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Cheesy Chicken Casserole

November 7, 2013

You know what the best thing is about training for a marathon?

I mean, there are a lot of good things.  Increased endurance.  Pride.  Seeing all of your hard work and dedication pay off, week after week.

Yada, yada, yada.

The best part is the carbs:

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…that come before and after the runs.  For reals.

Training for a marathon isn’t like a free pass for eating whatever you want, whenever you want.  In fact, many runners GAIN weight when training for a marathon, partly because of how easy it is to overestimate the amount of calories burned on runs.

But, running 13, 15, or 20 miles certainly creates some wiggle room for enjoying a few more treats than you normally would.  And loading up on simple carbs before the really long runs isn’t just indulgent—it’s necessary.  Your body needs that glycogen so that you don’t run out of energy 2 or 3 hours into the run.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I made the mistake a few weekends ago of eating a pre-long run meal that was heavy in carbs—but also heavy in fiber.  Big mistake.  I feel like I’m having to slightly re-train myself, at least before the long runs, to not think of fiber as my friend.  Usually we’re told the more fiber, the better—and my diet typically has a lot of it.  Ezekial bread.  Quinoa.  Whole wheat pasta.  LOTS of veggies. 

Again, not normally a bad thing at all—but all that fiber can turn into your worst enemy on a long run.  I’m sure I don’t need to go into more detail, so I won’t.

On Saturday night, I took advantage of my body’s need for simple carbs, and made this delicious cheesy chicken casserole, served over plain ol’ white spaghetti. 

I started by covering a baking dish with a thin layer of olive oil.  Then to that I added 6 big cloves of garlic, sliced (yep, it’s a lot but I love garlic), plus fresh basil leaves:

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Then, on top of that, I added two chicken breasts that I’d cut up into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried Italian seasoning:

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…and covered THAT with a layer of store-bought tomato sauce (about 2/3 jar):

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I baked that at 350 for 30 minutes, until the chicken was close to done:

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Then, I pulled it out of the oven, topped it with a layer of shredded mozzarella and parmesan, and put it back in for another 15 minutes:

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Until the cheese was melted and golden:

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Yum! Served on top of pasta:

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This was perfect for the chilly fall weather we’ve been having, and perfect pre-run fuel too.  My only regret was that we didn’t have any crusty Italian bread to soak up all the sauce—it was that good!

Hope you’re having a good week. Lila has been battling a case of the croup all week, which is NO fun.  Hopefully she’ll beat it soon!

Have a good one!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. itzyskitchen permalink
    November 7, 2013 3:04 pm

    MAKING THIS! Drool! Looks so darn good. I used you as inspiration for my longg run this morning.

  2. November 7, 2013 3:38 pm

    I found a great article about proper carb loading and have done that twice now. It was so hard to start cutting out the fiber and all the veggies, but it made for some really great races. There’s also a glycogen depletion theory. I’ve been running most of my runs fasted so I’m forcing my body to tap into different energy stores. So much crazy science to something that seems simple – just run.

  3. November 10, 2013 4:37 am

    Haha. I feel similar about breastfeeding! I love breastfeeding for many reasons (but I especially enjoy the extra 500 calories I can eat each day!) This pasta looks so very good. Perfect comfort food!

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