My full month of using recipes from Shalane Flanagan’s cookbook Run Fast. Eat Slow. has come to an end, and the book itself shows signs of heavy usage over the past five weeks. I tried 30 recipes this month and enjoyed the majority. A few really stood out, however, and have gone into my normal cooking rotation.
This final week, I’ll review four last recipes, share those that I make on the regular now, offer some money-saving tips for the more expensive ingredients, and answer the burning question: did eating like Shalane for five weeks affect my running at all?
*spoiler alert: I’m still waiting for that Nike sponsorship.
Recovery Quinoa Salad
My family and close friends know of my love for kale salads that are usually some combination of kale, a vinaigrette, a grain, some grated or chopped veggies, seeds, and maybe some dried fruit. I eat this type of salad A LOT. Shalane’s recipe is yet another take on this theme: a Mexi-kale version with a lime juice and olive oil dressing, quinoa, black beans, jalapeno, red bell pepper, red onion, chopped olives, cilantro, and those delicious Turmeric Pepitas.
I made a big bowl of this for our small Super Bowl gathering, and everyone enjoyed the salad with only the kids being on the fence. With my wide-ranging kale salad palate, this one is my least favorite but it is still OK. My only major critique of this recipe? Raw red onion is just an overwhelming flavor; I used a little less than called for and was still breathing onion fire all evening. Leave it out or use just a quarter of an onion.
Cost: A, Ease of Recipe: A, Taste: B-, Family-Friendly: B-, Prep-time: 45 minutes, but tastes better if it sits for several hours/overnight.
Carolina Tarragon Chicken Salad
I had quite a bit of left-over roasted chicken meat to use up, so this recipe sounded appealing. I don’t dislike chicken salad normally, but I don’t love it either. This recipe has several twists that make it quite unique: rather than a mayo-heavy dressing to hold the salad together, this chicken salad is mixed with mashed avocado, Greek yogurt, and lemon juice. Tarragon lends a distinctive flavor, and green apple, celery, and walnuts offer up some crunch (due to my walnut allergy, I subbed in sunflower seeds). Because I already had the leftover meat, this threw together quickly.
Long story short, my husband loved the sandwich I took him for lunch, which he said pairs “excellently with Ruffles.” Ha! I think I am not a fan of tarragon, which I’ve never used in my cooking before, because I don’t like this recipe. Seemed kind of bland to me with that weird almost licorice-like flavor. I think leaving it out entirely or substituting in basil or maybe even some fresh dill would taste better. The kids were turned off by the color and aroma. Looks like my hubby will be eating chicken salad sandwiches for lunch for the rest of the week! **UPDATE: Because I hate waste, I had an open-faced sandwich the next day and thoroughly enjoyed it! Sometimes you need to try something twice!
Cost: B+, Ease of Recipe: A, Taste: B, Family-Friendly: C, Prep-time: 30 minutes (fast because I used leftover chicken meat)
Curry Lentil Soup
This recipe knocked it out of the park for me: fast to make on a school night, inexpensive ingredients, and the entire family loved it. Additionally, there are several modifications I can see to make this even better. Served over rice would be great or cubed potatoes in the soup would bulk it up a little. We all had warm, happy stomachs after dinner!
Cost: A, Ease of Recipe: A, Taste: A, Family-Friendly: A, Prep-time: 50 minutes start to on the table (including Charred Cauliflower)
I made this as suggested to top the Curry Lentil Soup, but had to stop myself from nibbling on it alone before the soup had cooled down enough to eat. Although it tasted great on the soup, I can easily see making this as a side dish or adding it the Root Lover’s Winter Salad. Delicious and easy!
Cost: A, Ease of Recipe: A, Taste: A, Family-Friendly: A, Prep-time: 30 minutes (5 prep, 25 roasting)
Tips for Saving Money & Rationalizing Expensive Ingredients
So, I know I got a little snarky about how much some of the ingredients for these recipes cost me this month. I did not add it all up and compare it to my normal food budget because I’d rather live in denial, but honestly eating well is worth the cost. I let other things slide in favor of filling my fridge with fresh produce all the time. Example? The comb I use for my hair is 30 years old. It is pink tie-dye and I got it for Christmas when I was eight. Every week at the grocery store I almost buy a new one, but then go buy avocados instead. Priorities, right? But, seriously, I do have some tips for minimizing the financial impact of eating slow.
- Read Chapter Two first! Shalane and Elyse tell you all about how to stock your pantry and fridge. Although it would break the bank to go buy all the things they advise you to have on hand at once, as you try new recipes and find the ingredients that you use and like a lot, your pantry will magically become better stocked with those things.
- Meal plan! Write down the recipes you are going to try on which day in the week ahead, then make a list of all the ingredients you need for each one. Incorporate leftovers as sides or for meals in the days following. Try to pick recipes that share some of the same ingredients, so you can use half an onion here and half in a different recipe the next day. Choose recipes that help you have meals for many days from one session of cooking; breakfast recipes worked particularly well for this as did the large salads. Good meal planning and prep saves you time and money by reducing waste and making easy-to-grab, nourishing food rather than eating out or grabbing a processed cookie from the vending machine at work.
- Think Costco! Recurring popular and potentially expensive ingredients that you should buy in large bulk (for example, at Costco): coconut oil, maple syrup, and almond meal.
- Buy in the bulk section! Visit a store with a bulk section when looking for many of the alternative grains, flours, and spices. They are cheaper in general and you can buy just enough for the recipe the first time you try it so you’re not stuck with a large amount of something you potentially don’t like.
Some of the ingredients in Run Fast. Eat Slow. are just more expensive than your conventional ones; white flour is cheap but also lacking in any real nutrition, and the same with white or even brown sugar. By using whole food, nutrient-dense ingredients, you stay full and satisfied longer and avoid the sudden “I’m starving!” grab for fast food or an impulse purchase in line at the grocery store. This might actually save you money in the long run.
My (already low) consumption of processed food has gone down as a result of my using Run Fast. Eat Slow. After a longer run or workout, I used to open the pantry and grab what was quick and available, often times that would end up being crackers or cereal or fruit snacks. Now, instead, I grab a Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookie or something that I made myself that is full of real food, vitamins, and minerals that actually aid my body’s ability to recover from a hard run. I consider money I spend on good food for my family a smart investment.
So after 30 recipes, which ones continued to make comebacks week after week?
Breakfast/Snacks: Super Hero Muffins, Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies, Blueberry-Lemon Cornmeal Scones, and the Breakfast Burritos. Making a batch of any of these recipes became a habit for me on Sunday evenings. I loved having healthy, home-prepared breakfasts and snacks ready to go for the week, reducing my stress and busy-ness on school mornings. The breakfast cookies in particular are fantastic to have in the pantry because they are so filling and work so well for post-run snacks, too. I experimented a bit with my fourth batch and added some shredded zucchini which made for a slightly softer cookie with additional nutrition.
Salads/Sides: Apple Cider Vinaigrette, Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette, Lemon Miso Dressing, Sage Brown Butter Sauce, Turmeric Pepitas, Root Lover’s Winter Salad, Kale Salad with Farro (and variations on that theme). Again, making one of the big-batch kale/grain salads with any of these fast salad dressings saves time and makes lunch healthier for the week. I don’t think I’ll ever buy bottled dressing again. The pepitas are so quick to make and yet add such dimension to so many recipes. I used cumin in place of curry a couple of times and actually like that flavor more.
Main Dishes/Sauces: Penne and Butternut Squash with Sage Brown Butter Sauce, Roast Chicken. Another versatile, yummy sauce and then a quick main dish that leaves behind leftovers for other meals and broth. Win-win.
Desserts: Double Chocolate Teff Cookies. Because I can tell myself these are healthier than brownies!
Which ones will I make again, but haven’t yet?
Breaded Cod, Gimme Veggies Fried Rice, Minestrone, Flu Fighter Chicken and Rice Soup, Curry Lentil Soup with Charred Cauliflower
Mashed Yams with Sage Brown Butter, Can’t Beet Me Smoothie, Millet Pizza Pies
It’s been a fun month of religiously using Run Fast. Eat Slow. to plan my family’s meals. There are still many more recipes I will try, and I love having new favorites to mix in with my regular cooking. I’ve learned about some grains and spices I’ve never used before, planned a Super Bowl party menu that was gluten-free with vegan options to accommodate some of my guests and that everyone ate not knowing the difference, and decreased my family’s consumption of processed foods.
I can’t really say whether or not my running has improved over the last five weeks; I’m not training for anything now or trying to get faster. I do know that after a fairly high-mileage month (200 miles), I noticed not feeling ravenous all the time and snacking less than when my miles go over 50 miles per week normally. I credit the more nutrient-dense meals with a higher fat content than I normally eat that left me feeling more satisfied. I craved candy and straight-up sweets less after long runs too.
If you’re looking for a fairly easy cookbook to use as a guide to add more nutrition to your diet, Run Fast. Eat Slow. should definitely be on your list!
What’s your favorite recipe from Run Fast. Eat Slow.? Any tips for saving time and money on the recipes?
Click here to benefit Salty Running with your purchase of Run Fast. Eat Slow.