Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mario Brothers, Turban Squash, and Running?

Have you noticed how much fun the Turban Squash is? I picked one up this morning. I've cooked them before. This one just tickled me. Stores usually have them displayed with their knobby parts up. Something made me put the knobby part down. It made me think of the original Mario Brothers game. I know, silly. Mario Brothers was a big deal when my children were young. When I see Mario anything it makes me think of my oldest son, Bengi, when he was 10. Very happy memories!

Bengi works for me in the gym, and I am fortunate to see him everyday. I'm even more fortunate that he is a runner. He began running before I did; now races are family events! On November 11th we are running the Outer Banks Marathon. He will be running his first full marathon, 26.2 miles, and I'm running my fourth half marathon of the year, 13.1 miles. I'm excited we are down to 31 days until race day. At the same event my partner is planning to qualify for the Boston Marathon, by running the distance in under 4 hours. WOW! Big goals for one short weekend!

In preparation for that event today's cardio was running. I did an easy 5 mile run in a flat park area. It was a crisp morning here in the mountains, 45 degrees, when I left home for the run. I broke out my winter running pants and hoodie. After the first mile I had to shed the hoodie. I was grateful I'd chosen to wear a tank top under it. I find the extended cardio sessions exhilarating.

I haven't always enjoyed exercise. I've actually had a good stretch of time that I was anti-exercise. I just wanted to go through life not moving. I'm so grateful that I'm no longer in that phase of my life and I have compassion for those who are. I don't feel they should stay there. Movement, no matter how gentle, helps the body and the spirit to heal in many ways. Are you just getting started? Think about setting a "marathon" goal like walking one mile for 26 days. Are you already walking and feel the need to push harder? Try to double your walk distance in 26 days. Are you running? Do you want to run? Check out the Couch to 5K program. There are many couch to 5K apps for smart phones you might try one of those too.

So how do you cook that turban squash anyway? It is much like all the other hard winter squashes. Cut it in half, scoop the seeds out, place it cut side down in a shallow baking pan with 3/4 of an inch of water and bake at 375 for 45-75 minutes. The length of time is dependent on how thick the squash is. It needs to cook until soft. At that point the options are pretty open. You can mash it with a small amount of butter. This is one has a nuttier flavor than other squash. You might not want to go with cinnamon or nutmeg. You may be happier with a savory flavor. The squash has a large cavity when the seeds are removed. After baking you could fill it with a multitude of other veggies. Try steamed broccoli, sauteed onion and garlic, and chopped nuts or seeds tossed together. This is also one of those squashes that has a super hard outer shell. Imagine scooping out all the baked squash and using the shell to serve soup or stew. Wouldn't that be fun?  Just look how open the squash cavity is!

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