Monday, April 21, 2014

A Runner's Meal: Hummus + Anything = Delicious

Happy Monday!

Running and cooking don't always go together as well as you'd hope. Yes, running makes your body crave healthy things, but running also drains some of the energy you need to really put effort into preparing a meal. Sometimes, I find myself just grabbing a loaf of bread and a hunk of cheese for dinner, collapsing on my bed to gnaw at both before passing out, mouth smeared with cheese and bread crumbs.

Just to clarify: I am an adult in the 21st century, not a peasant in the 12th.
But I have that fancy Runner's World Cookbook, and I had time Saturday night, so I decided to make a new recipe. A recipe, I thought, that will require skill, dedication, and commitment. A recipe that will test the limits of my cooking skills.

When the time came, though, I flipped to the "fast meals" section, found the recipe with the shortest list of instructions, and got started. Baby steps, okay?

That recipe was "Roast-Beef Pitas with Cucumber Sauce." I took a look at the instructions. Uh oh. This involved mixing things--it might not be ready in thirty seconds. I began eyeing the bread and cheese beckoning to me from the corner of the kitchen.

Those slightly moldy sirens
But wait. Scanning the instructions, I noticed an ingredient that the authors had inexplicably left out of the recipe's title: hummus. Why leave that out of the title? If I had any recipe that involved hummus, I would title it "Hummus and Whatever, Who Cares, I Could Smear Hummus on an Old Leather Shoe and You Would Still Eat It." And it would be the most popular recipe in the world.

So yeah, I like hummus.

The recipe is for recovery, which means protein in the form of roast beef. The previously-mentioned mixing was Greek yogurt with chopped cucumbers and dill, so not really that hard.

And as I worked to smear the inside of the pitas with hummus, fill them with roast beef, and smother them in the cucumber sauce, I forgot all about the easy meal option of bread and cheese.

That's one of the nice things about making the choice to actually cook. Much like running, once the difficulty of starting is over, it's actually kind of fun and cathartic to put effort into working hard. Although still hungry enough to chug curdled milk, I found satisfaction in filling each pita and arranging it on the plate for myself and my girlfriend.

Then I ate them. I ate them so hard. Much like a horse that has just bolted, I become blind and deaf when tucking into a good meal. It can be challenging to remember the specifics well enough to write about them, but I'll do my best.

Overall, they were very good. The cucumber sauce was cool and light, which is nice since Chicago has finally figured out it's spring and has been getting hotter. The hummus complemented the roast beef even more so than it complements practically anything else, so I was satisfied. And most importantly, the whole recipe only took about 15 minutes start to finish, so I it wasn't too much of a step above bread and cheese time-wise. But it was many steps above taste and health-wise.

I would recommend it in hot weather, but for lunch rather than dinner, since it is a lighter meal. I would also recommend remembering that if you can make yourself run, you can make yourself put effort into a meal. Sometimes it is best to avoid the easy options!

Unless the easy option is hummus. Then you eat the hummus.


  1. Hey! I found your blog from the reddit thread. Stopping by to say hi, and I love hummus too. I'm going to have to checkout that cookbook I think.

    1. Awesome! Glad you're here. I was happy to see that thread. And yes, the cookbook is pretty handy. Thinking about trying one of their breakfast recipes next...

    2. Does the cookbook have many vegetarian recipes?

    3. It does, actually. It helpfully categorizes every recipe by if it's vegetarian or not, if it's better for post run recovery or pre-run energy, and if it's a fast meal or not. There are a couple of other categories I think, sorry, I don't have it in front of me.

      A few of the recipes are also listed on the Runner's World website, but not most of them, I think. Definitely worth buying.