Wednesday, September 21, 2011
There's one smidgen of wisdom that I've kept with me from my childhood years strapped to the yolk of our family's adherence to the macrobiotic diet: complex carbohydrates are your friend because they burn slowly. This is especially important if you're a distance runner.
The concept that whole grains, especially combined with nutrient rich beans like garbanzos, lentils and black beans along with a hefty dose of leafy veggies, are the backbone of a healthy diet was sledge hammered into me from elementary to high school. It's a testament to the unholy rigidity of the macrobiotic diet and my genetically predisposed addiction to simple sugars and butter that it was in the sphere of diet (not boys, booze or general tomfoolery) that I rebelled as a young one.
But I've got to hand it to my mother, a marathoner herself, she knew a thing or two about fueling for the very long haul. And if I didn't appreciate her complex carb and whole grain wisdom as a kid, I certainly benefit from it today when logging double digit days. It was pure happenstance that this became my go-to meal the night before a long run or a race. After years of running, I knew it couldn't be a mistake that every time I made the lentil stew for dinner the night before, I'd have an outstanding run the following morning.
Of course I've meddled with her recipe to comport with my general food sensibilities and with my own particular running needs: Chicken stock for flavor. Curry, turmeric, garlic and onion to work on my ITBS swelling and coconut oil for all it's wonderful coronary and taste benefits. But no matter my additions, the concept and intent are all there. So is the love.
Curried Lentil Stew
I play with this recipe depending on what's in the pantry and the veggies I've got on hand that need a home. Some days I add a serving of whole wheat penne to the mix. More often, I add short grain organic brown rice. I've been known to poach a chicken breast, shred it by hand and stir it into the pot. Or chop up that languishing, single chicken sausage that never made it to the breakfast table. I crumble the last nub of goat cheese over a steaming bowl for a tangy and creamy kick. If it's in the pantry, I'll add a 1/4 cup of organic coconut milk to Thai it up a notch. You get the idea, this is in Aesop fable of a soup. Stick to the underlying recipe, play a little with what's on hand and you'll end up with something delicious.
Du Puy Organic Lentils (16 ounces)
1 organic yellow onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 organic carrot, finely diced
1 organic stalk of celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons of curry powder (plus a tablespoon extra of straight turmeric powder if you're feeling in need of an extra boost)
4 cups organic LOW SODIUM chicken stock
2 tablespoons Organic Virgin Coconut oil
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 scotch bonnet pepper, minced (optional)
1 organic red pepper, finely diced
1 bunch organic broccolini, stalks removed (or 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
brown rice or whole wheat penne
•Melt coconut oil in a large, heavy saucier pan. Add onions, garlic, carrot and celery and saute over medium heat until tender. Add lentils, curry (and turmeric if using) and scotch bonnet peppers and stir until the lentils are coated.
•Add the chicken stock. Simmer until the beans are tender but not breaking apart. (NOTE: it's imperative that you use low sodium stock. This may be a matter of contention for some but I've found it to be very true: adding salt at the beginning of the cooking process of a dried bean keeps the bean from softening and insures a crunchy texture no matter how long you cook. The same is true for adding acids too early into the process. Wait until the beans have reached the perfect tenderness and then add salt and acids to the mix).
•Add the diced tomatoes (drain any excess liquid if they are excessively juicy), apple cider vinegar, diced pepper and broccolini. Stir over low heat just until the broccolini turns bright green. Season to taste and serve with brown rice/ penne and a few poached eggs. Run like hell on wheels in the morning.
Friday, September 9, 2011
But wait! I have a plan! I'll make a huge bowl of pasta salad and feed my runs for days to come while I cling to the last tendrils of summer, in disbelief that the fall racing season is coming fast upon us (faster than my finish times, dammit).
Late Summer Salad
(8 to 10 servings)
1 pound 100% whole wheat organic fusilli (I use bionatureae)
1 organic red pepper, finely chopped
1 cup organic french green beans, cut into thirds
5 small organic heirloom tomatoes
1 organic cucumber
1 ear fresh sweet corn, kernels removed
1 4.5 - 5 ounce container bocconcini (those tiny balls of fresh mozzarella) cut into quarters
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of freshly grated pecorino
5 leaves organic basil, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
•Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add fusilli, stirring occasionally, and cook until just al dente (about 10 minutes)
•While the pasta is cooling, add the fresh corn kernels and finely diced red pepper to a large bowl.
•Remove the pasta with a slotted spoon and transfer to the large bowl with the corn and red pepper. Keep the pasta water and bring back to a simmer.
•Blanche the green beans for about 2 minutes in the pasta water and drain. Add to the bowl with the pasta.
•Pour the olive oil and vinegar over pasta and toss. Season to taste (keep in mind that you'll be adding a salty cheese at the end, so under season to compensate), toss again. By adding the olive oil and vinegar to the pasta while it's still warm, the pasta absorbs more of the yumminess.
•Making sure that the pasta has cooled to room temperature, add the tomatoes, cucumber, basil and bocconini. Toss.
•Sprinkle the salad with pecorino and toss.