Beat the heat and stay hydrated with these healthy meals served cold.
No one wants to face a stove before or after a hot run. Thankfully, it’s possible to get all the nutrients you need without raising the temperature in your kitchen a single degree. From chilled soups to ready-to-blend frozen smoothie cups, the options for cool, runner-friendly foods are nearly endless. As a bonus, no-cook dishes are often full of water-rich ingredients—good news for sweaty runners. These five refreshing recipes will help you keep your cool—and keep you hydrated—all summer long.
Banana-Chocolate Granola Bowls
Swap out your usual yogurt-and-granola breakfast for this power-packed upgrade that blends thick and creamy Greek yogurt with frozen bananas. The fruit adds energizing carbs, potassium, and vitamin B6, a nutrient that bolsters brain functioning. Greek yogurt has about twice the protein of traditional versions. “Because it’s slow to digest, this extra protein will give you sustained energy all morning,” says Rebecca Scritchfield, M.A., R.D., a sports dietitian and marathoner. A study published last year in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that probiotics in yogurt can improve gastrointestinal health in athletes.
Cool Down: In a blender, combine 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt, 2 frozen bananas, 2 tablespoons unsalted peanut butter, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Blend until smooth. Divide between two bowls and top each with 1/3 cup granola. Serves 2.
Blueberry Smoothie Cups
Want a recovery shake but don’t feel like pulling out a ton of ingredients? Keep these smoothie cups in your freezer. They contain everything that your body needs postrun—just blend one or two with your liquid of choice. Feeling adventurous? Make them with tangy goat’s milk, which contains more heart-healthy omega-3 fats than cow’s milk. It’s also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. “These minerals work together to improve bone strength,” says Tara Gidus, M.S., R.D., a sports dietitian and marathoner. Ricotta cheese is rich in whey protein (ideal for recovery), while blueberries fend off inflammation.
Cool Down: In a blender, combine 2 cups milk, 2 cups blueberries, 1 cup ricotta, ½ cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup almond butter, 2 tablespoons molasses, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Blend till smooth. Pour into a 12-cup muffin pan and freeze. Unmold cups, place in a bag, and store in the freezer. To make a smoothie, blend 2 chopped smoothie cups with 1 cup milk.
Avocado Crab Soup
Coconut water forms the base of this chilled soup, adding a nutty flavour, along with potassium. “Potassium regulates muscle contractions and your heartbeat,” says Scritchfield, “so it’s extremely important for runners.” Avocado creates a silky texture while providing cholesterol-lowering fibre and monounsaturated fat, plus vitamin C. A 2012 Arizona State University study showed that higher intake of vitamin C may reduce your heart rate during exercise and make runs seem less taxing. Topping the soup with crab adds selenium, an antioxidant that helps mop up free radicals that may hinder recovery from tough workouts.
Cool Down: In a blender, add 2½ cups plain coconut water, 2 avocados, 2 cups spinach, ½ English cucumber, 1/4 cup fresh basil, juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 jalapeño, and 1 garlic clove. Blend till smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill 2 hours. Toss together 1 cup pasteurised crab meat, 1 cubed mango, 1 diced red bell pepper, and 1 teaspoon lime zest. Serve soup topped with crab mixture. Serves 4.
Consider downing this icy treat before your next steamy run. In a study by Australian scientists, runners who drank a 10-ounce sweetened slushy before exercising in the heat ran 19 percent longer before exhaustion than those who drank a warmer drink. An ice-cold beverage can help drop your core temperature, making a run in high temps more comfortable by preventing overheating. While any fruit slushy will provide carbs needed to energize your run, those made with cherries—particularly tart cherries—will provide antioxidants that may improve muscle recovery in runners by reducing inflammation and oxidative damage.
Cool Down: Pulse 2 cups ice in a blender until pebble-sized. Add 1 cup pitted cherries (preferably tart), 1 cup seltzer (or flat) water, 2 tablespoons chopped mint, juice of ½ lemon, and 1 tablespoon honey. Pulse a few times until it’s a slushy consistency. Serves 2.
Gazpacho Chicken Salad
Chock-full of vegetables, gazpacho (the chilled Spanish soup) contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that runners need to recover. But it can be time-consuming to make. Create a gazpacho-inspired salad instead. It’s a great way to stay hydrated, thanks to the water-rich produce, says Scritchfield. Adding chicken ups the protein content and provides niacin. This B vitamin converts carbs from food into energy for muscles. Tossing the salad with an olive-oil dressing adds oleocanthal—a natural anti-inflammatory found in olive oil that behaves like ibuprofen.
Cool Down: Slice 1 cucumber into long strips with a peeler; squeeze out excess water. Toss with 4 cups shredded chicken, 2 chopped peaches, 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes, 1 sliced yellow bell pepper, ½ cup diced red onion, 2 cups cubed day-old baguette, and 1 cup feta. Chill mixture. Serve on a bed of greens. Drizzle with dressing made with 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2/3 cup fresh basil, 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serves 6.