FOOD FOR Autumn Running
The weather is changing and there are lots of lovely seasonal foods to add to your menu. There is an opportunity to change in your food plan when the autumn arrives.
It’s an ideal time to make warming soups, casseroles and warm salads. The seasonal foods at this time of year are; butternut squash, pumpkin, potatoes, celeriac, green and red cabbage, kale, leeks, onions, brussels sprouts, chestnuts, apples, pears and blackberries,
We like to add warmth to our food with spices, so thought that would be a lovely focus for today’s conversation …
We will focus on ginger, turmeric and cinnamon to give some lovely taste and aroma to meals as well as supporting us nutritionally in our running.
We will outline the nutritional properties of each and consider how they may be added as part of your meal plan with some menu ideas.
We tend to think of Ginger as a spice, but it’s actually classified as a herb, ginger is a thick tuberous rhizome which grow underground. If you buy ginger fresh, you’ll see the outer skin is rough and brown and when you cut into it the hard flesh is a pale yellow colour. Ginger comes in lots of different forms – the fresh root, dried powdered, stem ginger, crystalised ginger and picked ginger. You may also buy the fresh root chopped and frozen so it’s easy to use.
The active ingredients are gingerols and shogaols. Ginger is widely researched and has been found to have properties such as being antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and also has anti-cancer activities. It’s particularly well known for its effectiveness in relieving digestive distress and symptoms such as dizziness and nausea related to pregnancy and motion sickness. Gingerols also inhibit inflammatory cytokines and have been shown to alleviate pain and inflammation related to arthritis.
How can a runner use ginger to support their health?
Many runners report feelings of nausea and loss of appetite after long endurance runs, so using ginger perhaps in hot water or tea may help recovery and allow the runner to enjoy their post run food earlier. Ginger affects the gastrointestinal tract and its interaction with the stomach and nausea centre of the brain by absorbing and neutralizing gastric hormones, toxins and acids. Ginger tea is often used to help alleciate nausea and promote appetite.
Foodie ideas for using GINGER
· For drinks – we’ve already mentioned ginger tea and a ginger hot water steeper
· A lot of runners make porridge or overnight oats – adding some powdered ginger will give you a lovely warming flavour
· Ginger is used a lot in Asian style dishes – one of our favourite recipes is salmon or tofu with a soy and ginger marinade – it’s work with chicken too
· You may add ginger to flapjacks and protein bars
· Ginger and Lemon Juice Shot
Safety note – ginger contains oxalates which may contribute to formation of kidney stones so if that is a concern for you may wish to consume ginger with caution.
Turmeric is a well-known anti-inflammatory spice, it belongs to the same family as ginger and in its fresh form, is a root with a tough brown skin and a bright orange flesh, you may also buy it in dried powdered form.
Turmeric is often used in a curry. The active ingredient is curcumin. Using curcumin alongside peperine (from black pepper) will make it more bio available. Curcumin is fat soluble, so cooking it in some fat like coconut oil or olive oil will help its absorption by the body. It’s attracted a lot of attention as an anti-inflammatory supplement but today we are just focusing on using it as a food ingredient.
Turmeric may be used as a natural alternative to painkillers due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin is known to support exercise-induced muscle damage, which can occur following hill training, especially downhill exercise.
Foodie ideas for using TURMERIC
- Add to smoothies
- Make Soups e.g. Turmeric Cauliflower Soup
- Add to porridge
- Always great in curries e.g. Sweet Potato and Lentil
- Add to dips
- Add it to scrambled eggs or tofu
- Spice up a homemade hummus
- Roasted vegetables
- Make turmeric tea – in a similar way to the ginger tea
- Blend it into a smoothie
- Enjoy a Turmeric latte
300ml of almond milk blended with ¼ teaspoon of powdered turmeric, ginger and cinnamon with ½
Pina Colada Calmer Smoothie (Anti-Inflammatory Post Run within 30 minutes) which includes turmeric, ginger and cinnamon!! Listen to E62 Smoothies for Runners where we chatted about making your post run smoothie a therapeutic recipe.
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a tree native to Sri Lanka, but there’s also a Chinese variety. You may purchase it in a powdered form or a cinnamon stick which is a quill like tube.The medicinal properties in cinnamon are from oils found in the bark: cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, and linalool.
The influence of cinnamon on glycaemic control has been widely researched, with regards to management of diabetes and insulin control. Antioxidants, in cinnamon, may act like insulin, assisting glucose in moving out of the bloodstream and into cells. Meaning that glucose is readily available for fuel.
Cinnamon is known to promote weight loss and this action has been well researched. As we’ve touched on, cinnamon regulates blood sugar. When blood sugar is balanced this results in less cravings and more even energy levels which tends to lead to a person managing their food intake and not over-eating.
Cinnamon helps regulating blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas regulating blood sugar levels. Increased insulin sensitivity, will keep your insulin levels balanced, reducing fat storage as well as sugar cravings. In menopausal women, oestrogen levels reduce and this may lead to insulin resistance, so using cinnamon as a regular ingredient may support body composition.
Foodie ideas for using CINNAMON
You may use cinnamon in sweet and savoury dishes in a similar way to using ginger
- Add grounded cinnamon to porridge, yoghurt and smoothies at breakfast
- Cinnamon powder may be added to hot drinks like tea or coffee, if you have sweet tooth the cinnamon may reduce the need to sweeten your drink.
- You could make a Cinnamon Latte - blend half a teaspoon of grounded cinnamon in warm unsweetened almond milk.
- Poaching or stewing fruit such as apples, pears or plums with cinnamon is a delicious snack or dessert. Serve with chopped nuts and yoghurt.
- Cinnamon is used in savoury dishes especially in Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes e.g. tagines, cous cous, as a rub or marinade on meat and fish and in casseroles
- A few ideas for you to try cinnamon and cumin spiced carrots, cinnamon and apricot glazed salmon, cinnamon spiced basmati pilaf, lemon spiced lentils, spicy squash soup
Our Suggestions For a 1-Day Food Plan
Breakfast – Cinnamon Apple Porridge OR Turmeric Scrambled Eggs with Mushrooms and Spinach on Sourdough Toast
Lunch – Spicy Cous Cous Salad topped with Chicken or Feta OR Ginger Butternut Squash Soup with Cannellini Beans
Evening Meal – Ginger and Soy Baked Salmon/Tofu with Stir Fried Greens and Noodles OR Lemon Spiced Lentils with Cinnamon Basmati and Broccoli
Snacks – Turmeric or Cinnamon Latte/Pina Colada Smoothie/Ginger Flapjack/Cinnamon Chia Pudding
The key nutrient in GINGER is gingerol. Using ginger may help alleviate digestive distress and feelings of nausea and loss of appetite which are common complaints for some athletes after long endurance runs. Gingerols also inhibit inflammatory cytokines and may alleviate symptoms of pain and inflammation.
The key nutrient in TURMERIC is curcumin. Runners may consider using turmeric as anti-inflammatory support for exercise-induced muscle damage, for example after hill drills or as a natural alternative to painkillers.
The key nutrient in CINNAMON is cinnamaldehyde. Studies have demonstrated that cinnamon helps to regulates blood sugar and may be supportive in promoting weight loss. A healthy body composition which is key for a runners performance, so using cinnamon may be supportive.
All 3 spices are easily incorporated as an ingredient into everyday meal recipes and teas.
The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and
advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact
your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.
Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell met at as nutrition students (Institute for Optimum Nutrition, London) and became lifelong friends and nutritional buddies! Both have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living.
Together they host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.
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