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Zucchini Bread

You guys!! I ran my goal half marathon for the year and only took one lousy picture…

2014-09-06 06.33.53I was too focused beating my goal time (2:30) by 2 minutes (2:28 total time)!

I had such a great race! I kind of surprised myself because I wasn’t feeling super great the week leading up to the race, my legs just felt heavy, I was super nervous, and we got a bunch a rain the day before (the race was on trail). But the weather turned out to be perfect, I fueled properly, and my legs felt great!

Now that my goal race is over, I am planning on keeping up with my mileage to do the Denver Rock n’ Roll half marathon on October 19th to see if I can do a road half in under 2 hours. This weekend I ran 10 miles in Redstone Canyon, and I plan to do a 3 week build from 12 to 14 miles before tapering until the race.

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All this running has me thinking a lot about carbohydrates. With all the hype around low-carb and Paleo diets it is important to remind ourselves that carbohydrates are the primary, most efficient fuel source for our brain and muscles. For optimum performance and recovery it is important for athletes to consume a diet rich in carbohydrates primarily from sources such as grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, and legumes. However, if you are concerned about your carbohydrate intake or interested in losing weight, being strategic about when you choose to eat your carbohydrates may still allow you to achieve your goals while still fueling your workouts.

I like baked goods (who doesn’t?!), but the flour, sugar, and fat content makes them something that should be enjoyed occasionally and in moderation. However, strategically eating them around workouts that last longer than an hour can allow us to have them more often. With that in mind, when I made this zucchini bread, I kept the sugar, cut about half the fat, and used unbleached all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat…making it an excellent high carbohydrate, low fat, and low fiber snack for before/during/after a long workout.

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Zucchini Bread

Makes 1-9”x5” loaf (12-16 slices) | Recipe by Lauren Larson inspired by the Kitchn | Print here!

Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: 50-60 minutes | Total time: 60-70 minutes

2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)

3 cups (360 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 large eggs

1 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup (80 g) canola oil

1/3 cup (81 g) unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9”x5” bread pan lightly with spray oil.
  2. Wrap shredded zucchini in a kitchen towel and squeeze out excess water over the sink. Place towel and zucchini over a bowl to rest until ready to use.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce, yogurt, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined, batter may be thick. Gently fold in zucchini and walnuts (if using). Transfer to bread pan.
  6. Bake 50-60 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.
  7. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the bread pan then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Keep in a sealed container on the counter for about 2 days, in the fridge for about 7 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.

Tip: Freeze leftovers in slices or as a whole loaf. Pull slices out about 30 minutes before ready to eat (or heat for 10-20 seconds at a time in a microwave until warm) for a quick snack.

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If you freeze the loaf in slices, pull one out before your workout and bring it with you. It should be nice and defrosted by the time you are done and ready to devour it…like I did on the drive home from my 10 mile run…

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What is your favorite baked good?

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Rhubarb Ginger Jam

Making jam and baking bread—two things I used to find too daunting to try in my own kitchen, but with the right resources and a little bit of experimentation they can both be quite manageable and fun.

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My first time making jam began when an experienced friend came over with all of her equipment and showed me how to make a strawberry jalapeno jam. After filling five half-pint jars and hearing the seals pop I was hooked. I immediately went online and ordered some of the basic equipment and began thinking about all of the possibilities.

Home food preservation can be intimidating because of concerns over food safety, but it is a really great way to enjoy local peaches in the middle of the winter or to help manage all those apples falling from an apple tree during a bumper year. Luckily, there are plenty of credible resources out there with science-based recommendations on how to preserve food safely at home. In 2009, the USDA published a Complete Guide to Home Canning, which can be found entirely online or purchased in print. It is a great resource for processing times at different altitudes as well as recipes. The Colorado State University Extension websites also have information on canning fruits, vegetables, and tomatoes. And if you are looking for recipes and ideas the Pick Your Own website has a ton, just do a search for the type of food you are interested in preserving.

This Rhubarb Ginger Jam was the first jam recipe I made on my own, and it really set the bar high. The rhubarb combines almost perfectly with the spicy ginger. I like to mix it in plain yogurt or put it on top of hot cereal cooked with fresh diced strawberries. This recipe can easily be doubled without any modifications.

Note: this recipe requires a few pieces of basic canning equipment: half pint jars and lids, a jar lifter, a lid lifter, and a canning funnel.

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

Makes 3-4 8-ounce jars | Recipe by Lauren Larson | Print here!

3-4 half-pint (8-ounce) glass jars with new lids and screw bands

2 pounds fresh rhubarb, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 pound sugar

1 ½ ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1 ½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Day 1
  1. Combine rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice in a large glass bowl. Cover and let macerate in a warm location at room temperature for 24 hours.
Day 2
  1. Clean jars by washing them in hot soapy water and rinsing well or washing in a dishwasher.
  2. To sterilize the jars, fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil and reduce to a light boil (180ºF). Insert jar rack (if using) or push a washcloth to the bottom of the simmering water to keep the jars from banging and breaking. Submerge the jars, right side up, with enough water to cover the jars by 1 inch. Keep jars in the simmering water for at least 10 minutes at altitudes below 1,000 ft. (add an additional 1 minute for each 1,000 ft. in elevation) or until it is time to fill them with the rhubarb mixture.
  3. Place 4-5 spoons on a small plate in the freezer. These will be for testing the consistency of the jam while cooking.
  4. Transfer rhubarb mixture to a large non-reactive stockpot and stir well. Add crystallized and fresh ginger. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a heat proof spoon. Continue to boil, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, and reducing the heat as the jam starts to thicken and is no longer watery; about 20 minutes.
  5. Test the jam for doneness by scooping up a small spoonful using one of the spoons in the freezer. Transfer the spoon back to the plate in the freezer for 3-4 minutes. Tilt the spoon vertically to test the thickness of the jam. If it is thick, then the jam is done. If it is watery, cook it for a few more minutes. Repeat this process with the remaining spoons if necessary.
  6. When done, turn off heat, but do not stir. Skim any foam off the top with a stainless-steel spoon.
  7. When ready to fill the jars, remove and drain hot sterilized jars one at a time using the jar lifter and transfer, right side up, to a clean towel. Toss the lids (not the rings) into the hot water bath while filling the jars (for at least 5 minutes) to sterilize and soften. Reserve the hot water for processing filled jars.
  8. Using a clean funnel, fill the sterilized jars with the rhubarb mixture, leaving about ¼” of space at the top. Wipe any residue from the rims with a clean dampened paper towel.
  9. Using a lid lifter, lift lids from the hot water bath and place on each filled jar. Top with screw bands and tighten just until finger tight, but not overly tight.
  10. Using a jar lifter, transfer filled jars to water bath with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer to process. Process for 5 minutes at altitudes 0-1,000 ft., 10 minutes at altitudes 1,001-6,000 ft., and 15 minutes for altitudes greater than 6,000 ft.
  11. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove jars and transfer to a clean towel to cool and seal. As the jars cool to room temperature the lids should pop down indicating a proper seal. If after 24 hours the lid springs up when you press and release it with your finger it is unsealed and may need to be processed with a new lid.

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Homemade Muesli

Say hello to our current favorite breakfast: homemade muesli.

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It is easy, no-cook, versatile, and cool for hot summer mornings. The husband loves it with a tub of Strawberry Rhubarb Noosa Yoghurt, and since we’ve started eating it he has mentioned how he feels like he has all this extra time in the morning because he doesn’t have to cook anything for breakfast.

Homemade Muesli

Recipe inspired by Never Homemaker | Print here!

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup flaked cereal such as amaranth or bran flakes

½ cup raisins

½ cup pitted and chopped dates

½ cup sunflower seeds

½ cup sliced almonds

¼ cup ground flaxseeds

¼ cup hulled hemp seeds

¼ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Dash of ground cloves

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Transfer to an airtight container for storage.

Serving tips: Scoop ½ – ¾ cup in a bowl and mix it up with 6-8 ounces plain yogurt, kefir, or milk of choice and eat right away—no cooking or soaking required. Add chopped fruit (banana or peach) or fresh berries for additional flavor. Can also top with a swirl of honey if desired.

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Feel free to change up the dried fruit, nuts, and spices depending on the flavors you are looking for or what you have on hand. Make a cherry ginger variation by replacing the raisins with dried cherries and the cinnamon with ground ginger. Make a coconut apricot variation by adding 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes and replacing the chopped dates with chopped apricots. The variations are endless.

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I mixed mine right in the jar, but you may find it mixes more evenly in a large bowl. The tough part is transferring it to the container afterwards.

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I like having mine with about 6 ounces of plain kefir, fresh diced peach, extra cinnamon, and about a teaspoon of peanut butter. I like it so much I can hardly wait to snap a photo of it.

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What is your go-to summer breakfast?

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