Today I’d like to introduce Emily Harrison, who is sharing a great healthy recipe with us here at 4dancers, as well as talking a bit about nutrition. Part of our health/wellness focus for the month of February. I haven’t had a chance to make the recipe yet, but it sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it!
I am thrilled to be guest blogging with 4dancers.org. As a former professional dancer I learned early on in my career how important nutrition was to my performance. Now as the dancers dietitian, I work with dancers to help them be at their best with fewer injuries.
Nutrition is a complicated science, but if I had to only give one piece of advice it would have to be: “eat breakfast”. I know you all have heard this before, but you can’t minimize the importance of literally breaking the fasting state with a good source of complex carbohydrates.
Carbs have gotten a bad rap in recent years. But in fact carbs are the body’s preferred source of fuel for athletic activity. Complex carbs in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits give the muscles a prolonged source of energy that is critical in the type of start-stop activity we do as dancers. Whole grains are important sources of fiber, B-vitamins, iron, and folate. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that athletes get 55-60% of their total calories from carbohydrates. Carbs can be found in whole grain pasta, bread, rice, quinoa, barley, all vegetables and all fruits. How can something like that be unhealthy? Sure we want to avoid simple sugars in sweets, juices, soda, refined grains, and baked goods. Those kind of carbs won’t give you enough energy to get through tendus in class. But have three of my oatcakes for breakfast and dance strong all the way through grande allegro.
This recipe has become a favorite of the dancers that I do food demos for. In fact the dancers from Atlanta Ballet’s summer program loved them so much that they set off the fire alarms in the dorms making them the next day:
Emily’s Apple and Pumpkin Oatcakes
Yield: 12 3 ½ inch oatcakes
3 packets instant oatmeal, regular flavor-iron fortified
(equivalent 1 cup instant oatmeal)
1 cup 1% milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
½ tablespoon smart balance buttery spread (regular)
2 medium apples cored and diced
2 large egg whites (can use 1.5 whole eggs)
pancake syrup to taste
Preheat pancake griddle or large frying pan to medium heat or when small drops of water sizzle upon contact. Do not heat too high.
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine oatmeal, milk, pumpkin puree and vanilla and set aside while preparing other ingredients.
2. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.
3. Melt smart balance spread and pour into the oatmeal and milk mixture.
4. Measure out 1 cup of chopped apple pieces and place in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high power for 20 seconds or just until softened. Add to oatmeal and milk mixture. Save the remaining apple pieces for a garnish.
5. Beat eggs just until foamy, and add to the oatmeal and milk mixture.
6. Gently combine the dry ingredients into the oatmeal and milk mixture taking care not to over mix.
7. Drop two heaping spoonfuls onto griddle for each pancake. Take care to spread batter to about 3 ½ inches across because if batter is piled up too thick, pancakes will not cook fully in the center. Cook until each side is lightly browned and serve immediately with a garnish of the remaining apple pieces and about 1 tablespoon pancake syrup. (Cooks note: This recipe is easily modified depending on what fruit you have on hand. Blueberries and bananas work well. Just make sure the batter is not too thick. Add milk if necessary.)
This recipe fits the USDA definition of a healthy food, is a great source of complex carbs for working dancers, and can easily be adapted to whatever fruit is in season or available. Also, it can be made in only 30 minutes and freezes well for easy reheating in the toaster. These are easy to make and eat on the run. Because the fruit provides plenty of sweetness you don’t even need syrup. Oatcakes can be made dairy free for anyone with allergies. Oh yeah, and they are good!
Don’t believe the myth that dancers should avoid carbs. Dancers should avoid junk food, but whole grains are an energy powerhouse for working muscles.
Eat well and dance well,
Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD
Nutrition for Great Performances