If you’re fed up of ruining your hard work with greasy takeaways, put down the phone and pick up your pinny. With ready-to-use ingredients, you can cook post-run meals that are far healthier – and cheaper – than the ‘goods’ from your local takeaway.
Ditch: Takeaway cheese and tomato pizza
Switch: Muscle-repairing veg and chicken pizza
Prepared chicken breast strips have a stellar 11:1 protein-to-fat ratio to help build muscle. And pesto, which is full of pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil, provides a tasty shot of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. “Enjoy this right after a run, when you can benefit from the extra sodium found in the packaged ingredients to replace what you lose in sweat,” says sports dietitian and marathoner Rebecca Scritchfield.
Place a 12-inch pizza base on a baking sheet and bake at 200C for six minutes, then remove. Cover with 180ml of jarred pesto, then top with rocket, torn ready-cooked chicken breast strips, sliced red peppers, sliced olives, torn fresh basil and a small block of crumbled goat’s cheese. Season and grill for one minute.
Try this: Use baby spinach instead of rocket; sub in low-fat grated mozzarella for goat’s cheese; use wholewheat pittas to make mini pizzas.
Ditch: Takeaway king prawn with pineapple
Switch: Joint-protecting sweet and sour stir-fry
Not only are prawns a lean source of protein, “they also provide the mineral selenium, which may help reduce joint inflammation”, says Scritchfield. The copper in cashews helps iron carry oxygen to muscles, she adds, and butter beans have fibre, protein and potassium – an electrolyte essential for organ and muscle function.
Heat a tbsp of oil in a large pan. Cook two tsp of crushed garlic, one tsp of chilli flakes, a handful of frozen vegetables and a tbsp of butter beans for five minutes. Stir in two handfuls of frozen prawns and cook for three minutes. Add a handful of unsalted cashews, a small can of pineapple chunks, 240ml of jarred sweet and sour sauce, and heat. Serve over brown rice.
Try this: Use tinned mango instead of pineapple; swap butter beans for edamame; use firm tofu or chicken instead of prawns.
Ditch: Takeaway chicken tikka masala
Switch: Stomach-soothing chana masala with chickpeas
Iron-rich chickpeas are full of the fibre that is vital for good gut health, while their protein helps keep you feeling full for longer. Studies suggest cumin can help aid digestion, while coriander’s blood sugar-regulating credentials help you avoid the energy spikes and crashes that can lead you to overeat.
Fry two tsp of cumin, one tsp of ground coriander, a pinch of salt, half a tsp of turmeric and half a chopped green chilli until fragrant. Add 800g of drained tinned chickpeas, a squeeze of lemon and 250ml of water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10-12 minutes until reduced. Add half a chopped red onion, some chopped coriander and the other half of the chilli. Mix, drizzle with olive oil and serve with lemon wedges.
Try this: Try mixed tinned pulses instead of chickpeas; add paneer cheese.