Friday, March 21, 2014

That insatiable hunger

It's happened. Four weeks into marathon training, it has taken hold and I fear it's here to stay. A pit in my stomach that cannot be filled. I am so hungry, all the time.

If you've done any sort of consistent running, you know what I'm talking about: that insatiable hunger that doesn't go away. As the weekly miles get higher, your hunger soars, and it doesn't matter what (or how much) you put into it; the gnawing feeling of emptiness just lingers behind each meal. I'm hungry when I wake up in the morning and hungry when I go to bed. And all the hours in between, I'm either in the midst of stuffing my face, or scrounging through my desk drawer looking for scraps.

The upside? Food never tastes better than when you're truly hungry. When I sit down to a meal, the food feels like fuel for my sore muscles. I'm actually craving nutrient-dense food and lean proteins. And, I rarely leave a meal feeling full - instead, I feel content, or just done eating. And then an hour later, I'm sliding another piece of bread into the toaster.

I'm good at breakfasts, lunches and dinners: oatmeal with fruit, quinoa salads, turkey burgers, grilled chicken and sweet potatoes. My biggest challenge, though, is all the spaces in between. For snacks, I work my way through granola and bananas, almonds, toast, and hummus with veggies on any given day (OK, and M&Ms, too. A handful every day.). By mid-afternoon, when I've eaten everything and I'm reaching for my second apple of the day, and I know I need to find something that will stick with me longer.



And so, I come to you with this recipe for strawberry conserve, which I strongly suggest you stir into Greek yogurt and top with sliced almonds. I love eating Greek yogurt: it's an amazingly nourishing, protein-rich snack that fills me up better than anything else. And when I top it with this strawberry conserve and a handful of sliced almonds, it feels like a real treat. I'm not going to pretend it tastes like eating strawberry ice cream*, because we're talking about yogurt here for godssakes. But, as far as healthful snacks go, it's pretty damn close.

The conserve is really just a rich, sweet strawberry syrup that holds softened strawberry halves; kind of like the inside of a strawberry pie, but with a much thinner sauce. Yes, there is quite bit of sugar in the recipe, but one smallish spoonful of the stuff flavors my entire carton of yogurt and leaves me happy. Plus, I like that there are only three ingredients in this conserve - strawberries, sugar and lemon peel - I would choose that any day over the long list of ingredients in the fruit filling that accompanies most yogurts.

*Now, if you wanted to put this strawberry conserve on ice cream, I won't be the one to stop you. Or on buttered toast, or in your oatmeal, or on an English muffin..



Strawberry Conserve
Recipe from Bon Appetit

1 pound strawberries; washed, hulled and cut in half (about 4 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
Peel from 1/2 of one lemon (including the white pith)

Put all ingredients in a wide saucepan and stir to combine. Cover and let sit for two hours, stirring occasionally. The sugar will melt and the strawberries will get juicy.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer (uncovered). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries have softened, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the strawberries and place in a glass jar (where you will store the conserve). Continue cooking the syrup until it has thickened a bit more, another 3-5 minutes. Remove the lemon peel and pour the syrup over the strawberries.

Cool to room temperature, then cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

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