Butternut Squash Quinoa Risotto and Hot Yoga

>> Wednesday, March 16, 2011

There’s only five weeks left until the half marathon and my training has started to ramp up. However, I’ve found that with the increase in mileage that I’m running on a daily basis, my body is finding it tough to recover before the next long distance run. So lately I’ve opted out of the weight lifting exercises and looked to something that would help me maintain my strength while allowing my muscles to heal (plus I got sick of rolling off the bed in the morning since my muscles no longer responded to me). I didn’t have to look far to rediscover yoga. I’ve been practicing yoga for roughly 8 years now, off and on, mostly due to my constantly changing workout routines and how easily I get distracted when I see something new and exciting that I’d like to try. But I somehow always end up with yoga again and this time is no different.

The only difference would be my shift to hot yoga, where the yoga studio is normally heated up to a balmy 105ºF with a humidity of roughly 50%. It’s essentially like working out in the tropics. Each class can range from vinyasa flows to a series of 26 asanas or poses meant to really bump up the heart rate (since your body isn’t use to the heat).

The benefits of yoga are amazing, especially hot yoga. It helps me maintain my muscle mass while gaining strength in areas that aren’t normally targeted with traditional weight lifting routines. The stretching of each muscle group also helps in my running, especially in hot yoga since your muscles tend to stretch further when your body is warm. I find that my calves aren’t as tight (especially with us women wearing heels all the time), quads, hamstrings and ankles all get a good stretch. When you stretch during yoga, you’re building long and lean muscle fibers as opposed to the short bulky muscles you get when weightlifting. (Don’t get me wrong, I am a true believer of weight training as well, but it really depends on your overall workout program. Plus, if you’re planning on running long distances, the toned lean muscle is what all runners try to aim for.)

One thing to remember when doing hot yoga is to maintain a high level of water intake. You don’t want to get to the point where you body is dehydrated and the headaches start. Drink plenty of water 2-3 hours before your yoga class and continue to do so throughout. After your workout I suggest a nice meal which is high in natural sugars, salts and protein to ensure that your body gets all the fuel it requires to rebuild muscle. Even though you’re stretching and now weight lifting, stretching still creating tears in the muscle fibers that require repair.

Here’s a recipe that is high in all the above and best of all, tastes great.

Butternut Squash Quinoa Risotto

The quinoa provides a high source of complete protein (which is rare unless you eat meat, since most beans and legumes are incomplete proteins that require you to pair it with other sources to make a complete protein), butternut squash for sugars (restore your glycogen), salts (potassium) and antioxidants such as beta carotene.

1 tbsp canola oil
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/3 cup quinoa
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp dried sage
Salt and pepper
Parsley for garnish

Place a pot on medium to high heat, pour in the canola oil. Stir in the onions and cook for roughly 3 mins.

Add in the butternut squash and cook for another 5 mins.

Pour in the arborio rice and quinoa. Toast both the rice and quinoa for 2-3 mins until each grain is separated. Add in the white wine and simmer until evaporated.

Stir in half of the broth, turn down the temperature of the stove and let it simmer for 20-25 mins, occasionally adding in more broth and stirring to prevent the rice and quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

When the rice is al dente, add in the dried sage, salt and pepper and taste.

Once ready, scoop in to serving dish and garnish with parsley.


Makes about 4 servings.


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