Friday, December 3, 2021

Heathly Blueberry Muffins

A runner friend of mine brought me some blueberries from his own blueberry bush, so I decided to make some blueberry muffins. I searched for a healthier version of a blueberry muffin and came across this one. I've tweaked it a little and here's my version. Great for breakfast and/or pre-run fueling!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ¾ cups plus 1 teaspoon white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup honey 
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt* (Any fat percentage  even fat-free will work. Higher fat Greek yogurt will make a richer muffin. I used 2%.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (also called raw sugar), for sprinkling on top

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400° F. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ¾ cups of the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix them together with a whisk.

Combine the oil and honey in a medium bowl and beat together with a whisk. Next, beat in eggs. Then mix in  vanilla extract and yogurt .  

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a large spoon. A few lumps in the mixture is fine. Before adding the blueberries, place them in a bowl and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of flour. This keeps the blueberries  from sinking to the bottom of the batter when baking.  Fold the flour-coated blueberries into the batter. The batter will be thick.

Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups. (I use paper muffin cups.) Evenly divide the batter between the dozen muffin cups Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with turbinado sugar. Bake the muffins until golden (16 to 19 minutes). If a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, they're done.

Cool muffins on a cooling rack. 

Baked Berry Oatmeal

My running friend Cathy Jackson shared this simple to make Berry Baked Oatmeal recipe. It's the perfect breakfast or pre-run fueling for runners! 

Baked Berry Oatmeal 

1 hour - Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup Steel Cut Oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 cups Unsweetened Coconut Milk (I used 1% regular milk)
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Chopped Almonds
  • Coconut Sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In large bowl stir together rolled oats, steel cut oats, baking powder, salt & cinnamon, set aside.

In medium bowl combine brown sugar, honey, oil, applesauce, egg & milk.  Add to oat mixture & stir until combined.

Pour into a greased 2 quart casserole dish (a 9" x 13" glass baking dish works good too).  Top evenly with berries, chopped almonds & sprinkle lightly with coconut sugar.

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until set and lightly browned.  

Serve warm -  top with Greek Yogurt and chopped almonds 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Pumpkin Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Cookies

 Looking for an easy cookie recipe for the holidays? This recipe is perfect. Full of fall flavors this cookie will satisfy that craving for pumpkin, chocolate, cranberries and pecans all in one bite!

Pumpkin Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup  Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

 

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. (I used a baking stone without parchment paper and it worked fine too.)

Step 2: Combine flour, oats, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl.

Step 3: Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well.

Step 4: Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in pecans, dried cranberries, and chocolate cihps.

Step 5: Use a large cookie scoop (about 3 tablespoons) to drop approximately 8 scoops of dough per prepared baking sheets.

Step 6: Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


Healthy Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Spice! You can hardly get away from it from October-December. Here's an easy and healthy
recipe what will put all that hype to shame, giving you a very satisfying and healthy muffin that's easy to make and almost guilt free! 

I discovered this recipe at Amy's Healthy Baking. The version reflected below incorporates an increased amount of Liquid Stevia recommended by Amy if you'd like a sweater muffin. Even with the increased amount, the muffins are not overly sweet making them great for breakfast, a snack, or pre-run fueling. My version also includes chocolate chips and walnuts. You can leave them out if desired. 

Healthy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins 

Yields: 12 muffins

They’ll keep for at least one week if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp. (90g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 6 tbsp. (84g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp liquid stevia
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for Muffins:

  • 2 cups (240g) white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur's White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1 tbsp. (8g) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp. (14g) unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp liquid stevia
  • ¼ cup (60g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup (244g) pumpkin purée, room temperature (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • ½ cup (120mL) nonfat milk
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a muffin tin with paper baking cups.

To prepare the filling, beat the Greek yogurt and cream cheese with a mixer until smooth and creamy. Add in the liquid stevia and vanilla. Beat until fully incorporated. Transfer to a zip-topped plastic bag.

To prepare the muffin batter, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg whites, vanilla, and liquid stevia. Stir in the Greek yogurt, mixing until no large lumps remain. Stir in the pumpkin purée. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.) Finally fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups. Cut the corner off of the zip-topped bag with the filling, and pipe the filling into the center of each muffin cup’s batter. (It’s okay if the filling sticks up over the top of the batter. The batter will rise around its sides as it bakes.)

Bake at 350°F for 20-23 minutes or until the pumpkin parts of the tops feels firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the pumpkin part comes out clean. Cool in the muffin cups for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Storage Tip: Cool the muffins completely, place a sheet of waxed paper inside  a 1-gallon size plastic zippered baggie. Place the muffins in the bag onto of the waxed paper, zip up the bag and place them in the refrigerator.  I've found that heating a muffin for 15-20 secs in the microwave is perfect! (May very base on the microwave and personal preference.)


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

If you're like me, you're always looking for a healthy breakfast, snack and/or fueling ideas that are easy to make with readily available ingredients. If it has chocolate in it, that's even better! 

I stumbled upon a recipe for "healthy chocolate peanut butter banana" muffins that looked pretty easy to make. I tried the original recipe and after a few batches, I tweaked it a bit making them even better for you!

The great thing about these muffins are you can make a batch or a double batch and freeze them. They freeze great in a zippered plastic baggie. Take one out when ready and heat it for about 30 secs. Because they are muffins, there's nothing to cut, no plate needed, and they transport easily for on-the-run eating. 

I've eaten these muffins for breakfast, as a mid afternoon snack, and I've eaten them for pre-run fueling and post-run refueling. Unlike muffins made with refined white flour and a lot of sugar, these muffins provide lasting energy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter creamy
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips and 1 cup walnut pieces

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a muffin tray with muffin liners and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. (I sift all the dry ingredients together.)

Next, peel the bananas and place them into a separate bowl. Mash until no lumps remain. A pastry cutter works great for this.  (I use 3 1/2 bananas if they are small.)

Add the honey, egg, apple sauce, oil, and peanut butter, beat with a hand mixer until all the ingredients are well combined.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Then fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Make sure to avoid over-mixing.

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Some days 20 mins is good. Some days 25 mins is good. Test them at 20 mins with the tooth pick. Cook a little longer if needed, but avoid overcooking as it dries them out.

Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature.

TIPS

  • Flour: I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour in the recipe. White whole wheat flour is milled from hard white spring wheat - a lighter-colored grain than traditional red wheat. It has the same benefits of traditional red wheat but yields a milder-tasting baked good that also has a lighter less dense feel than baked goods made with traditional whole wheat flour. 
  • Applesauce: Make sure to use unsweetened applesauce. Sweetened has a lot of added sugars. 
  • Don’t overmix: Fold the ingredients gently until just combined to avoid tough, dense muffins.
  • Storage: Store in an air-tight container or a zippered baggie in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Reheat before serving.
  • Freezing: Allow muffins to cool completely, then freeze in an air-tight container or a zippered baggie for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or in the microwave until warm.

NUTRITION FACTS (1 muffin):

  • Calories 152
  • Total Fat 9.7g (Sat Fat 1.6g)
  • Cholesterol 8mg
  • Sodium 67mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 14.1g (Dietary Fiber 2.2g / Total Sugars 5 g)
  • Protein 5g
  • Vitamin D 4%
  • Calcium 2%
  • Iron 9%
  • Potassium 4%

 

 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Change is Hard, But Good

 As a youngster, I grew up with very little extended family. It was my mom, dad, brother and me. My
grandparents didn't live too far away, but two of them died when I was pretty young. My other two grandparents died when I was in my 20s. So, I never really knew what it was like having a large extended family.

Even as an adult with my own kids, we had a pretty small family unit - my wife, our son, two daughters, and me. My in-laws weren't too far away. My parents were about 3.5 hours away. Close enough for a visit, but not on a weekly basis. We were a pretty tight family. We had friends, but mostly we had each other. When we moved to Greensboro in 1998, I was a solo runner, but eventually joined a group called the Blue Liners and developed a small tight network of running buddies. 

In 2010, my experience with an extended family changed dramatically. That's when I opened RunnerDude's Fitness. My small group of running buddies were quick to support my venture and many were my first clients. Gradually, as I started having beginning running groups, race training programs, and personal training clients, a sense of family began to form. Clients were returning and bringing friends. It was kind of like suddenly having brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. We all supported one another in our running and fitness ventures. 

I soon realized, that this support was spilling out into our "outside of running lives." The running programs were bringing strangers together who otherwise would have never met. Best friends were forming. Some even found love. Yes, a few in the various groups have met, fell in love and gotten married. Entire families have come to programs and I've seen little ones grow in to awesome young adults. Sometimes I feel like "PapaDude."

The awesome thing about family is the support they show during the difficult times. Even way before the pandemic hit, RunnerDude's Fitness dealt with growing pains. Small groups were becoming large groups. Saturday runs of 10-12 were becoming 80-100. All good things. But, I have to admit, I struggled with not wanting to lose my personal connection with everyone. Some shared that they missed the smaller group. It weighed heavy on me. It's a challenge all small business owners deal with....how to grow and still retain all your original values and goals. At times you have to remind yourself you are a business and you're in the business not only because you love what you do, but also because you're providing for your family. Yet, still it's hard.

This is where my RunnerDude family has been so awesome. I can't tell you how many of my clients (some who have been with me since the start) have been like surrogate welcome wagons. They'll see new people and welcome them with open arms, introduce them to others in the group and help make them feel at home. That's what family is. Welcoming open arms. These same people are also often there offering to volunteer at programs and events throughout the year. They'll see a need and step right in. That's what family is all about. 

Over that last year and a half, Covid-19 has really created quite a challenge for small businesses. RunnerDude's Fitness was shut down for 5 months and even when gyms and fitness centers were allowed to open, I still was not able to do much in my studio because of social distancing requirements. Races were non-existent and so income from race training was non-existent as well. My corporate fitness classes (a large part of RunnerDude's Fitness) were halted and so was that income. I eventually had to let the studio go. 

But during all of that change, I had such strong client support. They supported me through participation in virtual fitness classes, purchasing own-their-own running and fitness plans, and more. They were also there when the outside gathering numbers slowly began to allow for outside training, boot camps, and running groups. Boot Camps outside in 25° F....now that's support!!  Not only were they there physically participating as much as they could, many were there emotionally, providing support by checking in to see how I was doing.

I can't thank the RunnerDude Family enough for begin there not only over the past year and a half, but over the past 11 years. Yes, change is hard, but good. The RunnerDude Family has helped me see the good in all of that change. While I don't know what the future will bring. I do know there are some pretty awesome people who will be in that future. Some I know and some I've yet to meet.   

Trust. Believe. Conquer!

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Self Care: A Recommittment to Fitness, Wellness, and Healthy Eating

Yes, even trainers at times need to self-evaluate and recommit to their own fitness and wellbeing. 

Six years ago I turned 50. That year I committed to focusing on my own fitness and running. It was 2015 and, that year I ran 4 marathons, I lost about 20lbs, and felt awesome. In the 6 years since, my focus shifted. I lost both of my parents (my Dad to cancer and my Mom to Alzheimer's). The pandemic hit and my business was closed for 5 months then reopened, but with a fraction of the business. Had to give up my studio and reconfigure how to work with my fitness and running clients without a dedicated space. 

The other day I saw myself in the mirror and really noticed the toll the past few years had taken. So, while staring in that mirror, I decided to recommit to my own fitness, health and wellbeing. I do a lot of workouts each week but leading workouts is different than focusing on your own fitness goals. I've set some new goals, restarted my daily pushup challenge, and I'm eating better (oh, but don't worry, I still plan on having some homemade pound cake). 

Goal 1: Get in at least 3 "me runs" each week. They don't have to be long runs. Just runs that are at my pace for physical and mental benefit.

Goal 2: Restart my pushup challenge. Each day do at least 50 pushups. Each week increase the total number by 5 pushups till I get to 100.

Goal 3: Run a Half Marathon in the fall. Hopefully there will be some to choose from, but if not, I'll make my own course and run it here at home.

Goal 4: Be even more diligent with my good eating habits. I'm not a fan of trendy diets or cutting this out or that. I've learned (at least for me), just focusing on eating a healthy balance of carbs, protein, and fat with a splurge every now an then works best for me.

Goal 5: Taking some mental breaks. Whether it's when I get up the morning, during the day at lunch, while on a run, or just before going to sleep, taking some time for me to decompress and chill.

I once heard a younger person say, a man over fifty should keep his shirt own. To me that means I must have something I'm ashamed of. I'm no muscle magazine cover model by any means, but at 56, I'm not ashamed of how I look. There's definitely work to do, and the work I have begun. This picture of me was taken on day 6 of recommitment. Looking forward to 2021 and some me focus. 

Join me with your own fitness recommitment.