Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hello November!

Hello November! Every month I’m thrown at how quickly time goes by. Where did July go? Where did August go? Where did September go? You get the idea.

Years ago when I worked in public accounting, at the beginning of every month I’d tell my audit team: “it’s the start of healthy living month.” Sometimes the impressionable young auditors (they were like 2-3 years younger than me tops) would get on board with me and they’d take the stairs, stay away from the candy dish and occasionally eat a sensible meal. Most times they’d just laugh and order a full fat venti mocha with whipped cream. It was all fun and games until their business casual got a little tight.

My point is: November is healthy living month, even if I said it in October and will say it again in January (not December, because let’s be real). Actually, cleaner eating has been on my mind a lot lately and putting it up on this blog makes it a little more real. I joined a cooking class in late September that focuses on healthier, more wholesome options and habits. I don’t talk about food or nutrition much on this blog (or in person), because I’m certainly not an expert, nor can I prescribe what is best for each athlete. But I can share some recipes and tips that I learn along the way. So, with healthy living November, I’d like to share weekly recipes that you might like to try.

Here’s a little number that has become a fall and winter staple in my kitchen. I posted the link last month, but I think it deserves its own post. I first tried it in October 2010 when my friend Tesia made me a post-Kona feast to hear about my race. She also introduced me to Orangette, one of my favorite food blogs. Molly Wizenberg and her husband live in Seattle and have two restaurants. Reading her book, A Homemade Life, I developed foodie crushes on both of them. (And I am by no means a foodie.)

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
Adapted slightly from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, by Melissa Clark

4 Tbsp. olive oil, plus additional good oil for drizzling
2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
A few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne or Aleppo pepper, or more to taste
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
If you use veggie broth, it’s both vegan and gluten-free (if you’re into that sort of thing).
2 cups red lentils, picked through for stones and debris
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional for a garnish

In a large pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the broth, 2 cups water, the lentils, and the carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Using an immersion or regular blender, puree about half of the soup. It should still be somewhat chunky, not completely smooth. Reheat if necessary, then stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve the soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted very lightly with cayenne, if desired.

It says it yields 6 to 8 servings, but I can usually make it last for a week or longer (sometimes I freeze it), which will include one girls’ night dinner, 2-3 solo dinners, and a couple half servings as part of my lunch. It also is good drizzled on leftover rice and lentils.

Also, I should add that hot liquids expand when you blend them. (Sydnie learned the hard way when she tried this recipe – one burn mark and several soup spills later…Sorry Syd!)

And while I’m at it, here’s the kale salad that I usually serve with it when I have guests (typically girlfriends over after a rainy run). I believe I found it here. It’s probably not the healthiest, with the large amounts of ricotta, but you can feel good about getting your greens.

3/4 to 1 pound lacinato kale or tender regular kale, stems and center ribs discarded
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces coarsely grated ricotta salata (1 cup)

Working in batches, cut kale crosswise into very thin slices. Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well. Toss kale and ricotta salata in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat well, then season with salt and pepper.

I like to toast pumpkin seeds or chopped walnuts for some added flavor and texture. I should also note that I usually end up with extra “dressing”(the ricotta, olive oil, shallot mixture). You could probably half the "dressing" ingredients and end up just fine. Or you could save the ricotta mixture until you buy more kale.

I'll try to post new recipes and tips as the month wears on. Until then, stay motivated with your healthy habits and workouts during these short, late fall days. If you're like me, you'd rather be parked on the couch watching Breaking Bad versus doing track workouts in the rain. At least this soup will warm you up when you're finished running! :) 

Happy November!



1 comment:

  1. Thank you for calling out my lack of science and cooking knowledge. The burn on my arm is slowly healing :)