Spicy Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Pesto- serves 4

“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.”

Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

I always have my best ideas, on holiday, on a sunlounger. A combination of total relaxation and sunshine clears my mind and enables me to really think. I always set resolutions and plans. I have many notebooks to prove it! As soon as an idea pops into my head, I jot it down- it’s just doesn’t seem to translate to real ‘post-holiday’ life.
Top of the list on this years post-holiday resolutions was to get fitter. I’ve belonged to many gyms, so this wasn’t a new one, so the idea was purely hypothetical. I’ve always fancied running. Runners always look like they’re having a great time (they’re grins not grimaces- aren’t they?). You can do it almost everywhere and I like the clothes (yes, really!)
One of the downsides of being away for a couple of weeks is having to face the massive pile of post that has accumulated since leaving for the break, with only relaxation in mind.
This year’s pile was no exception. It’s usually my job to separate it all out: His/Hers/Junk. I quite enjoy it, I don’t know why.
This year I must have muddled it up a bit, because a piece of the junk ended up in the His pile and with a flyer clutched in his hand, I heard the words “you’d like this”.
‘This’ turned out to be a flyer for 0-5k in 6 weeks. 6 WEEKS! I can only run for a minute at a time, and that’s quite hard work.
Anyway to cut a long story shorter, I signed up.
I felt nauseas before the first session. What If I couldn’t do it?
Well I could and I have, thanks to the encouragement and support from Debbie @ Zafire Personal Training www.zafirepersonaltraining.co.uk, and the rest of the members of the group, who have also followed the Runfit programme. I managed to complete my first 5k event 6 weeks later and I’ve just run my first 10k race (2 days ago-still aching!) and that’s in just 13 weeks from the start.
The whole exercise thing has made me rethink my eating habits. As well as food I enjoy, I think of it as fuel. If I eat less nutritious foods, I don’t have as much energy. Simple.
I found a great book, Runners World- The New Complete Guide to Nutrition, which is full of great and inspirational advice.
I adapted this recipe from it.

Spicy Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Pesto
1tbsp olive oil (extra virgin is best)
1 onion, chopped
2 crushed cloves of garlic
800g tinned cherry tomatoes
480ml gluten free vegetable stock
1 tsp. honey
Black pepper
400g can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
250g cooked wholegrain rice (I cheated and used a sachet)
Pinch of chilli flakes
55g Pesto

  • Heat the oil over a gentle heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring regularly until softened.
  • Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the honey and grind in plenty of black pepper.
  • Allow to cool.
  • Puree in a blender until smooth.
  • Add the chickpeas and rice and a pinch of chilli flakes.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Season to taste and then serve topped with a dollop of pesto.
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