Food, Food, and More Food
Nicole Decsey on finding food that fuels her, and some advice for those in search of the same thing.
Disclaimer: A Dance Way of Life is not a professional source on health and diet. All views in this post is strictly based on the author's opinion and experience.
Spring is here! The season of chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, and the occasional April fool’s clown. With so many delicious options in grocery stores and at social gatherings, it can be hard to figure out what food fuels you. I don’t know about you, but I want to eat food that makes me happy and makes me feel good. Sometimes, that can be tough to figure out.
Our bodies need fuel. As dancers and as people, we need energy to get us through the day. And with all the energy we expend dancing, that goes double for us! We need sugars and nutrients to survive. We need protein and fibre and fat to sustain long periods of physical activity. But it can be hard to have a good relationship with the food you are eating. So, the first step in my eyes is to change the conversation.
First, we need to stop complimenting people when we think they have lost weight. It is not generally a helpful comment and can put unwanted stress on a person. Personally, when I get complimented on my weight loss, I immediately start to panic about any possibility of weight gain. I also begin to think “if I look good now, how did I look before?” which is just not a healthy mindset.
Second, we need to stop talking about our diets around others. In my experience, this can cause the other person to start questioning their own eating habits and whether they are doing enough. But we are all doing enough just by getting out of bed every morning and doing our best.
Instead of these somewhat toxic conversations, we need to start talking about our feelings towards food rather than what is "good, bad, makes us gain weight, is a dieter's dream, etc." For instance, I love cinnamon scones and I don’t like broccoli. I can complain about broccoli all I want to my friends and they will probably laugh and have their own similar afflictions to certain foods. This way, we are completely avoiding the conversation about how we look and rather are talking about food as simply food (even if we are complaining about eating our greens).
Once we have started to change the conversation, the next step is to figure out what you like and to start making food that you actually want to eat. Not food that you feel like you have to eat because it’s “healthy” or because it’s what everyone else is having. And then, when you get up and make your perfect meal while playing your favourite music, you won’t be able to wipe that smile off your face. The warm weather is slowly approaching not just outside but inside as well. In this beautiful spring weather, we can start to prepare meals that will make us want to dance, snacks that give us the energy to dance, and food that allows us to do what we love most … dance!
To get you dancing in the right direction, here are some of my favourite recipes that are sure to put a smile on your face and a spring in your grand jeté. Be sure to sub in ingredients if you don’t have something and make tweaks to make it perfect for YOU.
Let’s start with breakfast…
These are great for meal prepping before a busy day of classes, rehearsals, performances, teaching, Joe-jobbing and everything else that keeps us on our toes. Plus, they require no cooking. Just leave them in the fridge overnight and you have breakfast or lunch for the next two days. They are especially cute in a mason jar!
1/3 cup of old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp chia seeds (or sub any other seed you like)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp almond butter (or sub any nut butter you like)
1 tbsp honey, maple syrup or your favourite sweetening agent
3/4 cup of milk (regular or any nondairy options)
1/2 cup of fresh blueberries (or sub any fruit you like)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until completely blended, making sure to cream the nut butter so it's well mixed. Put it in the fridge overnight. Et voila!
Yogurt, Granola, and Fruit
This is a fast, fun, and colourful meal for spring.
Yogurt of your choice
Start with a granola mix of your choice as a base (portion size to your preference)
Cover the granola mix with yogurt as your second layer
The final layer is the fresh fruits of your choice. My go to fruits for this meal are blueberries, strawberries, and bananas.
Egg Sandwich (with or without bacon)
My absolute favourite way to get up in the mornings is with an egg sandwich.
Two pieces of toast
Salt and pepper
Fry your eggs however you like them. For this sandwich I tend to go with eggs over easy or over hard (this way it’s a little less messy). I would also suggest doing these in a cast iron frying pan, they make the best eggs in my opinion. I fry my eggs in extra virgin olive oil. It’s got a healthy dose of unsaturated fat and tastes great!
Put your toast in the toaster, I like mine more on the darker side. There is nothing worse than having soggy toast with your eggs. That crisp taste is essential.
Put one egg on both slices of toast.
Add salt and pepper.
If you are feeling very adventurous, fry yourself up some crispy bacon on a pan that you don’t mind getting covered with bacon grease.
If you have a long day ahead of you, porridge is the way to go. Porridge is quick, easy to make, and filling, making it a great energy booster for the rest of your day.
Water (or milk if you prefer)
Your favourite sweetening agent (ex. brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, overly ripe bananas, jam, etc)
2 cups of water to 1 cup of rolled oats
Boil them together on a stovetop, or see package for microwave instructions
Once boiled, turn down to a simmer
Add more water or milk if needed
Remove from heat when the desired thickness is reached
Serve in bowls and allow each person to add their own cinnamon and sweetener
Next is lunch and dinner...
Pasta Stir Fry
This is a great recipe that can be the whole plate or the side dish to compliment the main course.
Pasta of your choice (I suggest penne pasta, but everyone has their own preference)
Other veggies of your choice
Boil the water and add the pasta for about 8-9 minutes or until done to your liking
While the pasta is boiling, cut and sauté the veggies in olive oil
Put it all together and you have a colourful summer meal
Hot Dogs and Hamburgers on The Grill
This is simple, easy, and not much of a recipe. However, this is the perfect way to enjoy the weather with friends and family.
Hot dogs (beef, pork or veggie)
Hot dog and hamburger buns
Ketchup, mustard, relish
Pepper and salt
Fry up the burgers and dog on the BBQ
If you want cheese, put the cheese directly on your hamburger or hot dog while they are on the grill to melt
Buns should go on the top layer of the grill to make them slightly crispy
Serve to the gang, allowing everyone to out on their own toppings
For extra fun you can sauté the onions
Now comes my favourite part. Dessert. Because sweets make everything better!
This is without a doubt may favourite homemade dessert!
· 1/2 cup brown sugar
· 1/2 cup butter
· 1/2 cup shortening
· 1 and 1/2 cup quick oats (small flakes)
· 1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
· 1 egg
· 1/4 tsp salt
· 1/4 tsp baking soda
· 1 cup coconut OR milk chocolate chips (optional)
Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar
Add slightly beaten egg
Fluff flour, salt, and baking soda – add to the mixture
Add and mix quick oats till combined
Add coconut OR chips mix until combined
Spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet and flatten with a fork
Bake at 350-375° for 10-12min
Biscuits and Tea
You can never go wrong with high tea. Pick your favourite tea blend, maybe you like herbal tea, green tea, or black tea. It doesn’t matter, they all go with biscuits and a little jam.
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp shortening or lard
1 cup milk
Flour for kneading
Sift together flour with dry ingredients (use a sifter)
Cut shortening into dry ingredients coarsely till pea sized (use tool or two knives)
Make a well in the centre
Pour milk into the centre well, all at once
Stir lightly with a knife till sticky
Gather the flour mixture out of bowl, place on floured surface (in a ball shape)
Roll it around in flour
Gently knead while counting to 20
Roll the dough out to about half inch thickness
Use a cutter (cooking cutter or any way you want) to desired size
Should create approx. 12 medium biscuits or 24 small
Place the biscuits touching one another on a buttered/oiled cookie sheet
Bake in hot oven at 450° for 12-15min
The recipes I have offered are my personal choices, but there are so many more options out there. Figure out which ones you love, start baking, and dance around your kitchen to some music. It’s not supposed to be hard to eat, it should be fun! We should enjoy our food. A happy version of yourself is a healthy version of yourself. Change the conversation and love who you are. Positive thinking, self-love, and a healthy relationship with your food are just as important for a dance lifestyle as are taking dance classes, watching dance shows, and actively exercising your creativity.