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Medicine in a Bowl

By Marni Sumbal

I believe in a three-step process of changing lifestyles:

1) Address behaviors — creating a positive environment and developing a healthy relationship with food.
2) Prioritize food for health — improve quality of life.
3) Sport nutrition — gain the competitive advantage by learning how to fuel for activity, recover faster and encourage optimal performance gains.

saladEach person is different but I still believe in this particular approach. It is my responsibility to make sure a person has a healthy relationship with food prior to addressing the limiters to a current sport nutrition fueling routine during a long workout. If food-related behaviors are not positive, it would be difficult for me to suggest eating a more plant-strong diet if you don't like grocery shopping and you don't like to cook. With every behavior change comes a new habit, and with new habits come a new passion for life. When you see yourself doing things that you thought weren't possible, you will strive for consistency in your new lifestyle routine.

When I spoke at the Culinary Institute of America, I started by describing my philosophy of creating balance with diet and exercise, and then I discussed my two separate, yet similar points-of-view. As an athlete, food is fuel. I eat so I can compete. I fuel so I can reach my goals. That's the bottom line. What's the point of achieving a lean body if I can't do anything with it? But as a RD (clinical RD), food is my medicine. It nourishes my body, keeps me well and improves my quality of life.

If we could all treat food like a prescription, I think we'd all live a healthier lifestyle; that goes without saying. If you were prescribed x-pills to take a day to help you with x-problem, you would take them because you know those pills will help you (or in many cases — save your life). Take less, your body would suffer. Take more, you would be overdosing and harm may be done.

Without even considering the countless (really, endless) nutrients found in whole foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, oils) complimented with quality protein, you have a purpose and a reason to enjoy the food you are providing to your body.

You can make a simple dinner that is full of nutrients and could be considered “medicine in a bowl.” This particular salad I made is light in the belly but heavy in nutrients. It is the perfect post-workout meal or a delicious bowl of color on a summer day. Enjoy!

Medicine in a Bowl Salad

  • Mixed greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Red bell pepper
  • Sweet orange pepper
  • Purple onion
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cheeries
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Protein choice — Low-fat cottage cheese (I recommend Daisybrand, which is lower in sodium than many cottage cheeses on the market and only 3 ingredients.)

For a dressing - I used orange juice (about 2 tbsp) which is rich in vitamin C and will help with absorption of non-heme iron in the dark greens. It added a nice sweetness and tartness to the salad.

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