I have a problem, and as far as I can tell, I believe it’s an issue many other runners and athletes have when it comes to their habits in the kitchen too.
Growing up in a family in which chocolate was the norm and bacon was the equivalent of flax seeds and chia, portion control was never at the fore of my dietary vocabulary.
It’s not like these are the signs of bad parenting; I was a thin child and remained that way despite cookie dough binges, Carvel Cake purchases, and meat, meat and more meat through most of my teenage years. Although my mom may not have forbade me from consuming the items I wanted, she nevertheless filled our fridge with fruits and veggies, served dinners of salmon and shrimp, and completely outlawed any type of soda from the dinner table. No water? No beverage. (We were not a milk at the table kind of household.)
Overall, these gentle limitations, while still encouraging me to make my own choices regarding chocolate, candy and yes, Gushers and Dunkaroos, enabled me to establish my own dietary patterns, habits, likes and dislikes. While, like most girls, teens and women in general, I’ve had my fair share of doubts, complaints and insecurities, I like to think that, thanks to running and leading a chiefly fit lifestyle, I’ve learned how to repress negative thoughts, focus on my positive attributes, and consume the kinds of food I love—whether “good” or “bad”—in a balanced manner.
Portion control, however, is still something I’m working on.
For those of you who follow WRFG, you’d know that I’m currently resting up—only taking shorter runs every few days, strength training ever so slightly, stretching a lot, and doing yoga—in preparation for my upcoming Philly RnR Half Marathon training. And whereas I rarely think about what I’m eating and how much when my mileage is at its peak, I sometimes have to remind myself to pull the reins on my love of seconds and thirds (of both entrees and dessert) during those weeks when I’m relatively less active.
On Tuesday night, after 2 days of wine drinking and 2 days of short and slow, 2 to 3 mile post-work runs, I implemented my portion control skills with this creative little bowl of grains I like to call bim-bim-bulgar. (The portion controlled part was that I made it in a bowl, meaning there was no room for seconds or leftovers. Bam. I mean, Bim.)
Bulgar wheat is a whole grain with lots of fiber and Mediterranean roots, but really, this dish is far more universal. Don’t stock bulgar wheat in your cabinets? Try bim-bim-quinoa, or heck, cook up a real bim-bim-bop using brown rice. I was just craving a tomato sauce-y dish, which happens to go really nicely with my grain of choice.
What you need (ingredients):
½ can of chickpeas
¼ cup of bulgar wheat (it looks small, but it puffs up)
1 Kirby cucumber
2 fresh basil leaves (from my window sill, preferably)
Grated Parmesan cheese (obviously)
Cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil
Jarred tomato sauce (you won’t need all of it, so leftover sauce is fine)
Tobasco or Sriracha
What you need (supplies):
1 portion controlled bowl
How to make it:
- In a microwaveable bowl, cook your bulgar. Make sure there is about a ½ inch of water floating on top of the grains. (You can always drain them or add more.) It should take about 5 minutes in the microwave.
- Once the bulgar is cooked, add your chickpeas, tomato sauce, hot sauce (to taste), and black pepper (also to taste). Place this mixture back in the microwave for 1 minute.
- Heat up your pan using cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil based on your preference. Cook your egg sunny side up. I like the yoke to be runny, but of course, this is up to you. Consider cracking black pepper on top of your egg as it cooks for flavor.
- By now, the microwave should have beeped, meaning your bulgar mixture is almost done. Grab a potholder and remove the bowl.
- Stir in Parmesan cheese. Be as generous as you’d like.
- Chop up your 2 basil leaves and mix in to the bulgar.
- Chop up your cucumber, and place on top of the mixture. Don’t stir in. You don’t want warm cucumbers, rather you want them to offer a refreshing and cool contrast to the warmed wheat.
- Top your bim-bim-bulgar off with your fried egg.
- Do your eating habits change when you’re training versus when you’re not?