November Newsletter


In This Issue
Fix Women's Sports
November is World Vegan Month!
Raise Your Gobblets and Give Thanks!
Off-Season Nutrition for Athletes
Vegan Diet for Athletes
Nutrition Energy
In the News!

Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN

Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN

Nutrition Energy

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Issue: #109 November 2019

Fix Women's Sports: A Panel to Address Women's Health & Athletics

Join Nutrition Energy Director, Lauren Antonucci for an evening discussion about Health and Women In Sports:

November is World Vegan Month!

November is recognized as World Vegan month. Whether you follow a vegan diet, have thought about moving towards a more plant based diet or have never given it a second thought, now is as good a time as any to learn a bit more about what motivates individuals to choose this lifestyle and if/how it may interest you to eat more plants. 

First things first, let's define what a vegan diet actually means. As you may already know, people who are vegan have committed to eating only plant foods, and do not include any animals or animal products in their diet. Vegans rely solely on plants to provide them with all key nutrients their bodies need. Common reasons for choosing a vegan diet may include environmental considerations, sensitivity to animal rights, health benefits, and/or religious reasons.

If the possible environmental benefits of eating a more plant based diet interests you, you are on the right track. As you might have heard, eating a more plant-based diet minimizes the water used to produce your food. To compare the two, a kilogram of beef requires ~14,500 liters of water to be produced whereas a kilogram of wheat requires 1,350 liters. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture has risen by 18.8% since 1990 compared to 4.1% from crop agriculture, which contribute to the climbing temperatures.

If health reasons are why you are interested in learning more about a vegan diet, we can tell you with confidence that studies confirm that a more plant based way of eating is good for your health. According to the American Heart Association, a plant-based diet has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Rest assured that a plant based diet can provide you with plenty of micronutrients, protein, and iron and could serve as a great opportunity for you to learn more about overall, balanced nutrition. However you choose to include more plants in your diet, the good news is that it should be beneficial to both you and our planet.

A common misconception about a vegan or plant based diet is that vegans might be unable to meet their nutritional needs. Let us assure you that vegans can meet their needs as long as they include a variety of whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and vegetables at each meal and throughout their day/week. Vegans may be at increased risk for iron, calcium and vitamin B12 deficiencies. In order to prevent iron deficiency, consider adding iron-rich food sources such as dried beans, spinach, and tofu. For calcium, incorporate vegetable greens such as kale and broccoli, soybean products, tofu, and calcium-fortified foods. B12-fortified breakfast cereals, B12-fortified soy beverages, and nutritional yeast are great things to include in order to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency. Finally, any time you make any major dietary change, and once per year no matter what, we recommend visiting your doctor and having your labs checked to ensure any deficiencies or imbalances are caught sooner rather than later.

For meat lovers, a vegan diet might have not crossed your mind in the past but have we now peaked your interest? If so, we hope you will try some of the recipes below. Of course no one should ever feel obligated to jump in and follow a strict vegan diet plan, but we do encourage you to incorporate certain components of a plant based diet into your own life. 

We hope you will try one (or more) of the recipes below, and possibly even try to include one meatless day per week (Meatless Monday anyone?). Alternatively, feel free to start with a favorite recipe you already love (meat lovers chili for example) and simply decrease, or swap out the meat you usually use and include beans, or tofu crumble instead. Who knows, you may end up loving some of these vegan recipes more than the original versions and want to add some more.

Raise Your Gobblets and Give Thanks!

We don't need to tell you that Thanksgiving is almost upon us again. Each November we include some tasty and healthier versions of usual Thanksgiving fare in our Nutrition Energy Newsletter, and although we tend to encourage more cooking and eating of vegetables regardless of what month it is, this year in honor of World Vegan month we will focus on adding more plant based dishes to your holiday meal table.
Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
The traditional version of this recipe is made with beef, however today we are encouraging you to try a lentil based version. 

Source:  OneIngredientChef 
Yields: 6 servings
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • 4 ½ cups prepared lentils
  • 2 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon basil + more for garnish
  • ½ cup chopped spinach
  • 2+ tablespoons non-dairy milk (oat or almond or soy)
  • Sea salt
  1. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into small chunks. Get them in a pot of water and let them boil for at least 15-20 minutes, depending on size.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the carrots, onion, and celery (mirepoix) into small chunks. To make things super easy, I often buy a pre-cut mirepoix at Trader Joe's. Or you can use a food processor. Add this to a large skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of water and allow them to soften.
  3. Once the veggies are softened, add the prepared lentils to the pan. You can use any kind of lentils you'd like... dried (cook them yourself), canned (drained), or pre-made lentils in a package (as long as the don't have any unnatural ingredients). Allow these to cook for several minutes with the mirepoix. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Open the cans of diced tomatoes (but do not drain them) and add these along with a tablespoon of chopped (or dried) basil leaves, a handful of chopped spinach, and a splash of soy sauce. Let this filling simmer for 10-15 minutes for the flavors to mingle.
  5. When the sweet potatoes are soft all the way through, remove them from the heat and drain the water. Mash with a little salt and a splash of non-dairy milk until the consistency is perfect. Add the lentil filling to a 9 x 13 pan and top with a layer of sweet potatoes. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the topping becomes slightly browned. Allow to cool before serving. This recipe yields about 6 servings and makes excellent leftovers the next evening for a 2-for-1 dinner.
Creamy Turmeric Butternut Squash Soup
We, at Nutrition Energy, are all about Butternut squash at this time of year, and are always happy to use turmeric in any dish we can. This recipe includes both of those, and happens to be vegan. 

Source:  OneGreenPlanet
Yields: 4 servings

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small turmeric knob
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 small white or yellow onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Peel the squash and cut into large chunks.
  2. In a medium sized pot, add the squash, water, and remaining ingredients. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.
  3. Using a serving size spoon or scoop, collect all the squash chunks as well as the other ingredients and add to a blender cup. Don't collect any of the liquid, only what comes in the scoop along with the ingredients.
  4. Blend on high speed for about 45 seconds. Depending on your machine you may need to blend for a little longer, until smooth.
  5. Serve hot with your choice of toppings. Refrigerate up to 4 days.
For any of you who might still be feeling overwhelmed with all of this talk about beans and legumes, we are confident that you can make and will enjoy the following vegan take on a traditional holiday favorite. 

Vegan Mashed Potatoes
And for any of you who want to start out with something easy, we are confident that you can try this mashed potato recipe, substituting vegan butter for dairy.

Source:  Delish
Yields: 6 servings

  • 3 lb. gold creamer potatoes, halved
  • Kosher salt 
  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • 6 tbsp. vegan butter (Earth Balance, Miyoko's)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly chopped parsley, for serving
  1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with water and season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until totally soft, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Use a potato masher to mash potatoes until smooth. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and rosemary then add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Discard rosemary and pour oil over potatoes. Add butter and stir until completely combined and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer potatoes to a serving bowl and season with more pepper and garnish with rosemary and parsley.
We wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! Please let us know what you think once you have made and enjoyed one or more of these tasty recipes.

Off-Season Nutrition for Athletes

The NYC marathon was ~ 3 weeks ago already and most endurance athletes have ended their tri/run season for 2019. This is a great time to ask yourself about your off-season plan. For many of you, this is supposed to be a designated time for rest and recovery as well as focusing on weaknesses. During the off-season, many athletes find it mentally challenging to give their bodies the rest and recovery they need and deserve. Let us help remind you that during the regular season, athletes often become accustomed to feeling physically fatigued after hard training sessions and races and now is the time to fully recovery from all of that hard work in order to help you become stronger next season.

The off-season is also a wonderful time to fuel your body with recovery supporting foods (in addition to the upcoming holiday treats). It is worth quickly noting that many athletes have lower overall nutritional needs during the off-season, which makes this a good time to pay attention to your hunger and satiety cues. That said, we also want to remind you not to cut back on your nutritional intake or any one food group too much, as you want to provide your body with what it needs to truly and completely recover from your past training blocks

Another quick reminder is that even though you are likely noticing that you are not sweating as much as you do "in-season" due to decreased workout sessions and/or duration, you will still want to ensure you are keeping up your hydration needs. The rule of thumb; drink half your body weight in fluid ounces each day is a good place to start.

This is also a time to incorporate fun new activities into your life that you may not have tried before or usually have time to pursue. Doing so will provide new challenges to keep you excited at this time of year.

Vegan Diet for Athletes

Ensuring that athletes meet their energy needs is always a top priority for both you as an athlete and us as your Sports Dietitians. While we have seen many athletes, coaches or even doctors who are skeptical as to whether a plant-based diet can meet the energy needs of athletes, there are plenty of successful and elite athletes who follow a plant-based diet. Venus Williams (the amazing tennis player!), Patrik Baboumian (2011 German's world strongest man), and Scott Jurek (Appalachian Trail speed record holder), all follow a well-planned vegan diet and are a testament to the possibilities of fueling and performing at the top of their game as a plant based athlete. 

Again, it is of course entirely up to each athlete as to how they feel eating certain food, what they choose to put into their engines, and what the right balance of plants vs animal foods they want to include in their diet. We hope that during World Vegan Month we have encouraged you to include more plants in your diet and to understand that with proper planning, you can meet your nutritional needs while following a plant based or even fully vegan diet.

A Note from Lauren...

The holidays are soon to begin!  Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and that means wine will be flowing, food will be everywhere, and belts will be loosened.  However, you do not have to give up on your goals when the pressure's on.  Yes, you may be surrounded by massive quantities of carbohydrates, but you can still make good decisions while enjoying the holiday.

If you know you are tempted, try to eat a small meal before you leave (stock up on veggies and fresh fruits!).  Instead of filling your plate, try small tastes of the dishes you like.  Pace yourself!  Some Thanksgivings can be all day events - don't go overboard right away. Make sure you eat breakfast and maybe get a workout in before the festivities begin!

Regardless, enjoy the day with your families and friends!  And, as always, contact the dietitians of Nutrition Energy to help you through the nutritional maze of the Holidays!  We are here to help you make better decisions over the holidays, a djust your off-season workouts, and maintain all that you have worked hard to achieve thus far in 2019!

Are you running a TurkeyTrot or race Thanksgiving morning?  Have any fun or unusual recipes you make for Thanksgiving? Tag us in your social media updates or let us know on Twitter  @NutritionEnergy , Instagram ,  or  Facebook!

Lauren Antonucci, Director
Nutrition Energy