Golden Beet Noodles with Feta Cheese, Pumpkin Seeds and Dried Cranberries

Healthy Fats for Athletes:

When it comes to training and performance, carbohydrates and protein often overshadow dietary fats. However, fats are important for many metabolic processes such as energy production, transportation of fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K) and play a key role in the synthesis of hormones.¹ Good choices include liquid at room temperature oils (olive oil, avocado oil), nuts, seeds, fatty fish and avocados. Saturated fat (fats solid at room temperature) should be limited and trans-fats (partially hydrogenated oil) should be avoided completely.¹

More recently, researchers have investigated the role of omega 3 fatty acids in reducing inflammation and muscle soreness. There are three types of omega 3 fats: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).² ALA is an essential fatty acid and needs to be consumed in the diet, while small amounts of EPA and DHA can be made in the body from ALA. It is recommended that men aim for about 1.6g ALA per day, while women aim for 1.1g ALA per day.² It has also been suggested that consuming EPA and DHA in 1-2g per day doses may help to decrease exercise induced inflammation.³

Food sources of Omega 3 include:

Food Portion Size Amount ALA (grams) Amount EPA/DHA (grams)
Edamame, cooked 125 mL 0.29-0.34 0
Soy beverage 250 mL 0.19 0
Eggs, cooked 2 eggs 0.06-0.28 0.07
Anchovies, canned with oil 75 grams  0.01 1.54
Cod, Pacific, cooked 75 grams  0.04 0.79
Oysters, Pacific, cooked 75 grams  0.05 1.04
Salmon, pink, cooked/canned/raw 75 grams  0.03-0.06 0.87-1.06
Tofu, cooked 150 grams 0.27-0.48 0
Chia seeds 15 mL 1.0 0
Flaxseed, ground 15 mL 2.46 0
Flaxseed oil 5 mL 2.58 0
Walnuts, English, Persian 60 mL 2.30 0



Golden Beet Noodles with Feta Cheese, Pumpkin Seeds and Dried Cranberries

Makes about 4 side servingsDSC_0377

** To make this recipe you will need a spiralizer (I have the OXO Hand-Held Spiralizer, $20 from Cook Culture – pictured to the right). You could also try using a grater to shred the beets.


4-5 medium golden beets

3 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup feta cheese

1/2 cup dried cranberries (you could also use pomegranate seeds)

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp honey

1/4-1/2 tsp pepper (or more to taste)


  1. Using a spiralizer, prepare beets.
  2. Using kitchen scissors, snip beet noodles into bite sized pieces. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Combine the last 5 ingredients and mix together with the beet noodles. Allow to marinate for at least an hour.
  4. Top with feta cheese, cranberries and pumpkin seeds before serving.

Recipe adapted from:


  1. Sport nutrition for young athletes. Canadian Paediatric Society Website.
    Published April 2, 2013. Accessed February 1, 2016.
  2. Food Sources of Omega-3 Fats. Dietitians of Canada Website.
    Omega-3-Fats.aspx. Published 2016. Accessed February 1, 2016.
  3. Michleborough TD. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in physical
    performance optimization. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2013;23(1):8396.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries


Although carbohydrates and their role in fueling the body has been well studied, many athletes (recreational and professional) remain unsure if and how much carbohydrate they need to support training, performance and activities of daily life.¹

Body fat and glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are the main sources of fuel for the body, with carbohydrates being the key fuel source for exercise. Unlike fat stores, which are relatively plentiful, carbohydrate stores are limited to what the muscles and liver can hold.² Therefore, it is important for athletes to eat adequate amounts. Carbohydrate requirements are individual. They will vary day to day based on the frequency, duration and intensity of activity participated in. On active days, individuals should plan to increase carbohydrate intake, while on low active days, individuals should plan to reduced carbohydrate intake.¹

Here are a couple of different ways to estimate carbohydrate needs…

Daily needs for fuel and recovery:

Situation Suggested carbohydrate targets
Light Low intensity/skill based exercise 3-5g/kg body mass
Moderate Moderate exercise (~1 hr/day) 5-7g/kg body mass
High Moderate-high intensity (1-3hr/day) 6-10g/kg body mass

Another way to view needs: Plan about 45-60g carbohydrate/meal and 15-30g carbohydrate/snack or small meal. Choose fewer carbohydrate foods on lower activity days. 15 grams is about…

Starches/Grains Fruits Dairy
1 slice bread/small roll 1 medium apple 1 cup milk
¼ bagel ½ large banana ¾ cup plain yogurt
½ cup dry cereal or cooked hot 1 cup berries
1/3 cup pasta 1 cup melon
1/3 cup rice ½ medium pear
½ cup corn ¾ cup pineapple
½ cup medium potato 2 Tbsp raisins
½ cup beans/lentils
2 cups popcorn

What are good types of carbohydrate foods to choose? Look for carbohydrates that contain other nutrients such as protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Good choices include whole grain breads and cereals, fruit, starchy vegetables like potatoes, squash, corn, low fat dairy products. Plan to limit or avoid higher calorie and more nutrient poor carbohydrate choices like soft drinks, juice, sports foods (drinks/gels/bars), pastries, cakes, chips.

One of my favourite carbohydrate-rich foods are sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a good source of Vitamin A (when eaten with the skin on), Vitamin C and Fibre. They taste great roasted, but can also be served steamed or mashed. Homemade oven sweet potato fries are a healthier alternative to traditional French fries. Use the recipe below as a good starting point, but feel free to adjust seasonings how you like.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Serves 2-3


2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper


  1. Line a large baking sheet (or 2) with parchment paper
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degree F.
  3. Slice sweet potatoes into thin, match stick sized pieces
  4. Add sliced sweet potatoes to a large bowl and mix with olive oil and seasonings
  5. Transfer fries to a baking sheet (for crispier fries ensure there is a space between each piece).
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, flipping the fries half way
  7. Serve hot and enjoy.

(For spicy fries try adding paprika, cayenne pepper and cumin; for savoury fries add extra garlic, oregano and thyme; for sweeter fries try adding maple syrup and cinnamon)


Sauteed Pattypan Squash with Fresh Basil and Goat Cheese


DSC_0439Summer squash are a subset of squash that are harvested during the summer months while they are still immature and their rinds are tender and edible. Pattypan squash are one type of summer squash. They tend to be small and round with scalloped edges and are available in green, white and yellow varieties. Pattypans are a good source of magnesium, niacin and vitamin C and are low in calories. Pattypan squash tends to not fair store as well as other types of squash, so try to use close to time of purchase or harvest.


This sautéed pattypan recipe only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and cook. It has a wonderful fresh flavour and would make a great addition to any summer BBQ.


Sautéed Pattypan Squash with Fresh Basil and Goat Cheese 

Makes 4 side servings


1 tbsp. sunflower oil

4 cups baby pattypan squash, somewhat thinly sliced (you can also use baby zucchini)

2 leeks, diced

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 – 1/2 cup light feta cheese

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil


  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped squash and leeks and sauté about 10 minutes or squash becomes tender.
  2. Transfer squash to a serving bowl and mix in feta cheese and fresh basil
  3. Season with pepper (to taste).


Recipe adapted from

Couscous and Cheese Stuffed Zucchinis

DSC_0421DSC_0426Stuffed vegetable dishes are a great way to reduce your meal’s total calories while increasing your fruit and vegetable intake for the day. This couscous and cheese stuffed zucchini recipe is a quick and tasty dish that can be served as a main course or as a side. The use of fresh basil, oregano and parsley give this dish a bright Italian, but dried herbs work well too.

Other possible substitutions for this include: Parmesan cheese instead of Gouda                    Bell peppers instead of zucchinis.


Couscous and Cheese Stuffed Zucchinis

Makes 3 full servings, 6 side servings


1 tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, diced

2 cloves of garlic. minced

1 medium tomato, seeded and diced

1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth

1/2 cup giant couscous

1 cup Gouda cheese, shredded

3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 1/2 tbsp dried basil)

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or 1/2 tbsp dried parsley)

1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/2 tbsp dried oregano)

3 medium sized zucchinis

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium sized saucepan heat oil over low-medium heat. Cook shallots and garlic until softened. Add tomato and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Add vegetable brother to saucepan and bring to a boil. Add couscous, cover and remove from heat. Allow to stand for 10 minutes
  3. Trim off ends of zucchini and slice lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds. Leave about 1 cm thick walls.
  4. Mix in 2/3 cup of Gouda cheese, basil, parsley, and oregano.
  5. Divide couscous mixture among zucchini. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  6. Place zucchinis in a greased baking dish and cover with foil. Bake in 400 F until zucchinis are fork-tender ~ 20 minutes.
  7. Remove foil and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, allowing the cheese to brown slightly.


Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Onions


This is a recipe from one of my favourite magazines “Nutrition Action”. Each month I look forward to receiving this magazine in the mail. They have great articles that are easy to read and are applicable to everyone. The magazine also usually includes a few tasty recipes. I enjoyed this recipe because of the natural sweetness of the roasted sweet potatoes and onion.

Sweet potatoes are a versatile and nutritious root vegetable. When you are selecting them, choose ones that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises or soft spots. Cold temperatures can have a negative impact on their taste, so avoid purchasing ones that are displayed in the refrigerated section of the produce department.

If you don’t have any sweet potatoes, yams can be used as a substitute.


Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Onions


500 grams (about 2) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into half-inch cubes

1 large onion, chopped

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp low sodium soy sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare a baking sheet.
  2. Mix together all of the ingredients so that sweet potato onion are well coated with the oil, vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce.
  3. Roast about 25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender
  4. Allow dish to sit about 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Nutrition Action Health Letter, November 2012 edition


Roasted Kale Chips with Parmigiano-Reggiano


Kale chips are one of my favourite foods to munch on right now. They are easy to make and are great as a snack or as a side to stews, casseroles, or veggie burgers. I usually just drizzle the kale leaves with olive oil, add a sprinkle of salt, and bake, but you can season them anyway you want. This was a tasty variation I came across. It added just enough flavour without overpowering the naturally great taste of baked kale.

I find that for best results make sure the kale is completely dry before drizzling with olive oil and adding your seasonings. This makes for crisper chips that cook more evenly.


Roasted Kale Chips with Parmigiano-Reggiano


1 bunch of kale

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F and prepare a baking sheet (or 2 depending on how much kale you have)
  2. Wash and thoroughly dry kale. Remove tough stalks from kale, tear into medium-large pieces.
  3. Place kale into a large bowl and drizzle with oil. Add chili powder, salt, and cheese. Toss to coat.
  4. Arrange kale on baking sheet in a single layer, and bake about 10-12 minutes until the kale is crispy but not too brown.
  5. Allow a minute or 2 to cool and then serve.

Recipe adapted from


Parmesan-Roasted Acorn Squash


If you are looking for a quick vegetable side dish, acorn squash are wonderfully easy to prepare. You just cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and season them however you choose. I like to sprinkle my squash with Parmesan, thyme, and black pepper, but you can use any other cheese or herb mix. You can also use a bit of maple syrup if you are looking for a sweeter side dish. The hardest part of this dish is cutting the squash in half, so make sure you have a sharp knife. I find it is easiest to cut off the tips of the squash at each end. Having a flat surface at each end will help balance the squash and will make cutting the squash much easier. When you are choosing squash, select ones that are heavy for their size and have a hard, deep coloured rind free of blemishes and bruises. Winter squash do not require refrigeration and can be kept in a cool, dark place for a month or so.

* Acorn squash are a good source of iron, riboflavin and vitamins A and C.



Parmesan-Roasted Acorn Squash


  • 1  2 lb acorn squash; halved, seeded, and sliced into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 2  tbsp olive oil
  • 8  sprigs of fresh thyme (or other herb)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4  cup Parmesan, grated


  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Prepare a rimmed baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, toss the squash with the oil, thyme, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmesan.
  3. Place squash into baking dish
  4. Roast the squash until golden brown and tender, 25 to 30 minutes. When cooked, squash should be easily pierced with a fork and should pull away easily from the skin.

Recipe adapted from: