By Brian Grim
I don’t eat right…not often enough anyway. As much as I try to be healthy and stay in shape, my diet is usually pretty awful. I feel that I understand proper nutrition pretty well for a layman, so I think I know how to eat healthy. And I like enough vegetables (except for horrible things like brussels sprouts) and other healthy foods so that I usually enjoy healthy meals. The problem is that unhealthy food is so delicious, and it’s just so easy and convenient and fast too. I’m addicted to eating out and to junk food. I don’t know why, but there are times when I’m certain that the Big Mac is the greatest culinary invention in history.
The bottom line is that I need to start cooking at home more and eating out less. So I decided to pick up The Athlete’s Palate Cookbook: Renowned Chefs, Delicious Dishes, and the Art of Fueling Up While Eating Well and try a few recipes. The Athlete’s Palate Cookbook is a compilation from a monthly column in Runner’s World magazine that profiles different chefs who are runners and provides some of their favorite recipes for fueling and recovering from their runs. Each recipe also has nutritional information and a short summary explaining its possible fitness-related or disease-fighting benefits. For example, the omega-3 fatty acids in the Grilled Salmon with Vegetable Couscous and Artichoke Vinaigrette may reduce inflammation from joint pain as well as being good for the heart.
Although some of the profiles are interesting, I found myself skimming over most of them and just looking at the recipes themselves. There are five categories: Breakfast; Soups, Salads, and Sides; Main Courses; Beverages; and Deserts. The recipes are also marked “Training” (higher carbohydrates for fueling workouts) or “Recovery” (for replenishing nutrients and restoring muscles). Although generally healthy, they are not necessarily low-calorie or low-fat. For example, the Linguine with Genovese Pesto has 659 calories and 38 grams of fat per serving! It doesn’t say how much of that fat is saturated.
I figured I had to try at least some of the recipes from The Athlete’s Palate, so I made three of them: Naan Pizza with Canadian Bacon, Asparagus, and Fontina Cheese; Breakfast Couscous; and Chicken and Pumpkin Curry (using butternut squash instead of pumpkin). I’m neither a great chef nor a food writer, so all I can say is that I liked everything that I tried, especially the Chicken and Pumpkin Curry (even though I accidentally added cayenne at one point instead of curry!). Naan makes an excellent pizza crust, so I think I’ll steal that idea from now on when I make pizza at home. Breakfast Couscous is really just whole-wheat couscous with whatever combination of fresh or dried fruit and nuts you feel like putting in. Simple, but delicious. Honestly, it didn’t take me long to disregard the whole running angle of the book completely. I really only cared about whether the food tasted good or not. Still, as long I’m cooking for myself and staying away from fast food, I think almost anything I eat will be healthier.