Healthy Now: Carb loading light with Orso salad |

Healthy Now: Carb loading light with Orso salad

Simone Grandmain
Special to the Bonanza


1 16-oz box box Barilla orzo pasta, prepared per package directions then drained and cooled

1/2 cup olive oil

Juice of four lemons

2 tbls. fresh mint

2 tbls. chopped fresh oregano

1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (or light feta if not running 26 miles)

1 cup chopped Kalamata olives

1 cup chopped roasted red peppers

1 basket cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 small red onion, diced

1 bunch green onions, diced (both white and green parts)

1 English cucumber peeled and chopped salt and pepper to taste

2 tbls. bottled balsamic or Greek salad dressing

Preparation: Toss cooled Orso with olive oil, lemon juice, mint and oregano. Add feta cheese and toss again. Now toss in olives, red peppers, tomatoes, both onions and cucumber. Let sit for about an hour for flavors to blend. Add salt and pepper and your store-bought dressing to taste. Chill in refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving.

With less than a month to go to until the Truckee Marathon on Sept. 24, activity on the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District’s (TDRPD) indoor track has intensified.

Runners are training on the treadmill, doing well-paced laps, using the stretching machines, and talking to Dan Jenkins. Dan is the man at the Fitness Center desk upstairs, overseeing the facility and sharing his expertise with marathon newbies.

With 40 marathons and 15 ultra-marathons (several of these 100-milers) behind him, Jenkins has plenty of expertise to go around.

While he began his athletic career in tennis (Yes. He is pickle ball teacher’s pet.), and is a United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) Certified Teaching Pro, he became a devotee of long-distance running after completing his first marathon in San Francisco in 1990.

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Dan now calls TDRPD home, and when he’s not giving advice to aspiring marathoners at our Fitness Center, he trains runners on a one-on-one basis.

One of the greatest assets we have at TDRPD is our employees. We attract athletes, many of them professionals, like, well, a runner to a Gatorade. Besides Dan, we have Bob upstairs designing individual muscle strengthening programs and Steve a competitive biker and skier.

Many of our members are equally knowledgeable and generous with advice. Jan Zabriskie, a veteran long-distance runner, reminds marathoners to hydrate 24 hours before the race, and make sure you get a good night’s sleep two nights prior to race day.

“Forget the night before,” he laughs, “not happening.”

Zabriskie also recommends picking an upbeat race with a big, lively crowd for your first marathon.

“So much about long distance is mental,” Zabriskie said.

Dan concurs, and like Zabriskie also pays attention to what his body needs a couple days before the run and emphasizes no radical shift in diet close to race day, including carb loading.

“You should start integrating carbohydrates about six weeks before the run and add more carbs two-to-three days before,” Zabriskie said.

Why carbs?

“When you eat, say, spaghetti, most of the carbs are stored as glycogen which is your body’s most easily accessible form of energy. If you run out, you hit the wall and your body slows down to turn fat into energy,” Zabriskie said.

“Pasta is a perfect go-to carbohydrate. Easy to make. Easy on the stomach. You do not want to add fiber, like vegetables, which could mess with your digestion.”

Because the Truckee Marathon is held during our Indian summer, we have been sampling out a salad with Orso pasta to our marathon members, and it has been a big hit. Very aromatic, which stimulates the appetite, and easy to pack and carry. Plus pasta has no mayonnaise, so it will not spoil. It is sure to fuel you to a good finish.

This column is courtesy of Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District staff and members, inspiring creative, active lives for a healthy mountain community. For more information on how you can stay in shape during the seasonal changes, visit or check out our Facebook page at


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