The blog has moved!!

Hello Runner’s Kitchen readers,

Today is a BIG day – I took the plunge and the blog is now self-hosted with a new (easier to remember) domain name –!

Please come visit the blog at its new home:

Oh! And since I won’t be posting on this site anymore, remember to update your bookmarks and google readers – there’s a subscribe button in the top right corner of the new site that will help you sign up. If you use google reader – remember that is the new URL to subscribe to. You wouldn’t want to miss any important updates, would you?

See you soon!



White Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

I’m sure by now it’s no surprise that I LOVE all things pumpkin, so prepare yourself for a few more recipes :-)

When my friend Hannah visited last week she brought me a tupperware full of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that I promptly devoured. Once they were gone, I knew I had to re-create them.

Even though I love to bake, I’m not the biggest fan of measuring/following directions (um, yes – I realize this is usually essential for baking). I went with my instincts last night and the result was healthy and delicious (tooting my own horn, just a bit)!! I based the recipe loosely on these pumpkin cookies, but my final version was modified quite a bit.

white chocolate pumpkin cookies


  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of ginger and nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1.5 cups light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs (preferably organic)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3.5 oz Lindt white chocolate bar, chopped into small pieces
  • small handful of dark chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees and grease a large baking sheet
  • Whisk together flour, spices, and baking soda in a medium bowl
  • Beat together the sugar and butter until creamy
  • Mix in applesauce, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla
  • Slowly incorporate flour mixture just until combined
  • Stir in the pecans and white chocolate and dark chocolate chips
  • Drop heaping Tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top

These cookies have a very light, fluffy textures (almost like little pumpkin breads!) and the white chocolate is a surprisingly good compliment to the pumpkin. To assist in her post-marathon recovery, Alma sampled 6 cookies and declared them “delicious!”.

And now….for my next trick, homemade pumpkin puree! Inspired by Christine, I set out to make good use of a small pumpkin that had been serving as a living room decoration. I bought this lil’ guy over a month ago and it was still perfectly edible. Yay, winter gourds!


1) Wash the pumpkin, cut a hole in the top, and scoop out the seeds/innards. Then cut the pumpkin in half and then into medium sized chunks (leave the skin on).

Sugar pumpkin

2) Put the pumpkin chunks in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the bowl from the microwave (be careful! bowl will be hot), stir, cover with new plastic wrap, and microwave for 10 more minutes.

Cooked Pumpkin

3) After pumpkin is finished cooking, allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the pumpkin rind – I used a spoon to scoop the flesh into a separate bowl. I was doing this around 11:45pm on a Saturday night…real cool, I know.

4) Mash the pumpkin and store in a tupperware or small bowl until ready to use! I have plans to make some pumpkin risotto with my homemade puree.

Pumpkin Puree

This pumpkin was probably one of the best dollars that I ever spent. The gourd served as a decoration for over a month, yielded nearly 2 cups of pumpkin puree, and I plan to season and roast the seeds.

Hooray for pumpkin!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? In a pie? In a latte from Starbucks? As a jack o’ lantern?

A Nutritional Slam

food_scale[photo source]

Well, I hope your Thursday is off to a better start than mine! I normally try to stay pretty positive on the blog, but I received a very upsetting email today. I had contacted someone regarding a volunteer opportunity and in response, I received this email:

Hey Megan,

It’s [Name Withheld], on the committee of [Name Withheld] NYC. I clicked on your blog and read all the things you ate on Tues.  I’m sorry to say from a nutritionist’s point of view, you consumed way too many simple carbs. In fact that kind of eating sets you up for high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and brings you closer to type 2 diabetes. I am a holistic and clinical nutritionist and work with over 200 patients now of which 92% eat that way and I’m sorry to say are all in the category of type 2 DM or pre-DM simply due to the overload of simple carbs.

If you’d like more in-depth info on better nutrition, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Wishing you wellness always,
[Name Withheld] Holistic & Clinical Nutritionist

I understand that this person was just trying to be helpful (I think?), but there are a few reasons why I think the email was out of line:

  • My dietary choices were torn apart when I simply wanted to volunteer my time for a good cause!
  • The email author made blanket assumptions about my eating habits and warned me that I was at risk for diabetes and high triglycerides without knowing anything about my health or background.
  • The author of the email is a nutritionist and wellness counselor, not a Registered Dietician. Although a nutritionist can certainly be well-informed, any one can call themselves a “nutritionist”. On the other hand, to become a Registered Dietician you have to go through many years of school, complete an internship, and pass a national exam. I have no way of knowing what credentials this person has simply because they put “nutritionist” after their name.

I was pretty riled up after I read this email and perhaps I should have brushed it off and forgotten about it. But I write a food and running blog and I felt like this email was a personal attack on me and everything I stand for. What kind of “healthy living blogger” would I be if I was demonstrating behaviors that were leading directly to diabetes and bad cholesterol levels? After some time to cool down and think things through, I decided I needed to address the email and the issue on the blog.

I know that I don’t have the perfect diet (does anyone??), I probably eat too many cookies and maybe not enough protein. But I’m a busy 25-year-old trying to juggle a full-time office job, part-time writing gigs, a blog, a passion for running, cycling, and yoga, and a social life.  The purpose of my blog is to show people what a healthy balance can look like (and to provide running inspiration!). To me, this means that while I did have dried fruit, a few pieces of candy, and a pb& j cookie on Tuesday (simple sugars!), I also consumed greek yogurt, whole grain cereal, whole wheat bread, hummus, part skim mozzarella, lentils, arugula, apples, sweet potatoes, and peanut butter.  Additionally, I exercise quite a bit (40+ miles of running last week plus spin and yoga classes), so I need those simple carbs for quick burning energy.

The amount of calories, carbs, protein, fat, sugar, and exercise in my life might not work for you.  It would be impossible for me to say: “If you eat exactly what I do, you’ll have lots of energy, be in great health, want to run 40 miles a week, etc. etc.” I’ve said it before – I am not a registered dietician or an expert of any sort. I’m just a girl who likes to run and eat good food!

What I’ve been doing for the past 25 years seems to have been working for me – I recently had blood work done and everything came out A-OK (with the exception of some borderline low iron levels). I don’t have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or bad cholesterol. I’m at a healthy weight for my height and frame and I have enough energy to do the things I love to do. And if I eat a little too much sugar, so what? I’m only human.

I’m not going to dwell on this incident, I’m pretty sure it was a misunderstanding. However, I thought it was a good opportunity to discuss the criticism that often comes along with how we eat. Whether it’s a well-meaning family member pushing another piece of pie because you’re “too skinny” or a friend who suggests you cut back on the nachos at happy hour, people are always going to comment on what you’re eating. Eating is something we all do 3+ times per day and it’s obviously a topic we like to think about, write about, talk about – how else can you explain the enormous popularity of foodie and fitness blogs?

 But when does this interest become too personal? And who is qualified to make dietary suggestions?

Has anyone ever criticized your diet?  How did you respond?

Homemade Apple Butter

Most people would think I’m crazy. I returned home from work around 7:30pm last night and ended up spending nearly 4 hours in the kitchen. And I really enjoyed it! Ever since I received my shipment of fun cookbooks last week (thanks again Matt!), I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to make first. I love making jams and jellies, but somehow never got around to it this summer. While flipping through The Joy of Jam, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves I saw a chapter dedicated to fall’s most abundant fruit – the apple! I really enjoyed browsing through the cookbook. There were many helpful hints and tips for beginner canners and best of all – the recipes do not require commercial pectin! I’m not a big fan of store-bought pectin because it can be expensive and I think you can make better jam without it.

I already had most of the ingredients for apple butter on hand and I own canning utensils, so I was ready to roll.  Some 25-year-olds collect designer handbags and shoes. I prefer mason jars.

Before I embarked on my adventure in preserving, I prepared a quick dinner. I cooked a pot of lentils, baked up a garnet yam, and mixed the two together with mozzarella cheese and hot sauce. A little random, but filling and delicious!

sweet potato and lentils

And then the apple butter project began!

The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and other Sweet Preserves[photo source]

I selected the low-sugar apple butter recipe which uses apple cider to replace much of the refined sugar. I also made a few alternations to the original recipe based on the ingredients/equipment that I had on hand. If you’re new to canning, you should probably follow the recipe instructions exactly, otherwise all sorts of problems could arise. Preserving and canning can be tricky. If your mixture doesn’t contain the correct amount of pectin, the jelly or jam could fail to gel. If your vegetables or fruits aren’t acidic enough, the jar contents could spoil too soon. And if you’d don’t properly process the mason jars, a seal won’t form (no seal = short shelf life). Luckily for me apples have a lot of natural pectin, so I wasn’t too worried about the apple butter coming together.

Megan’s version of Low Sugar Apple Butter


  • 2.5 lbs of apples (I used 2 Granny Smith, 2 Macoun, and 1 Gala)
  • 1.5 quarts (48 oz) apple cider
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • Tbs cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

I washed all of the jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water and prepared the apples by washing and slicing them (don’t peel the apples!).

Apple Butter Prep

Apples simmering

Canning tools

Boiling water bath

Homemade apple butter


  • Boil the cider in a large cooking pot for about 20 minutes, until it has reduced by 1/4.
  • Add the apples, cover, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove apple and cider mixture from heat and carefully puree it in a blender (the original recipe calls for pureeing the fruit in a food mill or sieve, but I didn’t have either of those).
  • Pour the apple mixture back in the pot, add brown sugar and spices, and allow to simmer over low heat for about an hour.
  • While your apple mixture is cooking, fill a very large stock pot 1/2 way with water, and bring to a boil. You should probably have a rack so that the mason jars won’t sit on the bottom of the pot. I DON’T have a rack, so I use an inverted metal cupcake pans. Ehhh…I improvise!
  • Place your canning lids in a bowl of VERY hot water so that the gummy underside gets soft and pliable.
  • Stir the apple butter occassionally – when it’s dark brown and glossy, it’s time to process!
  • Carefully pour the apple butter into 1/2 pint or pint mason jars, leaving about 1/4″ head space.
  • Wipe off any sticky residue and run a chopstick (or butter knife) along the inside of the jar to remove air bubbles.
  • Screw on the lids and rings (but not TOO tight!)
  • Carefully lower the filled jars into the stockpot (water should be boiling by now) and keep them submerged in the water for at least 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and using a jar grabber lift the jars straight up and out of the pot. Place the jars at least one inch apart from each other and allow to cool completely. You may hear a “popping” sound – that means that the metal lid just sealed. Yay!
  • Once your jars are cool, check the lid to make sure it is completely flat and sealed. If it pops up, you can still eat the apple butter, but just store it in the fridge.
  • Sealed jars of apple butter (and jam and jelly) can keep for about a year in the pantry.
  • Enjoy! Now it’s time to wash all of your sticky dishes :-)

Question: What’s your favorite type of jam or jelly? Have you ever made your own?

Apples – The Perfect Fall Food!


One of my favorite newsletters comes from an online foodie directory called Food411. Their most recent edition was all about apples! Check out some of this great apple-y info from Food411:

Apple FYI:

  • Fall is here and so are the apples! Apples are in season from late summer to early winter. Many varieties are available year round because they have been in cold storage or imported.
  • There are about 2,500 known varieties of apples grown in the US. The top states that grow apples are, WA, NY, MI, CA, PA, & VA. Washington state produces more apples than any other state in the U.S..
  • On average in U.S., we eat about 19 pounds of fresh apples a year — which amounts to only one apple per week. Of course eating one fresh apple is always good for you, but to get the full nutritional benefits you should eat at least one fresh apple every day.
  • Apples are wonderful for hydration. They are made up of approximately 83% water. The average small apple has only 60 calories. Approximately, 15% of an apple consists of carbohydrates from sugar and fiber. It is important to remember that this is natural, unprocessed sugar that will not cause the blood sugar spikes as refined white sugar can.
  • Fiber is perhaps the most important nutrient that apples provide. A small apple contains approximately 3 to 5 grams of fiber. However, most of the fiber is located in the frui! t’s skin. So, peeling an apple will remove most of this important nutrient. Remember, fiber fills you up, along with an apple’s high water content – making the apple a filling, healthy snack.
  • Many recent studies show apples may provide a “whole-body” health benefit. Lower blood cholesterol, improved bowel function, reduced risk of stroke, prostate cancer, type II diabetes and asthma and a potential decreased risk of cancer and heart disease. In addition to fiber, apples are loaded with antioxidants that are associated with lowering bad cholesterol levels. Apples also contain flavonoids and phytochemicals that may help protect organs like the lungs and colon. They are also a good source of boron, which is associated with improved bone density and a stronger heart. Apples also protect the heart by their high folic acid content.
  • Nutritionally, whole apples are a much better choice than apple juice. Whole apples are richer in fiber and the process of juicing seem to reduce the nutrient concentrations found in the whole fruit
  • Dentists also promote eating apples as a method of preventing tooth decay. Apples have nutrients known as tannins that can protect against plaque and gum disease. Also, eating a water-rich, solid fruit can help clean away bacteria from teeth. Chewing an apple helps stimulate the production of saliva. Saliva kills bacteria and helps prevent tooth decay.


Apple Tips & Tricks:

  • Choose organically grown apples whenever possible to avoid peeling the skin. Eat apples unpeeled. Two-thirds of the fiber and most antioxidants are found in the peel.
  • Buy apples that are bruise-free and firm to the touch. Bruised apples can decay quickly. “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch”!
  • Unbruised apples, handled and stored well, have a storage life of 90 days, and often more!
  • Two pounds of apples make one 9-inch pie.
  • Apples are sometimes called “nature’s toothbrush,” They help clean the teeth and massage the gums.
  • Apples float because 25 percent of an apple’s volume is air.
  • Apples ripen six to 10 times faster at room temperature than if they are refrigerated. For optimal storage, apples should be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. (Storing them in a plastic bag prevents the ripening of other produce items nearby.)
  • It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.
  • To aid in the prevention of browning peeled apples, place in a mixture of 50/50 water and lemon juice
  • Add diced apples to fruit or green salads.
  • Make a quick apple salsa for use over chicken or pork. Diced apples, chopped pepper, onions and lime juice – salt/pepper to taste.
  • Sliced apples and peanut butter make a perfect snack.
  • Sliced apples (either alone or with other fruits) and cheese make an ideal dessert
  • Use Honeycrisp, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Gala, Newtown Pippin and Granny Smith apples for pies and other desserts.
  • Use Newton Pippin and Granny Smith varieties, which are more tart, in savory dishes.
  • Jonathans are good for making applesauce because they are tart, yet sweet.

apple pie

Some of my favorite apple recipes:

Megan’s Maple Apple Crisp

Apple-Basil-Chicken Salad

Marathon Runner’s Apple Cake

Caramel-Apple Butter-Oat Bars

Take this Apple personality Test: What does your fav variety say about you?

Fuel for Endurance Running

A balanced diet will go far in helping you feel your best, but endurance runners have some special dietary needs to consider. Consuming enough calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc is essential for maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and immune system. I wrote a guest post on Nutrients for Marathon Training awhile back – check it out for more details!

If you run 3 miles or so a few times a week, you probably don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary. Just make sure you’re eating a balanced breakfast, drinking enough water, and including veggies, whole grains, and lean protein/dairy whenever you can. You certainly don’t need to carbo-load for a 5K :-) If, however, you are training for an endurance race such as a triathlon, half-marathon, or marathon you’re going to need to really focus on fueling properly.

How Many Calories Should I Eat?

First things first, everyone’s body is different. What works for me, might not work for you. Eating enough to fuel your running takes a lot of trial and error – I’ve been running for 10 years and I still haven’t figured it all out yet! To get a base line calorie goal, check out the Mayo Clinic’s interactive tool. I don’t count calories everyday, but sometimes on long run days I will estimate to make sure that I’m eating enough to maintain my weight. For me, that could mean close to 3,000 calories. It can be tough to eat that much without feeling overstuffed, so I try to focus on energy-dense, low-volume foods such as: peanut butter, trail mix, homemade granola, olive oil, whole grain, seed bread, avocado, Clif bars, 2% greek yogurt, whole grain banana pancakes, etc. These foods are packed with nutrients AND the calories you need.

Peanut Butter!

If, on the other hand, you are trying to lose weight, you might want to fill up on low-calorie, high volume foods such as melon, berries, apples, raw veggies, salsa, soup, high fiber cereal, fruit & yogurt smoothies, etc.

Raspberries and yogurt

However, I would not recommend trying to lose weight while training for a marathon. It can be done, but the high amounts of mileage you’ll need to complete will require a lot of energy. Doing a long run when you’re hungry and cranky is a recipe for disaster! In fact, many marathoners actually gain a few pounds during their highest mileage weeks – it happened to me! Some researchers theorize that this uptick in body weight comes from the muscles retaining glycogen/extra water while others attribute it to the increase in appetite. In any case, asking your body to run 26.2 miles (or even 13.1!) is intense. Please don’t hesitate to give it what it wants – FUEL.

Fueling Before/After Exercise

Although I still haven’t figured out the perfect formula, I’ve noticed that I feel a lot better when I have a small snack before an early morning run. Ideally, I’d eat a light meal 2-3 hours before running, but on days when I can’t do that I try to eat a 100-150 calorie snack about 20-30 minutes before heading out the door. Food that is low in fiber/fat and high in carbs while minimize tummy troubles. Some of my fav pre-run options:

  • slice of toast with nut butter
  • 1/2 luna or clif bar
  • small bowl of cereal and soymilk
  • handful of raisins
  • banana
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt with honey


After you finish running, try to drink some water ASAP and have a combo of protein + carbs within an hour (preferably 30 minutes).

Some examples of post-run food:

  • smoothie made with yogurt, frozen fruit, spinach, almond butter, and ice
  • bagel with banana, peanut butter, and honey
  • turkey and hummus sammie on whole wheat
  • veggie soup (perfect for replacing sodium) and whole grain crackers
  • oatmeal with chopped apple and cinnamon
  • hot latte or hot chocolate (it has protein + carbs!) and trail mix
  • homemade pita pizza

Stove top apple oats

Fueling During Long Runs and Races

If you have a big race coming up, you’ll want to try out your breakfast and mid-run snacks in advance. Nothing worse than finding out your scrambled eggs aren’t going to agree with a 10 mile long run. Ugh.

Pre-Race Breakfast

Before both the New York City and Boston marathons, I had basically the same pre-race breakfast: coffee, banana with 2 Tbs peanut butter, cinnamon raisin bagel, and gatorade. I started eating my breakfast about 4 hours before the race start – next time I would add a small snack (1/2 an energy bar) about 30-45 minutes before the gun goes off. If you’re worried about having to use the porta-potties during the race, stop drinking water/gatorade at least an hour before the start. The time buffer will allow your kidneys to empty before you start running. Inside tip: I chew gum while running to keep my mouth from getting too dry.

During the race, a good rule of thumb is to consume 100 calories for every 60 minutes of running. I personally like powergels (chocolate flavor!) and clif shot bloks, but jelly beans, fig newtons, and gummie candy could also work. The key is to get simple sugars into your body ASAP. Most gels are concentrated carbs, so make sure to have a few sips of water or diluted gatorade with your mid-run fuel. As always, practice-practice-practice with this kind of stuff before the big day!  When I was training for Boston, I had no problem digesting gels/shot bloks during slower-paced long runs. However, since my race pace was a minute faster than long run pace, I had a MUCH harder time with fueling during the marathon (think: low blood sugar, nausea, etc). Practice eating gels/drinking gatorade while running your projected race pace – it will prevent any unwanted surprises!

Snickers Marathon Protein Bars & Clif Shot Bloks

Happy Running!

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or registered dietitian, just a runner interested in nutrition! The tips provided above are things I’ve learned from personal experiences.

The Grand (Running) Tour of Europe

Happy Tuesday! This morning I have a special guest post from Renato, one of the writers for the website

About today’s guest blogger: Renato is a long distance runner and a freelance journalist. He is planning on running a half-marathon in every EU country throughout 2009.  With the help of a weiss beer in Munich, a cappuccino in Milan, or a camembert sandwich in Paris, he hopes to somehow cross the finish line.

Take it away Renato!

Eating a few tapas and drink some Sangria in the streets around Las Ramblas in Barcelona is not the best way to spend the Saturday night before a marathon, but you can still treat yourself to some great food and enjoy the best races in Europe. A pretzel is Bavaria is a handy last minute supply of carbohydrates. And I would trade any energy bar for the best Italian ice cream or an espresso before the start. From amazing pastries in Portugal to a jacket potato in Brigthon, here is our grand (running) tour of Europe.


Trail Napoléon, France
Corsica Run Xtrem organizes the Trail Napoléon, a 23km trail run with a positive ascent of more than 950m in the sunny island of Corsica. From the cité Impériale in Ajaccio to Parata, the race offers incredible view over the Iles Sanguinaires and an unspoiled trail in the maquis. Add a frozen Pietra, an amber beer brewed from a mix of malt and chestnut flour, and a salad with brocciu (Corsican sheep’s-milk cheese) and you can have the perfect Spring break. Get ready for the last weekend of May.


Venice Marathon, Italy
From Stra (near Padua) to the historical center of Venice, the Venice marathon crosses the Brenta Riviera and Venice lagoon and offers possibly the best finish in the world, just outside St. Mark’s Square. Forget the crowded carnival, October is the best time to visit Venice and try a great Italian ice cream. After the race, treat yourself with a glass of Bellini, the official cocktail of the city.

Lisbon Half Marathon, Portugal
The Lisbon Half Marathon is the most popular half marathon in Iberian Peninsula: from Bairro Alto to Chiado, from Baixa to Alfama district, it’s a great race for a personal best. But even if you won’t break Paul Tergat’s record, you will enjoy the best bica (coffee) and delicious pasteis de nata (pastries) in the capital of Portugal.

Brussels, Belgium
Forget energy bars and taste the finest chocolates in Belgium. Mix a kriek, the local beer fermented with cherries, with a marathon in Brussels’ avenues and boulevards, crossing the most beautiful parks of the city.


Munich, Germany
Just a week after the end of the Oktoberfest (, run a marathon or a half marathon and discover the best beer gardens in Munich: run in the center of the Bavarian capital and enjoy the Weizenbier (white beer) with a huge pretzel. Spend a couple of hours in the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, the famous beer hall or in the Hirschgarten, the largest beer garden in the city.


Brighton, UK
With over 5k runners, the Sussex Beacon Half Marathon is a very popular half marathon in Southern England: the chance to have some of the best jacket potatoes in the country and run with hundreds of gulls on the seaside are the plus of the race. The next edition will be on February 2010.

Athens, Greece
A light Greek salad with feta cheese is not the main reason to fly to Athens: visit some of the best islands in the Mediterranean Sea and run a marathon. Actually, THE marathon. The real one in the place where the story began: the finish in the Panathinaikon Stadium and the start in the city of Marathonas are worth a few hours of tough running next November.

And if you are still short of ideas for your next race abroad, you can eat some Apfelküchlein (apple cookies) in Switzerland (, enjoy the best fish and chips in Eastbourne at the Beachy Head Marathon ( or celebrate with a galette au sarrasin and a bolee de cidre in Paris ( Because there is nothing like the promise of some local delicious food to get you over the finish line.

Mmm, just the thought of good beer and Belgian chocolate makes me want to sign up for a race across the pond!

Question: If you could go for a run anywhere in the world, where would you go? I’ve always wanted to go for a run on the Great Wall of China!