Pistachio Pasta Salad

After huge flight delays that caused multiple missed flight connections and lost luggage (not 1, not 2, but 3 lost pieces of luggage for our group of 4 – we will never fly Alitalia again!), we made it to Sicily & Rome and back.

As mentioned in my last post, I was pretty worried about biking in Sicily still coughing from the delightful pneumonia side effect of ‘reactive airways.’  But all was fantastic. I didn’t power up the hills (yes, like the ones in the background of this photo) the way I’d have liked, but I didn’t have to walk my bike (much) either

From a lo-co lifestyle perspective, it doesn’t get much better than a Backroads Bike Trip.  You bike for 30-40 miles a day (you can do more, but…) and then eat fantastic food that someone else prepares for you.  And on this particular Sicily bike trip, the food was spectacular – and healthy.  Lots of olive oil, freshly made pasta, and for this trip in particular there was an emphasis on ‘farm-to-table’ that meant we had unbelievably fresh eggplant and zucchini at nearly every meal.

I miss it.  And the gelato.  And the beer that we always had at the end of a hard day’s ride.  OK, OK, so this ride in particular we had a 7 mile dead downhill to Sicily’s southern coast – so it wasn’t the least bit strenuous.  But it was hot – like 95 degrees hot – so we needed that beer!

But it wasn’t all beer and wonderful Sicilian red wine.  The food was extraordinary. Lo-co wise, it was perfect – healthy food and a lot of exercise.  I asked the chef at a restaurant in Scicli to share his recipe for a stupendous eggplant caponata, which he generously gave me.  I’ll post it, but it’s in Italian so I have to find someone to translate it first.

Back home, I was determined to find a fresh pasta recipe I could make to help me stay on track, lo-co wise.  Happily, I discovered this Gemelli Salad with Green Beans, Pistachios and Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette dish.  The recipe’s from Cooking Light and it was both easy to make and delicious.  And since it’s cold, it’s perfect for the summer.

I served it to a group of friends for lunch, who both demolished it and asked for the recipe.  So I’m making it again tonight and bringing it (with a green salad) to my cousin Stephen as he recovers from a diving board, um, incident that left him in surgery for a broken ankle and torn achilles tendon…

He won’t be biking soon, but I’m still spinning – and trying to eat healthy.  It’s a good thing gelato doesn’t exist here like it does in Sicily and Rome…


Lo-Co at the airport

So I got back in the Lo-co saddle and promptly fell off – but it wasn’t my fault. I swear.

I was felled by pneumonia. The funny thing (though let me just say there are not many funny things about pneumonia – and I had walking pneumonia – I can’t even IMAGINE how awful ‘real’ pneumonia would be!) is that eating Lo-Co while sick was a breeze.

Mostly because I didn’t eat. (Its ridiculously easy to eat Lo-Co when all you are consuming is soup). And the upshot was that I lost a few lbs.

But obviously exercise was not remotely possible.

So for most of June its been: Lo-co diet – success by default. Lo-co exercise – a big fat no.

Which has been a huge bummer because I have been ‘training’ for a bike trip vacation. Its the kind of trip where you ride about 30-40 miles a day. The kind of trip where you can’t just show up having not biked (a lot) in several weeks. Or if you do, you will suffer. A lot.

Yes, I realize some (many) of you will think this is the opposite of a vacation. But we love this trip – my husband and I go with 2 close friends and it’s an absolute blast. But I’ve never gone without logging serious bike miles for the three weeks before the trip.

So I am now sitting at JFK airport in NYC waiting for our flight to Sicily – newly acquired inhaler firmly in hand – worrying more than a little what is going to happen when I get on a bike on Sunday. My folks are staying at our home with our son while we are gone – hopefully I won’t be joining them early.

And hey – at least the pasta and wine will be great. And lo-co. And my doctor did ‘clear’ me to exercise. So maybe I’ll be fully back in the saddle when we start biking on Sunday.

My fingers (the ones not holding the inhaler) are crossed.