze of lemon will do.
  • Pair it with a delicious low-calorie topper, like a fruit salsa that can be made ahead of time.

The salsa is a flavorful, fat-free topping, and the high water content of the fruits and vegetables are what your body craves after exercising.

Grilled fish with mango salsa

Galvin recommends pairing this fish dish with a baked sweet potato for a quick and easy post-workout meal. "It's ready in 20 minutes -- perfect for growling post-workout bellies," she adds.

Serves 4

Ingredients for the salsa:

  • 1 lime
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1?2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

For the fish:

  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 pound firm, white-fleshed fish fillets


  1. Make the salsa. Zest the lime, then, with a sharp knife and holding it over a bowl to catch the juice, cut away the remaining pith. Segment the lime by cutting away the sections in a V, leaving behind the membrane. Put the lime zest and the segmented fruit in a bowl and add the mango, jalapeño and cilantro. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Preheat the grill to high. Sprinkle half of the lemon zest over the fish. Place the fish on the grill, skin-side up if skin is still on the fillet. Grill for 4 minutes, then turn. Squeeze the lemon juice over each fillet, along with a pinch of lemon zest. Grill for an additional 5 minutes until the fish is no longer transparent and is cooked through. Serve with the salsa on top of the fish.

Note: Most of the heat in a jalapeño pepper is in the seeds and white ribs. Remove them and you'll eliminate most of the pepper's punch. Leave them in for a spicier salsa.

Per Serving: 122.4 calories, 1.7 g total fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 91.2 mg sodium, 8.9 g total carbs, 1.3 g dietary fiber, 21.4 g protein

3Eat with moderation in mind

As an athlete, you're shredding calories at every practice and event. Does that mean you can eat with abandon? Not unless you want to feel sick after every large meal and put yourself at risk for gaining weight and impairing your performance. However, Galvin recommends indulging -- in moderation. She suggests a savory meal like her peppercorn steak with herbed blue cheese.

Peppercorn steak with herbed blue cheese

"This recipe is right at home here, and it illustrates our philosophy of satisfaction and eating what you love," explains Galvin. "This recipe calls for one 12-ounce fillet, but it serves four. You might be served that 12-ounce fillet as a single portion at a restaurant, and you'd be eating almost 80 grams of fat -- more than what most of us eat in a day! You can eat steak while losing or maintaining your weight. It's all about moderation and balance."

Serves 4


  • 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • 1?4 cup chopped parsley (1?3 of a bunch)
  • 2 teaspoons of black, red and pink peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 (12 ounce) beef fillet, cut into four (3 ounce) steaks


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the blue cheese and parsley and use a wooden spoon to loosely work into a paste. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Spread the cracked peppercorns onto a plate. Pat the meat dry and roll in the peppercorns to coat on all sides.
  4. Place a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed ovenproof sauté pan over moderately high heat. (Do not use nonstick cooking spray or any type of oil to prepare the pan.)
  5. Once hot, place steaks into the dry pan and sear the top and bottom of each steak, 1 to 2 minutes per side. When searing a steak (or any meat), you want to achieve a crispy, well-caramelized crust. To do so, don't be tempted to pull the meat from the pan's surface too early. The meat will release easily once completely seared; any resistance and it's not done yet.
  6. Place 1 tablespoon of the blue cheese mixture on top of each steak and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast 6 to 7 minutes for rare, 7 to 8 minutes for medium.

Per Serving: 245.8 calories, 18.2 g total fat, 65.3 mg cholesterol, 159.1 mg sodium, 1.2 g total carbs, 159.1 mg sodium, 1.2 g total carbs, 0.4 g dietary fiber, 18.5 g protein

All recipes reprinted from The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose The Weight © 2011 by SparkPeople, Inc. Permission granted by Hay House, Inc., New York, New York 10003. Available wherever books are sold.

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