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The power of protein

After a long day on the water, you’re either a) hungry or b) tired… but generally you come up on the beach feeling both- 10 fold. Nothing says get in my belly like a post session feed. This is where the catch-22 comes in to play. Hungry, yes. Tired, most likely. I don’t know about you, but if I’m tired, the last thing I want to think about is slaving away in the kitchen for half an hour to only gobble up a meal and it be gone in 5 minutes. EASY is NECESSARY.

Eat. Kite. Eat. Sleep. Repeat- the underlying blueprint to my day. As an athlete, I’m repetitively working in and out of the water. Food plays a vital role in my day-to -day regime, and that’s why it’s so important to get good nutrient and protein rich meals into my system. So let’s talk about protein:

Protein is one of the 5 necessary food groups in maintaining a balanced diet, and all though carbohydrates are the body’s main preferred source of fuel, protein plays an important role in energy and repair. We use protein to recover our muscles and tissues, and is also a building block for strength as it provides the amino acids that our muscles need to continually rebuild themselves.

Each time we exercise, our muscles take the strain. Tiny little fibers tear and that’s generally why we feel pain- we are literally tearing our muscles apart. Ever heard of the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” the same goes for building strength. Our body breaks down protein into amino acids used by our muscles to fill in and surround those tiny tears- ultimately healing us and making our muscles that little bit stronger. Repetitively, this is how we gain strength and why things become easier over time.

Not to mention protein aids in keeping us FULL.

And that is important. Especially when you ever. Want. To. Stop. Eating.

But no wonder, right? Even though us water babies are having the time of our lives, we’re still using all our energy stores. Love playing tennis but are always hungry after? Finish a game of rugby and the first thing on your mind after leaving the field is food?

When those energy stores are burned through, they need replacing. It’s a constant cycle- so eating right and eating well is important in getting all that energy back to where it should be. The aim of the game? Eat a high protein meal shortly after exercise to decrease muscle breakdown and assist the muscles repair and rebuild. Leaving you fuller, more energized and aiding faster recovery. For a protein rich salad, that's quick and fuss free; try my Mauritian inspired…Charred pineapple, quinoa and cucumber salad with creamy coconut dressing.

pineapples// drive in
This salad is super easy and packed full of protein and tropical goodness. I wanted to create a salad that reflects the island life here in Mauritius. So picture this:You’re driving down the main street, palm trees swaying in the breeze, sun glittering through the gaps of the small houses. Locals chatting away, pointing fingers, chastising dogs; then laughing about it. It feels like summer. Then you arrive at the beach and there’s several locals selling pineapples.

Instantly, hungry or not, you crave that intense sweetness. Tiny and cute. The store owners say- the smaller, the sweeter. You ask for 2, and they hack away at the rough exterior in an instant, providing you with a sweet golden treat. If that doesn’t scream tropical, I don’t know what will.

Mauritius’ cuisine is influenced by the different cultures it’s inhabited with. A large Indian- Mauritian population brings spice and heat to a lot of the local dishes. Curries, spiced meat and fried roti’s are easily come by when eating out. The Creole part of Mauritius offers a more island-inspired way of preparing food; like cured fish, local papaya salads and the added freshness of ginger, lime and chili.

Coconuts
The real star of this salad is the dressing. Why? Its tangy, creamy and has a little bit of heat, inspired by the authentic local flavours found all around me. Coconuts are readily available on just about every tree in Mauritius. Coconuts for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just about every morning, the hunt for a refreshing drink would begin, and after about 20 minutes of harvesting and laughing at the fact climbing a coconut tree is easier said than done, finally, a refreshing drink you would get. The great thing about these green bowling balls is that they’re so versatile. Coconut can be used as a savory or sweet, and its young milk is a perfect addition to this salad.

Protein
Let’s not forget the protein! No- there’s no meat in this dish. Yes- its still packed full of that muscle repairing dreamworker. The general consensus that the most protein comes from animal products isn’t 100% true. And although the addition of some grilled chicken or freshly seared tuna can add a boost of protein to this salad, quinoa and spinach are two great sources in itself. Quinoa is an ancient grain that consists of all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Spinach is also packed full of protein and an array of vitamins.

Charred pineapple, quinoa and cucumber salad with creamy coconut dressing

INGREDIENTS (serves 2-3)

  • 1 cup of quinoa, boiled and chilled
  • 1 small pineapple, cubed
  • 2 large Lebanese cucumbers
  • 1 medium red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 bunch of mint, stalks removed
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1cm of ginger, finely sliced
  • 2 chilies, sliced (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 6 TBL coconut milk
  • 3 TBL lime juice
  • 5 TSP fish sauce
  • 3 TSP brown sugar
  • 1 TSP siracha
  • 1cm cube of ginger, finely grated
  • 4 TBL vegetable oil

PREPARATION:

  1. To make the dressing simply add all ingredients to a clean jar, and shake. Shake just before serving.
  2. Char-grill your pineapple until its starts bubbling around the edges. The more caramalised, the more flavour.
  3. Toss the remainder of the salad ingredients to a serving bowl.
  4. Add the charred pineapple (I like mine warm) and sparingly drizzle the dressing over the salad until just glossy. ** don’t over-dress the salad
  5. Toss once more and enjoy!

Tips:

  • Add freshly seared tuna or grilled chicken for an extra protein boost
  • You can adjust the lime/ fish sauce ratio depending on how you like the saltiness. The dressing will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

Life here on Mauritius is simple. You don’t need much to get by; getting back to the roots of it all helps you value the small things in life. Taking a step back and getting to really appreciate the raw and natural beauty of this island and its produce was good for the soul.À

Good vibes, great waves and delicious produce made for an unforgettable island experience, and I would encourage anyone to make a visit.

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