Eating for a Half-Marathon

My husband and I are running the Lincoln Half Marathon this Sunday. This is our fourth one, so we know what to expect by this point. After the months of training and finishing two 12-mile runs, we’re as prepared as we can be. But even so, we wanted to try and eat right this week, to get our bodies as ready as we can for the long run. We’ve been abstaining from alcohol (mostly) for the past month or so and we’re off it completely this week.

This morning I spent some time reading and I’ve planned a few days of dinners for this week. I had a hard time finding any sites that offered a weeks worth of dinners and also recipes, so I decided to make my own.

Tonight, we’re going to dine on leftover Chinese food (salt and pepper tofu, pork and eggplant stir fry, garlicky bok choi and rice.) But the rest of the week I’ll be making dinner at home. If you wanted to follow suit and make Asian the first night of the week, I suggest a visit to one of my favorite food blogs, Appetite for China.

There’s salmon, asparagus and couscous on the menu one night. There’s turkey meatballs with penne pasta, two versions of twice baked potatoes to be served alongside either pork or grass fed beef and a one-pot quinoa and chicken dish with garlic, pine nuts and raisins.

I’ll share all the recipes and photos below. Are you running the Lincoln half or full marathon? What are your week-before-the-race diet tips? Share in the comments.

Credit for photos one and two.

Broiled Salmon and Asparagus, via Everyday Food

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus 1 lemon cut into wedges
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
4 skinless salmon fillets (4 to 6 ounces each)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 cup couscous

Heat broiler with rack 6 inches from heat. Whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, and sesame oil.
On a rimmed baking sheet, arrange asparagus and lemon wedges and brush with sauce. Broil 3 minutes. Add salmon to pan, brush with sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Broil until asparagus is tender and salmon is opaque throughout, about 6 minutes, rotating pan, brushing salmon and asparagus with sauce, and flipping asparagus halfway through.
Meanwhile, bring 1 1/4 cups water to boil. Stir in couscous and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Serve salmon and asparagus with couscous, drizzled with remaining sauce.

I just bought a big bag of potatoes, so I found a two ways to make them twice baked, my favorite way, this week.

Twice Baked Potatoes, the healthy way, via A Cozy Kitchen

1 large russett potato, scrubbed clean
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons of greek yogurt
Splash of milk (optional)
1/2 tablespoon of chives, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped

Using a fork, puncture several holes all over the potato. This will ensure that it won’t explode as it cooks. Place the potato on a microwave-safe plate and rub with olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Cook, on high, for 10 minutes.
While the potato is cooling, add the diced zucchini to a microwave-safe bowl, a teaspoon of olive oil and salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
When the potato is slightly cooled, using a knife, slice off the top, lengthwise and scoop out the potato guts into a small bowl. Add the yogurt and splash of milk and mash until nice and creamy. Fold in the chives and zucchini. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Note: I added a good amount of salt until I was satisfied.)
Add the mixture back to the potato skin and cook in the microwave for another 2 minutes.

Super-Fast Twice Baked Potatoes with Creamy Mushroom Spud Sauce, via Runner’s World

3 large potatoes, washed, dried, and pricked all over with a fork
1/2 tsp olive oil, plus 3 tbso olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup vegetable stock
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried tarragon
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp thin-sliced scallion greens

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in middle position.
In a microwave-safe bowl, toss the potatoes with the half teaspoon of oil, the salt and pepper and microwave on high for 8 minutes.
Transfer potatoes to a baking sheet (ideally one with raised sides) and bake until tender – about 30 minutes.
Let the potatoes cool slightly, then halve and scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl leaving enough potato to form a sturdy shell. Gently mash the cooked potato and set aside.
Meanwhile, microwave the stock, milk and mustard in a microwave-safe cup until steamy (3 to 4 minutes).
Heat another 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large griddle pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are golden brown. Stir infrequently at first and season lightly with salt and pepper at the end – it should take 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and tarragon and sauté for a minute or two until fragrant.
Turn the mushroom mixture into a medium bowl and then add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the empty pan. Whisk in the flour, and then the hot milk mixture, simmering until the sauce thickens, which will take about a minute. Whisk in the Parmesan before stirring the mushroom mixture back into the sauce.
Toss the mashed potato with half of the mushroom sauce, seasoning to taste. Place the potato shells in a baking dish and divide the filling equally between them. Top with the remaining sauce and the scallions.
Bake until warmed through, about 12 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until golden brown, about 3 minutes longer.

Pasta is a half marathon runner’s best friend. 

One Pot Penne with Turkey Meatballs, via Runner’s World

8 garlic cloves (3 whole, 5 minced)
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup crumbled saltines
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large egg
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup olive oil
4 slices prosciutto, chopped
1 cup red wine
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 pound penne pasta

Heat a skillet on medium-high. Add the whole garlic cloves; toast 5 minutes. Remove, then smash and mince. Break up turkey in a bowl. Mix in feta, saltines, oregano, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Combine the egg, toasted garlic, and tomato paste; mix into the meat until thoroughly combined. Form into 24 meatballs. Heat oil over medium in a large pot. Add meatballs and brown on two sides; transfer to a plate. Add minced garlic and prosciutto to the pot; saute until garlic is golden. Add wine; reduce by half. Add tomatoes and enough water (about 1 cup) to thin the sauce. Bring to a simmer; add meatballs and cook (loosely covered) 15 minutes. Add 6 cups of water and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Add penne; cover loosely and cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender (15 minutes). Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens. Serve, sprinkling each portion with feta.

I love quinoa, and to turn this one into a full meal, I’ll add shredded chicken or cubes of tofu.

Quinoa With Garlic, Pine Nuts and Raisins via The Food Network

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place the quinoa in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until toasted, about 2 minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups water (or use low-sodium chicken broth) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the olive oil and garlic to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer the garlic to the plate, reserving the oil.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Add the pine nuts, garlic, reserved oil, parsley, raisins and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss.

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