A blog by runners. For runners.

Build a quick pasta dish: food for runners

build-a-healthy-and-quick-pasta-dishIt goes something like this: You get up, work all day, get home, try to squeeze in a run, and then go to bed. In there somewhere, you need to eat. You need this food not just to stay full of tasty flavors. No, athletes need their food as fuel. So, it’s critical to have some quick and easy meals stored away in the brain files.

The easiest meal I make for my family? Pasta! In other words: Noodles with whatever veggies, protein, and sauce I have on hand. The best part is that it comes together in 30 minutes or less. So, break free from the recipe chains that bind us all, and divide your dinner into these separate components.

  1. Pasta: Pasta is definitely a friend when the going gets busy. Noodles – spaghetti, rigatoni, macaroni, etc. – you can buy at the store these days range from standard to whole wheat to gluten-free. And don’t be so quick to toss pasta you’ve had for a while. They have a famously long shelf that lasts a good 1 to 2 years past their printed expiration date. The trick to good pasta is cooking it al dente, which is Italian for “firm to bite” — meaning the noodles won’t be a soggy mess when they hit your palate. The box directions are usually the best guide for whatever you’re cooking, but be sure to check pasta every minute as the timer draws closer to finished.
  2. Veggies: No matter the time of year, seasonal vegetables can be roasted (usually 375 degrees F for around 30 to 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes) and thrown onto pasta to take this simple meal to better health and vibrance. In the summer, I use our grill basket. Frozen vegetables can also work well in a pinch. I even like using the Asian mixes (cooked in sesame oil and soy sauce) for a change of pace. To ensure you always have a ready supply of quick to cook vegetables, clean and chop them at the beginning of each week and store in baggies. You can even roast ahead of time and store in an airtight container to be heated up again at meal time.
  3. Protein: Whether you’re a meat eater or diehard vegan, you can get a your protein punch in with pasta. I don’t let traditional recipes sway my choices when it comes to topping pasta with protein. I use whatever I have on hand and is easy to cook on any given day. If this means macaroni with tofu meatballs, then I have created a new, interesting dish. Also, try the unexpected. For example, did you know that eggs go really well atop pasta? Especially those with runny yolks. And don’t forget nuts, seeds, and anything else that might spice up your dish.
  4. Sauce: I’ve use anything from standard pasta sauce to diced tomatoes to pesto to salad dressing to sauce up my pasta dinners. Don’t over think this part, just go – quite literally – with your gut and whatever looks like it will marry well with the rest of the ingredients. If you have leftover sauce, you can always freeze it for use down the line.

Written by Ashley Marcin/Image Creative Commons license

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