published Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Dietitian says Chattanoogans can learn from Olympians

You do can eat like an Olympian with such meals as this Red, White & Bleu spinach salad.
You do can eat like an Olympian with such meals as this Red, White & Bleu spinach salad.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

When the Olympic Games begin at the end of July in London, top athletes from around the world will burn through thousands of loaves of bread and tons of fruits and vegetables.

The amounts of food listed on the 2012 Olympic website sounds overwhelming -- 14 million meals, 100 tons of meat, 330 tons of produce.

But a local dietitian says regular Chattanoogans can take lessons from world-class athletes on how to eat to stay healthy and fit -- even if they don't plan to run a marathon or swim toward a gold medal.

"The average person can take cues from the health habits of these athletes," said Tracy Noerper, a dietitian for the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association and a certified school nutrition specialist with the American School Nutrition Association.

Here are four tips from Olympian athletes that Noerper recommends for anyone.

1. Eat breakfast. Everyone should eat a balanced breakfast such as whole-grain bread or cereal, fruits, yogurt or egg-white omelets, Noerper said. Not only do athletes eat healthy breakfasts, most people who maintain weight loss list eating breakfast as one of the things they do every day.

2. Snack often. Eating frequently allows people to maintain energy levels throughout the day. Noerper recommends planning ahead by packing healthy snacks such as hummus and vegetables, low-fat cheese and nuts to avoid visits to a snack machine. She said snacks should be kept to under 200 calories, on average.

"Don't look at a snack as a free-for-all, but snack frequently throughout the day," she said.

3. Refuel after a workout. Eating well before any exercise is important, but athletes also pay attention to what they eat immediately after a workout, Noerper said.

"You have to refuel those tired muscles -- it helps you bounce back," she said. Noerper said refueling foods should be eaten within an hour or two after exercising. One of the foods athletes often reach for after exercise is chocolate milk, which has a great combination of carbohydrates and proteins, she said.

4. Stay hydrated. According to the Olympic website, free drinking water will be made available at all the Games' venues to keep both athletes and visitors hydrated. Noerper said the amount of water needed in a day depends on the level of activity, but everyone should drink water throughout the day.


Baked Oatmeal

Nutritional analysis per serving:

Calories 421

Fat 16g

Saturated Fat 3g

Sodium 535mg

Carbohydrate 52g

Fiber 6g

Protein 17g

Calcium 251mg

3 tablespoons old fashioned oats

1 tablespoon ground flax

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

Splash of vanilla

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1 teaspoon canola oil

Garnishes: fresh fruit, yogurt and nuts

Cooking: Combine all ingredients large microwave-safe mug.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes (or microwave on HIGH 2 1/2 minutes) or until fully cooked. Top with additional yogurt, fruit and nuts, if desired. Yields 1 serving


Spicy Sweet Potato Dip

Nutritional analysis per serving:

Calories 110

Fat 5.5g

Saturated Fat 3.6g

Sodium 257mg

Carbohydrate 10g

Fiber 1.6g

Protein 6g

Calcium 158mg

1 medium sweet potato

1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon salsa

1/4 cup (2 ounces) shredded Pepper Jack or Reduced Fat Pepper Jack cheese

Cooking: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake sweet potato at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool slightly and peel. Place baked sweet potato in small food processor or blender; add remaining ingredients. Pulse until well combined. Serve warm with fresh veggies, crackers or tortilla chips. Yields 3 servings


Red, White & Bleu Spinach Salad

Nutritional analysis per serving:

Calories 400

Fat 22g

Saturated Fat 6g

Sodium 642mg

Carbohydrate 38g

Fiber 7g

Protein 13g

Calcium 221mg

1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained well

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (10-ounce) package fresh baby spinach, thoroughly washed

1 Red Delicious apple, thinly sliced

1 cup freshly slice white button mushrooms

3 ounces crumbled bleu cheese

Cooking: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss chickpeas with 2 teaspoons oil; spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned and toasted. Cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes. Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar and next 3 ingredients (through black pepper) until well blended. Layer spinach and remaining ingredients in a bowl; top with roasted chickpeas. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Yields 4 servings.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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