Eat Your Greens: Spinach

Spinach has a high nutritional content and is rich in antioxidants. It is a rich source of vitamins A, C, E, K, B2 and B6 as well as magnesium, folate, betaine, manganese, potassium, folic acid, copper, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. It also has a high iron, calcium and protein content.  No wonder it was Popeye’s food of choice!
Try this hearty and warming spinach and lentil soup to keep you going through the dark depths of winter.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 15 g fresh coriander
  • 1 litres vegetable or chicken stock
  • 4 tbsp dry sherry
  • 4 tbsp Puy lentils
  • 30-40g spinach leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chilli, onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, over a medium heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel the squash. Cut it in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds  with a metal spoon. Cut the flesh into bite-sized chunks.

When the onion has been frying for 10 minutes, add the squash and stir well. Raise the heat under the pan to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the squash pieces are starting to turn golden brown.

Pour the stock and sherry into the saucepan, then add the coriander stalks and lentils and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the squash is very tender. While the soup is simmering, cut the spinach into strips.

Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool briefly. Then purée the mixture using a hand-held blender. Return the soup to the saucepan and heat through.

Stir in the spinach and two-thirds of the coriander leaves and stir through the hot soup just until they are wilted. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary, and adjust the consistency if desired with a little water.

Pour the soup into serving bowls and serve.



Notes from Roller Derby Bootcamp: Best Nutrition Practices

I spent last weekend at the SK8 Heaven roller derby bootcamp. I had a great time and learned so much from all the excellent coaches. I wanted to share some of the knowledge that we benefited from but it’s difficult to share all the drills, the hits, the strategy, the whips through the medium of words. Nutrition however, is a subject that can easily be written about and it is something anyone playing roller derby can benefit from.

One of the most helpful off-skates sessions we had was a nutrition class taught by Krissy Krash, the health coach and founder of Derbalife–and yes, she WAS in Whip It! I honestly think that by following some of the basic principles she outlined in this short class, will make you feel better and have more energy for awesome skating and generally in everyday life.

In order to function at its best, the body needs to be fuelled with the following balance of macronutrients:

30–40% Carbohydrates

30–40% Protein

20–30% Fat

Each of these categories has a specific function which are:

Carbohydrates–provide immediate energy for the body to burn

Protein–maintains lean body mass;builds and repairs muscle

Fat–protects organs and maintains healthy joints

For anyone who is training or playing any sport regularly, it is important to ensure you have enough protein in your diet, especially immediately after any training you do. The 15 minute–1 hour after exercise is the time when the body is most able to absorb protein which is essential for recovery and building muscle.

Apparently, the best way to eat as a general rule of thumb, is to try to maintain an even blood sugar level as much as possible throughout each day so that your body doesn’t experience sugar highs and crashes. This is the best way to ensure you have the energy to do the training you want to do and benefit from it.

The best way to do this is to make sure your meals are composed of 1/3 lean protein and 2/3 complex carbohydrates. Lean proteins being meat, fish, eggs, pulses, nuts and seeds and complex carbohydrates being whole grains, fruit and vegetables. This kind of balanced meal is much more likely to keep you full and your blood sugar even for longer so you don’t experience a brain-starved-of-gloucose crash that makes you feel tired and want to eat whatever is in your path. This rule is particularly important when it comes to breakfast, as this meal will dictate your blood sugar level for the rest of the day. Having small snacks of the same balance also help to maintain blood sugar level so having something every 3 hours in order to keep your energy levels up.

Hydration is also very important when it comes to training as being dehydrated can reduce your muscle performance by up to 30%. It is also a good idea to replace salt and electrolytes while training. Ideally, you should be consuming water based on the following formula to ensure that you are properly hydrated throughout every day:

Body weight in lbs divided by 2 = no. of fl. oz. water you should drink.

Now, all this nutrition talk can be pretty subjective but this seems like pretty sound advice to me. After (trying) to follow this over the last week I already feel like I have a lot more energy to train more effectively.

More Roller Derby Nutrition

Unfortunately, i was unable to attend the Rocky Mountain UK bootcamp this summer but the lovely Nell posted these very useful notes on nutrition that she took from the RMRG skaters on our forum. Very useful information indeed!

The following is for 1-2hrs high intensity exercise only…not for endurance or otherwise.

Before: 1-2hrs before, fuel immediate foods like banana, berries, mangoes, figs, especially dates & pineapple. Basically any SIMPLE carbs. These convert straight into energy.

Remember, protein builds, not fuels muscle. It is important after, but not before exercise.

If you eat properly before, you should not need to eat during a bout. If you do need to eat, only eat simple carbs again and nothing diffucult to digest like a museli bar.

During: The idea is that you should never want to eat or feel hungry or thirsty during exercise. This is a sign of bad nutrition…ie: you did not follow the first step properly.

You need to be replacing electrolytes as you go, not afterwards. So drink sports drinks, coconut water, powdered sports drinks. Basically you need to be replacing the trace minerals, potassium and sodium that your body is eliminating as you work out.

Note: that if you drink this before exercise, you most likely will pee it out before you play.

Try sparkling mineral water with apple juice. Bremen hockey team do this and add a tiny amount of salt.

Avoid mass marketed sports drinks if you can. Coconut water is best. Powdered drinks like ultima (in the US) are also great, gluten & gmo free.

Immediately After: Within 20 minutes of finishing exercise. You need to be eating no fat, no fiber as this slows the release of energy back into the blood stream and slows you body’s ability to get rid of lactic acid.

Your muscles need carbs to recover. Lots of carbs. Liquid gels are good.

Recovery: About an hour after exercise you need to have a healthy, nutrient and omega rich, balanced meal.

Legumes, lentils, peas, seeds, nuts, greens, fruit, lean meat or fish for protein.

Protein is most important at this stage.
Daily, humans should only need 0.8 grams of protein per kilo per day, so you may not need as much as some sources suggest.

Examples of proteins/grams of protein per cup:
Chickpeas – (12 grams protein)
Lentils – (18 grams)
Black beans – (15 grams)
Pinto beans – (12 grams)
Quinoa – (9 grams)

Meat has a higher protein content per serving.

In instances where you are doing a lot of exercise in a day, you would not do the recovery phase until an hour after your last exercise for the day. If you don’t you would risk cramping.

Protein drinks should not be a crutch, but this is preferable to skipping this stage completely.

Supplements Info:

Taking multivitamins is a good idea for many people, but there are other supplements that can help with particular complaints.

Inflammation – Over time, the use of ibuprofen and paracetamol or codine will be very taxing on your liver.

Instead, natual alternatives include ginger & tumeric with black pepper can be incorporated into cooking, teas, some in pill form etc. This will obviously not have the same strength of effectiveness as a regular pain killer or anti-inflamatory, but is preferable and in some cases has a cumulative effect.

Joint pain – Glucosamine/Condroitin (Shellfish), hydralaunic acid (Vegetarian option and this works immediately whereas the non vege options take time to build up in your system).

Fatigue – CO Q10

Vitamin D….get some sun! Or eat mushrooms.

An alternative to energy drinks are yerba mate. This is full of antioxidants, trace minerals, chlorophyll. Green tea is also excellent.

Turkish-style Baked Eggs Recipe

This dish is perfect for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. It’s very filling, nutritious and delicious

300g spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
4 free-range eggs
150g Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
50g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp (chili flakes mixed with paprika
6 sage leaves, shredded
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Wash the spinach and place with the oil in a large pan, add some salt and sauté over medium heat for about five minutes, or until the rocket has wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Transfer the contents of the frying pan to a small, ovenproof dish and make four deep indentations in the spinach mix. Carefully break an egg into each crater, taking care not to break the yolk. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the egg whites set.

While the eggs are in the oven, mix together the yogurt and garlic along with a pinch of salt. Stir well, taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the chili flakes and paprika and a pinch of salt, and fry for a minute or two or until the butter starts to foam and turns a nice golden-red. Add the sage, cook for a few seconds longer, then remove from the heat.

Once the eggs are done, take the dish out of the oven. Spoon the yogurt mix over the centre, and pour the hot chilli butter over the yogurt and eggs and serve.



Superfoods: Quinoa

Eating well is vital for playing any sport and protein is essential to any athlete’s diet. I think it’s very important to enjoy food while also eating a balanced diet that makes you feel good and there are lots of ways to achieve both.


Eating quinoa is a great way to add more protein to your diet and it is easy to factor into many delicious vegtarian, vegan or meat-based recipes. Quinoa is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. The nutrient composition is very favourably compared with wheat, rice or oats and it can be used as a more nutritious substitute for these foods. Quinoa grains contain essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, fibre,phosphorus, magnesium and iron and its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Quinoa is also gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

Here is a tasty high protein recipe made with Quinoa that makes a great pre or post training meal. It can be made vegan by substituting the feta cheese with tofu:

Superfoods Salad (serves 2 or 1 very hungry person!)

30g Quinoa

200g brocoli

120g peas

100g cucumber (cut into batons)

100g feta cheese (crumbled)

20g alfalfa

20g mixed toasted seeds (sesame, sunflower, flax and pumpkin)

50g avocado (cut into chunks)

A handful of fresh parsley, mint and coriander (chopped)

4 desertspoons olive oil

2 desertspoons of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Put the quinoa in a small pan and cover with cold water plus about an inch. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the water is gone. Leave to cool at room temperature.

Boil some salted water in a pan and drop in the broccoli and peas. Cover and cook for 4 minutes then rinse under cold water until cool.

Build your salad in layers starting with the first ingredient on the list and finishing with the chopped herbs.

Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and serve.

Breakfasts for Champions

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if you’re skating, training or doing anything that requires lots of energy. It’s also my favourite meal and you can be really creative and healthy at the same time. Here are some of my top recommendations which will leave you all set for the day:

Porridge made with coconut milk, vanilla and maple syrup to sweeten with slices of fresh mango (delicious)

Wholewheat toast with sliced banana and honey

Omelette made with 2 eggs, spinach and crumbled feta cheese with wholewheat toast

Wholewheat toast/ bagel with mashed banana and peanut butter or almond butter

Smoothie made with yoghurt, honey, banana and fresh strawberries whizzed up in the blender

Breakfast burrito made with scrambled eggs and grated cheese topped with salsa and wrapped in a wholewheat tortilla


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