Updated: Apr 13, 2020
World Vegetarian Day is on October 1st so it seems the perfect time to talk about fueling the vegetarian athlete!
Protein is important for repairing and creating new cells and it is critical for growth and development and children and teens – which is particularly important for young athletes. The misconception that the only healthy protein comes from meat is antiquated and honestly, untrue. As more and more research from national health and nutrition organizations is published, it is obvious that a healthy, varied vegetarian lifestyle is not just a nutritious option but may be optimal for health in many ways.
Animal products are good protein sources but protein is also found in legumes, nuts, soy and other products. There are many different types of vegetarians as well. Those who eat eggs and dairy (milk, cheese, and yogurt) also have those sources of protein available. Individuals following a vegan lifestyle eliminate all animal products and need to be attentive to making sure they are including healthy protein sources in their diet.
While eating a vegetarian or vegan diet can be healthy, I have also encountered quite a few vegetarians who consume mostly bread, potato chips and cookies (and very few vegetables!). It is important for young vegetarian and vegan athletes, as well as all young athletes, to ensure that they are meeting all of their nutrition needs. Everyone is different - vegetarian, vegan or not - the best way to assess nutritional needs is to speak with a health care provider about dietary intake specific to each individual.
Whether you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet always or just a few days a week, consider trying a few new meat-free menu items each week. Here is one of my favorites - you can make these ahead and put them in the freezer – that is great for those busy weeknights and weekends.
Happy World Vegetarian Day!
The Best Black Bean Burgers
(modified from https://www.skinnytaste.com/spicy-black-bean-burgers-with-chipotle/) COOK FROM FROZEN!!!
2 - 16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red/yellow/orange bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
3/4 cup chopped scallions
6 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 large eggs
2 tbsp cumin
1/2 to 3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp hot sauce (optional)
1 cup quick oats
- Rinse, dry (really well) and mash beans in a medium bowl (easier with a flatter bottom bowl per my kids).
- In a food processor, chop until fine: Bell pepper, scallions, cilantro, garlic. Now add oats, then eggs, then spices.
- Add mixture to mashed beans.
- Make 8 patties from mixture, placing them on a plate or tray covered in waxed paper. It may be helpful to refrigerate mixture for 30-60 minutes or add another Tbsp of oatmeal to make burgers easier to form.
- Freeze at least 2 hours before cooking – or keep frozen until ready to cook.
- Heat skillet over medium heat and spray. Cook burgers from frozen for 7-8 minutes/side or until cooked through.
- Serve on a whole wheat bun/skinny bread or without but adding in a few more veggies with these tasty toppings – avocado, spinach/lettuce, tomatoes, onion, salsa, etc. Serve with fruit, additional vegetables or on top of a salad.
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