Winter Food Tips

Don't let winter beat you - make your diet an ally in the fight to stay fit during the colder months...

Runner in the snow

After training conscientiously and eaten healthily over the summer and autumn months, many of us will have let things go over the last month or so. So what can we do diet wise to get back on track, and to improve our levels of fitness and health again? Whether it is just keeping the weight off or getting a good running base for spring races, there are things that can trip us up through the winter. Firstly, here are some of the traps:

  1. Thinking that a few extra pounds won't hurt as you are wearing more clothes. A weight gain of even a pound a week can mount up to a stone over three months.
  2. Being tempted by the sofa and a take-away rather than a brisk evening run and home made dinner.
  3. That winter food has to equal stodge. See below for some new, runner friendly ideas.
  4. That you can start again in January - it's always harder once the damage has been done.
  5. That you can stick to your summer eating habits - some may be maintainable, but variety is important to prevent boredom. Also, different foods will now be in season and therefore taste better and cost less.

Finally winter runs are usually longer. These can take their toll on your body and it is important that your diet supports your training to keep you running well and injury free. Make sure that your diet is based around starchy carbohydrates with lean protein, low fat dairy and plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Ratatouille

Winter Ratatouille

Some people think of ratatouille as the winter alternative to salad.

Ingredients (makes lots of portions - vary quantities to suit)

  • 1/2 tube of tomato puree
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 aubergines
  • 4 onions
  • 4 courgettes
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 green peppers
  • Olive oil (can leave this out if wanting to save on calories)

How to do it

  • Chop all the vegetables
  • Fry the onions, garlic and aubergines and put them in a big saucepan
  • Add the other ingredients
  • Boil then simmer for about an hour until soft
  • Add water if need be while cooking
  • Freeze in single portions. When ready to eat, heat straight from frozen

Why?

Filled with vegetables, this is a great way to get your five a day, in a warmer, more wintery way. It will provide you with fibre and anti-oxidants, important for your heart. You can make a large batch and freeze it into smaller portions, ready to add to any meat, fish, chicken, or carbohydrate meal.

Vegetable and Butter Bean Hotpot

Winter Butterbean Hotpot

A great post run meal

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 celery stocks chopped
  • 2 cubed sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons red wine
  • 410g tin butter beans
  • 100g baguette sliced
  • 25g half fat mature cheddar cheese, grated

How to do it

  • Heat oil in large pan. Fry celery and sweet potato for 5 minutes until starting to soften
  • Add paprika, garlic and thyme. Fry for 1-2 minutes
  • Add tomatoes, stock, tomato puree & wine
  • Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Add beans and simmer for 5 minutes until heated through
  • Meanwhile pre-heat the grill. Toast the bread on one side, turn over then top with the cheese and season. Grill for 3-4 minutes and serve with the hotpot

Why?

It is packed with vegetables and has a good protein, carbohydrate mix, essential to replace muscle glycogen and aid recovery. It can be frozen into single portions, ready to be defrosted.

Oaty Apple Crumble

Winter Apple Crumble

A runner friendly pudding

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 90g porridge oats
  • 75g plain flour
  • 60g brown sugar (or equivalent amount of low calorie sweetener)
  • Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • 90g melted butter
  • 1 x 285 tin of apple pie filling
  • 40g dried fruit (apricots, raisins or cranberries)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • A pinch of ground cinnamon

How to do it

  • Preheat oven to 190°C
  • Grease an oven dish
  • In a bowl, mix the oats, flour, sugar and bicarbonate of soda
  • Stir in the melted butter and mix
  • Press 2/3 of the mix into the base and sides of the dish
  • Mix the pie filling, dried fruit, lemon juice and cinnamon together and spoon into the dish lined with the oaty mix
  • Cover with the remaining oaty mixture
  • Make sure the filling is sealed inside the oats
  • Bake for 30 minutes

Why?

The oats give long lasting energy and make this pudding great on a Saturday evening, before Sunday's long run.