Do you know what it feels like to start truly enjoying something that you always really hated? That’s how I feel about running. I never liked running, in fact I always hated it. They say that to stick to a fitness plan you have to find something you love so that you look forward to working out every day. Yoga has always been my thing, but I knew that I needed to add some cardio to my routine. That’s when I decided that I wanted to become a runner. I started running three weeks ago, and as just as every runner begins, I could only manage to keep up with it for 6 minutes. Two days later, I pushed my time up to 10 minutes. Yesterday, I completed my first 4-kilometer run, and I could have kept on going! It feels so amazing pushing myself to the limits, knowing that I can achieve what I’ve always thought was impossible.
Running 3 to 4 times a week has opened up my appetite, but after all the hard work I’ve been going through to keep my weight steady I try to stick to healthy meals. I’ve been doing lots of research about the best foods for runners, and discovered that lentils are part of the lot due to their richness in fiber and protein and low-fat content. Following one of my runs last week, I decided to swap my favorite rice side dish for lentils for dinner to replenish my body after an intensive workout.
For some reason I only cook with lentils in Lebanese dishes, such as this recipe for mujaddara or this bulgur red lentil salad. I wanted to try cooking something different with very simple ingredients, featuring my favorite spice…do I still need to mention it? CUMIN! I sought inspiration in a recipe I stumbled upon on Bon Appetit, calling for cooking lentils in tomato paste and soy sauce. I chose to simply fry chopped leek and garlic in olive oil and tomato paste, and then cook it with green lentils. At the end of the cooking process, I added a bit of cumin, salt and pepper to jazz up the side dish and give it even more flavor. You can serve it on top of rice or as is. It makes a great side dish to accompany meat, poultry or fish.
Dishes like this make me want to run even more, knowing that after my workout I’ll get to indulge in such tasty and healthy food. My goal this week is to reach 5K, and when I do, I think I’ll celebrate with something sweet! It’s ok to cheat sometimes!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium leek, white part thinly chopped
- 1 medium garlic clove, thinly chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup green lentils, rinsed
- 2 cups water
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté leek and garlic in tomato paste, continuously stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add green lentils, water and a pinch of salt. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until cooked through.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cumin and mix to combine. Serve warm.
How did your cumin-spiced green lentils come out? Share photos of your recipe on Instagram by tagging #savormania