Easy, Pretty and Healthy: I’m talking about a recipe, silly.

As you may recall from last year’s cooking experience, I don’t cook. Or at least I don’t enjoy it. I prefer to stand by, observe and eat. Which also means that I have to rely on my more capable friends to get the job done.

This year, I leaned on my running partner Robin, who also happens to be a dietitian. These are good friends to have. These are the people who gently discourage you (me) from engaging in high-risk eating behavior (i.e. ordering seafood after a power outage). They’re also the people you call when you (I) took a supplement called “Neuro Shred” for an energy boost and thought either your heart would beat out of your chest or your skin would crawl off your body.

Robin’s sage advice: “Stop doing that, Andrea.”

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So Robin sends me a grocery list to create “Zesty Quinoa Salad,” a dish she found on allrecipes.com, and off to my neighborhood Publix I go.

As it turns out, Zesty Quinoa Salad is super cheap to make, which left me enough dough to invite a bottle of my good friend Kim Crawford to lunch with us.

I mean, just look at these ingredients:

1 cup quinoa (Robin likes the Inca Red version from Ancient Harvest)

2 cups water (free!)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 limes, juiced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

1 ½ cups halved cherry tomatoes (we used grape tomatoes)

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

5 green onions, finely chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

salt and ground pepper to taste

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The only things I had to buy were the tomatoes, limes, green onions and cilantro. So, what is that? Like $6? I should’ve bought a case of Kim…

You’ll also notice there is nothing “bad” in this recipe. I bought everything from the healthy perimeter of Publix. Robin likes the dish because it’s this medley of nutrition—you’ve got protein, antioxidants, iron, vitamins and flavor. She also likes it because it’s gluten-free. Robin, who has celiac, for reals can’t eat gluten, while I avoid it because it doesn’t like me. Or rather, it doesn’t like me at about mile 3 of a run when it hits my lower GI like a volcano: sudden and violent.

And while I hate it when people tell me recipes are “so easy,” I swear this one is. (And even easier when Kim is there to assist.)

It’s just chop, chop, chop. (Yes, I’ve learned you can’t shoot video vertically…)

Juice, juice, juice.

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Pour, pour, pour.

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Then stir, stir, stir. (As demonstrated by Robin’s daughter, Morgan, who’s more capable at cooking than I.)

I think I’m going to rename it the Super-cinco Salad: super cheap, super easy, super fresh, super tasty and super pretty. (Damn I’m clever.)

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Check out those colors!

For a full-on meal, I added chicken. And it also gets better with time, so the longer it sits, the better the flavors incorporate, which I can attest to because I ate it for 3 days–before and after long runs (just not during–never during).

Now, share this post by Wed. 3/29 and get in a drawing for a $25 Publix Gift Card!

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Nourish: Pampering Products for the Runner’s Body and Soul

I know that I should stretch, wash my water bottles regularly and not pour that next glass of wine. But what we should do is so not fun. In fact, most things that are “good for us” are miserable, like flossing and flu shots.

Can something be good for me and fun? I mean, I like running and working out. I like to eat fruits and vegetables. And I drink wine—wine is good for me, right? (Someone said something about “moderation” but I stopped listening, so I don’t know what the hell that was all about…)

But everything else that’s awesome—bubble baths, massage, naps—those fall under the category of “pampering,” suggesting they’re an indulgence, not a fundamental need.

Then I met my friend and running partner, Lindsay. Lindsay treats pampering like it’s her job. I once touched her arm and was so taken by the luxe, velvety feel of her skin, I thought she was magic.

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So relaxed. So pampered. So smart.

“You’re so soft!!!” I exclaimed, self-consciously rubbing my berber carpet-like arm.

“I exfoliate,” she replied, as if she just explained how brushing makes your teeth clean.

I bought a loofah that very day.

When I was sidelined by an IT-band injury, Lindsay suggested a massage.

Up until that point, I had only gotten a massage when my parents gift-certificated me a hot-stone session, and I had to force myself to stay awake for fear I’d miss the bliss. It was, indeed, an indulgence.

But 30 minutes whimpering under the powerful hands of Lindsay’s Russian massage therapist at the local YMCA, and I realized massage was neither Swedish nor relaxing. It is Russian and 100% necessary.

I let Lindsay be my guide dog for all-things good for me, and she was the one to introduce me to Nourish: in the form of hand-made, rosemary-scented bath salts to soak my weary muscles.

Nourish Natural Bath Products

Nourish creates some of the best natural bath products I’ve ever encountered. From salts to soy candles, this family-owned business produces some of the best, chemical-free bath boosters you can imagine. (I grew up with my mother warning that Mr. Bubbles was going to work his way into my “parts” and wreak havoc. Mom, you can relax knowing I’ve gone all natural.) Nourish also gives back to the community; they’re one of the sponsors of Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon and 5K.

Because I’m a race ambassador, Nourish sent me some products to review and give away, which I’m more than happy to do for a company I’m already obsessed with. Because the more runners who know about Nourish, the better equipped our bodies are to survive the toil we put them through.

After my 9-mile training run (yes, for the upcoming Publix Women’s Half!), my hips and low back felt as if a welder was holding a blow torch to them, trying to fuse them back in place.

I channeled my inner Lindsay—who I can bet was already steeping in her own fragrant bath complete with candle, face-mask and cabernet—and turned on my tub. My husband came in and asked, disgusted, “What are you doing?” as if I were skinning a cat.

“I’m running a bath.” He looked perplexed.  “Because I’m sore.” (i.e. Not because I’m indulging myself).

Ray refers to baths as “human stew.” He claims I’m “simmering in my own funk.” Consequently, this also revokes his ticket to watch. (I win.)

But not the cat. The kitten stands on the ledge of the tub, fascinated by this process. In fact, she’s so fascinated that I shield myself from her judging stare. (The hair-full always mock the hairless.)

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“What are you doing, strange human?”

As I loofah and bath gel my way to happiness with the Lemongrass & Rosemary Moisturizing Wash, I wonder why I don’t do this more often?

Lemongrass and Rosemary Moisturizing Wash

I smell like a delicious lemon drop.

Why is a bath accompanied by salts and fizz not regarded as simple maintenance? I mean, B.L. (before Lindsay), I’d run a bunch of miles, swallow an Advil and call it a day. Today, A.L., I know that my body is me. Not something I reward with a massage or a fragrant dip. This body and me, we’re one and the same. And to take care of me, means to take care of this body. This vessel—this physical expression of “me.” (Whoa, that got existential for a minute.)

A soak, a massage, a candle—these things aren’t extravagant. They aren’t indulgent. They’re the necessary ways in which we tell ourselves we’re worth the trouble. And ways in which we tell ourselves “Thank you.” And “Please keep going another day.” And another day. And another day.

Lindsay’s got it figured out. She—her skin, her soul, her mind, her heart—is nourished.