Cauliflower Soup

Key Features

  • Very easy to make
  • Variable carbohydrate
  • Very low fat
  • Great winter warmer
  • Excellent winter recovery snack

This soup is a delicious meal my mum used to make quite often when I was living at home. I don’t make it too often, but when winter arrives its the kind of meal that warms you to the soul. It is super easy to make in one pot, and doesn’t require any fancy ingredients. Soup is never that attractive as a dish, but the smell and the taste really gets me excited. My mum has an Italian backgound, so there may be a basis of Italian or Meditteranean style to this recipe, but certainly with an Aussie twist.  This is also a handy meal to cook and freeze the leftovers. If you eat it as an entree, there will be plenty of leftovers for another day.

 

INGREDIENTS
(Serves 2-3 hungry athletes for main or 4 for entree)
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 1 – 3 potatoes
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 litre of veggie or chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp celery seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • fresh flat leaf parsley

This meal is a fabulous winter warmer. It can be made with variable carbohydrate content, depending on your energy needs as an athlete. If you are having a light week, reduce the potato quantity to 1, whereas if you are in a heavy training phase, boost up the carb levels by using 3 medium sized potatoes and serving the soup with some yummy crusty bread. Soups can be quite filling due to the liquid content, therefore making it a challenge to reach your required carbohydrate content in one meal. If you find this the case, then have the soup as an entree and follow it up with a main meal to help increase carbohydrate, as well as increase protein content which is minimal in this dish. If you are aiming for weight loss, this could be a very low calorie meal by using no potato at all. However there is also low protein, so maybe include an egg or some meat with the meal to help with satiety. Soup can also be really useful as a post excercise recovery snack in winter. It has carbs, plenty of fluids for rehydration and sodium for replenishing electrolytes.

Method

  1. Chop the cauliflower into small florets (don’t discard the stems)
  2. Peel and chop the potatoes into large cubes
  3. Fry up the onion and garlic in a splash of oil until opaque
  4. Add the cauli florets, stems and potato pieces to the pot and stir fry for a few minutes
  5. Pour the stock into the pot and make sure there is enough stock to cover all the vegetables
  6. Add the celery seeds
  7. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the temperature and simmer for about 1 hour (This will depend on how large the chunks of vegetables are)
  8. When the vegetables are nice and tender, turn off the pot, and allow to cool slightly
  9. Use a hand blender (or a bench top blender) and wizz the ingredients till smooth
  10. Add the grated cheese, turn the stove top back on, and heat through while stirring to melt the cheese
  11. Add black pepper
  12. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve

Methodology Tips:

I find a hand blender easier, as you don’t even have to take the soup out of the pot, just blend in the cooking pot. Using a bench top belnder requires the soup to be a lot cooler before blending otherwise you need to be extra careful because soup will burn if it spills while too hot. Also depending on the size of your blender, you may need to do it in batches which also becomes tricky.

Celery seeds can add great flavours to a soup, but it may not be something you have in your cupbourd. As an alternative you could use fresh celery chopped up and added to the soup pot which will have a similar effect to deepen the flavour base.

Mediterranean Pasta

Key Features

  • low fat
  • high carbohyddrate
  • fairly easy
  • super tasty

This dish was inspired by the classic Greek combination of feta cheese and olives. It is a tomato based pasta sauce with the added mediterranean flavour of fennel. Fennel is one of my favourite vegetables, I love to eat it raw, and I cook with it to. Olives added to a pasta dish is a great way to add some flare and colour to a pasta.

 

INGREDIENTS
(Serves 2 hungry athletes)
  • 250g dried pasta
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1/2 fennel, finely sliced
  • 1 clove or 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • fresh red chilli, 1/4 – whole depending on desired spice level
  • 500g tomato passata (sugo)
  • 10-15 pitted olives, halved
  • 50g fetta, 2cm cubes
  • 3 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • pepper to taste

This meal is a really high carbohydrate meal that would be ideal before an event or game. It has buckets of flavour with the inclusion of naturally salty foods of olives and feta. There are lots of  changes you can make to this dish to make it more simple (use dried parsley and dried chilli), or more tasty (include fennel seeds at the onset of cooking), or a bit naughty and higher in fat (add 2 tsps of cream to make a softer rosa style sauce).

Method

  1. Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling water till al-dente
  2. Cook the onions and garlic in a splash of oil in a large frypan until transluscent
  3. Add the fennel and chilli, cook for a further 3-4 minutes
  4. When the fennel is slightly soft, add the pasatta and olives
  5. When heated through and the liquid has reduced a little add the cubes of feta, pepper and parsley
  6. You can add the feta a little earlier and cook it for two minutes if you want the cheese to melt and make a creamy cheese consistency
  7. Toss the sance through the cooked pasta and serve.

Pearl Barley Risotto with Lamb and Fetta

Key Features

  • packed with flavour
  • moderate to low fat
  • very high fibre
  • high carbohyddrate
  • high in iron

This dish was inspired by a meal I ordered at a local restuarant. There’s no doubt the original chef-made version was very high fat, but I have recreated it as a healthy alternative. It is a pesto flavoured risotto made with pearl barley instead of the traditional arborio rice. Pearl barley is a high fibre grain that needs to be cooked for longer than rice (due to the unrefined nature of it), and is often soaked overnight for quickest cooking. The feta cheese matches really well with the lamb in this dish, and the tomato just adds colour and a fresh cool flavour.

 

Ingredients
(Serves 3, or 2 hungry athletes)
  • 2 cups of pre-soaked pearl barley (~1 cup dry)
  • 400g boneless lean lamb (backstrap)
  • dash of oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 2 Tbs pesto
  • 50g feta cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tomato roughly chopped into 2cm cubes

Barley has a slightly lower carbohydrate content per gram than other refined white rice due to the fiberous husk, however is comparable nutritionally to brown rice. You could also use brown rice as an alternative in this recipe.  The lamb makes this recipe high in iron and suitable for female athletes, or distance runners. The lamb should be low fat to reduce the amount of saturated fat, however pesto contains a lot of fat but the good type of oil, so if you are trying to reduce body fat, reduce or eliminate the amount of pesto, and replace with 1/2 bunch of fresh basil to boost the flavour.

Method

  1. Soak barley overnight if possible, otherwise cooking time will be increased
  2. Fry the lamb in a non-stick fry pan until cooked and slightly pink in the centre (or as desired), leave to rest steps 3 & 4, then slice thinly while waiting in step 5
  3. Using a deep non-stick pot, fry onions on med-high heat with a dash of oil till soft
  4. Add pearl barley to the pot, then add the baslamic vinegar, stir till mostly evaporated
  5. Add 1 cup of stock and cook until mostly absorbed (~5 minutes)
  6. Add broccoli and second cup of stock and cook until mostly absorbed (~5 minutes)
  7. Add small amounts of water until barley is soft but still with a slight crunch
  8. Add the sliced lamb
  9. Turn off heat and stir in pesto, crumbled feta and pepper
  10. Serve and top with diced tomatoes.

Grilled Fish with Pear Risotto

Key Features

  • Very low fat
  • High carbohydrate
  • Good source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Quick and easy to cook

Risotto is a great one-pot dish and is very quick to make. It is the type of meal that you can substitute whatever ingredients you have in your fridge or pantry. This great tasting risotto is a perfect match with grilled fish. The recipe has been modified from Sally James’ Victor Chang Cardiac Research Cookbook, with the original recipe using beef, which I replaced with fish, as I thought it better suited the lemony risotto.

INGREDIENTS
(Serves 2 hungry athletes or 3 for a smaller portion)
  • 2 dashes of olive oil
  • 1 pear, peeled and diced
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
  • 3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 10 basil leaves, finely chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 Tbs grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 fillets whiting or other white fish

Rice dishes are a great source of carbohydrate, and risotto is a fabulous meal for endurance athletes, and any athlete that has to run! This recipe will produce 3 medium sized serves however, if your training load is high it will only suffice for 2 meals. Alternatively you can enjoy this meal with some bread. If you are carbohydrate loading, I would suggest you leave the fish out, and include bread.

Method

  1. using a deep non-stick cooking pot, panfry the pear in a dash of oil till slightly soft, set aside and add 1/2 the lemon juice
  2. fry the onion in another dash of oil, till soft, then add the rice, stir for 2 minutes
  3. add the wine, stir till mostly evaporated
  4. add 1/2 cup of stock, stir till mostly absorbed, then continue adding stock slowly 1/2 a cup at a time
  5. after 15 minutes add the pear back to the dish, with some pepper, and dried basil (if using)
  6. when the rice is almost ready, soft with a light firmness inside, add the remaining lemon juice, zest and fresh basil (if using)
  7. turn off the heat and add the cheese, stir vigorously
  8. meanwhile barbecue or grill the fish with a sprinkle of pepper, and serve atop the risotto
  9. serve with a side salad and enjoy your delicious meal!