Eat Like Shalane Month: Week 1

image-uploaded-from-ios-13My husband got me Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky’s cookbook, Run Fast. Eat Slow. for Christmas. It had been on my radar for several months. We’d talked about it behind the scenes here at Salty Running, and several recipes had come up in conversation on runs with some of my running buddies. “Beets?! Why are there beets in everything?!” moaned one friend as we ran along together discussing it.

My husband smiled sheepishly when I opened my present and said, “The recipes reminded me of how you already cook, so I thought you’d like some new ideas.” As I looked through the recipes, the more my excitement and interest grew and I saw he was spot-on. Many of the recipes did remind me of our meals. I decided that I’d do more than just try a few recipes; I committed to trying five recipes per week for one month.

So for the next four weeks, I’ll make at least five recipes from Run Fast. Eat Slow. and share with you how they go down: how expensive and time-consuming they are, my opinion, my husband and kids’ opinions, suggestions for making them better, and whether or not I feel better on my runs.

Who knows? Maybe after all this I’ll run an OTQ. Or get a Nike sponsorship. Or, maybe it’ll just be a fun project to focus on during the dark middle of winter.

I started off by planning our meals for the week and going grocery shopping, as there were several ingredients I did not have on hand in my pantry. Miso and almond meal were two that shocked me with their price tags, but my small-town Safeway is generally expensive. When discussing recipes with other Saltines, one said her hubby commented on the “weird hippie ingredients” in so many of the recipes while other Saltines said the recipes weren’t exactly child-friendly. I’ll admit here that I do “cook slow” most of the time for my family and they are used to “hippie” ingredients, so buying farro and miso didn’t scare me. Teff makes me a little nervous, though. We’ll see how that recipe goes in the coming weeks.

For each recipe, I’ll assign an A – F grade in each of the following categories: Cost, Ease of Recipe, Taste, Family-Friendliness.

image-uploaded-from-ios-3Kale Raddichio Salad with Lemon Miso Dressing

This kale salad with raddichio, farro, and parmesan cheese tossed with a lemon miso dressing (described by author/chef Elyse as “show-stopping”) looked familiar, as I make a kale salad myself that is always the request from my friends when we attend potlucks. I followed the recipes precisely, except I used sunflower seeds rather than walnuts in the salad (I’m allergic) and I added a quarter-teaspoon of sugar to the dressing because the salty/sour flavor needed tempering a bit.

First off, this makes a HUGE salad- enough for dinner and then three lunches for two people the days following. I love recipes like that. My husband and I really enjoyed the salad (I’ll make it again), my son ate it but wasn’t enthused, and my kale-salad-loving daughter did not like it. This is definitely a salad you should make the day before, as the flavors mellow and the kale and farro really soak them up after 24 hours.

Never had farro before? I hadn’t, but it is a lovely nutty flavored grain that cooks like rice or pasta and has the texture of barley.

Cost: B- (several key ingredients are spendy), Ease: B (many steps), Taste: A- (better the second day), Family-Friendly: C+ (lower if you have veggie-averse kids or partners).

image-uploaded-from-ios-5Superhero Muffins

These flourless muffins (you use almond meal, which is EXPENSIVE but delicious) are packed with zucchini, carrots, oats, and maple syrup instead of sugar, butter, and chocolate chips for a kick of sweetness. You can also use dried fruit like raisins or dates as well as nuts, but I used what I had on hand. I threw these together in 20 minutes and served them warm for breakfast.

The recipe makes 12 muffins precisely and believe me, one muffin kept me satisfied until lunchtime. The unanimous consensus was that these are freaking delicious, and eight muffins were consumed by my family members by dinnertime. They taste great the next day as well; I am absolutely making these again, and again, and again.

Cost: C (several key ingredients are very spendy), Ease: A,  Taste: A+Family-Friendly: A+

image-uploaded-from-ios-6Hearty Minestrone with Spicy Sausage and Beans

We are big soup-eaters in my family, and lovers of minestrone too. I was excited to try a new version that adds Italian sausage and cannellini beans. This soup tossed together quickly and with cooking time, dinner was ready in under an hour. I doubled the oregano amount (from 1 tsp to 2) because it needed more Italian flavor in my opinion, and I also added freshly ground black pepper (the recipe didn’t call for any).

Additionally I added 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar because the broth needed more acid, and balsamic has a way of pulling all the flavors together and enhancing them. The recipe calls for making penne on the side (I used whole wheat) so the noodles don’t become too soggy and I agree that was a great idea. This soup is delicious and hearty and gets better after 24 hours.

Cost: A (cheap & lots of left-overs), Ease: A+ (easy for weeknights),  Taste: A+Family-Friendly: A

image-uploaded-from-ios-7Whole Roasted Chicken with Herbs

If you are scared of roasting a whole chicken, STOP! They are a cheap, easy, quick way to make a healthy main dish that provides leftovers for lunches and a carcass for making broth (which I am going to try next week). I cooked my chicken on our Traeger pellet smoker because YUM and also to free up my oven for the mashed yams, but the recipe calls for just using your regular oven at 450°.

You first fill the chicken’s cavity with fresh herbs, onion, garlic, and lemon, then rub it down with a mixture of salt, pepper, olive oil, and minced herbs. Due to the cavity being full of the veggies and herbs, cooking time was longer than my normal recipe time but ABSOLUTELY worth the wait. The skin was crisp and flavorful and the meat was insanely moist and infused with fantastic flavor. The whole family loved this variation and we ate the whole chicken.

Cost: A (cheap plus provides left-overs to eat and use for broth), Ease: A,  Taste: A+Family-Friendly: A+

image-uploaded-from-ios-8Mashed Yams with Sage Brown Butter

The first step to this recipe involves making the sage brown butter, which was easy and filled my kitchen with a heavenly smell. I’ll definitely make this sauce again to drizzle on vegetables and pasta. For the yams, I wrapped them in foil and baked them for an hour then pulled off the skins. I mashed them then added the brown butter, milk, nutmeg, and seasoning then topped them with Parmesan cheese and raw pumpkin seeds and then popped them into the oven.

I wanted to love this recipe, but unfortunately none of us did. The flavor was great but the texture of the mashed sweet potatoes was bleh and the cheese on top just didn’t quite go. I think a better way to do this would be simply to cut the sweet potatoes into one-inch cubes, toss them with half of the sage brown butter, and then just roast them for 30-35 minutes at 400°. Tossing them with the cheese and pumpkin seeds afterward (and the rest of the sage brown butter) would finish them off nicely and by roasting the sweet potatoes they’d keep the texture that was lacking in this recipe.

Cost: B (the herbs, cheese, seeds, etc. drive up the cost), Ease: B,  Taste: C (bad texture diminishes the taste), Family-Friendly: D

***

All in all, the recipes I tried this week were fairly easy and tasted great, though several contained ingredients that upped my grocery bill. After a little sleuthing, however, I was able to find another grocer with a large bulk section where I can get almond meal and many of the other dry ingredients for a fraction of what the store in my town charges. Our favorite recipe was the muffins, but the soup, chicken, and salad were definitely tied for runners up with the mashed yams coming in last. Looking forward to further experimenting next week, so stay tuned!

Click here to benefit Salty Running with your purchase of Run Fast. Eat Slow.

Have you tried any of these recipes from Run Fast. Eat Slow.? What did you think? Are you interested in trying any now?

I'm an elementary P.E. teacher with a long-term, ongoing marathon addiction.The next big goal? Keeping up my BQ streak while aiming for a 3:10! I write about the not-so-glamorous side of running and fitting in serious training with a family while staying sane(ish).

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42 comments

  1. If you google “super hero muffins” you can get the recipe along with some people’s recommendations for alternate ingredients – I forget what one person replaced the almond meal with, but the muffins still tasted good.

  2. I have this book, too – yes, that kale salad makes a HUGE amount! I’d never had farro before, so that was neat. It’s good with leftover cooked chicken breast thrown in there, too. I’ll agree with you on the cost of the ingredients – it’s a little too expensive for me to be cooking from that book on a regular basis. LOVE the superhero muffins, though. The sage brown butter sauce, I could see going on pasta…and yeah, cheese and sweet potatoes just sounds a little weird in my head. There are a couple other recipes in there that sound a little weird to me, so I am curious to see what you think of them if you try them!

    1. There is a roasted butternut squash with penne and the sage brown butter sauce that I so very much looking forward to trying!! If you let me know which recipes you thought were weird, I’ll give them a try in the coming weeks!

      1. I didn’t want to contribute to any prejudices, but this is one of them! I liked it more than my boyfriend did. Since there was no meat in it, he didn’t think it was a real meal…he said, “Shouldn’t there be bacon in this or something?” It was tasty, but it seemed a little starch-heavy with both squash AND pasta.

      2. The roasted butternut squash with penne is AMAZING! I haven’t tried all the recipes so I am looking forward to following your adventures. My family also loves the muffins and the flu fighter chicken soup. I know some people also find better prices on ingredients on amazon.

  3. I had the muffins and the minestrone this week too- and I would give them both A+ grades! So good! The kale salad still sounds good, but I can see that being something only half of the household would eat. Farro is delicious- we usually cook our quinoa with some farro mixed in. Excited to see what other recipes you make!

    1. One thing I am really enjoying about a bunch of these recipes is that they are large enough to leave leftovers for lunch (often times for several days) with the added bonus of actually tasting better the next day- like that minestrone!

  4. You can also make your own almond meal (if you have a food processor or good blender). Still spendy but not as bad. If you get almonds from the baking aisle that are raw and split or slivered, those work best.

    Whole roast chicken is the bomb. I’ve had good luck with doing it in the oven breast side down; the juices all run into the white meat and keep it from getting dried out.

    1. Do you soak the almonds and then dry them before grinding for almond meal or just throw them straight in there? You can get slivered almonds pretty cheap in bulk or at discount grocery stores sometimes.

  5. This is an awesome review! I have this book and tried the black bean recipe and found it pretty blah so I kind of gave up on the whole book. But I have heard other raves about the muffins so now I am going to try those. Looking forward to the rest of the reviews!

  6. I cook like I follow a training plan (#uncoachable), with substitutions here there and everywhere, but the muffins are A+ toddler-approved as is. Kale salad though…I’d be the only person in the house eating that!
    I already make mashed sweet potatoes with sage brown butter – all those seeds and whatnot seem like extras that would just detract from the delicious, delicious brown butter! Sage brown butter is also amazing on gnocchi; you can throw cubed roasted sweet potato into that, and grate some parm on top. Mmmm.

  7. I have loved so many of the recipes in this cookbook, but I’m looking forward to your take on them! I’m curious to know your thoughts on the millet pizzas – I made them last night and thought they were meh… they completely fell apart out of the oven and lacked some flavor…

    1. Those piqued my curiosity too– though I don’t make my own pizza a lot because, in my mind, pizza is reserved for nights I don’t have time to cook! I’ll give them a try!

  8. I tried the salmon cakes, lentil soup with charred cauliflower, zuchinni quinotto and fried rice this week. All super yummy!! My husbands and my favorite was the soup!

  9. Great review! My favorites so far have been the double chocolate teff cookies (new fan of teff, but yes, expensive), flu fighter soup, roasted brussel sprouts and the sweet potato fries, and the two kale salads. I did try the sage brown butter pasta and it was ok. I totally bought a food processor after getting the book – highly recommend 🙂

  10. I love this cookbook, and make the kale salad every week (at least for now, during kale season…). I also make the broths regularly – they’re so tasty I often just drink a cup plain. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

  11. I have this cookbook too! I am curious about the Can’t Beet Me Smoothie–I haven’t found a beet smoothie yet that doesn’t make me gag! I have cooked the Marathon Lasagna which was really really good!

    1. I liked the beet smoothie. Do you like beets in general? There are lots of other flavours in there so you can taste it but it’s not overpowering. Maybe make a half batch to test it out.

    2. I am sucking it up and trying the beet smoothie this week; I love smoothies and veggies but I don’t like veggies IN smoothies usually. We’ll see about this one!

  12. So excited for this series and your reviews!

    I have made the Superhero Muffins a number of times now. Maple turned me on to Costco for cheaper almond meal. I skip the nuts because they feel substantial enough without them and helps with the cost.

    I have done the Sweet Potato Breakfast cookies several times as well and I actually prefer them with pumpkin puree. My kids love these.

    I bought Teff Flour and did the cookies and the pancakes (wouldn’t repeat the pancakes).

    I need to turn to the mains! I did the Breakfast Bowl (which wasn’t much outside my regular cooking). The Mile High Meatballs were excellent!

    1. Going to try the sweet potato breakfast cookies- that’s a great idea to use pumpkin! I probably won’t try the teff pancakes because my husband is the master pancake maker and his whole wheat, buttermilk, coconut blueberry pancakes CANNOT be beat!

  13. I got the book from the library bur didn’t have time to really look at it. I cook slow – and vegan – so I usually need extra time to figure out swaps. I definitely want to make the kale salad, soup, and muffins. I’ve never like mashed sweet potatoes. I’m going to request this again from the library 🙂

  14. One thing that might help reduce recipe cost – see what you can get in the bulk food aisle of your grocery store. High end natural food stores can be more expensive overall but frequently I notice the items in the bulk aisle are priced better than say a Safeway. I suspect this is due to high turn over. You could buy just a cup of almond flour, two dates, a quarter cup of nuts, etc and in my experience that brings the cost of what I am cooking WAY down. You can buy items in the bulk in ridiculously small portions – when they weigh them up front, the actual cost is frequently something like $0.30. I’ve literally gone to the bulk spice aisle and made packets of spices in single tsp amounts.

  15. Made the burst cherry tomato pasta with shrimp tonight. So good. So easy. We don’t do regular pasta so I subbed a quinoa pasta. But super simple, super yum.

  16. So far, we love the root lovers salad (used parsnips, rainbow carrots, and beets from our CSA), the superhero muffins (dark chocolate chips and pumpkin seeds), recovery quinoa salad, and lemon miso dressing. Couldn’t get the can’t beet me smoothie to come out quite right.

    1. The Root Lovers’ is in the upcoming weeks posts- I loved it! The beet smoothie has several ingredients I don’t always keep on hand… I’m nervous to purchase all the things and then not like the smoothie. \

  17. Thanks for doing this series. I too got the book for Christmas, but haven’t had a chance to look through it or try anything yet. I look forward to testing out your recommendations- especially the Superhero muffins, I keep hearing great things about them! Has anyone tried them with regular whole wheat flour, instead of almond flour? That way I could make them today without an extra trip to the grocery store =)