Category Archives: Sports Nutrition

In addition to being passionate about health, wellness and sports nutrition, Janet is a Clinical Dietitian and an educator at the Eastern Michigan University.

Pumpkin in March?

The Great Pumpkin!  I remember it well; along with Charlie Brown
I do not typically think about eating pumpkin in March, but as I look out my office window at all of the snow, pumpkin soup suddenly sounds good to me!Pumpkin is definitely one of the Super Foods for all athletes!  And…a cold March day is the perfect time to indulge in it!Let’s take a look at The Great Pumpkin:

  1. Pumpkin (or) carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, orange  bell peppers.

They contain: Alpha carotene, Beta-carotene, fiber, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, pantothenic acid.

Servings: ½ cup most days

Benefits: reduce the risk of cancer, heart health, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, prevents free-radical complications of diabetes.

I am especially interested that the pumpkin is an anti-oxidant.  As athletes, especially runners know, that the harder we breathe, the more free-radicals oxidize and thus the need for foods which are anti-oxidents! 

Bring on the pumpkin!  How about in Pumpkin Quinoa Soup!

Pumpkin Quinoa Soup

Makes 8-10 cups


1 Tablespoon olive oil ½ cup chopped onions ½ cup chopped celery ½ cup grated carrots (Tip: purchase the onion, celery and carrots already chopped or grated from your local supermarket salad bar.) 1 can (29 oz) solid-packed pumpkin or 3 ½ -4 cups fresh pumpkin, cooked 4 cups vegetable broth (can be purchased or home made) 1 small apple cored, peeled and chopped 1 cup cooked quinoa  Click herefor basic directions to cook quinoa. Note: for more info on Quinoa, please click here.


1. Sauté onions, celery and carrots in olive oil until just softened. 2. Add pumpkin, vegetable broth, and apple. Simmer 10 minutes. 3. Stir in quinoa and heat through. 4. Enjoy! 5. If soup becomes too thick after setting awhile, thin with water or more vegetable broth to desired consistency.

Tip: Garnish with a dollop of yogurt, sour cream, tortilla chips or anything that sounds good to you.

Nutrition Facts: Serving size: 1 cup = 100 calories, Fat = 2 grams, Carbs = 18 grams, Protein = 3 grams

Enjoy this recipe and any other way you enjoy the great pumpkin! AND…lets hope the snow is soon gone!


Endurance Food-Broccoli

Endurance Food-Broccoli   

Do you love broccoli as much as I do? Raw, steamed, sauted, with cheese, without cheese, any way you eat it-broccoli is the best!

For some athletes, broccoli may cause G.I distress, so you may want to save it for non-competition days.  Or…at least “test” it before a competition!

Speaking of “testing” foods, may I remind you that you do NOT want to try ANYTHING new on competition days!!!  No new foods, no new beverages, no new clothes; someone asked me about a new husband  (or wife)?  You are on your own with that one…

Back to broccoli:

Let’s see what “Super Foods” has to say about the broccoli and its side-kicks:  brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, turnips, cauliflower, collards, bok choy, mustard greens, Swiss chard.

These amazing veggies contain: Sulforaphane, indoles, folate, fiber, calcium, vitamin C, Beta-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, vitamin K.

Servings:  ½ – 1 cup daily

Benefits: reduce risk of cancer, cataracts, build bones, heart health

Need a recipe for broccoli?  Try this one.

Quinoa-Broccoli soup Makes 4-5 servings


1 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa
4 cups vegetable broth or 2 (14.5 oz) cans vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups broccoli, broccolini, rabe or broccoflower, (or try a mix) washed and chopped coarsely
salt and pepper to taste.


Rinse quinoa before cooking to remove the coating of a bitter substance called saponins. Bring water to a boil. Stir in quinoa, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add broth, onion and carrot Simmer for 10 minutes. Add broccoli and simmer 5 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste Enjoy!

NOTE: Reduce cooking times for a crunchier vegetable.

Nutrition facts: 110 calories; 20 gm carbohydrates; 4 gm protein; 1 gm fat

Variations: Add any additional vegetables you desire. Try other flavored broths. I love mushroom broth with broccoli and quinoa!



Endurance Foods

Lately, I have been getting alot of questions on “what are the best foods,”  “are there really super foods?”  “What foods should I eat for endurance?!”

So, let’s explore what many call “endurance foods,” also called “super foods.”  Actually, these foods we will be exploring, and the info about them, come straight from one of my favorite books “Super Foods” by Steven Pratt and Kathy Matthews.  There are 14 foods listed plus their “side kicks.”  These foods are simple, whole foods, that are easily attainable and affordable.

The 14 foods are:  beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts and yogurt.

I like to call them “endurance foods,” as being an athlete, I have noticed quite an improvement in my endurance as I train for triathlons.

How about you?  Do you need more endurance for sports, work, play, and sometimes just making it through the day?  Try these super endurance foods.  Let us know what you think!
Each week I will be featuring a new endurance food ALONG WITH A RECIPE!  Stay tuned!  [smile]

Phytochemicals; a Parent to Antioxidents

A parent  to anti-oxidants are phytochemicals. They absolutely essential to athletes!!!
Read this great article that I found at

What are phytochemicals?

Phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties. They are nonessential nutrients, meaning that they are not required by the human body for sustaining life. It is well-known that plant produce these chemicals to protect themselves but recent research demonstrate that they can also protect humans against diseases. There are more than thousand known phytochemicals. Some of the well-known phytochemicals are lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavones in soy and flavanoids in fruits. phytochemical structures

How do phytochemicals work?

There are many phytochemicals and each works differently. These are some possible actions:

  • Antioxidant – Most phytochemicals have antioxidant activity and protect our cells against oxidative damage and reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Phytochemicals with antioxidant activity: allyl sulfides (onions, leeks, garlic), carotenoids (fruits, carrots), flavonoids (fruits, vegetables), polyphenols (tea, grapes).
  • Hormonal action – Isoflavones, found in soy, imitate human estrogens and help to reduce menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis.
  • Stimulation of enzymes – Indoles, which are found in cabbages, stimulate enzymes that make the estrogen less effective and could reduce the risk for breast cancer. Other phytochemicals, which interfere with enzymes, are protease inhibitors (soy and beans), terpenes (citrus fruits and cherries).
  • Interference with DNA replication – Saponins found in beans interfere with the replication of cell DNA, thereby preventing the multiplication of cancer cells. Capsaicin, found in hot peppers, protects DNA from carcinogens.
  • Anti-bacterial effect – The phytochemical allicin from garlic has anti-bacterial properties.
  • Physical action – Some phytochemicals bind physically to cell walls thereby preventing the adhesion of pathogens to human cell walls. Proanthocyanidins are responsible for the anti-adhesion properties of cranberry. Consumption of cranberries will reduce the risk of urinary tract infections and will improve dental health.

How do we get enough phytochemicals?

Foods containing phytochemicals are already part of our daily diet. In fact, most foods contain phytochemicals except for some refined foods such as sugar or alcohol. Some foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, beans, fruits and herbs, contain many phytochemicals. The easiest way to get more phytochemicals is to eat more fruit (blueberries, cranberries, cherries, apple,…) and vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, broccoli,…). It is recommended take daily at least 5 to 9 servings of fruits or vegetable. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in minerals, vitamins and fibre and low in saturated fat.
List of plants containing phytochemicals


Fruits and Nuts

Medicinal Plants

Common Herbs

Beans and seeds

Future of phytochemicals

Phytochemicals are naturally present in many foods but it is expected that through bioengineering new plants will be developed, which will contain higher levels. This would make it easier to incorporate enough phytochemicals with our food.