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?

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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.

A Perfect Pre- and Post-run Recipe for Runners—and a Publix Gift Card Giveaway!

I’ve never met a fish taco I didn’t like. But I’ve also never met one I could make. Until now.

There are two reasons why I love everything my friend and trainer, Jodie Kofod, cooks. One, I didn’t make it. Two, Jodie’s meals are healthy without tasting healthy. Dress tofu up any way you want, but it’s still a protein sponge. See, my rule is if you have to marinate, deep fry, bread or baste something just to make it edible, it’s most certainly not good (I’m talking to you, fried alligator bites).

So when Publix asked me to share a quick, healthy meal for runners, I knew I had to call on Jodie–who holds certification from AFAA NETA ACE, Johnny G Spin, TRX and kickboxing, as well as nutrition certifications–and my other girlfriend and workout buddy, Alli. In addition to being more fun than a bottle of tequila on a bus with the Rolling Stones (Jodie knows from actual experience), Alli owns a beautiful home that, unlike mine,  has “things to cook with.” Things like pans, bowls and salt.

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The motley cooking crew: Alli, Jodie and me.

My parameters for the recipe were simple:

  • It has to be easy (for obvious reasons)
  • It has to be quick
  • It has to taste good
  • Everything has to be readily available at my Publix
  • It has to be gluten-free, not because I have celiac disease, but because gluten sends me dashing into the woods about every two miles, but that’s another post for another time.

“How do fish tacos sound?” Jodie offered.

I love fish tacos. Perfect.

“So, corn tortillas, fish and salsa?” Cool, I can do that.

“Not exactly,” she replied, looking at me like I just blew my nose in her gym towel.

She texted me the grocery list (I’ve added the price points):

  • Fresh fish, do not attempt alone—ask woman behind the counter ($18.32, I’ll explain)
  • 2 Publix canned black beans ($1.70)
  • Sriracha ($2.99)
  • Margarita mix ($4.09)
  • Publix fresh salsa ($3.49)
  • Romaine lettuce ($1.99)
  • 2 Limes ($1.00)
  • Avocado ($1.00)
  • Cilantro ($0.99)
  • Corn tortillas ($2.15)
  • Plain Greek yogurt, large ($3.00)
  • Sauvignon blanc, obviously ($11.99, don’t judge)

Total damage: $52.71, plus whatever the government wants.

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The helpful woman behind the Publix fish counter suggested tilapia for fish tacos, but I recently had a bad run-in with the species when I attempted to make it at home without supervision. So I asked what else would work. She recommended “any sturdy white fish,” and pointed to a large fillet of something called “corvina” from Argentina. It was about $10 pricier, but hey, it wasn’t tilapia.

When I got to Alli’s, the cooking lesson commenced. But first thing’s first. Pour the wine.

From there, Jodie instructed us to poach the fish. Since I thought poaching meant killing a protected animal, I just stared at her.

“Put the fish in a microwave-safe bowl and pour in a bunch of the margarita mix,” she explained. Then we salted it, snipped some cilantro on top, covered the dish with plastic wrap and popped it in the microwave. No measuring and, yes, the microwave. Totally my jam.

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The cooking time depends on the size of the fillet, so we put it in for a few minutes, checked it and kept blasting it with radiation until it flaked apart—all in all, less than 15 minutes. During that time, we made this crazy-delicious sauce, mixing equal parts plain Greek yogurt and Sriracha and squeezed the juice of two limes. Sounds disgusting, looks like flesh, tastes like Heaven.

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Thing got wild when the knives starting flying–into Alli’s new floor.

We flaked the fish into doubled-up corn tortillas, topped with rinsed black beans, slices of avocado, more cilantro, Sriracha, romaine, the pre-made salsa and a dollop of the not-so-secret-now sauce. I think I ate five. But this recipe could easily feed four to six normal human beings.

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Then Jodie started to riff on the recipe. “You can actually make them three ways,” she said. “You can wrap them in tortillas, like we did here, or you can put them in lettuce wraps or little baked corn-tortilla cups.”

We pulled long leaves from the romaine and assembled the tacos sans tortilla. Then Jodie showed us how to make the “bowls” by flipping over a muffin tin, coating it with cooking spray and tearing and stuffing the tortillas into the negative space between the muffin forms to create bowls. She baked them on low for a few minutes until they were just starting to lightly brown on the edges. I preferred the soft-corn tortillas for no other reason that it was the easiest; but variety is cool, too, if you’re an overachiever.

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I am not. But Mom, now I can make a pretty bad-ass fish taco, three ways.

Oh, and there’s video, too. So check back in two days and prepare to be…something. Amazed? Appalled? Embarrassed for us? Probably all of the above.

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Speaking of embarrassing…we each have only-children–can you tell?

And here’s the 2-step bonus: (1) Follow “On the Road” on Facebook and (2) find and share this post, and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate to Publix (and if you buy the tilapia and even cheaper wine, you’re covered). Drawing will be Monday, March 28, just in time for you to whip up this pre- or post-race meal for the Publix Savannah Women’s Half & 5K on April 2nd! See you there!

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Your moment of Zen: “Is there something in my teeth?”

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Jodie’s Taco Bar