Recipe: Glycogen-loaded burritos

Carbo loading” is a term familiar to anyone with a glancing interest in or knowledge of running. Eating carbohydrates helps stock your muscles with lots of glycogen, the chemical that keeps them humming over the course of an endurance event, whether it be a long race or a long run.

Here’s one of my favorite carbo-loading recipes, Chicken and Goat Cheese Burritos. I originally found this on Three Fat Chicks. There are lots of other good recipes there. But I’ve since modified it a bit to bring down the sodium, make it spicier (I like really hot food!), and add more carbs:

Chicken Goat Cheese Burritos
Serves: 4

recipe ingredients
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed thoroughly and drained
1/2 cup (3 oz.) soft fresh goat cheese, broken into small chunks
1.5 cups cooked brown rice

recipe directions
Cut chicken into 1/2- by 3-inch strips. Seal tortillas in foil and warm in a 350* oven until hot, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, heat them in the microwave for a few seconds just before serving) Meanwhile, place beans, tomato sauce, vinegar and spices into a 1-quart pan and cook covered over medium-high heat until bubbling, about 5 minutes. If too dry, add a little water or chicken stock. Bean mixture should be moist, but not soupy. Spray a pan with PAM and heat it over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, stirring until meat is no longer pink in center, about 6 minutes. Lay tortillas flat. Toward 1 edge, fill each with 1/4 of the chicken, beans (including most of liquid), rice and cheese. Fold over sides and roll up tightly to enclose.

Tip: These burritos travel very well. Just freeze them, then put them in a cooler with ice for the trip. Since I was nervous about eating strange food, I ate them the night before my half marathon in April (I got a room with a fridge and a microwave), and I was well-fueled for the race the next morning.

Caveat: If you’re not used to eating beans, you should experiment with eating these during a time when you don’t have a critical event coming up. If you have trouble with beans, there are two things you can do to remedy the problem. The first is to eat beans more often. Your body may get used to them and be able to process them better if you eat them regularly. If you’re not a big bean fan, you can always try Beano, which contains the enzyme that your body needs to digest beans without discomfort.