It is hard to believe that it was a week ago when I had the team over for a pasta dinner and movie night before their 20 mile run. It was a blast and I am happy to report that EVERYONE had a successful long run. Many of you have been sending good luck wishes my way and I have to thank you but they should really go to all of these hard working athletes. I will not be running the Chicago Marathon this year for myself but instead be along the course as a coach for these nearly 140 athletes. It has been such an incredible experience to watch this group transform from that very first five mile run we did together to seeing each person cross their 20 miler off of the training schedule. For most this was no small feat and I think that it is a true testimony to the fact that if you follow and stick to a good training plan, a marathon is doable and can actually be fun!
Now, I might not be actually running the marathon for myself but I have been training alongside the group the whole time and one thing that marathon training does is make you rungry! I love food and sometimes I think I run so that I can eat all of the delicious desserts. Sad but kind of true.
As much as I am a fan of anything food, Italian is pretty low on my list. I am not a big pasta fan and as many of you know I avoid pizza because I have no self control and will wolf down an entire pie on my own. On top of this I have been experimenting with eating a mostly gluten free diet for about the last month. I am not being completely nuts about reading all ingredients but I do make a good effort to eat gluten free. I did this because I was noticing some issues that seem to occur only during marathon training (when I allow myself extra carbs) and the results were nearly instantaneous.
That being said, I made two types of sauce for our dinner one with meat and a marinara for the vegetarian crowd. I also had a gluten free pasta option (that I seemed to be the only one eating). The marinara was good but this Bolognese with sausage was delicious. Last night when I was trying to find something to have with my nightly spinach salad I decided to mix it up a bit. I warmed up the leftover Bolognese in a pan with some meat balls and had a small delicious bowl of meatballs with Bolognese. It was a win! This sauce is a mix of a few different recipes I found on the internet. You can of course always add or omit as you wish.
Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooked Bolognese:
1 lb. mild Italian sausage
2 tbsp. onion flakes
4 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. garlic salt
1 28 ounce can of crushed Italian tomatoes with basil
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tbsp. basil
2 tsp. fennel seed (this is the key here!)
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet cook the Italian sausage until it is browned. Add the sausage to your slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients. Give it a good stir and turn on low for 8 hours. Be generous with the fennel. I found that to be the essential ingredient to this being a success. Your whole house will smell amazing and your mouth will be watering by the time it is ready.