I don’t write a lot about food here, not because proper nutrition isn’t important (see my post about bonking at Cyclefest) but because weight is such a touchy issue in society in general, and among cyclists in particular, I’m not eager to enter that fray.

Last Saturday, I was at nutrition seminar as part of Flywheel’s Holiday Express Challenge. I found myself extolling the virtues of The Feed Zone Cookbook. Chef (Biju Thomas) plus Doctor (Allen Lim) equals nommy nutrition.

Yesterday, I made the classic mistake of shopping while hungry (post underfed hike) without a plan, only a vague recollection of a couple of recipes from The Feed Zone: mushrooms, lentil soup. Sure enough, I came home missing key ingredients for Wine and Soy Mushrooms and Red Lentil Soup. Here are my Trader Joe versions of those recipes, and how my post Disney Musicals Cycling class cooking went:

1. Preheat oven to 450. While oven is pre-heating, scrub two large baking potatoes (I went rogue on these recipes early – the mushrooms are to be served over toast or rice) and poke them with a fork. Basically, set up your mise en place. Pop the potatoes in the pre-heated oven and get to work on the soup.

2. Get the aromatics going. Heat up the soup pot, then add the oil and heat that up, then add the spices (curry powder, in this case), then add the onion (I omitted the garlic, and had forgotten the jalapeño the recipe called for). I have issues with everything in the onion-garlic-leek family, so I need to cook these longer than most people, and I don’t add anything else before they’re translucent.

3. Once the onions hit the edible (for me) spot, I hit the mixture with a couple tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde, to compensate for the lost jalapeño. I also pitched in the whole 14 ounce can of light coconut milk (the recipe called for 1 cup regular). After that had cooked down, in went 1 cup of (rinsed) red lentils and only 2 cups (down from the 3 the recipe called for, to compensate for too much coconut milk) of organic low-sodium chicken stock. (Vegan friends, I promise I’ll do this with vegetable stock when I make this for you). I brought it to a boil, then down to a simmer, and turned my attention to the mushrooms.

4. Boil some water. The recipe called for a pound of mushrooms. I cheated with a bag of fresh (pre sliced) crimini mushrooms and another small bag of dried mushrooms. I rinsed, then rehydrated the dried mushrooms with the boiling water in a large glass measuring cup.

5. Heat a skillet. Add olive oil to the skillet. Toss in the fresh mushrooms (I substituted the sad, dehydrated thyme in the fridge for the garlic the recipe called for). Add the rehydrated mushrooms, but not their liquid. Sauté for almost 10 minutes, then lower the heat and hit the mushrooms with parsley, a couple tablespoons of soy sauce (this is why you save the leftover packets from Chinese delivery and take out sushi), a quarter cup of white wine, and all of the mushroom liquid (about a cup more than the 1/2 cup of stock or water the recipe called for – I knew the baked potatoes would need more sauce than a slice or two of toast).

6. Lentils soft, potatoes crunchy on the outside, smooshy on the inside? Dinner time! I hit the soup with a little salt and pepper before ladling it out. The potatoes were cracked and loaded with the mushroom sauce, garnished with a little parsley, and served with leftover cheese on the side for garnish. The domestic partner grated Parmesan on his; I cut up some triple creme French cheese and mashed it in like butter.

Easy to cook with bike brain, comforting on a cold night, and rationalized as a training meal.

Oh, and seriously delicious.

That’s the kind of balance I’m striving for!

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