‘You can’t build muscle without meat!’ is the typical reaction I get when I tell people that I’m a vegetarian athlete and competed as a bodybuilder for 10 years – before winning the British Bodybuilding Championships in 1991. Most look at me in disbelief. ‘Surely you need meat to compete?’ No way. My trophy may have gathered a bit of dust over the years, but it is solid proof that you can make it to the top of your sport without it.
In my new book The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook, I explain how a vegetarian diet can help you succeed in your sport, which foods you need to focus on and how you can put a vegetarian diet into practice. I’ve devised more than 100 healthy and delicious recipes, each designed to meet the needs of active people and athletes. They are all packed with nutritious ingredients, and best of all, they are all incredibly easy to make!
Here’s a sneak preview. Bon appetit!
Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine with Couscous (Serves 2)
Perfect for a mid-week refuelling supper, this mildly spiced Moroccan-inspired tagine is packed with protein, vitamins and fibre. The dried apricots soften as the dish cooks and impart the most wonderful flavour and texture contrast – not to mention lots of beta-carotene and iron. I recommend making it in advance – the flavours blend and improve. You can make a larger quantity and keep the remainder in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.
1 tbsp light olive or rapeseed oil
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½–1 small chilli (optional)
1 red pepper, diced
½ butternut squash, peeled and chopped
½ small aubergine, diced
1 courgette, sliced
½ a 400 g (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
½ a 400 g (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
150ml (5 fl oz) vegetable stock
75 g (3 oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots
A small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
125 g (5 oz) couscous
125 ml (4 fl oz) vegetable stock
125 ml (4 fl oz) water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the onions and cook gently for 4–5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, spices and chilli and stir for a few moments. Add the vegetables and continue cooking for a few minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, vegetable stock and apricots. Stir and bring to the boil. Cover then simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the fresh coriander.
While the tagine is cooking, put the couscous, stock and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until the liquid has absorbed. Fluff with a fork, serve with the tagine.
Nutrition per serving
• 573 cals • 20 g protein • 11 g fat (1 g saturates)
• 87 g carbs (31 g total sugars) • 20 g fibre