Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reasons to Run: Food & Figure

Let's be honest with each other. People take up running for as many different reasons as there are people who run. There are many who do it for noble reasons: charity, to fight some terrible disease, in honor of someone who can't run, to change their lives.

I am not one of those noble people.

The number one reason that I run is simple: I like to eat whatever I want and I also like to be thin. If my eating habits were super healthy, maybe I wouldn't have to run as much as I do to maintain my weight. But alas, the foods that I love the most are the baddies: pasta, cheese, fried chicken, bread, ice cream, hamburgers, McDonald's french fries, wine, cupcakes, pizza.

Give up this greasy salty goodness? NEVER.
Don't be fooled - these things are not what I eat every day. Not by a long shot. They are my splurge foods and when I splurge, baby, I splurge.

I know that serious runners are very careful about the foods that they eat. I understand that - if you're going to push your body into running 25+ miles a week, you need to put good fuel in the tank. As I continue to push myself to become a "real" runner, I'm trying to do better on this front. I dutifully clip recipes from my Runner's World magazines with the intention of trying them (I haven't tried a single one... yet). I am becoming friends with the salad bar, smoothies, greek yogurt, and almonds. I take a second to think before eating that one of the red velvet cupcakes that my very kind co-worker took upon herself to bring in for the office. I even gave up drinking Coke.

But sometimes, you just need a big fat bowl of pasta in cream sauce.

Luckily, I am married to an Italian man who not only loves to eat pasta, but also loves to cook it. Last night we tried a new recipe that indulges my love of pasta and cream sauce - without all the guilt. I'm a seafood lover but my husband is not, so we made this with chicken. We've done the shrimp version before - it's also excellent.

Find the recipe after the jump.

Creamy Cajun Shrimp (or chicken) Linguine

from Cooking Light, September 2006

Total prep and cook time: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (for 4 1 1/2 cup servings)
1 cup water
14 oz can fat-free, reduced sodium chicken brother
6 oz uncooked linguine (whole wheat for a healthier option)
1 pound medium shrimp or cubed chicken breast
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 oz sliced mushrooms (portabello or cremini work well)
1 large red bell pepper cut into slices
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp Cajun seasoning (more if you like it hot)
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup half and half
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Combine 1 cup water and all of the chicken broth in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Break pasta in half; add to pan, and cook according to package directions.

While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute chicken or shrimp for 5 minutes, then add mushrooms nad pepper to pan until chicken or shrimp is cooked through and peppers are tender. Drain excess liquid. Return to heat. Add flour, cajun seasoning, and salt; saute for 30 seconds. Stir in half and half; cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Add drained pasta to chicken and vegetable mixture; toss with parsley.

Approximately 365-400 calories per serving (depending on shrimp or chicken) and 11 grams of fat. Not too shabby for a cream based pasta.

Of course if you have a big run scheduled for the next day, you want to steer clear of cream based foods.

Happy eating!

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