Learning to run is also largely about learning to eat.

When. What. How. Where. Why. What not.

Honestly. It’s exhausting.


There’s this misplaced notion that athletes (and I still, three marathons and countless halfs in the bank, hesitate to call myself that) can eat what they want. And that’s true in the sense that any of us can eat what we want. (Free will and all.)

But it’s also not quite that simple.

Before a workout (which, when you get your sweat on six days a week, is always) you have to consider timing (and become very intimately familiar with the kinetics of your digestive system), content, and. Above all.



Have one really good run and I promise you that you will do whatever it takes, eat whatever it takes, to recreate the 24 hours that preceded it.  Just because you are so.sure that doing so will “guarantee” you repeated awesomeness.


I, for one, am admittedly rigid about what I eat the morning before a long run or race. English muffin with a spoonful of peanut butter on each half, two hours before I head out. No more, no less, no earlier, no later. If you try to change it up on me, there’s a chance I will never forgive you. And by chance…I mean 100% certainty.


I am less uptight (but equally as conscientious) about what I eat for lunch and a snack before an afternoon/night workout.

Lately it’s been all about the soup.  It’s closer to a liquid than a solid, which means it goes down easier (and stays down easier).  Plus soups tend to be so full of nutrition that I feel like I’m giving my body everything it needs before stressing it out to it’s max.

This red lentil coconut soup, especially, is a favorite. It’s full of flavor, with just the right amount of ginger and spice to keep your taste buds wanting “just one more” spoonful, and the red lentils give it texture without making it too heavy.


And then. Snacktime.

If I have less than an hour before my run, I’ll usually go for a banana since they are so easily digestible.

But if I’ve got a bit of time, yogurt is my favorite way to go.


Recently, I was given the opportunity to try Yopa!, the newest Greek yogurt on the block. Yopa! is made by the same folks who make YoCrunch, which, if you remember from being five years old, is the yogurt that comes with M&M’s or oreo pieces to mix into it.  (You know…the yogurt that you always wanted but that mom refused to buy except on really special occasions.)

Like YoCrunch, Yopa! also has fun mix-ins, but these are of the healthy variety – toasted almonds, whole grain granola, and dark chocolate chunks. One of my favorite things about it, though, is that it is made with farm-fresh, regionally sourced milk, making for the best possible yogurt.  In addition, it also has all the benefits of Greek yogurt, as it’s super high in protein which will keep you fuller for longer, is high in calcium and probiotics, and has absolutely no cholesterol or trans fat. Yopa! comes in a ton of flavors – vanilla, blueberry, peach, black cherry, and strawberry – so no matter what, there is one for everyone. So far I’ve tried the vanilla with toasted almonds and the cherry with granola and I have to say that they made for a super tasty mid-afternoon pick-me-up and the perfect balanced snack to fuel an afternoon run. (Superstitions and all.)

Speaking of balance, gold medalist Gabby Douglas is an expert, and she’s challenging you to take the Yopa! Taste Challenge where you can win a variety of prizes, including $10,000! Just “like” Yopa! on Facebook for a chance to win and to grab a coupon for $.50 (or more!) off one cup of Yopa! Authentic Greek Yogurt.


One year ago…Breakfast Bowl with Za’atar Roasted Eggplant, Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash and Hummus, Peanut Noodle Salad with Edamame and Bok Choy
Three years ago…Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup, Shaved Fennel Salad with Oranges, Lemon, Dill and Arugula
Four years ago…Chili-Crusted Baked Tofu, Creamed Spinach

Red Lentil Coconut Soup
Serves 6, adapted from 101 Cookbooks


  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 tbsp freshly peeled and minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk
  • 2 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • cilantro, chopped


  1. Rinse the red lentils. Place them in an extra large soup pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
  2. In the meantime, in a small dry skillet over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is fragrant, but be careful not to burn it. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Add half the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the tomato paste and saute for a minute or two more.
  4. Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture. Mix well.  Add this to the simmering soup, along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. Simmer longer for a thicker consistency or add water to make it thinner, if desired.
  5. Sprinkle each bowl with cilantro and remaining scallions.

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69 Responses to Red Lentil Coconut Soup {}

  1. Awesome soup! Love that bowl. 🙂
    I also eat an english muffin with peanut butter (and usually with banana slices on it) before a long run or race!

  2. Danielle says:

    Im a big lentil fan- pinning this one!

  3. Audra says:

    I love red lentils! gotta try this while it’s still chilly out! 🙂

  4. Tandy says:

    Soup is the only way I’ll eat lentils!

  5. I love red lentil soup AND Greek yogurt! I’ll be on the lookout for Yopa.

  6. Yes. This looks perfect. Would be even more perfect with a hunk of corn bread or crusty French bread…mmmm.

  7. My stomach is super sensitive to how much or how far I eat before any kind of cardio. Too hungry, too full, to anything just really messes with my ability do do anything!

    Healthy soup a few hours before an evening workout sounds good to me!

  8. This looks like such a comforting, warming soup. Such a lovely recipe! Thanks for sharing, Joanne.

  9. Pam says:

    Wow, it is exhausting deciding what to eat and when to eat it. Since I am not exercising at the moment, I eat pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want.

  10. Erica Berman says:

    Oh this is exactly the kind of soup I love, thanks for sharing!

  11. Laura says:

    Such a nourishing, comforting soup! This is on my must-make list now!

  12. I’ve never had lentils, I swear I must be the last person on earth. The other flavors in this sound amazing though 🙂

    I don’t run, but my husband does and he eats the exact same thing as you before races and workouts!

  13. How perfect and healthy and satisfying this looks! I love the color of it too. As we gear up for spring, I’ve been making a lot of soup… can’t have enough though. Will have to give this a try!

  14. Juliana says:

    Oh Joanne, this lentil dish sounds and looks fabulous, like the raisins and the coconut milk in it…this is sure exploding in flavors.
    Hope you are having a great week 🙂

  15. Pam says:

    I recently had a dream that I ran in a marathon. Me! Crazy cool. The soup looks fantastic! Hearty, flavorful, and comforting.

    I love yogurt with nuts and fruit mixed in… I’ll have to give this yogurt a try.

  16. Ashley Bee says:

    I still feel like lentils taste like Hippie House Smell but I am open to the idea of them. Especially with carrots and ginger!

  17. Jessie says:

    Mmm, I love me some lentil soup! It’s the perfect time of year for them 🙂

    I would totally call you a marathoner, Joanne! I’m also very particular about what I eat before a race (or used to be – it’s been a while): medium banana with spoonful of PB, 1 hour before. Very important to fuel well 🙂

  18. I start all my training runs and races in a fasted state. My stomach just can’t handle food before a run. Runs of 1 hour or less, I’ll just take water. Runs lasting more than an hour, I start taking gels 30 minutes in. I would love to eat beforehand (and have tried), but it just doesn’t work for me.

  19. Ashley says:

    I’m soooo not a runner. But I’ve been getting into a good workout routine as of late, and it has definitely changed my appetite. This soup looks wonderful! I just made some red lentil stew last night and yummm!

  20. Eileen says:

    I love the idea of mixing up classic lentil soup with coconut milk. I bet this would be great served over a split baked potato!

  21. I will never be a runner because I just hate it, but I’d also never be able to figure out all the eating rules involved with running! I still don’t even know what “carb loading” is though I hear it all the time from runners. I’d definitely still eat this soup though, looks delicious and I LOVE your photos of it!

  22. Damn, girl. I’m sold, and I don’t normally like legumes. Also, I’m going to steal your bowls, fyi.

  23. Guru Uru says:

    What a delicious looking soup my friend and twist on the common lentil soup 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  24. Amy says:

    I know nothing of this marathon running amazingness. But I will say that before I do my 4-5 miles, I almost always drink a tiny glass of orange juice and eat a few cashews. Always an hour beforehand. See, even us small-time runners have our food rituals. If I ran later in the day, I think I’d go for a couple spoonfuls of that soup! Luuuuh-huv lentil soup.

  25. this soup sounds wonderful! and yup, knowing your digestive system is half the battle for running 😉

  26. bellini says:

    It does take discipline.

  27. The soup looks awesome and the texture just perfect! I have been on a soup kick lately myself 🙂

  28. Debbie says:

    Love lentil soup…..I’ve never had it made with coconut milk and this sounds so interesting. Just pinned and will try it!!!

  29. OohLookBel says:

    Beautiful soup, and so nutritious. Love the bowl you served it in, too.

  30. Karis says:

    This soup sounds wonderful! It’s annoying that it’s still really cold here, but on the bright side, it’s perfect soup weather 🙂

  31. Natalie G says:

    Another great recipe with lentils! I will be trying this out soon Joanne, thanks!

  32. Oh yum! I love this…now I just have to remember to pick up a bag of lentils!

  33. Hannah says:

    That is definitely the thick, hearty kind of soup that looks like it would stay with you for hours. Definitely my kind of serious fuel! I’ve really been neglecting my lentils lately, so thank you for this delicious reminder.

  34. Blond Duck says:

    I’m the same way with my pre-run dinners the night before. I need salmon and sweet potatoes and at least a spoonful of my magic PB before bed. No PB, my run sucks.

    Love this soup.

  35. Yummy, this is my kinda meal! I love a nice hearty, creamy vegetarian stew or soup. Sounds perfect for a pre-workout snack or dinner 🙂

  36. Johanna GGG says:

    sounds great – just the sort of soup I love – will be very useful if I ever take up running 🙂 (seriously is very good for me even if I am not running)

  37. Annie Patz says:

    This soup looks so creamy and delicious! Lentils are probably one of my favorite staples, I’ll have to try that brand of yogurt too! Lately I’ve been addicted to Oikos cafe latte (sounds kinda weird but it is soooo good).

  38. Ate lots of red lentils last few weeks, but I want MORE. The stew looks delicious!

  39. Kari says:

    This is a well timed post. As I’ve been running longer, the food side of things has been one of the biggest challenges, which sounds ridiculous, but there is so much scientific exactness needed and I’m sure superstition has not helped! I run first thing, always, and getting up 2 hours early to eat has not proved very sustainable. I am using dates quite a bit, but this looks a tad more nutritious (albeit perhaps not breakfast worthy…but post run worthy!).

  40. Lynn says:

    This looks positively soul warming.

  41. This looks amazing, I could just do with a nice bowl full for my lunch.

  42. Mary Younkin says:

    I have red lentils sitting in the pantry, just begging to be used. I NEVER remember them! Thanks for the timely reminder. This sounds great!

  43. If I could eat anything I wanted I would STILL eat this every day! Heathy awesome food! WOOO!! Although we did eat anything we wanted in NOLA…I miss beignets.

  44. Mary says:

    What gorgeous photos , Joanne. The soup is wonderful and will be a magnet that draws people to the table. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  45. Lora says:

    Ooh this is perfect deliciousness for the cold NYC weather today.

  46. bigFATcook says:

    The soup looks amazing, beautiful photos!

  47. teresa says:

    it’s amazing how food really does affect physical activity. i can always tell how i’ve been eating just based on my workouts. it’s so important.

    the soup looks SO delicious, and healthy! just reading the ingredients warmed me up, so rich. keep running girl!

  48. Soup is the perfect lunch for me at work. It’s filling enough but doesn’t give me food coma! And I recently fell in love with lentils so this soup is screaming my name!

  49. Dining Alone says:

    Those Yo Crunch were my gateway to getting my husband to eat yogurt and now he really likes it. I will have to try the Yopa and get him some also!

  50. Claudia says:

    That is one thick soup. An Indian version of pease porridge perhaps. Sounds very filling and yummy.

  51. Pam says:

    Lentil soup is delicious and I like your version with the coconut milk. Good job!

  52. ahhh! you and I eat the EXACT same thing at the exact same time before a race! Too funny! This soup sounds so stinking good!

  53. This must taste wonderful! I love lentils. Coconut milk must add a wonderful flavor to this hearty soup.

  54. Reeni Pisano says:

    Love all the flavors you incorporated into this soup including the raisins! So unique. I can’t wait to try the new yogurt!

  55. Monet says:

    This looks like such a hearty and flavorful soup. I am also having to pay extra attention to when I eat and exercise. With this growing baby, there isn’t much room! Thank you for sharing. As always, a lovely end (or beginning) to my day. Have a blessed weekend!

  56. That Girl says:

    I love lentil soup, but I especially love the addition of coconut milk.

  57. Deborah says:

    You have got it down to a science!! And this soup? I’d definitely take a bowl of it!

  58. Laura says:

    Gorgeous soup. Love the raisins in it.

  59. Lori says:

    I’m with you. Pre-race or long run, it’s all about repetition and the old stand by. This soup sounds amazing!

  60. Kathy says:

    Wonderful looking soup…love the addition of coconut. I just post a lentil soup form Dorie Greenspan our French Fridays group. I love lentils!

  61. sandra says:

    I just began my meager running exercise (I’m up to 2/3 mile three times a week) and I have noticed a big difference in how I feel depending on what I’ve eaten before. Not eating before works the best – running right when I get up, but I don’t always have that option. Eating one hour before is a good measure – the same amount of time they say you should not eat before a yoga class. Makes sense.

  62. I am so going to make this soon, it looks and sounds super tempting. I would love this healthy dish for my event @ my blog. Please do send it.

  63. sunday says:

    that looks really appetizing

  64. This is nice. I have never thought of cooking soup like this. Probably add some cheese so the soup becomes creamy and thick. Then Serve it with bread would be a really nice and simple dinner. 🙂

  65. oh my garsh, that soup! I’d eat it off schedule it looks so good ;). And I have not yet tried Yopa, but I’ll throw a couple in the cart next time I shopping!

  66. tigerfish says:

    I am a “soup” person too whether it is very liquid and clear broth or a thicker version like this lentil coconut soup!

  67. Anonymous says:

    I knew there was a reason I spontaneously bought that bag of red lentils. YUM!

  68. I can’t wait to try this out. We make a red lentil soup but your flavors are completely differently and it will make a fabulous change to my usual.

  69. Mara says:

    I made this tonight for a friend who just had a baby. This was my 2nd time making the soup, so delicious and wonderful mix of flavors.

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