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Cold-Weather Comfort: Three Pros Share Their Favorite Winter Recipes

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It's that time of year when cold weather and busy performance schedules have you craving delicious comfort foods. To help make winter cooking less daunting, we're sharing three professional dancers' favorite recipes. For added confidence that these meals are great for fueling your dancing, we asked Marie Elena Scioscia, a registered dietitian and author of Eat Right Dance Right, to weigh in on what makes them healthy, and the small things you can do to make them even healthier.


Dan Dan Noodles: Alexandra McMaster, freelance ballet dancer, author of "A Dancer's Guide To Plant-Based Eating," creator of ballerinabites.org

McMaster

Courtesy Alexandra McMaster

"I like this meal because it's quite balanced, and also tastes great after a long week in the cold weather. It's also great to share with friends."

Ingredients

Spicy Tofu Mince:

  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 200 g firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Chinese five spice
  • 1/4 tsp. chili flakes

Peanut Broth:

  • 1/3 cup crunchy 100 percent peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/4 tsp. chili flakes
  • 500 ml vegetable stock

Noodles:

  • 200 g brown-rice noodles or noodles of choice
  • 2 clusters of baby bok choy, leaves detached

Garnish:

  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • small handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • black sesame seeds (regular sesame seeds work too)
  • lime wedges

Alexandra McMaster, Courtesy McMaster

Directions

In a frying pan, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Crumble tofu with your fingers into the pan.

Add maple syrup, tamari, curry powder, Chinese five spice, chili flakes and stir. Allow tofu to fry until golden, stirring throughout.

Meanwhile, add peanut broth ingredients to a small saucepan. Whisk broth and allow to simmer until hot, slightly thickened and fragrant.

Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add noodles to boiling water and cook according to packet instructions. In the last minute of cooking time, add bok choy to lightly wilt.

Once cooked, drain liquid and divide noodles and bok choy between two to three bowls. Pour over peanut broth and top with the spicy tofu mince. Garnish with spring onion, cilantro, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a wedge of lime.

What the expert says

"This has great protein from tofu and peanut butter, and carbs from noodles," says Scioscia. "You always want dancers to combine protein, carbs and fats for best digestion, absorption and energy. The only thing I would suggest changing is the coconut oil. I know it's very popular right now; however, it's actually a highly saturated fat which can cause inflammation. I would suggest a sesame seed oil or olive oil."

Apple Pie Protein Smoothie: Taryn Nowels, Alberta Ballet

Nowels

Lee Gumbs, Courtesy Nowels

"I like smoothies because they're quick, easy and packed full of nutrition," Nowels says. "I bring this apple pie smoothie into the theater during Nutcracker season, and it gives me the quick energy boost I need."

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oat milk (or cow, soy or almond milk)
  • 1 red apple
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 6 almonds or 1 tbsp. almond butter
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 scoop collagen peptides powder (or your choice of protein powder)
  • 1 tbsp. maca powder

Apple pie protein smoothie drink

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Directions

Combine ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

What the expert says

"This is a good combination of carbs from fruit, protein from yogurt and antioxidants from healthy spices," says Scioscia. "Whether or not collagen in powder form survives our digestive process is a bit of a crapshoot, so that ingredient may not be absolutely necessary. If you need a bit more substance, add protein powder, but keep in mind your body can only absorb about 30 grams of protein at any one time."

Lentil Curry: Lahna Vanderbush, Milwaukee Ballet

Vanderbush in Michael Pink's Mirror Mirror

Mark Frohna, Courtesy Milwaukee Ballet

"This is super-easy to make in an instant pot or Crockpot," says Vanderbush. "The lentils have a lot of fiber and protein, so it's really filling and satisfying. When we're in the theater, I make a big pot at the beginning of the week and keep it in the fridge there."

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2–3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2–3 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1–4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • salt and pepper
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2–3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • basmati rice, cooked
  • cilantro, roughly chopped

Lentil curry in a plate close up - Vegan recipe consisting of lentils, celery, carrot, potatoes and spices

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Directions

Heat onion, celery, carrots, water, garlic, ginger and spices in one large pot. Once soft, add chopped sweet potatoes, red lentils, diced tomatoes and vegetable broth. (If sticking occurs, add more broth.)

Cook until lentils are broken down, sweet potatoes are soft, and the broth becomes creamy before adding coconut milk. Add salt and pepper to taste and cayenne pepper. Serve with rice and cilantro.

What the expert says

"This recipe has great spices for the immune system," Scioscia says. "The sweet potatoes are a good-quality carb, and lentils are an excellent protein source. The only thing I would recommend changing is to replace the coconut milk with almond milk (or any other kind of dairy) to avoid the highly saturated fat."

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