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a balanced plate with room for dessert


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Fueling the Run with Cranberry Orange Bread

Born to run? Not me. Picked last in gym class? Spent afternoons after school in math club? That’s more like it. So, why did I choose running as my sport? To be quite honest, it’s because it is one of the few sports that don’t involve an object flying at your face. Yeah, I lack hand-eye coordination. Big time.

I was scarred for life when I played soccer in elementary school. Tennis lessons in middle school? Horrifying. To this day, I stay away from soccer, volleyball, tennis, kickball and any other sport that involves a fast-flying ball.

I started to run my junior year in college to prepare for a family vacation to the Boundary Waters. I decided to use the ever so popular Couch to 5K program as my training guide. I’m not going to lie, doing day 1 of week 1 was almost too much for me and I wanted to quit halfway through.  But, I pushed through it. Two days later, I pushed through another workout. Rinse and repeat until I could (gasp!) run for 30 minutes straight. Boundary Waters went off without a hitch. Unfortunately, having nothing to work towards after the trip, I stopped running.

I didn’t start running again until my younger sister talked me into running a 15K with her. I have no idea how she convinced me, but it turns out that my promise would change my life.  I spent that winter painfully, slooooowly running (a more accurate word would probably be shuffling) that winter, gradually working my way up to 1 mile, then 2, 3… when I finally hit 5 miles, I felt like I had conquered the world.

I trained as hard as I could and in November of 2011, I ran my very first race at the age of 24. Completing the 15k was probably one of the most proudest moments of my life. I had done what I thought was impossible: I was a runner. I ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot a few weeks later and knew I was hooked.

My sister (R) and me after the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago

Mike and me after the 5 mile Turkey Trot

I am now looking forward to another 15K in February and then a half marathon in May. I may not be fast, graceful, or have an athlete’s body, but I am a runner.

The best part? Running fueled a new interest in nutrition. I had a degree in dietetics, but never knew what I wanted to do with it until I started running. I realized how I felt after I ate certain foods. I found out my perfect pre-run (Greek yogurt and a small banana) and post-run (most recently cranberry orange bread) foods. Running urged me to continue my schooling, and that’s where I am now – working through a dietetic internship with a new passion for nutrition!

If you made it through this long-winded post (quite possibly my longest ever), I am amazed. As a thank you, I will offer you the recipe to my new favorite post-workout food – cranberry orange bread!

I have made the bread two ways now – one as written on allrecipes.com and the other with the changes published below. I prefer the recipe below – it’s a bit denser and not-so-sweet. Adding in whole wheat flour and reducing the amount of butter and sugar are an added health benefit, too!

Cranberry Orange Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large orange, zested (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Stir in cranberries and walnuts. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, applesauce, and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and orange juice. Stir in flour mixture, mixing until just moistened.
  4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 – 65 minutes, or until bread is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 15 minutes and then turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com


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Cranberry Orange Muffins

I made these muffins Saturday night and Sunday night – they were just that good!

cranberry orange muffins

Cranberry Orange Muffins
yields 16 muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
1 cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons orange marmalade
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts, or both!)
4 tablespoons sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Mix the flour, brown sugar, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the milk, orange juice, oil, and egg into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened.
  4. Stir in the cranberries and marmalade. The marmalade blends in more easily if placed in dollops around the batter instead of in one huge mass.
  5. Fill the muffin cups up 2/3 full or 3/4 full for more “top-heavy” muffins.
  6. Mix the pecans and sugar in a separate bowl and then sprinkle on top of the muffins.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

I find lining the muffin cups with liners makes cleanup a bit easier, but I would recommend that you don’t use them because I think the texture of the muffin turns out better without a liner. Either way, they are delicious!