Why running made me go vegetarian + an amaranth salad recipe

27th August 2010

I have a terrible confession to make. I was never fat. There. It’s out. I have no amazing before/after illustrated story on how I became healthy and slim. My story is more one of a lazy-skinny-pot-smoking-couch-potato, I’m afraid; it’s not as golden and glorious.  I’ll only say it once (because my mom reads my blog, as if she never knew!).

My amazing not very amazing secret would be this: I am shit scared on getting old. So one day, I decided to kick my little 28 year old butt and get a gym membership. And then I took on running because I thought I needed some form of cardiovascular exercise alongside the weight lifting. I thought it would be fun to get a little fitter before my 30s (before things start pointing southward, you know..)

I quickly started to feel great and have more energy, and so daily exercise became somewhat of a necessity, and has been for over a year now. Fast forward a few months, and at some point I started being a bit bored with running my little 5K route around the neighborhood twice a week, and so I thought setting myself a goal for the future would be a good idea. That’s when I decided to sign up for a half marathon. Fast forward some more months, and we are now a week away from my first half marathon and I have never felt so good! So much so that Imma show ya’ll a photo I took of myself at 6:30 this morning, Y’ALL :

Not so bad for an elderly woman, eh? 😉

OK so, what I am finally getting to is that, during these last three months I worked towards building up my endurance to run 21 kilometers, I started feeling less and less cravings for meat and more and more for vegetarian food. Who would like to eat a big fat steak the night before getting up at 6am to run 20K, I ask? So it just came naturally. My boyfriend Richard, who is also a new found jogging lover (he started running about a year ago and is going to run the full marathon on Sept. 5th), was the one who said out loud that he wouldn’t mind not eating meat at home anymore, and I deep down felt a sight relief.

Going vegetarian, although most people do know it is one of the greatest thing anyone can do for their personal health, the environment and for animal welfare, seems like a big commitment. My body was already telling me it didn’t need or want meat to function at its best, but I still wanted to make sure I was ready to dive into this. So in the last few weeks, I watched Food Inc. and read Eating Animal by Jonathan Safran Foer, and BOY LEMME TELL YA, I ain’t eating another animal ever again. WOW. It is truly amazing how everyone (me first, I was a vegetarian for a few years when I was a teenager, and then suddenly, I decided that it was just more convenient to pretend, like everyone else) just choose to turn a blind eye on the fact that all (well 99%. In America. Surely it can’t be that different in Canada) the meat we consume comes right out of a factory, from tortured animals who lived pretty much piled up on one another and more than likely soaked in their own shit all their short painful life and were very possibly scalded alive.  I can proudly say now that last time I ate meat was on July 24th. And it was not even good. I’m still not ready to consider myself vegetarian though. I’d like to keep an open door for seafood or occasional fish for the time being. But anyway, that was that for the story of why running made me (sorta) go vegetarian.

So these new eating habits of ours have brought a great sense of experimentation in the kitchen. We have never cooked so much food from scratch, had so much fun in the kitchen or eaten such a great variety of foods. I even invented a recipe last night. A friend of mine posted on Facebook about her baby’s diet and she mentioned that she made her some plum and amaranth baby food. Hmmm, plum and amaranth, it just sounded too delicious… We had a bag of amaranth at home and plums are right now in season, so conditions were perfect! I came up with some sort of Moroccan-inspired salad, and it was delicious. Here’s the recipe :

Ingredients
1 cup amaranth, cooked according to package instruction
1/2 a cucumber, chopped in small bits
4-5 blue plums, chopped in small bits
1/2 cup slivered toasted almond
3-4 radishes, chopped finely
Big handful of parsley, chopped
Small handful of mint, chopped
2 tbs ground flax seed (not necessary, but I like to sneak healthy things in places…)
1 tbs maple syrup or sweetener of your choice
t tbs cumin
1/2 tbs cinnamon
splash of oil of your choice (I used hemp oil)
s&p to taste

To prepare, simply mix it all up and serve warm of cold. To make it more complete, you could add a can of beans of chick peas.

A splash of lemon would have also been nice, but I didn’t have any on hand. It was crunchy and fresh and different from the usual quinoa-red pepper-corn-cilantro-black bean stuff we’ve been having a lot of lately.

If anyone happens to try this, I’d be quite curious to hear your thoughts! Richard thought “it looked funky but tasted FUN-kay!“. Amaranth is a nice change from couscous, bulgor and quinoa (which we eat a LOT of around here).  It’s very delicate and crunchy and vaguely reminds me caviar. It would totally try to use it for vegetarian sushi.

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