People assume all sports dietitians eat a perfect diet all the time. The truth is, most of us — myself included — started in the field because we are diehard foodies: lovers of all things delicious.
However, there is a balance to be made between what is decadent and delicious and what supports an endurance athlete’s healthy diet. Strategies have been built and tweaked to support this concept, and I must say the Instant Pot is a welcome addition to the endurance nutrition tool belt.
First, let’s be real. Time is precious, especially as most of you juggle training, family and work. Most Instant Pot recipes take less than 20 minutes to prepare and, dare I say, is a practical substitute for the slow cooker if you are gone from the house more than eight hours a day. I will share with you two Instant Pot recipes I put on my clients’ nutrition plans the most and how they would benefit your training. Enjoy!
Lemon Mustard Chicken with Potatoes (serves four)
- Calories: 340
- Carbohydrates: 28g
- Protein: 30g
- Fat: 13g
1 avocado, sliced
1 pound red potatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (any brand works)
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chicken breasts (4oz is a serving)
- Add oil to Instant Pot
- Salt and pepper chicken breasts and add to Instant Pot
- Combine chicken broth, lemon juice, and mustard. Mix well and pour over chicken in Instant Pot
- Add quartered potatoes (or I like getting the tiny potatoes and just throwing them in whole) and Italian seasoning
- Place lid on Instant Pot and cook on "Manual" for 15 minutes (high)
- Quick release at end of 15 minutes. I like to quick release and let it sit for about 20min to just simmer. Up to you.
- Add a quarter of an avocado to the dish after cooked just to add some healthy fat to the recipe.
Why I love it: This is very well portioned dish as far as macronutrients go: You have 30g protein (recent research has concluded that more than about 40g at a sitting is not beneficial), 14g fat (1g saturated and the rest are you good unsaturated fats) and 28g carbohydrate (a great portion to keep your blood sugar level without feeling tired and bloated). Also, depending on your individual needs you may need more calories per serving. If so, just add another half or whole serving. I like to use this meal as a dinner during a mild training week and recommend using leftovers for lunches. And as always, the more non-starchy vegetables you can add to a meal the better. Throw this over some sautéed spinach or seasonal roasted vegetables and you have more bulk and more vitamins and minerals! Delish.
Instant Pot Quinoa and Veggies (Serves 5)
- Calories: 270
- Carbohydrates: 37g
- Protein: 11g
- Fat: 9g
1/4 cup pesto (store bought or homemade)
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
5 cups baby spinach leaves
1 red bell pepper
3 celery stalks
1 1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked
- Chop celery and bell pepper into small pieces. Rinse and drain quinoa.
- Dump quinoa into Instant Pot, then bell pepper and celery. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Measure 5 well-packed cups of spinach and dump into Instant Pot. Pour chicken (or any other broth) broth into pot.
- Close the lid and make sure the vent is set to closed. Push the manual button, make sure pressure is on HIGH and reduce time to 1 minute.
- When the pot beeps several times it has finished cooking. Release pressure in one of two ways: a) manually release pressure by carefully opening steam valve. This takes a couple of minutes. Or b) do nothing and allow the pressure to release naturally over about 15 minutes. You will know you can open the pot when the pin to the side of the pressure valve drops.
- Add pesto to the pot. Mix well.
Why I love it: I always need a good side that is flavorful, versatile and stores well as leftovers. Here it is! The pesto adds punch of flavor, and when colorful non-starchy are cooked down, the sweet flavors are released. The best part of this dish is you can decide which vegetables you want (swap out vegetables for any other non-starchy vegetable)…or you can use whatever is available to use in the refrigerator. A side like this with a complex carbohydrate (quinoa) is great for endurance athletes to maintain adequate glycogen stores and to keep your blood sugar level for metabolism and overall health.