Have you noticed all the “stay active” challenges talked about this year? The “Run 1,000 miles in 2016 Challenge”… “Work out 6,500 Minutes” this year and “Walk 3 Million Steps in 2016” are just some examples of the ones getting a lot of attention on social media. They are all fantastic ways to motivate yourself to stick to a goal. While nutrition plays an integral part in your health, there is no question that staying active is just as important. As a matter of fact, while some nutrients tend to gain endorsements (for example vitamin D), others fall short of their promised values (such as excessive amounts of protein). Controversial food groups are added or eliminated from diets often; however, exercise continues to be a constant in all plans for healthier living.
All health professionals agree that increasing your heart rate via exercise at least five times weekly is one of the best ways to prevent some serious chronic diseases. Therefore, to encourage everyone to join in the fun and challenge themselves to create an activity goal this year, we worked on a yummy recipe that will help you recover after a long work out.
This cookie received its name because I developed it with a particular race weekend in mind. I was looking for something easy to transport, since the race was taking place about two hours away from home. Also the cookies had to stay fresh for a couple of days as well.
A critical time to optimize muscle recovery is within 30 minutes post exercise. It’s not just a happy coincidence that usually after a racing event, the most common item that runners pick up (after their medals, of course) is bananas. One of the favorite t-shirts that I purchased at a race weekend event had the saying: “I run for a free banana.” Bananas are an excellent source of electrolytes and energy when needed to replace your depleted stores. But is there something else you could eat after a race? Perhaps something more motivating to think about during that last mile of your race? I think so!
Our Runner’s Recovery Cookie may just give you enough strength to power through those last few hundred feet when you feel you have nothing left. And there are two ingredients that make it fit for a post- run fuel. The peanut butter is the first one, providing the sugar, protein and balanced fat your body craves after strenuous activities. The chopped tart cherries are the second ingredient. This one may surprise you, but tart cherries and tart cherry juice are popular items among many elite athletes.
Tart cherries, famous for their anti-inflammatory properties, are also able to ease muscle soreness after exercise, speeding up your recovery process. The pain one feels after a long run is attributed to muscle damage, inflammation and inevitable oxidative stress. Fortunately, tart cherries’ concentrated amounts of anthocyanins are able to tackle all three issues. A recent study (1) looked at runners in a 196-mile relay race in Oregon and showed that those who drank cherry juice reported significantly less muscle pain after the race. Besides their delicious tart flavor, this proved to be an additional reason to add some chopped tart cherries to this cookie recipe.
Now, since we like to share our cookies when we bring them to a race, we kept this one gluten-free so that everyone could have some! Notice the recipe includes pecan meal. But you don’t have to buy/use pecan meal; simply add pecans to your food processor and pulse until you achieve granulated consistency. If pecans aren’t your favorite, just use almonds or cashews. The recipe also has ½ cup of crushed corn cereal. This can be any cereal you have in your pantry. I used a corn- based one to keep this gluten- free, but feel free to use your own favorite. The dough is super sticky, and using two spoons to place cookies on the baking sheet helps. Use a non-stick spray on the spoon to ease handling the mixture. It makes a large batch, so if you’d like, this is a good recipe to halve for a smaller turn out when needed. Just cut the ingredients in half and proceed.
Runner’s Recovery Cookie
1 cup Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of oat flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
6 tablespoons of pecan meal
½ cup finely crushed corn cereal
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup chopped tart cherries
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs first. In separate bowl, mix oat flour, pecan meal, crushed cereal and baking soda. Mix well — and slowly add to the wet mixture. This may be easier done with a mixer. Lastly add in coconut flakes, cherries and chocolate chips. Mix well. It will be a sticky mixture. Using a cookie scoop, form cookies and place them on a cookie sheet prepared by spraying with oil or butter, if you are using a silicone baking mat there is no need to spray it with oil or butter. with a spoon or fork, slightly flatten them. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are golden. Enjoy them after a run or workout! Save these delights in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
- Bowtell JL, Sumners DP, Dyer A, Fox P, Mileva KN. Montmorency tart cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2011;43:1544-1551.