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3 Plant-Based Power Meals for Athletes

By Vanessa Rodriguez
For Active.com

When you’re physically active, you want to make sure you’re eating meals that are bursting in nutrients, easy to prepare and taste delicious. As an ultra runner and nutritionist, these are my three secret weapons as far as packing some powerful nutrients into my training. 

veggies1. Vegan Pizza
Who doesn’t love pizza? It tastes delicious and it’s fun to make. Best of all, this is the type of pizza you can eat every day, guilt-free. 

Find a vegan-friendly dough and load it up with every single vegetable you can find. Anything goes. Make sure you experiment with unusual toppings like squash and dulse (seaweed) flakes. Be adventurous—it’s incredibly difficult to screw up pizza.

Toppings I have used include:

  • Vegan sauce base
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Ginger
  • Spinach
  • Dulse (seaweed)
  • Olive oil
  • Black olives
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Green peppers
  • Red peppers
  • Habanero peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Pineapple
  • Various herbs
  • Bean sprouts
  • Celery
  • Radish
  • Grated squash 

You could easily make a hundred pizzas and every single one would be different. This is one of the most nutrient-rich meals I have put together. My pizzas are usually so fully loaded coming out of the oven that I have to eat them with a fork and knife to keep all the toppings in place.

MY SECRET TIP: I put the tomatoes on raw after the pizza comes out of the oven, as well as an avocado. This gives the pizza a pleasing and cooling texture.

2. Soups and Stews
I love throwing a bunch of random vegetables into my slow cooker and letting it do its magic overnight. I use a vegan broth, and load up the slow cooker with vegetables like:

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Sweet potato
  • Herbs
  • Spinach
  • Seaweed
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Mung beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Various spices

A few hours in, my slow cooker starts making the entire house smell amazing. I love having these stews for breakfast because they’re so warming and comforting. They’re great to take for lunch as well, and I’ll often look forward to more when I come home from work. 

MY SECRET TIP: I love the taste of lime juice, so I always add some to my soups. Lemon or lime juice is a powerhouse of both taste and nutrition. It’s low in calories and full of immune-boosting antioxidants and vitamin C.

3. Smoothies
I love experimenting with smoothies because I can add pretty much anything and it tastes great.

Here are some of the ingredients I’ve tried:

  • Berries
  • Melons
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Bananas
  • Ginger
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Almond or coconut milk

MY SECRET TIP: I always add some type of healthy fat, such as Udo’s oil, an avocado, or chia seeds to my smoothies. Omega-3s are very easy to miss in our daily diets, but so important for overall wellness.

Do not be limited by conventional nutrition. Have dinner for breakfast. Taste “weird” foods. Never snub new things because of how they look or sound and don’t be afraid to experiment.

These meals provide a great opportunity for experimentation and added nutrition. So go ahead and try some seaweed on your pizza. Whether you’re vegan, paleo, or just love food—eat something new today. You might love it. 

Vanessa Rodriguez is the former nutrition editor for Active.com, and author of The Summit Seeker. She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an avid ultra-distance trail runner. Keep up with her adventures at vanessaruns.com.

This article originally appeared on Active.com—your source for event information, training plans, expert advice, and everything you need to connect with the sport you love. 

Active.com