Today, for the 7th time, I ran the Sporting Life 10k. I started running 8 years ago to ward off osteopenia, which, as time passes, can develop into osteoporosis. Running is considered a weight-bearing exercise, which is the best kind of exercise to help strengthen bone density.
When I started running, I could barely run a block. Less than four months later, I ran my first race. Not only did I feel stronger and healthier than ever before, I also found that running was a great way to clear my head and relieve stress. And it didn't hurt that my clothes fit a lot better.
Being able to run distances ranging form 5k to a full 42.2k marathon has forced me to respect and appreciate what my body is capable of...but only if I take care of it. I'm not perfect, but as much as possible, I try to get enough sleep, drink enough water, and eat enough healthy foods to keep my body the lean, mean running machine I've worked so hard to achieve.
Take tonight, for instance. Mother's Day. Without batting an eyelash, it would've been so easy just to pick up the phone and order a pizza like my husband suggested and like I really, really felt like eating. But after running my second fastest race ever, I just couldn't do that to these 38 year-old-bones. Instead, I made healthy, homemade pizza and this:
Quinoa with Leeks and Leafy Greens
Not only is this vegetarian dish healthy and delicious, it packs a one-two punch in building bone density. The one being the protein-rich quinoa and the two being the nutrient-rich leafy greens.
½ cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 leek, washed well and chopped up (white and light green parts only)
3 cups leafy greens (I used spinach and swiss chard but you could also use kale, arugula, beet greens, or collard greens) roughly chopped
Zest from ½ a lemon
1 tbsp each butter and olive oil
s & p to taste
1. Combine the quinoa and vegetable broth in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer, covered for 15 min. Remove from heat and let set for 5 more minutes. Then fluff with a fork.
2. Melt the butter and oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add in the leeks, along with a pinch of salt, and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until they soften and change colour.
3. Toss in the greens, a bit more salt, and stir around for about 2-3 minutes. They will wilt and greatly reduce in size.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and a bit of fresh ground pepper.
5. In a larger serving bowl, combine the veggies and quinoa. Stir well and adjust seasoning.
6. Serve warm or at room temperature.