Sunday, June 14, 2009

A recipe for success

I was happy to find that my normal energy level returned for my workouts in the second half of this week.  After my hill workout Thursday evening I had a couple of easy days and did my long run late this morning.  I've been enjoying sleeping in just a little too much I think and have reverted to my old late morning and late afternoon running routine.  I vow to become an early girlie again this next week!

My long run today started with a 5 mile warm up followed by a set of the Everest Hill Drills then 10 minutes at marathon effort followed, without rest, by 15 minutes at half marathon effort.   It was warm by the time I started this 25 minute sequence, but it felt good to run 6:21 pace for marathon and 6:05 for half marathon effort.

After that, I got a 5-minute jog rest and then started a sequence of 10 x 100m strides at increasing speed starting with 10k effort for the first few reps and finishing with 3k effort for the penultimate and final reps.  After that, I hopped on a treadmill for 5 x 2 minute hill repeats @ 3k effort and FINALLY a 5k-effort, uphill final 5 minutes.  This added up to 16 total miles and put my weekly mileage at 74+.  It felt good to get back into the funkadelic 70s, and I sang Free Bird in tribute all the way home. 

Let's start the food-related portion of this blog with a fact.  I am not known for my culinary prowess.  Ask any of my friends.  It's not that I can't cook.  It's more that I don't enjoy it enough to make it a priority.  So, I'm always looking for meal options that fit a few simple criteria:
1) little to no prep time;
2) low fat;
3) tasty.

I am a fan of Trader Joe's and have a series of regular items I pick up there (mostly frozen meals) for lunch and dinner.  Lately, I've been getting a little tired of the few items I have been able to find that meet my criteria, particularly the low fat standard.  So, I decided I would try to find a couple more quality meals to add to my standard 3 meal rotation.  The Dissin' Genius was thrilled with this prospect, not that he ever complains about my cooking.

I have also been looking in various places for information about nutrition and found Chris Carmichael's book Food for Fitness on my bookshelf.  I cracked it open and found a few recipes in the back of the book that looked worthwhile.  I tried one of these last night and was absolutely delighted with it.  So, I'm copying it here along with how I prepared it. I've also included all of the gory nutritional details which I calculated myself from the ingredients I used.  It took all of 20 minutes to prepare and probably cost less than $15 in ingredients, all of which came from Trader Joe's.

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes  and White Beans

Makes 5 servings (CC says 4 servings, but I've given the nutrition for 1/5th of the total meal)
  • 16 ounces penne pasta (the recipe actually calls for 8, but I doubled it and found it delightfully pastalicious)
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes with basil (I used 2 Trader Joe's 17.6 oz. starter sauce packages that come in a tetrapak--you find them with the tomato sauces.   I also added some Italian spices)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can white kidney beans (aka cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
  • 10 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1.  Cook penne for 8-10 minutes until desired doneness.  Drain.
2. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and beans in a large skillet.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Remove skillet from heat and add spinach letting spinach wilt, stirring constantly.
4. Serve sauce over pasta and sprinkle some feta on top.

Nutritional deets (for a serving that equals 1/5th of the meal (not including the feta):
Calories: 497
Total fat: 3 g
Sat fat: 0 g
cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 553 mg
Carbs:  97 g
Fiber: 15 g
Sugars:  10 g
Protein: 18 g

And, it actually tasted amazing!  Guten apetit!


  1. If you happened to copy down the recipe earlier today, I made a mistake in the amount of pasta I used (versus what was called for in the recipe). I used 16 rather than 8 ounces. So, the nutritional values I gave are for the larger amount of pasta!

  2. Thank you, sometime it's hard for me to get started on the weekend long run... You rock!