Massaged Kale Salad with Beets: Is a Diet Rich in Nitrates Key to Endurance Performance?

Could the nitrates in this massaged kale salad with beets help you shave a couple minutes off your next race? I’ll share a secret with you. Even though it’s been 7 years since my last marathon and over 10 years since I ran a sub 3:40 marathon pace, deep down, Boston is on my mind.  I signed up for the California International Marathon in December as part of my “this is 40” years old goals. But as the training ensured, I began thinking, could I qualify for Boston? At the time, the cut-off for my 40-year-old age group was 3:45. Then, my bubble got bursted. The Boston qualifying team raised the bar, and recently set a lower time goal at 3:40. #sadface

How Hard Do You Push?

While a 3:45 marathon pace would be NO walk in the park, the new goal feels out of reach. If I’m truly honest with myself, that push would mean a lot less joyful training. Over the years I’ve learned, the joy lies in the training, not the actual race.  Maybe, as an older, wiser 40-year-old, I’ve learned to push less and enjoy more? I’m over halfway through training, enjoying it and running injury-free due to the following:

  1. Listen to my body and back off if something doesn’t feel right
  2. Strive for 8 hours of sleep a night
  3. Do yoga 2-3 times a week
  4. Eat meals that include high-quality carbs offering energy, immune support and “foods-with-benefits” such as this massaged kale salad with beets and brown rice

Nitrates: Nature’s Ergogenic Aid

Kale and beets contain a compound called nitrates which actually help improve oxygen efficiency and improve performance in long-term endurance training.  If you aren’t a kale or beet fan, try other nitrate-rich foods such as arugula, basil, cilantro, lettuce, spinach and beet greens. Hey, even if there is no amount of nitrates that will get me to a 3:40, at least I’ll enjoy a delicious marathon diet accompanied by a more relaxed marathon mindset.

 

large black bowl holding finely chopped kale, beets, rice and a fork on the right hand side

Print
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Massaged Kale Salad with Brown Rice and Beets


  • Author: Jennifer McDaniel
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 head of kale (we love Dinosaur), finely chopped
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. cracked black pepper
  • 2 beets, roasted
  • 2 c. cooked brown rice
  • 2 oz. goat cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add chopped kale, olive oil, lemon juice, honey salt and pepper. With your hands, massage the kale until it is tender.
  2. Chop cooked beets into a small dice.
  3. Combine and gently mix beets, kale, and brown rice.
  4. Crumble 1/2 oz. of goat cheese on top of each salad.

Notes

How to roast beets: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash beets with a vegetable scrubber. Remove the greens and root end with a knife. Sprinkle beets with kosher salt and wrap whole beets in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet. Roast in the hot oven until the beets are fork tender, 10-15 minutes. Let beets cool, and with your hands, peel away the roasted skins under running cool water.

We used our instant pot to cook the rice. Instant Pot Brown Rice: Add 1 T. olive oil to instant pot. On “saute” mode, warm oil and add 1 cup rinsed, uncooked brown rice. Stir until all oil has coated rice. Add 1.5 cups vegetable broth OR water + 1 t. salt to rice. Cancel saute. Seal the lid of the instant pot and cook on manual mode for 15 minutes. Allow instant pot to naturally release. Fluff with fork.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Combine
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: massaged kale salad

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.