Healthy recipes from Olympic athlete Freya Ross

January 11, 2018

Freya Ross

My name is Freya Ross and I am a long distance runner, with my greatest achievement being competing in the 2012 Olympics in the marathon. I started out training twice a week at my local athletics club when I was 8 years old and my love of running grew from there. One of my other passions is cooking, I am fortunate that my Mum is brilliant in the kitchen and I learnt a lot from her when I was growing up. As an athlete I wanted to eat well to fuel my running and my interest in food and cooking eventually lead to me writing my recipe book ‘Food on the Run’. I have learnt a lot of lessons through experience and from taking advice from nutritionists. Through this blog hope I can pass on some useful tips about easily following a healthy balanced diet as an athlete.

Freya Murray                                                                   Freya Murray: Photo credit Alex Hewitt

When it comes to eating before exercising everybody is different. I would usually try to have something to eat like a bowl of porridge or toast with a banana around 30 minutes to an hour before training. Some people struggle to eat before they run, but I felt this kept me better fuelled for training.

On a race day I would have something which I had practiced eating before training so I knew I was comfortable running after eating it. I would never try eating something new on the day of a race.I would always have a snack as soon as possible after training, maybe an overnight muesli or a peanut butter sandwich. I would eat this as soon as I finished my training session, before going home. Having a snack with carbohydrate and protein as soon as possible after exercising is a good way to help your body repair from the effort of physical activity.

My main meals were always things that were quick to make and followed the principles of a healthy balanced diet - whole grain carbohydrates, lean protein and plenty of fruit and vegetables. However, I did enjoy treats like chocolate and cake sometimes too. It is important to enjoy your food and there is nothing wrong with eating treats sometimes as long as sugary or fatty foods are not part of your diet everyday. It is good to be aware of what foods to enjoy every day and what should be saved as a treat.

Good planning is important when you are at school or work and also an athlete. You need to think ahead of what you are going to eat and when to make sure you are well fueled for training.

As an athlete training every day it is important to balance your energy input and expenditure. This is really important when you are younger especially because you are still growing and that takes energy too. In the past I have sometimes got this balance wrong and ended up losing weight, which I think contributed to some of the injuries I suffered. So, in summary. Enjoy your sport and enjoy cooking and eating to keep yourself well fuelled for it.

Here are a couple of my favourite recipes from my book ‘Food on the Run’ which is available from my website

Overnight Muesli

Ready in 8 minutes, but better if left to soak overnight

Makes 1 portion

1 eating apple (any variety)

65g porridge oats

40g sultanas

1 tsp ground cinnamon

260ml soya milk

50g plain yogurt

10g (small handful) flaked almonds

10g (1 heaped tsp) clear honey

- Remove the core from the apple then whizz it up in a food processor until it is finely chopped.

- Transfer the apple to a cereal bowl then stir in the porridge oats, sultanas, ground cinnamon, soya milk and plain yogurt.

- Put the bowl in the fridge and leave it overnight.

- Just before you eat it sprinkle over the flaked almonds and swirl over the clear honey.

overnight muesli

Spaghetti Bolognese

Ready in 25 minutes (15 minutes preparation and 10 minutes cooking)

Makes 4 portions

Bolognese Sauce

1 medium red or white onion

1 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic

1 medium sized carrot

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp dried basil

250g lean beef mince

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

To Serve

300g spaghetti

- Peel the onion and finely dice it.

- Put the olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat and add the onion. Fry the onion until it is soft.

- While the onion is softening, peel the garlic and chop the stalks off the carrot. I don’t bother peeling the carrot I just give it a good wash.

- Whizz up the garlic and carrot in a food processor.

- When the onion has softened add the garlic, carrots, ground black pepper, dried oregano and dried basil to the saucepan.

- After a couple of minutes, when the carrots have softened a bit add the mince to the saucepan and stir it into the vegetables.

- Stir the mixture regularly until the mince has browned.

- While the mince is browning whizz up the chopped tomatoes in the food processor until they form a smooth paste.

- Once the mince is all browned add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and give the mixture a good stir through.

- Bring the sauce to the boil then reduce the heat and leave it to simmer for about 10 minutes, while you cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

- Allow any leftover sauce to cool completely, then store them in the freezer for future use.

Spaghetti Bolognese


If you would like some more great recipe ideas for healthy, balanced snacks and meals check out our blog.

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