Summer is the best time of year to take advantage of fruits and veggies at the peak of their fresh, ripe flavor. The synergistic symphony of nutrients make them the perfect delivery system for fiber and many vitamins and minerals—all in a delicious, portable package. The natural sugars in fruits are a quick energy boost when dancing.
Here are a few that can reduce muscle soreness and oxidative damage from long hours in the studio.
As the days get colder and your schedule gets more stressful, it's only natural to crave comfort foods. Instead of depriving yourself of the flavors you love, try healthier, more nutrient-dense alternatives. You might find that they are just as satisfying but make you feel better in the studio and onstage.
Lentil or bean-flour pastas have a similar taste as traditional versions, but pack a bigger nutritional punch. All have energy-producing carbohydrates, but for the same portion size, lentil and bean-flour pastas have twice the protein and significantly more iron, zinc and fiber. Or, use a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. Skip the cream sauce in favor of a fresh tomato sauce loaded with veggies and greens.
Cashew cheese is a delicious, satisfying alternative for your favorite cheesy comfort foods. Both dairy cheese and cashew cheese have protein and minerals, but cashews have zero cholesterol and more heart-healthy monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fats. You can find different varieties in stores or make your own (see sidebar at right).
Potatoes aren't bad—it's the cream, butter and sugar that we add that's the problem. A medium baked potato has 4 grams of protein, good carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc and vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are packed with immune-system–boosting vitamin A. Avoid gooey marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes by roasting them in olive oil and herbs instead, or baking the purple Japanese sweet potato, which doesn't need extra sugar.
The average milkshake can have as much sugar as 70 jellybeans and more fat than a quarter-stick of butter. Instead of having an ice-cream–based milkshake, indulge in a shake made with raw cacao powder, ice and a plant-based milk, like fortified soy milk (which has the same amount of protein and calcium as cow's milk). Add a spoonful of blended flax- or chia seeds for a sorbet-like consistency and inflammation-lowering omega-3s.
Pancakes can be excellent energy food. Swap refined white flour for a homemade blend of almond flour, oats, flaxseeds, hemp seeds and buckwheat flour. You'll get more protein, iron, omega-3s and fiber.