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Balanced, flavorful meals to fuel you the whole week leading into your big race.
Monday: Peanut Noodles
Creamy peanut noodles meet bright notes of mint and cilantro in a crisp, hydrating veggie slaw. Top with protein of choice to round out a meal packed with easy-on-the-gut rice noodles and sodium-rich sauce.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook 8 ounces thick Pad Thai noodles in a rolling boil for 5–6 minutes, until al dente. Transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water (to prevent from sticking). Make sure water drains completely. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup all-natural crunchy peanut butter, 2 tablespoons stir-fry seasoning (from package), 3 tablespoons warm water, 2 tablespoons agave and lime juice from 2 limes. Transfer the noodles to the bowl and toss until coated with the sauce. In a separate bowl, toss 1 thinly sliced small red bell pepper, 1 large carrot (sliced into thin sticks), 1 cup sugar-snap peas (sliced lengthwise), 1 heaping cup mung bean sprouts, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro and juice from 1 lime in a bowl. Serve the noodles with the slaw and 6 ounces per serving of your choice of protein on top. Makes 4 servings.
Tuesday: Brown Rice Penne With Turkey Sausage And Peppers
Replace classic spaghetti with this easy-to-make, carb-rich pasta feast.
Cook 12 ounces brown rice penne according to package instructions. Reserve ¼ cup water after draining pasta. In a large skillet, over medium heat, break apart the 16 ounces uncooked turkey sausage (removed from casing) with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned, approximately 10–12 minutes. Remove from the skillet onto a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Sauté half a large sweet onion (sliced) with ¼ teaspoon, each, salt and pepper for 3 minutes. Add 1 sliced red bell pepper and 1 sliced yellow or orange bell pepper and sauté another 3 minutes, adding the 1 teaspoon minced garlic for the last minute. Turn heat to medium-high and pour in ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar. Let reduce with the peppers and onion for 5 minutes. Add turkey sausage back to the skillet. Once pasta is drained, immediately add to the pan with reserved water. Turn heat off, stir the mixture until the pasta is thoroughly coated and let rest 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and/or Parmesan cheese before serving. Makes 4 servings.
Wednesday: Indian Chicken Meatballs
Ground chicken is a great, budget-friendly source of lean protein, providing the perfect canvas for these moist Indian-inspired meatballs.
In a large bowl, stir together ¼ cup finely chopped green onion, ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil, 2 tablespoons light coconut milk, 2 tablespoons fresh ginger puree, 1 tablespoon chili sauce, 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 2 teaspoons honey. Add 12 ounces ground chicken to the bowl. Remove 1 large uncooked sweet Italian chicken sausage from its casing into the bowl. Gently fold the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Roll the meatballs to about an inch around and set on a plate. Heat a drizzle of canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In two batches, sear the meatballs for 2 minutes per side until browned. Let rest on a plate. If you want to add veggies, sauté your veggies of choice (such as yellow squash, zucchini, carrot, eggplant, cauliflower, red onion or red/yellow/orange bell peppers) in the same pan with the meatball drippings. Add the meatballs back to the pan with 1 jar red curry or Masala curry sauce. Turn heat to medium and let bubble for 15–20 minutes, giving the meatballs a gentle turn one time. Serve over 3 cups cooked Basmati rice and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh cilantro. Makes 12–16 meatballs (4 servings).
Thursday: Stuffed Yams
The options are endless for this simple, carbohydrate-packed meal. In this recipe quinoa serves as the complete protein, while apple, fennel and basil add bright, fresh flavor.
Thoroughly wash 4 small or 3 medium-sized yams, and poke holes all over the skin with a fork. Place in the microwave and cook 4–5 minutes per side. (Alternatively, bake at 400 degrees for 35–40 minutes.) Yams should be cooked through and slightly soft on the outside. Cut in half and let cool. Remove the fronds and core from 1 head fennel. Slice thinly, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, to taste, and roast on a sheet pan 2–3 minutes per side at 450 degrees. Let cool, then finely dice. Toss 1½ cups cooked quinoa with the fennel, 1 finely diced apple, ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil, ½ cup pesto (recommended without cheese) and (optional) ¼ cup chopped toasted pine nuts, almonds or walnuts. Scoop out 2/3 of the yam from each of the shells, give it a rough chop and gently combine with the quinoa mixture. Place a heaping scoop of the filling into each of the shells.
Friday: Salmon Burgers
This lean, inflammation-busting protein is ideal to have on your taper-week menu. Try serving over roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes for an alternative carbohydrate source.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 20 ounces salmon (skin on) on a sheet of foil and season with salt and pepper. Seal foil around the fish, place on a baking sheet and bake 10–12 minutes, until just underdone. Remove salmon from oven, open foil to let steam out and let rest. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add 2 finely diced shallots and 1 finely diced celery stalk, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes, until golden. Add 1 tablespoon dried parsley, 2 teaspoons dried basil and 2 teaspoons garlic powder and sauté for one minute, until fragrant. Remove ingredients into a bowl. Save the skillet without washing. Remove the salmon from the skin into the bowl, and use a fork to flake the salmon into small pieces. Add ⅓ cup tzatziki sauce and the zest and juice of 1 lemon to the bowl. Thoroughly combine the ingredients until the mixture becomes slightly sticky. Spray skillet heavily with nonstick cooking spray over medium-high heat. Form 4 patties with the salmon mixture and place in the hot skillet. Sear for one minute per side, until a golden crust forms, and place skillet into the oven for 5–6 minutes. Drizzle 8 pieces whole-grain bread with olive oil and toast on a baking sheet in the oven for 5–7 minutes. Serve salmon burger on bread with desired veggies and toppings. Makes 4 servings.