What athletes eat: Alana Nichols' miso salmon with kale salad
For five-time Paralympian Alana Nichols, the rules for adhering to a modified, Paleo-inspired diet are simple: Eat cleanly and simply. "If it wasn't around a million years ago, don't eat it," says Nichols, 33.
Nichols was the first female U.S. athlete to medal in both summer and winter Paralympic sports (wheelchair basketball and alpine skiing). She heads to Rio as part of Team USA's inaugural paracanoe team. If she takes gold, she will make history once again as the first female U.S. athlete -- Paralympic or Olympic -- to win in three sports.
"I try to eat as raw as possible. Part of being a sprint kayaker is staying lean. While I benefited from carrying extra weight as an alpine skier, it's not benefitting me now, so I'm cutting out alcohol and most sugars," she says. The San Diego transplant admits, though, that she couldn't live without her coffee or occasional ice cream.
Nichols shares her go-to miso salmon meal, with a side of quinoa and kale salad:
Day and time: Before or after training, usually in the afternoon/evening
Place: San Diego, California, my home base since 2015
What I'm eating: Miso salmon with kale salad and quinoa sides
Whose recipe: I adapted it from a recipe on the website ChefDeHome.
Why I'm eating it: I love this recipe for a couple of reasons. First of all, kale and quinoa go together like peanut butter and jelly. The combo has got all my favorite flavors and nutrients! Quinoa is a great source of protein and carbs and kale has the leafy green, energetic nutrients I need to feel great. And the best part -- the miso-glazed salmon! Low-carb, high-protein and gluten-free makes it a healthy meal that will sit well before or after training.
1 tablespoon ginger (fresh grated)
1 pound salmon (approx. 3 fillets)
3 tablespoons miso paste
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons white wine
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Slice fillets vertically. Coat salmon in miso paste, then marinate for 5 minutes before skewering and broiling for approximately 4-6 minutes until golden brown on the edges.
For lemon-sesame kale salad:
1/2 pound kale
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together, toss and set aside to serve with salmon.