Runner’s recipes with Sarah

This month is for all the vegetarian runners out there, with two protein rich, meat-free dishes containing garbanzos (chickpeas). Chickpeas are a great source of protein, without the hefty calorie count or saturated fat that can come from other sources. Especially beneficial for female runners, they have a high iron content and contain phytoestrogens, which may help the body modulate its own oestrogen production, lowering the risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis. 

Low on the glycaemic index scale, the carbohydrates in chickpeas are broken down and digested slowly, providing a steady release of energy and also contributing to 'fullness' feelings which is helpful for appetite and weight loss. Padding out meals with chickpeas is a cunning way to create a super filling meal without the calorie cost.

Evidence shows chickpeas can lower LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) as the soluble fibre combines with bile salts causing them to be excreted. Bile salts are required for emulsification of fats, and so the body then re-forms new bile, using up more cholesterol and therefore lowering blood levels. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to stools and helps prevent constipation or gut diseases. They are also rich in folate, which help reduce homocysteine levels, good for the heart and blood vessels.

A portion of chickpeas is packed with 85% of your daily manganese requirements; a trace mineral which plays a key role in energy production and antioxidant defences.

Chickpeas are great hot or cold in salads, soups (adding thickness when blended), tagines, curries and stews. They also count as one of your five a day.

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Warm Chickpea Salad (serves 2)

This is a real treat to take to work in a lunchbox. You can roast up a ton of veggies the previous night for your supper and then mix the leftovers with the dressing, feta and chickpeas. Feel free to throw in whatever vegetables are in the cupboard/whatever your favourites are - these are just suggestions. A toasted wholemeal pitta makes a great accompaniment too.

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 courgette, thickly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
  • 175g ripe tomatoes, halved
  • tbsp olive oil or 1 kcal spray
  • juice of lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh mixed herbs (chives, parsley, mint) or 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained
  • 50g feta (preferably reduced fat)
  • Wholemeal pitta to serve (optional)

Methods:

  1. Preheat oven to 220˚C/200˚C (fan).
  2. Put onion, courgettes, red pepper and tomatoes into shallow roasting dish and season with black pepper. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil or spray with oil and toss well.
  3. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring half way through, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Meanwhile, mix together lemon juice and herbs and cut the feta into cubes.
  5. Drain the chickpeas and then once the vegetables have cooled slightly, mix together chickpeas, vegetables, feta and toss with the dressing. 

Calories per serving – approx. 245 kcals, plus 140 for the pitta.

Chickpea butternut squash chilli (serves 2)

This is such a flavoursome dish and yet really couldn't be simpler to make. A great option for vegans/vegetarians (using vegetable broth such as Swiss Vegetable Bouillion). I sometimes make this dish up earlier in the day, leave the flavours to fuse and then reheat just before serving, adding in the chickpeas. Delicious served with brown rice or couscous, or just some simple steamed broccoli for a lower carb fix.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • Approx 300g butternut squash, cut into small chunks
  • 3ish cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 0.5L chicken stock (vegetable stock also fine)
  • 15-20 pimiento stuffed olives (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained
  • Coriander (to garnish)

Methods:

  1. Fry the onion and garlic in a splash or olive oil/spray
  2. Add the spices and fry for 30 seconds - you can add additional spice according to how hot you like your food!
  3. Add the butternut squash, stock, chopped tomatoes and olives and simmer until the squash is al dente.
  4. Add the chickpeas for the final 5 minutes.
  5. Serve with couscous and a lime wedge. For a lower carb option you can serve this up with some delicious steamed broccoli instead.