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5 Festive Recipes to Get You Running Stronger

By Elizabeth Inpyn, 11/30/21, 11:15AM EST


NOV 30, 2021

By Elizabeth Inpyn

It’s the perfect December evening. You had a great morning tempo run and worked up quite an appetite, and now are surrounded by family and friends, anxiously anticipating Grandma’s apple pie. Then the second bottle of wine is opened, and the next thing you know you’re crawling into bed with a full stomach and foreshadowed hangover.

Holidays are often synonymous with overeating, indulging, and going “off diet.” I always support athletes enjoying the season while still staying in alignment with their goals. Below are some tips for getting through what can be a challenging time for athletes, and five recipes for a few of our favorite nutrient-dense dishes to keep your engine revving.

Tips for nailing your holiday nutrition

  1. Skipping meals: Don’t skip meals in order to save up on calories for a big evening dinner. Most of the time this leads to overeating. Instead, eat reasonably throughout the day and enjoy your family holiday meal.
  2. Sugary holiday drinks: These are an empty calorie wasteland! These drinks taste like dessert and before you know it, you’ve consumed more than intended. Have one if you like, then switch to water or lower-calorie beverages.
  3. Snack smart: Holiday appetizers are notoriously calorie-laden and they’re very easy to overconsume. Look for the nuts and fresh veggies and try to keep your distance from the appetizer table.
  4. Make your favorites healthier: What runner doesn’t love a challenge? Take your favorite recipes and look for ways to make them healthier!
  5. Portion control: Stick to our recommended fist(s) full of veggies, palm sized protein and ½-1 cup carbohydrate servings. If you know there are a lot of things you want to try, take small servings of each with the goal of having a plate which is 60% fresh salad and veggies, 20% protein, 15% carbohydrate dishes and 5% fun (dessert).
  6. Get moving, especially after dinner: Regardless of whether you overate, heading out after dinner for an evening walk aids digestion and the fresh cool air can even help with sleep. Take a walk, see the lights, and stretch your legs so you’re ready to train the next day.

Five performance recipes for the holidays

When the holidays roll around, it can be easy to let your normal healthy eating and training routine slide. That’s why we’ve developed five festive recipes filled with some traditional flavors that you can enjoy guiltlessly this holiday season. Take your pick and enjoy!

Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potato Smoothie


1/2 banana
1/3 cup cooked sweet potato or pumpkin puree (you can make this easily at home or buy it at the store)
1 1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
2 TBS almond butter
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 TBS chia seeds
Ice cubes


Place all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and whirl away until smooth.

5-Ingredient Homemade Cranberry Sauce


12 ounces fresh cranberries
½ cup maple syrup, plus more to taste
½ cup orange juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
zest from 1 orange


  1. Combine cranberries, maple syrup and orange juice in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens up to your desired consistency and the cranberries have popped. This will take about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and orange zest. Taste and add more sweetener if needed.
  3. Serve immediately or let cool in the fridge until ready to serve.
  4. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.

Thanksgiving “Stuffing” Salad


1 pound ground pork
2 cups diced onions
2 cups diced bell peppers
4 cups (about 1 pound) diced mushrooms
2 cups diced apples
8 oz fresh cranberries
6 cups kale, stems removed, chopped
1 cup toasted chopped pecans (optional)
~ 2 T duck fat, bacon fat, butter, or coconut oil. (I used duck fat)
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
1 T fresh thyme, minced
2–3 leaves fresh sage (or 1/2 t dried)
sea salt
4 eggs
1/4 cup chicken or turkey stock
2 T coconut flour


  1. Prepare your ingredients and preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt about 2 teaspoons of your fat of choice in a large cast iron or stainless skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the pork and cook until it just browns, 3-4 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Pour off excess liquid from your skillet and add another teaspoon of fat.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions. Sauté until golden brown and soft, 6-8 minutes. Add to the bowl with the pork.
  5. Add another teaspoon of fat, and sauté bell peppers for 4 minutes, stirring often. Add to the bowl with the other ingredients.
  6. Add the mushrooms and kale and sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add to the bowl with the other ingredients.
  7. To the large bowl, add the apples, pecans, cranberries, herbs, and a good pinch of salt. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, chicken or turkey stock, and coconut flour. Add a pinch of salt if your stock isn’t salted.
  8. Pour the liquid into the large bowl and mix.
  9. Pour the whole thing into an oven safe casserole and bake for one hour.
  10. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before eating. It will firm up a bit.

Grilled Salmon w/ Maple and Rosemary Glaze


1 large salmon fillet
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely minced rosemary leaves, plus more for garnish
2 whole lemons, 1 thinly sliced, 1 cut in half (for juicing at the end)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with a large sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lay the salmon fillet, skin side down, on the foil. Generously brush olive oil all over the salmon flesh.
  2. Brush the salmon with maple syrup. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the minced rosemary on top. Arrange the lemon slices on top of the salmon.
  3. Roast the salmon for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 145°F. Carefully remove the salmon from the grill and set aside.
  4. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top of the salmon and garnish with a generous sprinkling of minced fresh rosemary. Serve hot.

Cranberry Maple Lentil Loaf {Vegan}


2 cups cooked lentils
3 tbsp chia seed
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder or onion salt
3 thyme sprigs or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 cup gluten-free oats
2 small pieces of gluten-free bread

2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
Dash of garlic/pepper


  1. First, make sure your lentils are cooked. They should only take about 20 minutes or so. Follow instructions according to the package or see notes for how to cook lentils.
  2. Once cooked, drain and measure out 2 cups to use in this recipe. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, combine your chia and water, mix together and set aside to let it gel.
    Preheat the oven to 350F
  4. Combine your lentils, seasoning, cranberries, and vegetables all in one skillet with oil. Cook on medium until onions are cooked and lentils are soft. You want to be able to mash the lentils easily. Should take about 10 minutes.
  5. Once that is cooked, turn off the skillet and place everything in a large bowl. Set aside.
  6. Combine your oats and bread in a food processor, grind until you get a flour texture.
  7. Add your oat flour to your lentils and vegetable bowl, then add in your chia egg/mixture, and finally mix in the chopped nuts.
  8. Mash and mix everything together with hands or spoon and then press into a 9×5 greased baking pan. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. While that is cooking, make your glaze. Combine the maple syrup, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic/pepper, and dijon mustard in one bowl. Whisk until smooth. Remove lentil loaf from the oven and coat with maple glaze. You will probably have extra.
    Serve and enjoy!

To cook lentils, use 3 cups of liquid (water or broth) to 1 cup of rinsed lentils. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Drain the lentils and set aside in a bowl.

Recipe Credit: Lindsay Cotter 

Elizabeth Inpyn RD, is a Registered Dietician and Certified Sports Nutritionist at FuelIn who works with athletes of all levels. She and the team at FuelIn, an app-based performance nutrition coaching platform, provide a nutrition program that is simple, personalized and results-driven.

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