Barcelona Summer Squash and Mussels

Yesterday’s Run: 4 easy miles with the (biking) parents. 7:50 average.

Today’s Run: 6.3 easy, hot, and flat miles in Florida. 7:58 average.


I’ve been better with running this past week or so since getting to Florida – I’ve done an easy 8-miler and 7-mile “tempo” (1 mile warm-up/cool down, 5 miles at 7:20 pace) and hope to put in one more speed session and one more longish run in the next six days before I go back to school. I was in Chicago and Minnesota for the first two weeks of break, and Jesus, it was miserable. I didn’t have time to do anything longer than 4 miles in Chicago, and then I tried to go out running in three-degree weather in Minnesota on Christmas day. Never do that. Three steps out and I was crying (actually), so I turned back and drowned my sorrows in Christmas cookies and my aunt’s pesto lasagna.


The mini-break was nice though, I am excited for training to start for the DC RnR Half. I’ll get a formal training plan up here soon. By soon, I mean tomorrow. That is my goal, minions. That is my goal.


After my run, I ran around all day with my parents. We went to Captain Charlie’s, my favorite you-know-you’re-in-South-Florida-when-you’re-at-this-fish-joint, went grocery shopping, and saw Silver Linings Playbook (OH. MY. GOD). When we got home at 7, I wasn’t particularly ravenous, but I saw half an avocado in the fridge and thought of fajitas. Next thing you know, those avocado innards are gone and all that remains in my hand is a spoon and its shell. Well, now. It was delicious of course (because when are avocados not delicious) but I had to reroute my dinner plans a bit, more so because as I was busy scooping my ‘cado, Gary swept into the kitchen and ate last night’s leftover steak, the very steak that I was planning to use, with his bare fingers.


And so is life. Animals we are.


Luckily, my second option was just as delicious.


Barcelona Summer Squash and Marinara Mussels


I remember the first time I tried a mussel. I was 6 or 7, visiting my father’s side of the family in New Jersey (I know, I know), and my parents and I were out to dinner with my extended family. My dad and uncles got an order of steamers for the table to share. I have never been a picky eater, and I quickly gobbled up half a dozen of the shellfish, never pausing to ask exactly what the little things were. And then I saw it: that nasty, gritty, grey substance leaking out of one of the shells, and I made the mistake of asking what it was, and my uncle, well, he explained that it was the contents of that particular creature’s organs, digested food, and more.


If you didn’t know that and like mussels, oysters, and clams, I apologize. Hope I didn’t ruin it for you.


Needless to say, mussels joined my small list of childhood forbidden foods, along the ranks of blue cheese (still there) and mushrooms (TO THINK I EVER DISLIKED THESE MARVELOUS FUNGI). That was all to change last summer though when I studied abroad in Barcelona for two months.


Mussels were everywhere.


So I decided to try them. More than ten years had passed since this emotional scarring. Additionally, mejillones a la marinara, a traditional way of preparing the shellfish similar to the Italian fish stew ciopinno, seemed…dare I say it…appealing to me. With these mejillones, the mussels and their shells are immersed in a marinara broth, so all the scary goop and ugliness is disguised. Upon my first bite, I knew I had found a friend in Barcelona. Maybe the Catalans still couldn’t understand my American accent at the end of 8 weeks (ah, what a humbling experience, accepting that languages are just not your thing), but at least I left Barcelona with a repaired relationship with sea creature.


A nutritional little powerhouse, mussels are a great low-fat protein source. Even more importantly, they are high in iron, vitamin B12, zinc, manganese, and a bunch of other stuff that you can read about here. Since my iron is on the lower side, I make a conscious effort to add stuff like this to my diet, as should many other runners. I plan on creating a page on the importance of making sure your iron is in the healthy range soon.


Anyway. Mussels, high in iron, tomato sauce and summer squash, high in vitamin C, which equates maximum absorption of iron. Success.


  • 1 can mussels 
  • Chopped (already cooked) summer squash
  • Marinara sauce
  • Other possible add-ins: pasta, rice, bread for dipping, cheese
  • Instructions: Drain and rinse mussels. Put in a bowl with steamed squash and tomato sauce, heat until warm.



You know what the best part about this is, especially for other poor souls who still live in a college dorm? The entire thing can be made in a microwave. I only dirtied one bowl, and the whole process took under 5 minutes. When I get back to school I will definitely be making this concoction often.  


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