My 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.
Kale 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).
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+
Hearty 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
Whole 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+
Mashed 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?