BY SARA SOMECK
You’ve probably been there before. You wake up at the crack of dawn, eager to get to the horse show. There is no time to spare, so you run out of the house, forgetting the most important meal of the day. After a successful class, you head to the office to get an add-scratch sheet. The office is offering free donuts, candy bars, and coffee, and your hungry self dives right in. But, is this the best option for nutrition? Sugary crumpets and caffeine?
As tempting as show office treats are, they are not good for your health. Although they provide a rush of energy, it doesn’t last long before the “sugar slump” hits. Consuming overwhelming amounts of sugar is not the healthiest option. Thankfully, there are better alternatives. My family owns natural food store chains and my mother has written a healthy food cookbook, so I am aware of some easy ways to get a nutritious meal in before your long horse show day.
One fast and popular meal (however “basic” it may be considered in today’s world) is avocado toast. It requires few ingredients, and gives you lots of energy. In its simplest form, avocado toast consists of 2 items: toasted bread (preferably whole grain) with mashed avocado on top. While this is quite simple to make, I like to spread some butter onto the toast and make a soft-boiled egg to provide some protein. Salt and pepper adds the finishing touches.
Another one of my favorite breakfasts can be quite uncomplicated. A low-sugar yogurt (whether it is cow, goat, sheep, or a vegan substitute) is delicious with granola, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, or another natural garnish, supplies your body with probiotics, antioxidants, and healthy fats. By simply grabbing your ideal brand and flavor of yogurt, you can purchase or make your own granola to dabble on top. And of course, the fruit options go on and on: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, melons, etc. The topping possibilities are endless, and are perfect for fast and effortless horse show “grub!”
Superfood balls are more of a snack, but nevertheless are filling and tasty. I’ve used my mom’s cookbook, Dancing in the Kitchen, to demonstrate a straightforward recipe for these lovely goodies. The “Original Best Balls” contain:
- – ¼ cup peanut butter
- – ¼ cup honey
- – ½ cup wheat germ
- – ¼ cup raisins
- – ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- Shredded coconut or chopped nuts for rolling balls”
Once you have all of the ingredients in a bowl, you simply mix them together and roll them into balls. If you have allergy restrictions, you can always substitute the ingredients for ones that match your lifestyle. And if you’re looking for a wider variety, it is easy to add protein powder, cinnamon powder, chocolate chips, vanilla extract, or some other kind of natural flavoring. These superfood balls can be prepared days before and then stored for a quick and easy horse show snack, providing lots of energy and nutrition.
The recipes listed above are just a few options for beneficial and basic meals. If there really is no time to make a meal, I like to keep some protein bars and other snacks in my horse show backpack. I love CLIF Builder’s Protein Bars; they have numerous flavors, including peanut butter, chocolate mint, and vanilla almond. A second great snack is Justin’s Nut Butters, which range from almond butter to chocolate hazelnut butter (and everything in between).
As for coffee, I believe that it is suitable when you need a pick-me-up, but is not great for you in excess quantities. In my opinion, when drinking coffee, you should aim for an organic or non-GMO cup of joe. Tea (I prefer black or green) is a great replacement for coffee, as it contains lots of antioxidants, and the caffeine levels are much lower. Smoothies are another excellent beverage that can give you some stamina. Acai bowls are hearty and delicious as well. Even juices can be tasty! I love a build-your-own juice of apple, orange, pineapple, ginger, carrot, and turmeric. In place of juicers, blenders can also be used, and it is really easy; all you need is a blender (I love Vitamix blenders for juicing !!! ), napkin or a nut milk bag, and a bowl. Blend your fruits and vegetables in a blender with water, then strain the juice through a nut milk bag. Use your hands to squeeze the juice until you have all of it in the bowl. With so many veggies and fruits, there are many different juice or smoothie concoctions you can create. You can make it at home with a juicer/blender or go to a juicery; many health food stores also provide the option to make build-your-own juices and smoothies.
With all of this being said, there is no shame in consuming horse show food if you try to make sure it is the healthiest possible. For an example, I like to get a wrap from our food court that travels to almost every show. A whole-wheat wrap with mayonnaise, onions, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and cheese is quite tasty. Of course, there are other options (such as salads, sandwiches, soups, etc.) to choose from, but that is one of my favorites.
So, next time you’re planning out your horse show weekend, try to incorporate some nutrient-dense recipes into your meals. The typical athlete needs lots of nutritious foods…and that includes us equestrians!