Baltimore-area fitness and nutrition experts said certain meals are best consumed at different times of an individual’s exercise routine. “Always be critical about nutrition and fitness,” advises Dana Sicko, a personal nutrition chef and owner of Nutreatious. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You never want to eat too much or too close to your workout.” After a vigorous workout, it is important to refuel the body with a protein snack. For a post-workout recovery meal: “You cannot go wrong with an entree that focuses on good sources of protein and healthy, delicious vegetables.” Sicko and two other nutrition and fitness expert offered these recipes:

Chef Dana Sicko
Baltimore, Md.
(443) 604-3973

About Chef Dana Sicko & Nutreatious LLC:

Sicko holds a degree in nutritional sciences from the University of New Hampshire. In 2011, Sicko founded Nutreatious. A personal nutrition chef, Sicko said she was fascinated by cooking and food sciences. A founding principle of the company is a belief that people should not be told what the can’t eat; rather, Sicko advises about the specifics of a healthy eating without “feeling deprived.” As a personal chef, Sicko cooks in clients’ homes. The company recently expanded to offer catering, cooking parties and cooking classes.

Arugula Pesto Spaghetti Squash With Vegetables And Grilled Chicken

For the pesto:

  • 1-1/2 cup arugula
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp pepitas (available at most grocery stores)
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast (available at most grocery stores)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp good olive oil
  • A dash of salt and pepper

Place all above items in a food processor. Blend thoroughly or until everything looks more like a thick paste. Add more water if needed to thin out the mixture, one teaspoon at a time.

For the spaghetti squash and roasted vegetables:

  • 1 (1-1/2) pounds spaghetti squash*
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 grilled chicken breast, sliced (about 5-6 ounces)

Cooking the squash:

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
    2. Using a sharp knife and much care, poke the spaghetti squash all over. Place the spaghetti squash in a 13 x 9 baking dish. Pour enough water into the dish to be about one inch deep (this will help steam the spaghetti squash). 
    3. Cook the spaghetti squash for about 75 minutes, rotating the squash about halfway through the cooking squash. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool.
    4. Once cooled, cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Then, use a fork remove the flesh, which should come out resembling spaghetti, and set aside.

Cooking the vegetables:

    1. Heat the coconut oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
    2. When the pan is warm place the red onion and mushrooms in the sauté pan and sauté for about five minutes, gently moving the vegetables around the pan until tender.
    3. Add the zucchini and red bell pepper slices into the pan and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the already grilled chicken to the pan and reduce the heat to medium.
    4. Gently toss the vegetables and chicken in 2 T of the pesto and serve over top 2 cups the spaghetti squash. Drizzle with just a touch of olive oil.

Note: Freeze the remaining pesto into small bags or an ice cube tray for perfect portioning. The remaining spaghetti squash will last for about three days refrigerated.

*One cup cooked spaghetti squash = 42 calories

Black Bean Tacos With Mango Pico de Gallo with Chipotle Lime Crema

Great flavor and protein without meat and with a little spice. Black beans are an excellent source of protein as well as potassium to help soothe tired muscles.”

  • 3 corn tortillas 
  • 3/4 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup fresh pico de gallo (available in the produce department ready-made)
  • 1/2 mango, diced small
  • 1 (6) oz. Greek Yogurt (almond Greek yogurt or Low Fat Sour cream could replace this)
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper (available with other jarred spices) 
  • A few sprigs of fresh cilantro
    1. Place all three corn tortillas on a large plate and place 1/4 cup of beans inside each tortilla.
    2. Mix the fresh pico de gallo with the chopped mango. Place this on top of the black beans in the corn tortillas.
    3. Mix the Greek yogurt, juice of one lime and chipotle pepper and mix until well incorporated. Top the tacos with a dollop of cream and garnish with some fresh sprigs of cilantro.

Related: Calorie Counter: My Fitness Pal

Four Corners Cuisine
Chef Shirlé Hale
Baltimore, Md.
(919) 308-6268

About Chef Shirlé Hale and Four Corners Cuisine:

A little more than a decade ago, Baltimore native Hale left Charm City searching for a more relaxed living environment — in Durham, N.C., she found what she wanted. While watching a Food Network profile of a personal chef, she realized she could combine her love of cooking and owning her own business. Building on inspiration, she opened Four Corners Cuisine. During her career, Hale has served as a personal chef for the head surgeon at Duke University Hospital, for a retired Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker and for the first woman fire chief of the city of Durham. Featured on a North Carolina cable news program segment, the Carolina Cookbook, Hale also appeared on the Rachel Ray Show. After moving back to Baltimore, she began serving as a personal chef to clients in the city and surrounding areas.

Veggie Quiche

This is a great pre-workout breakfast that is loaded with veggies and protein packed ricotta. So easy you can make it the night before and reheat in the morning.”

  • 1 (9-inch) pre-made pie crust, either frozen or refrigerated ( or omit if doing Paleo diet)
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained 
  • 1 cup sautéed asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces.
  • 1/2 cup canned red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese 
  • 3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese or soy cheese
  • 1/4 cup low fat milk or plain soy milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper 
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Defrost pie shell and set aside or if using refrigerated pie crust, press the crust into a nine-inch, removable-bottom tart pan (or nine-inch pie pan). Set aside.
    3. Layer spinach, cooked asparagus and red pepper by placing on top of uncooked crust. In a large bowl combine cheddar, ricotta, milk, eggs, Dijon, oregano, salt and black pepper. Mix well and pour onto vegetables in the piecrust. Top with Parmesan.
    4. Bake the quiche for 20 minutes, until you can insert a knife and it comes out clean. The crust should be golden brown.

Energy Bars

Try making these protein packed energy bars for a filling after workout snack.

  • 1 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dates
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apples
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
    1. Place all the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Remove to a large mixing bowl. Add oats through raisins and pulse. Add to peanut mixture in bowl. Add peanut butter to water and mix well.
    2. Spread mixture evenly onto a large baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and press down with your hands. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until set. Remove and cut into bars.
    3. You can then wrap them individually and store in the fridge.

Asian Inspired Steamed Salmon

Great Asian flavors , lots of veggies and heart smart salmon go hand in hand in this low fat and fast dish for a post-workout meal.”

Steaming broth ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup mirin wine
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • few sprigs of cilantro
  • 1 lemon grass stick

Ingredients for the Steamer:

  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 2 inch horizontal strips
  • 2 carrots, sliced on the diagonal 
  • 1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips
  • handful of snowpeas
  • 4 Salmon steaks
    1. Begin by combining the steaming broth ingredients on a wok or large pot that can accommodate a steaming rack on top over med. High heat. Bring to a simmer.
    2. Place all the ingredients, scallions thru salmon, on the steamer rack and place on wok. Steam for 10-12 minutes until fish flakes in center.
    3. Serve by plating one piece of salmon on top of the veggies.

    Serves four.

Becky Conti
1304 Providence Road
Towson, Md. 21286
(443) 250-1320

About Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach Becky Conti of beckyFIT:

A personal trainer and nutrition coach for more than seven years, Becky Conti said she has “helped a lot of people reach their health and weight loss goals.” Conti founded beckyFIT to provide personal instruction about fitness, health and weight loss. To that end, she created TargetZone, which is an online program that delivers a 12-week customized nutrition plan and a 12-week customized exercise plan. The program targets zones that lower cholesterol, fight heart disease and certain cancers and bolster the immune system.

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes

“This is a perfect pre-workout meal because it gives you optimal energy to make it through your workout. Oatmeal is slow-digesting and will keep your strength up during your entire routine, while the protein in the egg whites gets right to work repairing your muscle cells even while you’re working out. The blueberries provide more of a quick burst of energy to help get you started.”

  • 1/4 cup dry oats
  • 4 egg whites (cracked from real eggs)
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cottage cheese, salt-free
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries

Pre-heat pan on medium heat for about a minute and spray with cooking spray. In a bowl mix oats, egg whites, cottage cheese and cinnamon with a spoon to make a batter-like form. Pour batter on pan (you can choose to do one big pancake or two small ones). Cook for 5-6 min until bottom of pancake starts to turn golden then flip. Cook other side for 2-3 more minutes until done. In a small bowl, microwave frozen blueberries until warm and syrupy. Drizzle over pancake and enjoy.

Spiced Pumpkin Protein Smoothie

“This smoothie is an ideal choice for a post-workout snack, or even to drink during a workout. During and after a workout, your muscles need fast-digesting protein and carbs so the nutrients can go right to work repairing and building new muscle tissue. The banana and honey give your body a quick dose of carbs, while the whey protein goes straight to your muscles to start the rebuilding process. The high amount of vitamin A in pumpkin plays an important role in protein synthesis, aiding amino acids in forming new muscle tissue.”

  • 1/2 cup chilled water
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 tbsp honey (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Turkey Meatballs With Sweet Potato Fries

“This is another great post-workout meal, and can be used as a dinner option after a protein shake. Later in the evening, your body will need some good quality protein and complex carbohydrates to help your muscles recover throughout the night. Lean turkey paired with sweet potatoes will work together to repair your muscles and help you get a good night’s sleep. The sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, which helps in protein synthesis, while turkey contains an amino acid called L-Tryptophan, which triggers the release of serotonin to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.”


  • 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup dry oats
  • 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt

Pre-heat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with your hands. Shape meat mixture into balls and place about an inch apart on a non-stick or greased baking sheet.

Sweet Potato Fries

  • 4 oz sweet potato
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Dash sea salt
  • Dash cracked black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350. Mix olive oil, garlic powder, rosemary and a dash of salt in a bowl. Slice potato into thin slices and toss in oil mixture until well coated. Spread on a greased pan and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until slightly crisp.

Related: Tips For Keeping Your Kids Active From A Baltimore Fitness Professional

Jeffrey B. Roth has won numerous state and national news and feature-writing awards during his career. A well-known crime writer, investigative reporter and a feature writer, Roth writes for a number of magazines and newspapers. Listed in the Locus Index of SciFi and Fantasy authors, Roth is the author of a number of published short stories and poetry. His work can be found on