While sports nutrition principles often focus heavily on performance nutrition strategies, it is important to remember that optimal performance cannot occur without good health first.
Vegetables are a fundamental component of a high-performance diet due to the many roles they play in health. They can provide fibre for a healthy gut and antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation, and contain an array of essential vitamins and minerals.
Vegetables can be prepared to eat in many ways including fried, steamed, baked, grilled or just raw, and salad can be a tasty and convenient way to ensure a wide variety are consumed in adequate quantities.
Like any meal, salad can be uninspiring if flavour combinations are not considered. See below for a list of some tasty salad combinations athletes can make to ensure you never eat a boring salad again:
1. Heirloom tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar
2. Avocado, rocket, red onion and shaved parmesan with a lemon juice dressing
3. Baked eggplant and zucchini with cherry tomatoes and walnuts dressed with a mixture of garlic-infused olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, coriander, chives and maple syrup
4. Cooked asparagus and baby peas with sliced zucchini dressed with olive oil, mint, lemon juice and dill
5. Mexican-spiced chicken with iceberg lettuce, tomato, red kidney beans and tasty cheese
6. Moroccan cous cous with spiced carrots and grilled fish
7. Roasted sweet potato and pork with baby spinach, pine nuts and tzatziki dressing
8. Roasted pumpkin and beetroot with feta, quinoa and baby spinach
9. Roasted honey carrots with tricoloured quinoa, fresh mint, macadamia nuts, broccolini, feta and poached chicken
10. Pearl cous cous with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, haloumi and Greek yoghurt dressing
11. Tinned lentils and chickpeas with oily tuna, parsley, sundried tomatoes, avocado and freshly squeezed lemon
12. Cumin-roasted cauliflower with baby spinach, crunchy chickpeas, red onion and lemon-tahini dressing
13. Baby spinach, shaved broccoli, pine nuts, goats cheese and pomegranate tendrils
14. Brussel sprout slaw with hazelnuts, mint and sliced apple and a mayonnaise, lemon and mustard dressing
Whether these salads are standalone meals, sides, or a component of a larger dish is determined by an individual athletes needs, which will differ across athlete groups.
Working with a sports dietitian will assist athletes in determining the specific requirements for themselves and their sport, and to ensure a nutrient balance of the meals they prepare.