My sister-in-law, Nancy, and her friend, Cheryl, dropped in for brief stay this week to rest their feet.
They are 558 miles into their thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail. It’s been seven weeks since we dropped them off at the beginning the trail in Georgia. Black toenails, lots of bruises and a few cuts from falling on slippery rocks are badges of honor for these two middle-aged warriors.
They have met dozens of great hikers, been awed by fabulous views, discouraged by lingering winter weather and disgusted by stinky people in overcrowded shelters.
It’s all good, and they’re heading back out as soon as Cheryl gets back from her son’s wedding in Las Vegas Tuesday.
Their biggest worry is food. Carrying it, eating enough of it, and having the energy to prepare it. They are probably burning 5,000-7,000 calories each day as they hike 11-19 miles, depending on the terrain.
Think about it, that’s three times the daily energy most of us use – even with moderate exercise.
Sure, they’ve got the usual high-calorie candy, gorp, peanut butter, various carbs and hot chocolate. But they’re still losing weight, and probably some muscle. We were pondering what portable foods they could add that wouldn’t weigh them down further than their 40-pound packs.
That’s an eye-opener – a group of women discussing ways to keep weight on; discussing food as fuel; talking about food at all without the usual self-depricating talk about our bodies. The very absense of that kind of self-abuse made me realize how common it is when women talk about these things.
And that’s a shame.
It’s no secret that I love food and I need to exercise more to make up for that love. And that’s the way I’m going to look at it from now on. Love it and lose it. It’s time for me, and maybe you. to stop picking ourselves apart and do some math. You want dessert? Of course you do. Figure out what you have to do to earn it.
I recently started swimming laps again, and I figure each 45-minute workout is burning 600 calories. So only on days that I swim, I know the carrot at the end of the stick can be some gooey French cheese, or a slice of cake or a rich casserole.
Let’s face it, I’m never going to hike the Appalachian Trail. Eating freezed-dried anything is just not my bag. And my DVR would fill up way too fast for me to keep up with my favorite shows.
But I’ve got a plan now. Let’s see how it works.
Here’s what we’re having for supper after my next swim:
Blue Cheese and Bacon Pies
524 calories each – might have to throw in a couple of extra laps so I can have a glass of wine too
6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1 8.5 oz. package corn muffin mix
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
3 tart apples, sliced thin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. fresh chives, minced
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking sheet.
Combine the muffin mix, flour, thyme, egg and milk and mix briefly into a stiff dough. Divide into four portions, place on baking sheet and using your fingers, flatten each piece into a roughly round shape. Top with apples, leaving a small border around edges. Turn the edges up to form the crust and brush edges with olive oil.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and sprinkle the pies with bacon pieces and Gorgonzola crumbles. Return to the oven and bake another 5 to 7 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle with chives and a little basalmic vinegar, if you’d like. Serve warm.