Marathon Ready: Beef Wheat Berry Stew

Tuckered out after so many miles?

This protein-rich stew is good for repairing torn muscle tissue; there also are plenty of carbs to restock your energy stores for future workouts. It’s also rich in iron, necessary for the production of hemoglobin in your red blood cells, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the muscles.

Cook the stew overnight in a slow cooker then keep on warm so it’s ready when you return from your run, famished. Or have it ready to go in the pot so you can slow-cook it while you’re logging miles. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.

You’ll find wheat berries, a whole grain full of vitamins and fiber, in the organic section of larger groceries stores. Serve with crusty bread or salt sticks from BreadWorks.

Beef Wheat Berry Stew

1 to 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 lb. cubed beef stew meat

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 ribs celery, sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 leek, cleaned and sliced 1-inch thick

1 yellow or white onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 carrots, chopped into 3/4-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups low-sodium beef broth, divided

1 cup wheat berries

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 bay leaf

2 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil.

Meanwhile, place stew meat, flour and a few dashes of salt and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal it and shake until all the meat is coated with flour. Add meat to the hot pan and brown on all sides, in batches if necessary, for 5 minutes. Add the second tablespoon oil, if necessary, to prevent the meat from sticking.

Add the celery, leek and onion to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add carrots and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to a slow cooker.

Add 1/2 cup broth to the skillet and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom. Add broth and scrapings to the slow cooker. Add beef (and any juices that have collected on the plate), wheat berries, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, thyme, pepper flakes and remaining 3 1/2 cups broth to the slow cooker. Cover securely with a lid and cook on low for 6 hours.

After 6 hours, stir the stew, season to taste with salt and pepper, and check for doneness. The meat, veggies and wheat berries should be very tender. If not, cook for another 1 to 2 hours. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Serves 4.

— “The Runner’s World Cookbook: 150 Ultimate Recipes for Fueling up and Slimming Down” by the editors of Runner’s World (Rodale, $26.99)

Nutritional information: 444 calories, 51 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 27 g protein, 12 g fat