Pre-race Taco Pasta

The final product combines many of my favorite foods, flavors and textures, and is a bit reminiscent of nachos.

Simple, hearty and crave-worthy; this pasta dish makes the perfect pre-race meal!  I paired this dish with a small salad topped with a dollop of hummus, for extra vegetables.  After dinner, Alex and I ventured to Molly Moon’s on the top of Queen Anne to check out the latest vegan ice cream flavors.  The next morning, I felt well-fueled for my race, and enjoyed some leftovers with our post-race picnic lunch.  I’m happy with the way our pre-race traditions are shaping up!

This fall, I have a race or scrimmage almost every weekend.  It feels like the start of a new school year, where I am able to face challenges of my choosing.  I’m filling the season with new racing experiences, like the mass start at yesterday’s Sound Rowers Salmon Row, a wet-launch before a race, and my first ever cross country meet as part of Oiselle XC.  Along the way, I’ll face tough training sessions with my Seattle Rowing Center teammates, meet new Oiselle running friends for pre-race meals, and reunite with past teammates at Head of the Charles.  Whether I’m home or away, I’ll be enjoying shared meals and documenting my favorites!

Disclaimer: it’s always a good idea to try new foods away from an important race day, just to see how your body is going to react.


Pre-race Taco Pasta – serves 2 to 4

No salsa?  No problem!  We made fresh salsa at home using just three simple ingredients: tomato, garlic and lime.  Dice tomato and discard the stem. In a small bowl, combine diced tomato with the juice of 1/3 of a lime.  Add about ½ T of minced garlic and stir to combine.  We also substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream.

We love the taste and texture of red lentil pasta, and the quick cook time is a plus.  This is a great gluten-free pasta alternative, or a way to add more lentils to your diet.

You will need: IMG_5524

  1. Spray oil or olive oil
  2. 1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  3. 1 package taco seasoning
  4. 1 14.5 oz can black beans
  5. 1 lb pasta (we like Trader Joe’s red lentil pasta)
  6. olive oil
  7. Greek yogurt or sour cream

For your salsa:

  1. 1 large tomato
  2. juice of 1/3 lime
  3. ½ T minced garlic (roughly 1 clove)

Optional: shredded cheese, diced avocado


  1. Start by filling a pasta pot with water and heating over high heat.
  2. Next, heat a large pan over medium heat and spray with a little cooking oil. Add chicken and cook until browned on all sides. Add taco seasoning and ½ cup of cold water, stirring to combine. Bring your liquid to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and allow chicken and sauce to simmer.
  3. Warm a small pot over medium-low heat and spray with cooking oil. Add black beans and cover with a lid. Stir beans occasionally to ensure that they do not stick to the bottom of your pot.
  4. When your pasta water has come to a boil, turn heat down to medium-high and add pasta. Red lentil pasta cooks in just 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent pasta from sticking together.
  5. Drain water from pasta and add a splash of olive oil to your pasta pot. Stir to coat and set aside.
  6. Serve pasta with chicken and beans. Top with shredded cheese and then add salsa, Greek yogurt and a slice of lime.

Cashew Chicken with Vegetables

Checking broccoli tenderness

This week I tested out a recipe for cashew chicken with vegetables, which I have been craving since I made the “Asian Chicken with Peanut Sauce” from Racing Weight.  Jess took me to the Pacific Beach Farmers Market before we went to the grocery store, and it was a treat to shop outside! We bought organic broccoli that had been picked earlier that day from JR Organics, and used it for this dinner.  We also bought some fascinating cauliflower heads from Suzie’s Farm (see gallery) that I cannot wait to experiment with.

This recipe satisfies my craving for a spicy weeknight meal that balances protein, veggies, carbs and fats.  I made this dish for Jess and her mom last night, at her mom’s home in PB.  Even without red pepper flakes, this dish had some heat! For those who do not like spicy food, consider leaving out the sriracha from your sauce.



Cashew Chicken with Vegetables – serves 4

The sriracha, fresh ginger and garlic in this recipe provide plenty of heat!  If you like things extra spicy, I would consider adding 1 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes to the sauce.  When I visit my parents, I cook gluten-free recipes for my mother; to make this recipe gluten-free, use equal parts Tamari sauce in place of soy sauce.  If you do not have peanut flour on hand, you can use 2 T peanut butter, or cashew butter for your sauce.

You will need:


  1. 2 T olive oil
  2. 2 broccoli crowns
  3. ½ large red onion, chopped into large pieces
  4. 2 red peppers, chopped
  5. 1 C brown rice
  6. 1 to 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped


For your sauce:

  1. 1.5 C veggie broth
  2. 1/4 C peanut flour – we used PB2
  3. ½ C raw cashews
  4. 1 T fresh ginger, chopped
  5. 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  6. 1 T sriracha sauce
  7. 1 T honey
  8. 1 T soy sauce

Optional: hot red pepper flakes


  1. Chop peppers, broccoli and red onion and set aside. Chop garlic and ginger.
  2. Prepare rice according to package instructions.
  3. Begin cooking by bringing vegetable broth to a simmer, adding liquid ingredients. Add peanut flour, stirring until combined. Add garlic, ginger and cashews. For extra heat, add 1t or more hot red pepper flakes.
  4. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat. Add red onion and sauté for two minutes. Add broccoli with ½ cup water and cover.
  5. Heat another pan over medium heat and add chicken and half of sauce, stirring to coat. By this point, the sauce should have reduced in volume by about a third.
  6. Add red peppers and remaining sauce to the veggie pan. Stir to coat and sauté for five minutes.  Meanwhile, stir chicken.
  7. Remove veggies from heat and add to large serving dish. Add chicken to serving dish and mix with veggies.
  8. Serve over rice.


Sauce inspiration: Fitzgerald, Matt, and Georgie Fear. “Asian Chicken with Peanut Sauce.” Racing Weight Cookbook: Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes. Boulder: Velopress, 2013. 230-231. Print.