Creating a Delicious Sports Salad

For athletes fueling their sport, making a salad the main part of the meal is a quick and nutritious way to do this. In the part of the world where I live, spring is a time when a greater variety and abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits begin to appear at local grocery stores. Pretty soon produce grown locally will also be available too. Here are some ideas to help get the most from your sports salad. Using these ideas, the combinations that can go into your salad are endless:

Choose from a Pallet of Colourful Vegetables
Include red tomatoes, red peppers, orange carrots, leafy greens (such as romaine lettuce and baby spinach) and dark vegetables like broccoli in your salad. Even white is part of the pallet! For instance, cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C. Colourful vegetables are great sources of antioxidant nutrients that protect your health. Colourful fruits like orange sections, diced apples, raisins or sliced strawberries can be added. Common sense serving sizes are a fist size portion of solid veggies or a medium sized piece of fruit.

Add Potassium-rich Vegetables 
Potassium is an electrolyte that gets lost in sweat. (It also helps protect against high blood pressure.) Some of the colourful vegetables listed above also rich in potassium are: Romaine lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, and carrots. Check out Kenna’s Roasted Chickpea Salad recipe below - in addition to Romaine lettuce and sun dried tomatoes, this recipe also has chickpeas and sweet potatoes, which are good sources of potassium too.

Boost Carbohydrate Content
It’s a good idea to add carbohydrates for both fuel and to offer more substance than just the crunch from leafy greens. There are a number of different options: 1) Carbohydrate-rich vegetables such as corn, peas, beets, and carrots; 2) Beans and legumes, such as, chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils; 3) Whole grains found in brown rice, pasta, quinoa, or bread. Common sense servings for whole grains are a fist size portion, a medium size bowl of pasta, or two slices of bread.

Include Lean Protein
Add protein to your sports salad by including low-fat cottage cheese, canned salmon or tuna, hard-boiled egg, sliced turkey, or other lean meats. For plant-based protein, add in diced tofu, chickpeas, kidney beans, walnuts, slivered almonds, or peanuts.

Remember to Add Calcium 
For calcium and protein, add shredded part-skimmed mozzarella cheese or other fat-reduced cheeses, cubes of tofu, this dressing (below) from plain Greek yogurt seasoned with Italian herbs, or a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese.

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Greek Yogurt Salad Dressing 
Combine in a bowl ½ cup of 0% milk fat plain Greek yogurt and 1 tbsp of Italian (or your favourite) herbs. Gradually add water or milk while mixing so the dressing is the right consistency for adding to your sports salad.
Calories: 70
Fat: 0g
Carbohydrate: 4g
Protein: 12g
Calcium: 10% of daily value
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Enjoy Healthy Fats
Avocado, chopped walnuts, olives, and olive oil are sources of omega-3 fats that can fit into a balanced sports diet, but remember that these fats are calorie-dense, so a little goes a long way.

Try to Make Salad Dressings Go Further
As mentioned above, even olive oil, a healthy addition to a sports salad is dense in calories (2 tbsp = 240 calories). On a meal-size salad a hefty dose of dressing can easily add hundreds of calories. Like the Greek yogurt salad dressing listed above, to reduce calories from salad dressing, dilute it with extra vinegar, lemon juice, water, or milk (for creamy dressings).

Thanks for reading! 

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Kenna’s Roasted Chickpea Salad
1 sweet potato, cut into small cubes
1 big can of chickpeas
Olive oil 
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin

1 head of romaine lettuce
1/3-1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes (the kind in oil)
Feta cheese (as much as wanted)

For dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp red wine vinegar 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp maple syrup 
Salt and pepper

1.Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F). Cut sweet potatoes and toss in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place evenly on baking sheet. 
2. Drain chickpeas. Try to get them as dry as possible, I put them in a clean dish towel and gently rubbed them. Toss in a bit of olive oil, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper (adjust based on how spicy). Place on a baking sheet. 
3. Roast them in oven for around 20-30 minutes depending on crispiness you want. I did until sweet potatoes are soft and until chickpeas are slightly crispy but soft on inside. 
4. While they’re roasting, chop lettuce, thinly slice sun dried tomatoes, and crumble feta. Put everything in a large salad bowl. 
5. Make dressing by combining all ingredients in a small container and shake. Adjust based on taste. 
6. Take chickpeas and sweet potato out of the oven once they’re done. Add to bowl, add dressing and toss.
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A sports salad is a good example of “diet quality”, which is discussed in this post on: Cleaning up the Athlete’s Diet

Readers may be interested in these posts on macronutrients and running for: Sports Nutrition Basics 


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Experiment of One Coaching covers topics ranging from running, strength training, health & wellness, sports nutrition to travel.


Anonymous said…
I have tried this and can vouch it’s filling and delicious! Bulgur wheat is also a nice addition.
Bulgur wheat is a great choice for a sports salad with fiber and protein that’s easy to prepare. Check out this post for more details: