4 Minute Meal: Pasta with Pesto and Smoked Mozzarella

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Whether you're running around from holiday party to party, or literally running all over South America (hi, that would be us), December seems to be leaving little time for meals more composed than passed hors devours. As much as we love party food, we never feel full no matter how many tuna crudo bites we snag.

That's why we came up with this super easy pasta THAT CAN BE MADE IN 4 MINUTES and eaten quickly before - or after - a night out. It's ok if you scarf it down standing up in your kitchen with your Louboutins on already (again, that was us), but we think it's also festive enough in case you find yourself hosting a mid-week impromptu dinner party.

--Laurel and Bec


Pasta with Pesto and Smoked Mozzarella

Fresh penne pasta

Pesto (your own or the best prepared or packaged you can find at the store)

Smoked Mozzarella

Red pepper flakes

Boil pasta. Drain and return to pan/pot. Toss in pesto. Top with cheese and pepper.

Pro tips:

-Boil just enough water. If making as a single serving, fill a small frying pan with about 1.5" of water. This cuts way down on the time it takes to boil.

-Be efficient. While pasta is cooking, get out mozzarella and cut into small squares.

 

 

 

 

The Athlete Food Thanksgiving Table

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Here at Athlete Food we approach Thanksgiving dinner much like we do a big workout. As the cooks, we want to nail it with a table full of awesome dishes. But as eaters, we want to walk away feeling satisfied, but not overdone. 

With that in mind, our ideal Thanksgiving meal includes some savvy shortcuts and a few splurges (hello cake pops and chocolate pecan pie!), without leaving you counting down the hours until your next 10-mile run. 

To make our feast hearty and festive without overdoing it, we lean towards mostly naturally gluten-free dishes that are vegetable-forward. As a bonus, this strategy allows the special dieters at the table (ourselves included!) to have plates as full as the traditionalists. 

So here’s to eating well—but not leaving the table feeling as stuffed as (someone else’s) turkey.  We hope you and your families have a Happy Thanksgiving! Now go crush that Turkey Trot.  --Team AF

The Athlete Food Thanksgiving Menu

(see links to recipes below)

THE WARM UP:

Athlete Food Cheese Plate

Cranberry Pear Spritzers

THE MAIN SET:

Rotisserie Chickens **

Cranberry Sauce 

Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Baked Fennel and Apples with Cheddar 

Kale and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad 

Tart Cherry, Pear and Sausage stuffing

Spicy Grilled Green Beans

Butternut Squash Mac 'n Cheese

BONUS MILES: 

Carrot Cake Pops

Chocolate Pecan Pie

**(This year we leaving the turkey cooking up to 

someone else and we reveal why 

in this Another Mother Runner Podcast)


The Recipes


A No Sweat Way to Contribute to Thanksgiving: An Athlete Food Cheese Plate (or 2)

Athlete Food Cheese Plate

You Don’t Need Crackers.

Slice a pear or a crisp apple instead.

Sample.

Part of the fun is tasting the cheese before you buy it. Don't be intimidated by the hipsters who work behind the cheese counter. Ask for tastes of cheeses that have an interesting description or look different. 

Local. 

We like to include a few New York State cheeses along with our favorites from France and California. This goes for the drinks too — Brooklyn Cider House has some hard apple ciders that pair well with cheese plates. 

Nuts, fruit and Cornichons.

Include salty things like olives or Cornichons. Add some sweet things like dried Turkish apricots and a little square of quince paste or other jam. I also like to serve crispy grapes on the side and always put out a handful of almonds or walnuts.

Meat.

For a bit of protein, seek out some good cured meats. You don’t need much - just get a 5-6 very thin slices to add to the spread. I know some people like it, but we trim off most of the fat (something we’ve been doing our whole lives!)

Make More Than One. 

You don’t need a fancy platter - a regular dinner plate will do. We like to pre-cut the hard cheeses so that it’s easier for people to snack. Depending on the size of the crowd, make 2 or 3 dinner plate sized cheese plates and spread them out on the buffet table or in different areas of the house (for easy access to the cheese!!)

 

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We Won't Be Beeten: Post-Swim Snack

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We're all about fresh from the garden vegetables, but when it comes to making a quick, healthy snack between workouts, we see nothing wrong with reaching for the freezer. Without our stash of frozen veggies, these roasted beets might very well be tortilla chips. And we consider it a win when we're eating a plate of food of super foods instead of a fistful of empty calories.

Also note: there are no measurements here. Who has time between a hard swim and a bike ride to make a recipe that involves measuring??

--Bec and Laurel


Roasted Beets with Tahini and Capers 

Serves 1 Hungry Athlete

1 package frozen beets (we found these Stahlbush beets at Whole Foods)

Olive Oil

Sea Salt & Pepper

Tahini or Hummus (our current favorite is Yehuda Tehina which is actually more like a cross between tahini and hummus)

Lemon Juice

Paprika 

Capers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix beets with olive oil (how much is up to you) and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Sprinkle with a large pinch of sea salt. 

Bake for 20 minutes. While beets are cooking, mix tahini with a squeeze of lemon juice and a 1/2 teaspoon or so of olive oil.

Once beets are cool enough to handle, transfer to a plate, drizzle with tahini, and top with a sprinkle of paprika and capers. 

 

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Brownies Your Gluten-Free Friends Won't Be Scared Of

These brownies are so good that we only let ourselves make (eat) them for special occasions. We're not usually into restrictive diets, but eating an 8"x8" pan of brownies in one sitting (even if they're gluten-free!) should only happen on Halloween or after an Ironman.

The recipe belongs to baker and cookbook author David Lebovitz and we've blogged about it before. But now we've upgraded it with a chocolate ganache and lots of sprinkles on top. 

The ganache is made from roughly 2 tablespoons coconut cream, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1/4 cup melted chocolate chips, and 1 tablespoon cacao powder. We don't have an exact recipe to share with you yet because (little chef) Amy was adding things so quickly we didn't have a chance to measure. But here are a few ganache recipes Nichole Wishoff shared with us after she ran the NYC Marathon last year that will work: 

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • reese's peanut butter cups, roughly chopped, for topping
  • Note: If you are vegan, I am a big fan of this simple chocolate ganache recipe: 2/3 cup of dark chocolate chips (vegan choc. chips) 1 tbsp. coconut oil  in a bowl. Heat up for about 30-45 seconds until just melted. Add 1 tbsp. maple syrup or two depending on how sweet you like it. The syrup will make it thick so add slowly and stir. 

Pour the heavy cream into a sauce pan and heat up until almost boiling. Take off the heat and add the sweet chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until mixed completely.

Enjoy!

--Laurel and Bec

Crispy Bison Tacos with Spicy Roasted Delicata Squash

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Crispy Bison Tacos are one of our signature dishes here at Athlete Food. They're high in iron (which we're always low in from training), full of flavor, and always a crowd pleaser. To keep things interesting, we often change up the toppings based on what's in season. In the summer, we top our tacos with a purple cabbage and pumpkin seed slaw. And this fall, we've added spicy roasted Delicata squash. Squash on tacos? It totally works. 

Here's the game plan for getting this dinner on the table. 

Make the squash ahead of time, if possible. If not, get this in the oven first. While it is cooking, chop the kale, cook the meat, and prep the toppings. After the squash comes out of the oven, turn the temperature down to 350 so that it's ready to heat up the tacos. Set out the toppings in bowls. Eat. 

--Laurel and Bec

PS - Don't you love this shirt? Garmin made it for Tim O'Donnell, a friend of ours and an incredible athlete and person. 


Crispy Bison Tacos with Avocado and Spicy Roasted Delicata Squash

Yield: 8 to 10 tacos

1 pound ground bison

1 teaspoon Athlete Food Green Seasoning (or 1 small onion, chopped)

4-5 large leaves of lacinato kale, stems removed and shredded into small pieces

1 tablespoon Athlete Food Ancho Chili Spice Mix (or your favorite taco seasoning mix)

3 limes

1 package blue or yellow corn taco shells

roasted delicata squash (see recipe below)

¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup sharp cheddar, grated

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1/3 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds

Hot sauce (we like Cholula)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Cook the bison with the Green Seasoning (or onion) until no longer pink. A few minutes into the cooking process, add the kale and seasoning mix. Drain the fat, it's ok if you loose some of the seasoning. 

Set the shells upside down on a baking sheet (like little tents) and bake until warm, 2 to 3 minutes.

To fill the tacos, spoon 2 tablespoons of the seasoned meat into a shell. Top with squash. Sprinkle on the tomatoes, cheddar, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds. Finish with a squeeze of lime and drizzle of hot sauce.


Spicy Roasted Delicata Squash

To make enough for tacos:

1 large delicata squash

olive oil

crushed red pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare the squash by cutting it in have lengthwise. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice squash into 1/4 inch thick half moons. 

Place squash on a baking pan covered with aluminum foil. Toss with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning. We are currently using ground hot pepper made from peppers we dried from our garden. They are super hot so we go easy on the seasoning. 

Cook for approximately 20 minutes. The goal is for the squash to be soft, but slightly caramelized on the bottom. 

Muesli in an Orange Bowl

Sundays are for long runs. Or are they for brunch? How about both!?! At least once per marathon season, we like to host a post-long run brunch. It goes something like this: run 2 hours, refuel/rehydrated  for 2 hours, and talk about splits or marathon strategy. Sounds luxurious, right?

Since no one wants to cook after covering 18 miles on the roads, our long run brunch menus are always make ahead meals. And since doing dishes isn't high on anyone's list either, we decided to package one of our classic make ahead breakfasts, Athlete Food Lime, Cardamom, and Coconut Muesli, in compostable orange peel bowls. 

Here's the Game Plan:

Saturday night: juice oranges, reserve juice (hmmm, maybe for mimosas in the morning?), make muesli, and fill orange "bowls"

Sunday: Eat your typical pre-race breakfast, run (focusing on marathon pace), dig into muesli bowls, have a mimosa.  If you're still hungry, dig into one of those gluten free chocolate chip cookies that you made Saturday morning...

--Laurel and Bec


Muesli with Lime, Cardamom, and Coconut

Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 6 to 8

2 cups plain low-fat yogurt

Zest from 1 lime (about 1 teaspoon)

1 1/2 cups plain, unsweetened coconut water 

1/2 teaspoon cardamom 

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups rolled oats 

2 tart and crisp apples (such as Honeycrisp or Granny Smith), diced (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, and/or blueberries

Optional Toppings:

maple syrup 

clementine slices

hemp seeds

pecans

Stir together the yogurt, zest, coconut water, cardamom and salt in a big bowl. Add the oats, apples, almonds, and dried fruit. Combine well.

Store the muesli overnight in the refrigerator, in orange peel bowls. Serve with little bowls of toppings. 

Meals + Miles: Swim Focus Day

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Welcome to Meals + Miles. In these blog posts, we'll tell you about the workouts we do in a day and the exact foods that fuel them. Sometimes we have a plan for what we're going to eat and other times we go for whatever's in the larder. 

Here's how yesterday looked. Keep in mind, I'm training for a half ironman against the leanest, fastest triathletes in the world. If I want to be competitive, three workouts a day is the norm. --Bec

School drop-off

School drop-off

Swim Focus Day

Breakfast #1: Coffee with whole milk

Oats with sliced apples, nuts, cinnamon oil, sea salt, maple syrup

 

Workout #1: Power walk to school drop off and back (1.5 miles). Easy 2.5 miles on treadmill.

 

Breakfast #2: 2 rice cakes with almond butter, coconut oil, and honey

Nespresso

1 xrcel

 

The Crux: 60 minute hard swim (2.8 miles)

 

Lunch: tomato coconut curry soup, apple

 

Workout #3: Training session at Fusion (legs day) + 4 mile TM run at 6:45 pace (+ 1.2 mile power walk to gym and back)

 

Infinit MUD recovery shake

Dinner: Athlete Food Harvest Chopped Salad, lots of dark chocolate

 

*all day grazing* handfuls of roasted almonds every time I walked by the pantry!

 

Total miles: 12

 

Racing: The Runner's World Half Marathon and Festival

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When Runner's World started this weekend long festival five years ago, their goal was to make the pages of the magazine come to life, and that's exactly what they've done. The event, which includes five races spread over three days and culminates with a half marathon, is a true celebration of running and the healthy lifestyle that we all strive for after we finish reading an issue.

There's something for everyone at the #RWHalf. Friday morning kicked off with a November Project workout at the Steel Stacks. The Friday afternoon trail race was no joke and included a trail running clinic lead by running form guru and Altra running shoes founder, Golden Harper. After the trail run, you can run right down the mountain to catch the kids race which includes a rockin', crowd-on-their-feet concert performed by Kira Willey. Amy was front and center dancing her heart out. I'm not sure if she liked the concert or the run better, but she is so proud of the child-friendly rubber medal she got at the finish line.

On Saturday the road racing begins. There's a 5k, a 10k, and then the crowd-favorite: the dog run. The 5 and 10 courses are challenging, yet fast and take you on a tour of both sides of downtown Bethlehem. You may think, who would stick around to do another longer, harder race after finishing a 5k? Well, this crowd does that! All for the love of running!

Runners got to team up with their four-legged sweethearts later in the day for the dog run. The 200 or so dog/owner teams corralled at the start just like it was a people only race. When the gun went off, a few bolted (including Maya and me) around the 1 mile course. Others lingered, stopped for pictures, and made new friends along the way. Sounds familiar, right?

After all that running, refueling is a must. And RW has you covered there, too. The Saturday night Dinner with the Editors breaks the mold on the typical pre-race pasta dinner. The menu is curated with healthy dishes, the atmosphere is inviting, and the chances of sitting next to Bart Yasso, Amby Bufurt, Tish Hamilton, or David Willey are high.

The event culminates with the Half Marathon on Sunday. Like the 5 and 10, the course is hilly, but provides that challenge that keeps drawing us all back to running race after race, year after year. Whether it's chasing PR's, racing to the podium, or finding fitness, everyone shares that common goal of getting to the finish line. And at this finish line awaits the community of runners that Runner's World has cultivated over the last 50 years.

Thanks RW for introducing us to this event. We can't wait to come back next year!