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:
- Listen to my body and back off if something doesn’t feel right
- Strive for 8 hours of sleep a night
- Do yoga 2-3 times a week
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Chop cooked beets into a small dice.
- Combine and gently mix beets, kale, and brown rice.
- Crumble 1/2 oz. of goat cheese on top of each salad.
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.
- Serving Size: 2 bowls
- Calories: 270
- Sugar: 8.5 g
- Sodium: 407.2 mg
- Fat: 11.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 36.9 g
- Protein: 7.7 g
- Cholesterol: 6.5 mg