Risotto is a great main course choice for endurance athletes, and works equally well as a carb-loading alternative to pasta the evening before a race or long training session or as a recovery meal to help replenish glycogen stores and repair muscle damage. It’s also gluten free. Risotto is normally made with Arborio rice. Another option is to use pearl barley (which isn’t gluten free, by the way).
As well as the carbohydrate provided by the white rice, this recipe provides protein from chicken, peas and beans and a range of anti-oxidant vitamins from the seasonal spring vegetables. It’s also lower in fat than a traditional risotto, as it does not include cream or large quantities of cheese, which might cause a few gut problems during the race!
For a vegetarian version, add extra broad beans and peas, and a little extra Parmesan cheese.
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins
Nutritional Information per Serving:
Calories: 707 kcals
Fat: 18g (saturated fat 4g)
10ml extra virgin olive oil
180g Arborio rice
1litre vegetable stock
250g chicken breast
150g asparagus (trimmed and chopped if necessary)
150g broad beans (removed from pods)
100g frozen peas
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g parmesan cheese (grated)
- Coat the chicken breast in 5g olive oil, wrap in tin foil and bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 180 degrees/gas mark 6.
- Chop the onion and sauté gently in the remaining olive oil for 5 mins
- Remove and reserve zest from the lemon, then squeeze its juice
- Add the rice to the pan and stir for a minute
- Add about 1/3 of the stock and bring to the boil
- Turn down the heat and simmer, frequently stirring, until most of the liquid has been absorbed
- Add another third of the stock and repeat
- Add the asparagus, broad beans and lemon juice just before the final 1/3 of the stock. Add the frozen peas about 5 minutes later.
- Simmer and keep stirring until the vegetables are lightly cooked (max 10 minutes) and all the stock has been absorbed.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, chop into small pieces and add to the rice and vegetables.
- Stir in the parmesan cheese and lemon zest.
- Serve in bowls.
Female athletes may want to use a smaller portion size of rice. I suggest 60-70g rather than 90g.
Finish your meal with a banana if you want to further increase the carbohydrate content.
Jo Scott-Dalgleish BSc (Hons) is a BANT Registered Nutritionist, writing and giving talks about nutrition for endurance sport. Based in London, she also works as a Registered Nutritional Therapist, conducting one–to–one consultations with triathletes, distance runners and cyclists to help them eat well, be healthy and perform better through the creation of an individual nutritional plan. To learn more about these consultations, please visit www.nutritionforendurancesports.co.uk