We all strive to eat healthy, balanced meals and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to ensure that our body will function at its best. But did you know that there are certain types of foods – and even combinations of foods – that are ideal to eat before, during and after physical activity to help you perform even better?
It’s helpful to think of food as fuel. Just like a car needs gas, our body need food to move. The more one drives, the more gas they will need. The more we move, the more food we will need. Because of this, it’s so important to have healthy snacks to fuel up.
Different foods fuel us in different ways. Food is grouped into 3 categories known as macronutrients:
All food items have a mixture of those macronutrients in them, however, it is the distribution of these elements that identifies a food item as a source of carbohydrates, protein, or fat.
Now why does this matter? Well, as mentioned above, different types of foods fuel us in different ways and we must consider ‘how much’ and ‘what kinds’ of movement we will be doing in order to help us decide what food will fuel us in the best way. Carbohydrates take very little time to digest and as a result fuel us quickly, but do not sustain us for very long. In comparison, proteins and fats take much longer to digest and consequently, fuel us slower but for a longer period of time.
Let’s think about your upcoming physical activity needs. You will likely need immediate energy while participating in sports games and/or practices. Therefore, we need fuel that will digest quickly, release energy quickly and sustain us for the period of the game or practice. As such, we want to be eating carbohydrate dense meals or snacks in preparation for that amount of activity or movement.
When choosing your carbohydrate-rich, energy-boosting snacks or meals, make sure to look for options that are:
- low in sugar
- preferably high in fibre, and
- include some levels of proteins and or fats.
This will improve the sustainability of your meal ensuring you are fueled for the duration of your game/practice. On top of healthy snacks to fuel up your active kids, make sure that your child also drinks water regularly throughout the day and before any physical activity.
When should you eat? For a game or practice, we suggest eating approximately 1 - 2 hours before to allow for adequate digestion. Following are some great ideas for healthy snacks to fuel up active kids for the next game, practice, or physical activity.
- Hummus Dip with Carrots
- Savoury zucchini/vegetable Muffins
- Blueberry Spinach Smoothie
- Grilled Cheese & charred Tomato soup
- Banana Pancakes with nut or seed butter
- Tortilla Espanola (spanish omelette)
Delish and Nutrish!! Chef Shai has included a few of her favourite healthy, go-to recipes to fuel active kids (see below):
- Rooks to Cooks’ Signature Hummus
- Savoury Vegetable Muffins
- Spinach Blueberry Smoothie
TIP: Get your kids involved in helping to make these dishes; they are super kid-friendly!
Rooks to Cooks’ Hummus Recipe
Yield: 1/2 cup, 2 servings
- 60g water
- Place chickpeas and water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Take off the heat.
- In a food processor blend lemon juice, garlic and tahini. Blend for five minutes. Add ¼ cup of water from the pot of chickpeas. Blend for two more minutes.
- Add hot chickpeas and salt. Blend until smooth. Add more water, if needed.
- Serve at room temperature and sprinkle pepper, paprika and cumin on top.
Rooks to Cooks’ Savoury Vegetable Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
- 1 medium Zucchini, grated
- 1 medium Carrot, grated
- 35g frozen peas
- 35g frozen corn
- 125g parmesan cheese, grated
- 125ml milk
- 60ml plain greek yogurt
- 60ml olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 250 whole wheat flour
- 15g baking powder
- 5g salt
- 2g pepper
- 2g garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Place the zucchini, carrots, peas and corn in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the cheese, milk, yogurt, olive oil and eggs until well combined and uniform.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper baking powder and garlic powder.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet vegetable mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold gently until just combined. Mixture should be lumpy and thick.
- Spray a 12-hole muffin tray with oil or butter. Spoon the mixture equally among the 12 holes.
- Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until muffin is slightly brown.
Rooks to Cooks’ Blueberry Spinach Smoothie Recipe
Yield: 2 servings
- 160ml Greek yogurt
- 1 ripe banana
- 160g frozen blueberries
- 25g frozen strawberries
- 150g spinach leaves
- 125ml coconut milk
- 2 tsp protein powder or flax seeds
- Add all the ingredients to a blender, cover with the lid, and blend until smooth. Add more coconut milk until you have reached your desired consistency. Pour into two glasses and serve immediately.
By Chef Shai Mandel, Rooks to Cooks Summer Cooking Camps
About Chef Shai & Rooks to Cooks:
Inspired by her passion for food and education, chef and teacher Shai Mandel founded Rooks to Cooks with the goal of teaching kids cooking, life skills, and important lessons they can use both in and out of the kitchen. Chef Shai’s student-centered Summer camps, after-school programs and workshops emphasize empowerment, healthy eating, and fun. For more info, visit www.rookstocooks.ca