Although I occasionally torture myself in a Bikram yoga class (that’s 90 minutes of yoga done in a 96 degree room–voluntarily), the treadmill has always been, and always will be, my workout of choice. A little over ten years ago, I bought a treadmill, and it ended up being one of the best investments that I have ever made. I belonged to a great fitness club at the time, but it presented certain frustrations, which led me to my decision to make this purchase.
The problem lied in the fact that I like to stay on the treadmill for a little over an hour, which is tough to do when fellow club members are giving you the hard stare, willing you to either stop or to trip and fall. I also enjoy catching up on my favorite TV shows during my workout, as it helps to pass the time, unless of course Bobby or Giada are whipping up some mouth-watering dish that you can practically smell through the television. At the gym, with its limited number of TV sets in the Cardio Theatre (yes, it was really called that), I was often forced to watch something like Maury Povich, or Deadliest Catch, which made each minute seem ten times as long.
Having my own treadmill, I can stay on for as long as I please, watching whatever I desire. It is also much easier to make the "commute" in the morning, thus requiring significantly less motivation. At and average of 5 miles per day, 350 days per year (I do take the occasional day off), for 10 years, I’ve traveled cross-country a few times on my trusty machine, which has never needed repairing. Now that’s a good investment.
Eric and I both like to work out in the morning. He hops on the stairmaster and flips to CNBC immediately after rolling out of bed. Although I can do this, if absolutely necessary, I like to take a more leisurely approach to my morning, primarily because I find it hard to work out on a completely empty stomach (and before my morning jolt of joe!) Because I can’t be too full when I start my workout, I’ve found that the perfect thing to eat is a healthy homemade muffin, which provides me with some extra energy to get me through that hour.
These are a new muffin that I tried, and I don’t know if they could get much healthier. Chock-full of figure friendly ingredients, such as flaxseed, wheat bran, cranberries, and unsweetened applesauce, these muffins are very low in fat, rich in fiber, and surprisingly hearty. Sweetened by dates, applesauce, and a bit of maple syrup, no sugar is needed, which keeps the calories down too. I just pop them in the freezer and defrost one each morning. Here are my extra tips for these healthy and delicious muffins:
- After baking, these muffins can be sealed in a zip-top bag and frozen for up to two weeks. Sit one out on the counter to defrost. The muffins will keep for 2-3 days at room temperature, tightly covered.
- Muffin liners may be used for this recipe, but I strongly recommend misting them with nonstick spray prior to filling them. This recipe is void of oil or butter, so the muffins will tend to stick to the liners otherwise.
- The maple syrup in this recipe can be replaced with honey, if desired.
- Lightly toasted nuts, unsweetened coconut, or other dried fruits can be added to the batter as well.
- Wheat bran (sometimes referred to as oat bran on packaging) and ground flaxseed can be found in the health foods/natural foods sections of your grocery store. Two brands that are commonly found are Arrowhead Mills and Hodgson Mill. Both ingredients should be stored in either the refrigerator or freezer after opening, as they have a tendency to become rancid if store for long periods of time at room temperature.
Spiced Applesauce Bran Muffins
Makes about 12
1/2 cup pitted and chopped dates
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oats plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick baking spray.
In a medium saucepan, combine the applesauce and dates. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened and reduced slightly, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.
When the mixture has cooled, stir in the buttermilk, bran, egg, maple syrup, and vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, salt, and 1/3 cup of the oats. Stir the dry ingredients into the bran mixture until just combined. Stir in the dried cranberries.
Divide the batter among the prepared tins. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oats over the muffins. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean, 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks.