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Thanksgiving: Healthy Sides for the Endurance Athlete

By Brooke Brown

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The week starts with a celebration of Canadian heritage which represents our country’s plentiful harvest and marks the successes of our earlier ancestors. Across the country, friends and family unite for a holiday meal. Typified by a family style feast, Thanksgiving dinner always offers variety.

For this holiday, include some side dishes for the endurance athletes at the table. Packed with energy, nutrients and antioxidants, these five sides will surely put a spring in their stride.


5 Sides for the Endurance Athlete

Radicchio: Otherwise known as Italian Chicory, this leafy vegetable can be substituted for romaine lettuce in a Cesar salad. Rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, this plant helps fight free radicals and cell damage which are created in our bodies as a result of exercise. Radicchio is also a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, B vitamins and fibre.


Try: Grilled Radicchio or a Radicchio Cesar Salad with Oven baked Rosemary Croutons

Brussel Sprouts: Most people make a sour face with the mention of this vegetable. However, there are more ways to prepare this underrated gem than how you may remember it when you were young. A phyonutrient containing, sulforaphane, this super food is believed to increase enzymes that eliminate cancer causing agents, therefore containing anticancer properties. Brussel sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin A, C and vitamin K, not to mention rich in calcium potassium and iron. Iron is an important nutrient for endurance athletes, as it is helps to carrier oxygen in the blood (hemoglobin) and into the muscle (myoglobin).

Try: Julienne cut brussel sprouts sauteed with garlic, lemon and parmesan cheese or halved and roasted with olive oil and lemon drizzle

Cranberries: Considered the super food of the 90’s, these red berries boast huge health benefits from lowering the risk of heart disease to alleviating hypertension. High in vitamin E, there is some research that suggests that this antioxidant may be helpful to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness in recovery from training.

Try: Fresh cranberry and candied ginger relish

Wild Rice: In fact wild rice is not a grain at all, but an aquatic grass. It is packed with protein and carbohydrate to help endurance athletes deliver performance. A complete protein containing all essential amino acids, it gives the vegan athlete a full deck of cards. This edible grass is an excellent source of B vitamins, potassium and phosphorous.

Try: Wild Rice and Brown Rice Pilaf with roasted walnuts and apricot

Parsnips: Parsnips are another childhood least favourite vegetable worthy of a second try. Similar to a carrot, but with the scent of fresh parsley when roasted brings out their sweet side. Boasting an 80% RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) of copper, this mineral assists in haemoglobin production and helps to maintain healthy bones, blood and nerves. Let´s not forget to give parsnips a round of applause for its well rounded nutrient profile (vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, fibre, B vitamins and potassium).

Try: Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with Fresh Dill