Many endurance athletes, myself included, find ourselves stuck in ruts when it comes to recipes and meals. We tend to have our staples that provide the nutrients we need to sustain our training, but those staples can get boring and overdone. The challenge to seek out new recipes is good, but searching a foreign region’s menu, was an extra, albeit fun, challenge.
With the mission of choosing a recipe from a specific country in the Mediterranean, a small geography lesson was first required. I think many of us don’t realize that the Mediterranean is more than a portion of Italy and the country of Greece. There are 21 countries that comprise the region. They all share similar ingredients in their recipes, yet they all deliver a unique flair to the table. I got the joy of researching the recipes of Egypt.
The first step was just familiarizing myself with the cuisine of the country. True to Mediterranean food, there were many minced meats, shish kabobs with sides of tahini and pita. Some less common foods included grilled pigeon, fried perch and tuna, and stewed beans for breakfast. While runners need protein, pigeon was not a source I was opting for this time.
So the mission – a Mediterranean recipe, specifically Egyptian, with all the nutrients that can fuel and inspire a dedicated endurance athlete like myself. I needed a recipe that would break me out of the egg white omelette and protein shake rut I live in. There were a lot that sounded appealing, but one in particular became the winner – pistachio couscous.
This dish is full of whole grains, proteins, healthy fats, and most of all flavor. We made one major tweak to this Egyptian recipe, though. We replaced the common wheat-based couscous with quinoa. Couscous is delicious and nutritious, but it’s wheat-based and like many of my fellow athletes I eat a gluten-free diet. Besides, quinoa is packed with a surprising amount of protein. My muscles need all the protein they can get most days.
Yields 4, 1/2-cup servings
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie stock
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup raisins
zest of one lemon
juice of one large lemon
1/3 cup roasted, slivered almonds
1/3 cup roasted, salted pistachios
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook your quinoa according to package instructions, first rinsing thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer, then bringing to a boil with your chicken or veggie stock. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
2. Once your quinoa is cooked, fluff it with a fork and remove it from the heat.
3. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, raisins, olive oil, salt, pepper and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
4. Transfer to serving bowls and top with crushed pistachios and almonds. Will keep covered in the refrigerator for several days
This is far from a meal that consists of powder shaken in a bottle, a slightly boring egg dish, or a bowl of oatmeal eaten in a hurry. The flavors and standards of the Mediterranean are amazing inspirations for some excellent endurance meals. You can eat clean, nutritious, and fuel your machine to get you to your next finish line in record time.
This recipe and post are part of a “blog carnival” hosted by Jason Bahamundi at CookTrainEatRace.com in an effort to feature Mediterranean recipes that fuel endurance athletes. In addition to our Raisin and Nut Quinoa Bowl, you can find more recipes with Mediterranean flair and flavor at these participating sites:
Malta at CookTrainEatRace
Lebanon at GillmerGirl
Greece at CotterCrunch
Spain at BrittsBlogging
Morocco at SixKickSwitch
France at BeatingLimitations
Egypt at ObligatoryTriBlog
Turkey at MilesMusclesMommyhood
Albania at OutdoorAdventureCanada
Recipe and images by Dana Shultz for DietsInReview
March 19th, 2013