Congratulations to those of you who ran the L.A. Marathon this past Sunday. You should feel very proud.
Anyone who has ever run a marathon knows the grueling work and time commitment it takes to prepare for such an event. I certainly do.
I was not a runner growing up. In fact, I never completed the timed one-mile run required for gym class. I simply was not an athlete in my childhood. I attempted to run occasionally because I was always struggling with my weight and I noticed that fellow students who were runners had the best legs. So I would run around the block a few times every once in a while.
It wasn’t until I was out of school nearly 10 years that I fell in love with running. I was working at Rodale Press, publishers of “Runner’s World,” “Men’s Health” and “Prevention.” I had been a competitive body builder in college and still followed the same workout regimen. I would hit the Rodale gym every morning and warm up with a two mile jog on the treadmill.
All the hardcore runners from “Runner’s” World would say to me, “Why don’t you go outside and run?” I replied, “I’ve never run outside.” Well, not really. And they would say, “Bud will run with you.” Bud was an Olympic qualifying marathon runner who oversaw the Rodale Press gym. I just thought, “Are you kidding? Why would an Olympic runner want to run with me? I’ll just hold him back.”
But Bud did run with me. I remember the first day we ran together. I ate raisin bran for breakfast thinking that I needed more fuel for my early morning run. We went out for a five-mile hilly run and about two thirds of the way, I got severe stomach cramps. FYI, raisin bran, not a good pre-run meal.
A year later, I ran my first marathon. Turns out, the reason I could never run the timed mile in high school was that I am a distance runner. It’s as if someone unleashed a whole new me when they introduced me to distance running. When I broke my foot two years ago and wasn’t able to run, I became so depressed because I, like many distance runners, had become addicted to that runner’s high.
I have just started to get my mileage back up again. In fact, I guess, inspired by the marathon, I ran my own version of a marathon but it took me three days to hit that 26.2 mile mark. Not having run that many miles in a row for two years, I found myself feeling more fatigued and craving carbs like nobody’s business. When I first started marathon training, I could eat anything I wanted and not gain weight. But that was in my 20s. Now in my 40s and being gluten sensitive, I am not able to buy and consume just anything off the shelf.
The food I crave most, when I pick up my mileage, is cookies. As someone who buys nothing processed, I have to rely on my resourceful nature to find and create fulfilling foods out of simple ingredients.
I love my weekly visits to the Farmers’ Market. I almost always buy purple and orange carrots, lots of leafy greens, plus a plethora of cruciferous veggies.
With my big bunch of carrots, I made a slaw, mixed with shredded red cabbage. I also combined shredded carrots with apples, citrus, dried cherries and nuts for an anytime of the day treat. But I wanted to be really creative and design a cookie around carrots and coconut oil.
Having just finished writing an article on the benefits of coconut oil, I’ve learned that the saturated fat found in coconut oil is mostly from Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) and that these MCTs are more readily oxidized into useable energy versus being easily stored as body fat. However, that is the case only if you don’t over-consume calories in the first place, and cookies can sometimes present a portion control challenge. So let me forewarn you that although I enjoy the cookies I create, they are not overly sweet and decadent like those we eat at holidays. Think of these cookies as nourishing fuel disguised as “fun food.”
Now it’s up to you to create, bake and enjoy as you begin to increase your mileage for next year’s LA/Santa Monica Marathon! Keep in mind that you should really only increase your mileage by about 10 percent a week or by about one mile per run every other time you run. These modest increases will allow you to reach your goal in ample time without experiencing runner’s burnout, and without over-indulging in whatever carbs you crave most.
PS: Thank you to Santa Monica Farms, my neighborhood grocer, for providing me with my shelf stable ingredients. They have the best selection of organic and alternative ingredients within walking distance from my home.
Elizabeth is a registered dietitian and certified holistic chef who loves to run and make fun food using nutrient dense ingredients. To learn more, please visit her Web site: www.TheKitchenVixen.com.
Carrot Coconut Cookies
Bake at 400 degrees for eight to 10 minutes.
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (combine orange and purple carrots for more antioxidants)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 maple syrup
(or 1/2 cup of either honey or maple syrup)
2 tbs. molasses (for extra B6, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium & selenium)
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
(or 2 cups of whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using wheat flour)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
In a blender, combine coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, molasses, eggs and one cup of grated carrots. Reserve the other 1/2 cup of grated carrots to add at the end. Blend to combine ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum (only add xanthan if using wheat-free flours). Add the blender ingredients to the dry ingredients then add the extra 1/2 cup of shredded carrots. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls on lightly greased or parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for eight to 10 minutes.
Per serving (2 cookies, 1.2 ounces): 112 calories, 5g fat, 2g protein, 15g carbs, 1g fiber, 6g sugar, 15 percent DV for vitamin A, 25 percent manganese, 5 percent thiamin, niacin, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. Try to find a store bought cookie that rivals this nutrition profile. Go on, I dare ya! Now get out there and run! Then come home and eat a cookie or two.