The best post-workout meals

Maximize your workout - rather than sabotage it - with these nutritious meals created by Chatelaine's Test Kitchen.

The food you eat after a good sweat session should build muscle and replenish your body’s energy reserves. These five, easy meals, created by Chatelaine’s Test Kitchen, incorporate foods that are excellent sources of protein and carbohydrates, plus they’re packed with nutrients to give your overall health a boost.

Easy grilled chicken and vegetables
Skinless, boneless chicken contains high-quality protein and loads of heart-healthy potassium. Tomatoes and zucchini add fibre and other nutrients, not to mention lots of flavour, to this meal.

Preparation time 10 minutes
Grilling Time 14 minutes
Makes 4 servings

• 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
• 1 tsp (5 mL) each dried oregano leaves, basil and garlic salt
• 2 each large yellow and green zucchini
• 2 large ripe but firm tomatoes
• Pinches of salt and pepper
• 1 cup (250 mL) coarsely chopped fresh mint
• 250- g container tzatziki (optional)

1. Lightly oil grill and preheat barbecue to medium. Trim any excess fat from chicken. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with enough oil to lightly coat. Sprinkle with seasonings and turn to coat. Set aside. Slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut tomatoes in half. Brush both with remaining oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Place chicken on grill. Barbecue with lid closed for 6 min. Turn chicken, then add zucchini and tomatoes to grill. Continue barbecuing until chicken feels springy when pressed, 8 to 10 more min, and until vegetables are lightly charred, 3 to 5 min per side. Remove each piece as it is done. Scatter with mint. Serve tzatziki alongside.

Nutrients per serving
• 28 g protein
• 14 g fat
• 17 g carbohydrates
• 7 g fibre
• 116 mg calcium
• 400 mg sodium
• 302 calories

South-of-the-border omelette
Eggs are an unbeatable source of protein for any time of the day. Add avocado to this yummy omelette for a dose of fibre and healthy monounsaturated fat.

Cooking time 3 minutes
Preparation time 10 minutes
Makes 1 serving

• 1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
• 1 plum tomato, chopped
• 1/2 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped, or 3 slices of pickled jalapeno, finely chopped
• 3 eggs
• Pinches of salt
• 2 tsp (10 mL) butter
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated cheese, such as Monterey Jack or cheddar (optional)
• 1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 mL) sour cream (optional)

Prepare avocado, tomato and jalapeno. In a bowl, whisk eggs with 1 tbsp (15 mL) water and salt. Melt butter in a medium-size, non-stick frying pan set over medium heat. Swirl to coat bottom and base of sides. Add egg mixture but don’t stir. When edges are set, after about 1 min, use a wide spatula to pull edges of eggs toward the centre and tilt pan so liquid egg mixture runs underneath. Slowly repeat until eggs are set, about 2 to 3 more min. Scatter avocado, tomato and jalapeno over one side. Sprinkle with cheese. Fold other side overtop. Slide onto a dinner plate. Dollop sour cream on top.

Nutrients per serving
• 21 g protein
• 37 g fat
• 12 g carbohydrates
• 8 g fibre
• 90 mg calcium
• 247 mg sodium
• 459 calories

Rice ‘n’ chickpea salad
This flavourful vegetarian salad combines wild rice with protein-rich chickpeas for a light but filling post-workout meal.

Cooking time 25 minutes
Preparation time 30 minutes
Makes 8 cups (2 L), about 8 servings

• 1 cup ( 250 mL) uncooked wild-and-white rice blend (see tip below)
• 1 lemon
• 1/4 cup ( 50 mL) tahini (sesame seed paste)
• 1 large minced garlic clove
• 1-1/2 tsp ( 7 mL) dark sesame oil or olive oil
• 1/2 tsp ( 2 mL) salt
• 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
• 2 tbsp ( 30 mL) water
• 19 oz ( 541 mL) can drained chickpeas or 2 cups (500 mL) cooked chickpeas
• 2 medium carrots, grated
• 2 green onions, sliced
• 1/2 cup ( 125 mL) lightly packed fresh parsley sprigs with stems removed

1. Cook rice according to package directions just until tender, as rice continues to soften in salad. Drain. Finely grate peel from half a lemon and squeeze out 2 tablespoons (30 mL) juice. Stir tahini with peel, garlic, sesame oil, salt and cayenne. Then stir in lemon juice and water to make a thick but pourable dressing. Recipe can be made to this point, then ingredients covered separately and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

2. The day salad is to be served, stir rice with chickpeas and tahini dressing. Stir in carrots and green onions. Finely chop parsley and add. Salad is good served at room temperature or chilled.

*Shopping tip: Supermarkets sell packages of white-and-wild rice mixtures at a fraction of the cost of wild rice. Wehani and brown rice are also good choices. Cook each according to package directions.

Nutrients per serving
• 7.4 g protein
• 5.9 g fat
• 35.3 g carbohydrates
• 2.9 g fibre
• 1.3 mg iron
• 36 mg calcium
• 357 mg sodium
• 217 calories

Rosemary sweet-potato sausage roast
High in beta carotene, sweet potatoes are also slow-burning carbs that’ll restore your energy and help your body recover from a workout.

Preparation time 5 minutes
Roasting Time 30 minutes
Makes 2 servings

• 1 large sweet potato, peeled
• 1 apple, preferably Northern Spy or Granny Smith
• 1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried rosemary, crumbled
• 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each dried thyme leaves and salt
• 2 to 4 sausages, preferably Italian
• Fresh rosemary (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425F (220C). Slice sweet potato into rounds, about 1/2 in. (1 cm) thick. Slice unpeeled, cored apple into wedges, then set aside. Place potato in a bowl. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with dried rosemary, thyme and salt. Toss until coated. Place on a large baking pan.

2. Add apple wedges to bowl and stir to coat with any leftover oil and seasonings. Set aside. Nick sausages and arrange around potato slices.

3. Roast, uncovered, 20 min. Then turn potato and sausages. Add apple to pan. Continue roasting until sausages are cooked and potato is tender, 10 to 15 more min. Sprinkle with chopped fresh rosemary.

Nutrients per serving
• 17 g protein
• 26 g fat
• 40 g carbohydrates
• 6 g fibre
• 75 mg calcium
• 460 calories

Roasted salmon with sesame crust
This fish dish combines two nutritional powerhouses: protein- and omega-3-rich salmon, and spinach, which is an excellent source of folate, magnesium and other vitamins.

Cooking time 1 minutes
Preparation time 5 minutes
Roasting Time 10 minutes
Makes 2 servings

• 2 salmon fillets, about 6 oz (180 g) each
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) orange or ginger marmalade
• 1 tbsp (15 mL) sesame seeds
• 1 cup (250 mL) seedless red or green grapes
• 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
• 1/2 of a 10-oz (284-g) pkg baby spinach
• 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme leaves

1. Preheat oven to 450F (230C). Line a small rimmed baking sheet or pie plate with foil. Place salmon, skin side down, on ungreased foil. Divide marmalade between fillets and spread evenly overtop. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Roast, uncovered, in centre of oven until a knife inserted into thickest part comes out warm, 10 to 12 min. Don’t worry if marmalade runs off and burns a little; it won’t affect the flavour of the fish.

2. Meanwhile, slice grapes in half. Just before serving, melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add spinach and grapes. Sprinkle with thyme and pinch of salt. Stir just until spinach wilts and grapes are warm, 1 to 2 min. Divide between plates.

3. Remove salmon from oven. Then slip a long, thin metal spatula between the skin and flesh of the fish. Gently lift fillets up and place each over spinach and grapes.

Nutrients per serving
• 30 g protein
• 24 g fat
• 31 g carbohydrates
• 3 g fibre
• 144 mg calcium
• 175 mg sodium
• 443 calories