You two seem to have such a strong connection. When did you meet?
We met as nervous college freshman on the first day of cross country practice at UNC Chapel Hill. We became fast friends and went on to live together in a house off campus for our junior and senior years.
After graduation we both ended up moving to Portland to work for Nike, in opposite capacities, Shalane as a star athlete and me as a cubicle warrior churning out marketing plans. Our journeys have been so different, but we’ve crossed paths so many times and stayed friends over the past 18 years. Thanks to working for Nike, I got to watch Shalane make her first Olympic team in Sacramento and cheered for her during her first marathon in NYC. We never dreamed Shalane would go on to become a 4-time Olympian and win the NYC marathon, plus that we would write a New York Times
bestselling cookbook together and even put a second book out.
Can you tell us a little bit about your new cookbook, Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.?
Our new cookbook is even more beautiful and inspiring than our first cookbook. We didn’t think we could top the first book, but we are even more proud of this book. It’s going to help so many young athletes of all levels and across sports.
We love that the recipes are even faster and super approachable for a beginner cook or busy families, without sacrificing nutrition or flavor. We want to inspire people to let go of harmful diet habits and instead focus their energy on simply cooking real food.
Where did the inspiration for writing Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. come from?
While on our book tour we heard from so many fans that they wanted more recipes from us (so many of our fans have cooked their way through the entire first book!) and that their number one limitation is time. We wanted to create recipes that are easy to prepare, easy to pack for people on the go, and amazing repurposed as leftovers. We also have received countless emails and letters from young women who have overcome serious health issues and harmful disordered eating habits thanks to our cookbook. We’re on a mission to help women let go of food phobias and learn to indulge in real food. We knew in our second book we wanted to share some of the inspiring real food transformation stories, including our own stories. Wholesome, nourishing, indulgent food does not cause weight gain; it’s all the sugary and nutrition-less packaged foods that lead to wild cravings and weight gain.
There are many tasty recipes using a combination of ingredients and flavors such as the Power Bowls, Pesto Pasta With Sardines and the Chipotle Black Bean Burgers. How did you come up with all of them?
We never skimp on flavor or fat because food has to taste amazing in order to feel satiated at the end of a meal. If you’re eating a bland dinner of a grilled chicken breast with steamed broccoli, you’re going to feel hungry for the rest of the night and will end up snacking on sugary treats. We use a lot of herbs and spices in our dishes, as these not only add flavor but are also packed with nutrition and great for fighting inflammation. The recipes are inspired by what we feed our own families and what we crave as two busy, active women. Many of the recipes in the second book are inspired by what our fans can’t get enough of from the first book. We love seeing what our fans our cooking via Instagram. For example, our Superhero Muffins from the first book have a cult following, so in the second book we created 3 new variations on these killer muffins.
What are some of your favorite dishes from the book?
We never tire of these recipes, so many of them are staples in our homes.
My favorite recipes are the ones that I know my two young kids will devour and that I’m usually cooking on a near-weekly basis, including Marathon Bolognese, Pesto Pasta With Sardines, Oatmeal Banana Pancakes, Sweet Potato Hummus, Beef and Lentil Minestrone, Turkey Trot Meatballs, and so many more. We make the Immune-Boost Smoothie every few days and my 4-year-old calls it the Green Dinosaur smoothie. For myself I’m in love with so many of the nourishing wholesome treats, including the breakfast cookies and granola bars. I need a lot of snacks right now since I’m nursing a 9-month-old.
While training for the NYC Marathon, I was testing all of the recipes in this book and several of the recipes I just kept making again and again, including the Rad Raspberry Beet Smoothie Bowl, Superhero Muffins, Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oatmeal,Thai Quinoa Salad, Veggie Lover’s Pasta Salad, Superfoods Soup, Power Bowls, Roasted Cauliflower and Potatoes, Coconut Rice with Nori, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and Lemon Gingerade. I could eat these dishes every week!
Elyse, when did you first realize that whole food fats were key to a happy and healthier life for you?
For years I was told I would have trouble getting pregnant someday since I suffered from athletic amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), like so many female endurance athletes. When I moved abroad to Switzerland, my diet changed drastically, from low fat yogurt to whole milk yogurt, from bland chicken breasts to whole roasted chicken, from processed spreads to real butter, and from frozen veggie burgers to full-fat, grass-fed ground beef. Within a few months of living in Switzerland, I got my period naturally for the first time in my life. This indulgent diet that I had learned to label in our country as unhealthy actually made me stronger, happier, and healthier than ever before. It was a life-changing experience that inspired me to walk away from a successful marketing career to study at a culinary nutrition school in NYC.
Shalane, in 2017 you made history by becoming the first American woman in 40 years to win the NYC Marathon. Congratulations on that achievement! Can you talk about the role food played in conditioning your body during your training for this race?
One of the best gifts I've been given to enhance my running career and overall well-being has been learning to cook. Elyse taught me that cooking should be fun and not overwhelming. She showed me how to cook with good fats to add flavor and nourishment. She also told me to stop counting calories, and that the only numbers I should be filling my mind with were the splits on my watch and the miles I logged each day. Both of these recommendations were revolutionary ideas to me.
In college, I fell into the misleading trap that all fat was bad. I thought fat would make you fat! Little did I know that adding the right fats would make me feel satiated and keep me full longer. Since I started eating this way, it has given me more energy and enabled me to recover faster from hard workouts. With more energy comes a boost in enthusiasm for my training and racing. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Since adding more fat and whole foods into my diet, my racing weight comes naturally — without counting calories. Hallelujah!
While training for the NYC Marathon, I was testing recipes for our second cookbook and several of the recipes (see list above) became staples in my diet because I found them easy to make (after a grueling workout), super satisfying, and perfect for recovery.
What do you hope your cookbook will accomplish for those who use it?
We want to teach people that healthy eating doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Health food isn’t just kale juice, but also a juicy burger. You don’t have to deprive yourself to eat right. Embrace butter!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
While on book tour we heard this quote from a fan and we both love it: “Good things come to those who sweat.”
Share an interesting experience you’ve had with one of your readers.
We love our fans. Writing cookbooks is a labor of love and the stories they share with us inspire us to keep going because we have such an important message to share. We’ve had women cry when they meet us and share stories of being able to get pregnant naturally thanks to following the recommendations in our book. We had a guy gift us a sweaty running shirt and several times people have brought us samples of things they’ve cooked from our own book.
Thai Quinoa Salad
For fighting inflammation.
When Shalane traveled to Bend, Oregon, to kick off recipe testing for Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.
with Elyse, this was the very first recipe to come out of Elyse’s kitchen. It was love at first bite. We continued to tweak the recipe, not because it needed much work, but because we secretly wanted an excuse to make it time and again. This is the salad Shalane made on a near-weekly basis while training for the 2017 NYC Marathon and 2018 Boston Marathon.
We highly recommend the use of fish sauce (a store-bought condiment) to give the salad a true Thai-inspired umami kick, but if you’re vegan or vegetarian, the salad is crownworthy made with just soy sauce.
Make this salad on a Sunday night for work lunches all week long, or serve as a side dish with a juicy, grilled steak for a dinner set to impress.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups grated carrots (about 2 large)
2 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
3 green onions, white and green parts sliced
1 cup packed mint leaves, chopped (cilantro works too)
1 cup packed basil leaves, chopped
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeds removed, minced (optional)
½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¹⁄³ cup fresh lime juice (2 to 3 limes)
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
Use a food processor to grate the carrots and chop the cabbage and herbs.
Cook a double batch of quinoa and save the leftovers for breakfast. Our Peaches and Molasses Quinoa Bowl (page 69) is a satisfying alternative to sugary cereal.
Here is a foolproof method to cook quinoa: In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil 1½ cups water and the quinoa. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Transfer to a large salad bowl, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil, lime juice, soy sauce or tamari, honey, and fish sauce (if using) in a glass jar or bowl and stir to combine.
Once the quinoa is cool, add the carrots, cabbage, onion, mint, basil, and pepper (if using) to the bowl and toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss again. Taste and, if needed, add more fish sauce or soy sauce.
Top with the peanuts. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.
This salad will stay fresh in airtight glass containers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
GLUTEN-FREE // VEGAN:
Omit the fish sauce.
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is an Olympic silver medalist, four-time Olympian, 2017 TCS New York City Marathon champion, World Cross Country Bronze medalist, and multiple American record holder. She is the third fastest American marathoner in history, with a time of 2:21.14. Shalane is the fastest American woman to run the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:22.02. Along with her coauthor, Elyse Kopecky, she is the New York Times
bestselling author of Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes
and Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.
is a New York Times
bestselling author, chef, nutrition coach, and inspirational speaker. Elyse lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, two sweet kids, and one rambunctious pup. She can be found on Instagram @elysekopecky.