Kitchen MacGyver: Potassium-filled Pasta

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My fellow Competitor senior editor, Erin, makes me feel lazy. She’s currently training for Ultraman Canada in July … enough said. Erin, Linzay (the magazine’s copy editor) and I went for a pre-lunch jog to test new kicks for our trail shoe review (look for it in the August issue), and we talked about a pretty regular cramping problem Erin experiences during long runs or rides. Of course, I’m no physiologist or registered dietician, but I asked whether she pays attention to electrolytes, substances that help balance water and the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Sodium and potassium are lost in the greatest amounts through sweat; this is why sports medicine doctors and nutritionists advise athletes to eat salty foods and consume sports drinks and electrolyte-enhanced beverages while training for and competing in endurance races.

The standard bagel-and-banana distance runner breakfast delivers much-needed carbs and potassium, but I can get really sick of cramming sweet, mushy, starchy bananas down my gullet when I’m training for a distance race. Mushrooms provide a savory alternative; in fact, a three-ounce portabella mushroom cap contains more potassium than a banana.

Erin, this one’s for you.

Potassium-filled Pasta  

1/2 pound whole-wheat spaghetti

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium-sized shallot, diced

2 large portabella mushroom caps, cleaned, stems removed and cut into small chunks

8-10 shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and sliced

1 container button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme (stems removed) or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup fresh or frozen baby peas

3 dashes worcestershire sauce

a couple of splashes of white wine, optional

2 teaspoons soy butter or yogurt butter, optional

1/4 cup fat-free half and half or unflavored soy creamer

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water one minute shy of package directions. In the meantime, saute garlic and shallots in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When shallots have softened, add the mushrooms and allow to brown for about five minutes. Stir mushrooms and add thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for another two to three minutes. Add peas and the rest of the ingredients and cook for another five to seven minutes, or until the liquids have thickened into a sauce. Drain pasta and add to the skillet, tossing thoroughly to coat the noodles. Serve.