I am many things. But an athlete is not one of them. Please don’t pity me over this fact. I’ve made peace with it in my old age. Now that wasn’t always the case, that’s true. When I was young being an athlete was all that I wanted to be. I thought it was very cool to be blessed with grace and coordination, and to make even the most difficult physical feats seem easy, beautiful even. So I tried. And tried. And tried.
When I was very young I tried softball. Then I tried soccer. Neither stuck for various reasons. Most likely that I wasn’t very good. In middle school and high school I tried a bit harder. I played field hockey and lacrosse (if there ever were two more East Coast sports I just don’t know what they would be). I guess I was mildly ok at both. Not talented enough to be great, but also not bad enough to be cut. So I made good friends with the bench and the water cooler. And I was ok with that. Because not only am I not a naturally gifted athlete, I’m also not a very competitive person. It just seems like so much effort to get all riled up about a game. Am I going to die because we lose? No? Ok, then, Boo, I’m good. You go get that game winning goal.
So clearly I had to learn to find my identity elsewhere. Took some trial and error but I finally landed what I believed to be my true identity. I was that (self-proclaimed) amazingly talented and witty writer girl who also had a fair amount of teenage angst. This one stuck as I grew up (well, not the angst), but I also added layers and layers to it, as we all do. Still none of those identities involved sports.
And then when I met Jeff I decided to try again. To take on one more elusive sports related identity. This time: Sports Fan. Two of my husbands greatest loves are the Dallas Cowboys and Texas A&M football and like the good girlfriend and (then wife) that I am, I tried very hard to be a dedicated sports fan. I tried. And tried. And tried. And failed. Luckily by that time he already loved me and we were 3 kids in so breaking up over a lack of sports enthusiasm was not an option.
But, friends…..never fear. I’ve finally found my sport. I’ve identified my physical super talent and passion. And it’s T-7 days until my season begins. My sport, dear readers, is Holiday Eating.
Like marathoning, this is an endurance sport. You’ve got to treat it with respect, people. It takes time and preparation to get through to the end of the season without injury or exhaustion. It takes strength and expansion of muscles. It takes skill to do it right. And I’m excited to announce that this year I think I’m going pro.
Just one plate at Thanksgiving? Total amateurs. Pros take 3 and then get pie.
Trying to be healthy at Christmas parties? Rookie. Seasoned veterans take the buffet table twice. And then hit the chocolate fountain.
Avoid dessert on Christmas Eve to make room for the feast the next day? Total green move. A true hardened warrior takes both dinners down like a champ. And does the cinnamon rolls in the morning for extra measure.
I’m ready for all of this. I LOVE holiday food. Turns out I’m an athlete after all.
And like any good endurance athlete, I am in heavy preparation mode right now. Elastic waist band pants are being purchased. Scales are being temporarily disabled. And intense carb-loading is happening today for lunch as I chow down on some Tabouleh Salad. To build up energy, of course.
This Tabouleh Salad is not only filled with heart-healthy bulghur wheat (thus the carb-loading), it’s also chock full of vegetables and colors and brightness. It’s health in a bowl. I first had this when we lived in California and I worked with the most amazing Lebanese lady who also happened to mother me and cook for me all the time. She brought tabouleh to me one day and I was hooked with one bite. It’s amazingly bright and clean and fresh. Somehow you feel lighter after eating it than before you began. It’s the perfect meal to have right now, before we enter into a season of heavy eating. It makes a lot, so it will serve you for quite a few lunches. I adapted this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. And honestly, because she’s the Barefoot Contessa and everything she makes is glorious, this is even better than my dear old Lebanese friend from California. Please don’t tell her this. She’s kind of sensitive about her cooking.
So, to all of my fellow Holiday Eating Athletes, this ones for you. Happy feasting!
You can find her original recipe here.
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup bulghur wheat (I use Bobs Red Mill)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
- 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup chopped Italian Parsley
- 1 hothouse (or English) cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and medium diced
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- Step 1 In a heat-proof bowl, pour the boiling water over the bulghur wheat. Add the lemon juice, 1/4 olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for an hour.
- Step 2 Add the rest of the ingredients along with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoons pepper. Stir to combine. Adjust seasons as necessary and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve as it sits.