In the last few years, there has been quite a spotlight on plant-based fitness. When I first became vegan, there was little talk of vegan athletes. Now, it’s very different. A plant-based diet is finally getting the recognition it deserves in the arena of fitness and athletic pursuits – as being the optimal diet to achieve optimal performance.
Matt Frazier is one of the people making great strides (literally!) to help educate people about plant-based nutrition as an athlete. I first discovered Matt’s very popular blog, No Meat Athlete, through Gena Hamshaw. Matt brings well-researched and referenced posts to his readers, with a balanced and approachable voice. His posts are educational and inspiring, often dispelling myths about the plant-based diet and also how it relates to athletic performance. Plus, Matt manages to sneak in the occasional entertaining post (that one’s a personal favorite).
Matt has just published his first book, No Meat Athlete. As an ultramarathoner that “runs on plants”, Matt shares tips, recipes, motivational stories, and insights from his years of training and also transitioning to eating plant-based. This perspective will benefit vegetarians and vegans working towards fitness goals, and also athletes looking to clean their diets with a plant-based foundation.
No Meat Athlete is divided into two main sections:
Plant-Based Nutrition For Athletes – this section covers food and nutrition philosophy, how to get started on a plant-based diet, plant-based nutrition for sports, some tips for getting started in the kitchen, and recipes to fuel athletes and their families.
Running On Plants – this section focuses in on the aspect of running and training, how to begin to run, how to make it a habit, then moving into more advanced training tips, and finally Matt’s insights for training for racing.
While I’ve always valued exercising, I’ve never been a runner. You may not be either. But, you can reference this book for more than just how to train for races. If you are at all interested in maintaining a fitness routine on a plant-based diet, then I think you will find Matt’s wisdom and tips helpful – as well as motivational. I’ve always maintained a personal exercise routine and fitness (my fitness post is coming), and we have very active girls. Our two older daughters play rep hockey, so they are on the ice or training or most days of the week. This resource will be helpful for me not just in my own athletic commitments, but also for our girls.
Matt is also a parent, and notes in this book that his recipes are family-friendly and “workable in the real world”. I appreciate this, because most of us are not endurance athletes, and most of us are living busy lives with families and work commitments. Still, we can benefit from some of the knowledge gained by athletes like Matt, to improve our own levels of personal fitness, and to fuel ourselves – and our children. (This topic is particularly important to me, one day I will write about child athletics – how as a society we are merely ‘feeding’ our kids rather than ‘fueling’ them, and yet our nutrient-rich plant diet is often challenged.) Right now, time for a recipe!
When our girls are on those long jaunts for hockey games, I love to pack them a really nutrient-dense snack. When I saw these Momo Granola Bars, I knew I’d be trying them. Matt was kind enough to allow me to reprint this recipe for you to enjoy as well!
MOMO GRANOLA BARS Link to RECIpage to print/share
This is a DIY energy bar with whole ingredients at its base. It has enough carbs for a pre-workout pick-me-up, enough protein for a post-workout recovery, and enough great flavors for a dessert or snack anytime. —Mo Ferris, Johnson & Wales–trained chef and vegetarian marathoner
2 cups (160 g) rolled oats
*1⁄2 cup (50 g) rough chopped roasted and salted almonds
1⁄4 cup (55 g) rough chopped pecans
*1⁄2 cup (84 g) flaxseed
1⁄4 cup (16 g) raw pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons (23 g) hemp seeds
*1⁄2 cup (80 g) chopped dried cherries
2 small pinches kosher salt
1⁄3 cup (89 g) peanut butter
1⁄2 cup (172 g) brown rice syrup
Preheat oven to 350 ̊F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Spread oats, almonds, pecans, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds onto an ungreased baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Gently shake and stir the oat mixture after 5 minutes to avoid burning the top layer and allowing both sides of the nuts and oats to brown. Remove the mixture from oven and add to a large bowl, along with the cher- ries and salt. decrease oven temperature to 300 ̊F (150°C, or gas mark 2). In a small saucepan, melt the peanut butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. once the peanut butter is melted and slightly thinner, remove from heat and pour over oat mixture. mix thoroughly. In a separate small saucepan, add the brown rice syrup. over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. When the bubbles that form get big and meet in the middle, immediately remove from heat, pour over the oat mixture, and thoroughly mix. While still warm, pour the mixture out into the corner of a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. using wax paper, firmly press and spread mixture into the shape of a rectangle 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick (no gaps!). note: The mixture will most likely not fill the entire sheet. bake for 15 minutes or just until the edges begin to brown. Cool completely. Flip the rectangle out onto a cutting board and cut into 3 x 5 inch (7.5 x 13 cm) bars. Wrap bars individually in plastic wrap and store in a large plastic bag. Yield: About 12 bars.
*My personal notes: I used raw almonds, and as I was out of flax seed, I replaced it with 1/3 cup of flax meal, and substituted a combination of raisins and dried cranberries for the dried cherries (though I think the dried cherries would be amazing)! Also, I cut some of these bars while cool and others after refrigerating. I got a much cleaner cut after refrigerating, just fyi.
These bars are really tasty. Not overly sweet, and very satisfying with a crunchy, chewy texture. Our whole family loved them!
Our eldest helped me with this photo, and while we were taking the pictures, a ladybug stopped by for a visit. We love ladybugs. They know a good thing in these bars.
Thanks Matt for sharing this recipe with us, and for writing this book. I wish you much success with it!
Are you a runner or involved in other athletic pursuits? Has a whole-food plant-powered diet helped your athleticism?
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