on my counter, lately

I feel like doing a happy dance most days – the increase in daylight hours means I’m back on the running trail again. I was a little worried about the effects of my winter hibernation, but I’m pleased that the indoor work I’ve put in since November seems to have really helped my overall strength and endurance. E has a confirmation class / youth group meeting on Sundays just three blocks from Forest Park, which gives me ninety minutes of late afternoon sunshine to run my heart out. Last weekend I measured the perimeter + those extra blocks at 6.5 miles; if I add in an additional inner route I like, I can get in 10 miles in that stretch of time. Which means I’m hungry these days since I’m running off the rough equivalent of lunch and dinner several times a week.

My dear friend (and running mentor), Sam, reminded me a few months ago that distance running and high intensity workouts would require some additional fueling. This is a good reminder, because I’m not much of a snacker, and I’m pretty set in my eating habits. It has made me more conscious of our weekly menu at home – I’m trying to focus on eating really great dinners (and resulting leftover lunches) rather than throwing in additional snacks to the mix. I’ve noticed that my sweet tooth is almost gone – I’m craving dinners with flavor, grains like farro (which I could eat every night, I think), earthy flavors like mushrooms, and especially bitter greens coupled with citrus. Outside of my pregnancies (which were decidedly not food happy times in my life), I can’t remember having cravings like this. It’s kind of strange, and I wonder if it’s normal. Maybe I’m just getting older – everyone, particularly my doctors these days, like to remind me of that.

I can tend to go off on tangents fairly easily on certain topics, but I’m going to avoid that here, and instead just point to a few interesting articles and radio bits on the subject that have been interesting to me. I feel like cooking and eating and food topics in general can get to be touchy subjects sometimes, so I try to write about it (and photograph it) as a conversation piece on a topic that interests me rather than from a position of knowing all the answers about food. I like to be inspired in the kitchen, and reading and listening to others talk about food does that for me, and maybe it does a bit for you as well. As Michael Pollan puts it, “Eat food, not too much, and mostly plants.” I subscribe wholeheartedly to this mantra, and I build on it with the idea that there’s no reason it can’t be delicious and fun and different every single night.

Run Less, Run Faster – this book really speaks to me at this stage of my life. I’m committed to being healthy and building a good platform moving forward as I age (get old, I know – I get it), but I’m a realist about how I spend my time. I’ve said all along that I don’t care about being an elite runner, but I also know that I like to study and improve and throw 110% into most things I do, so this gives me an avenue to do that at a personal level which helps to keep me engaged, i.e. lacing up my shoes and actually doing it. I also thought the chapter on a runner’s diet was interesting – particularly because it states that a highly varied, plant-based diet (little to no meat) is optimal. (Another great rec from Sam, marathon runner extraordinaire and all around nice gal.)

–Anything by Michael Pollan, but specifically Cooked. The new documentary series makes me sad (again) that we gave up Netflix. However, giving up Netflix also means I actually have time to put these goals into action.

–First Bite by Bee Wilson, as discussed on Fresh Air – I thought this interview was interesting, and I am always fascinated about how babies and children learn to eat, but I’m even more interested in her discussions on how adults can also learn (re-learn) how to eat in healthier ways.

Here are some of the best things we’ve been eating lately:

Stellar Quinoa Burger from Bon Appetit (Feb 2016) – this was definitely a weekend dish, and as many of the commenters pointed out, the burger didn’t hold together very well, but it was SO delicious that I’m determined to figure out a better binder. Or just resign myself to a messy dinner again. I made a spiced tomato chutney and sliced avocados for the top of the burger and it was divine.

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This Blue Apron meal was DELICIOUS. I was all, what? Cheese? Lemons? Together, on a sandwich? And then I ate it. It hit all the crave points and the salad was spot on fantastic and I’m going to serve it at my first dinner party in our new dining room because I basically daydream about dinners with friends in the new space 24-7.

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An old standby, but such a good weeknight dinner, particularly post-workout. M improvised a bit by making bread crumbs with leftover focaccia and it was delicious. Watch the salt on this one – add slowly. I don’t smash it in with the garlic like it says in the recipe.

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And we hosted a table at trivia night last weekend, and I made a crowd favorite, the ginger-chocolate-apricot cookies from here, plus three sandwiches: Prosciutto-Pear-Brie with lightly dressed arugula, Roast Beef (cajun spice, rare, thinly sliced)-Aged Cheddar-Mayo/Dijon Mustard blend on bottom-Mango spread on top-Pickled Red Onions-Watercress, and Egg Salad-Watercress/Arugula blend-Pretzel Roll. They went over well, and we had a few leftover for Sunday lunch.

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Spring is coming – I can feel it, and I’m fueling up and ready. Asparagus and rhubarb are on the horizon…

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