Turning errands into training miles

Weekend time disappears in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, I woke up Sunday morning with lots to do and only 1 day to do it. I wanted to fit in a run so I made a plan to fit it into my day of errands. Since I had to head over to Union Square, I plotted a run on Map My Run and used it for directions and tracking mileage.

Running this way is a great way to explore…

Farmer’s Markets.

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Beautiful buildings.

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And of course, a reminder that we’re headed into March Madness. Go Orange!

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After a great 3 miles, I couldn’t wait to make a new recipe jam packed with veggies. I based this meal off of a fabulous recipe from Herbivoracious. I used fresh, chopped peppers instead of roasted peppers and added radishes to the mix. Radishes are a great to add to any salad – an abundant source of vitamins and minerals. Plus, it adds that essential salad crunch – love that! I prepared this dish right in my tupperware containers to save myself some after cooking cleanup *pat on back*

Quick and Fresh Chickpea Veggie Salad (Serves 4)

4-5 radishes, washed and diced into long strips

1 large cucumber, rinsed and chopped

Half a red onion, diced

1 large garlic clove, minced

1-2 fresh peppers (I used red, orange and yellow)

1 can chickpeas (no salt added), rinsed thoroughly

A few handfuls of fresh basil, chopped

Half a lemon, for juicing

1/4 cup EVOO

6 oz feta

Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly with lemon juice and EVOO.

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Though this dish was out-of-this-world amazing freshly made, I found that it was even more mind blowing after sitting over night in the lemon-EVOO-basil mixture. This is officially a new staple in my weekly meal plan…WIN! :)

helllooo dinner

helllooo dinner

Smoked mozzarella and city bustle

Work, work, work. New Yorkers don’t lie when they say life is chaotic here in the city. Sadly, moving into Manhattan, dancing and balancing work life have left me with zero motivation to prepare food.

It doesn’t help that I live in the middle of restaurant/foodie paradise. Cheap Chinatown sesame balls, we tell you!

get in my belly

get in my belly

…the views

from DUMBO

from DUMBO

and the unconventional beauty of graffiti in a few words…

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Amidst all this chaos, I’ve been spending far too many dollars on foods that I could make in my own kitchen. So, how do you make it easy to cook in a town filled with sights, sounds and endless distractions? Simple. Fewer ingredients. Fewer steps. Big taste.

I made this quinoa dish in 10 minutes. Basil. Sautéed tomatoes. Smoked mozzarella…uhhhh CHEESE heaven. What’s not to love?

Smoked Quinoa Bowl with Sautéed Tomatoes and Basil (Serves 2)

1 cup quinoa

1 1/3 cup water

1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

2 large handfuls of basil, chopped (or more if you love it like I do)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion, chopped

Smoked mozzarella (I’m not going to add an amount here. No judgment when it comes to cheese)

2 Tbs EVOO

Sea salt and pepper

Bring the quinoa to a boil in a small pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium high heat. Sauté the onions and garlic, stirring for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes begin to color the onions. Add the sautéed mixture to the cooked quinoa along with the basil and mozzarella. Add a dollop of EVOO, salt, and pepper – stir and enjoy!

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holy taste buds #nomnom

That’s life

Nothing like your bum saying hello to the pavement in NYC. Good thing I was on a run.

At least it was pretty

Right now, I’m located in Brooklyn Heights and there is nothing like the New York skyline to greet you while putting on some miles. I forgot how exhilarating it is to run in the city. Cold, crisp air. Taking in the sounds. Watching all kinds of people bustling to where they need to be. It fills you with this buzz. It’s the buzz that runs throughout the Big Apple and it’s exciting.

The view...

The view…

The feeling of accomplishment :)

The feeling of accomplishment :)

Since Brett will be missing in action for the next few months being a genius at Upstate Medical University, I’ve decided to keep my meals simple. I’m sure you’ve heard of all the diet crazes as of late. Paleo. Gluten Free. Cambogia garcinia pills. If you’ve tried any of these methods, you know they are NOT CHEAP. That’s the beauty of simplicity. Protein, carb and veggie. Take my dinner last night for example. I sautéed some spinach and tempeh, cooked some brown rice and fried an egg. I used some nori (seaweed) seasoning and a pinch of sea salt. It may sound bland, but it’s cheap and you’re getting everything you need to provide your body with the fuel it needs.

Nori Fuming Furikake - rice seasoning you can buy at any Asian grocer

Nori Fuming Furikake – rice seasoning you can buy at any Asian grocer

Here’s an example day of “simple” eating:

Breakfast: 1 hard boiled egg, 1 banana, a piece of whole grain toast with 1 Tbs PB
Snack: 1 oz raw almonds
Lunch: Mixed green salad with tomatoes, peppers and quinoa. A little EVOO and apple cider vinegar
Snack: 2 chopped carrots and 1 Tbs hummus
Dinner: Sautéed tempeh with spinach, brown rice and 1 fried egg

…and making the above dinner is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Sautéed tempeh, spinach and egg

1/2 block grain tempeh, diced into small cubes
1 cup fresh spinach
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
1 egg
2 Tbs coconut oil

Heat a pan over medium high heat and sauté the tempeh until light golden. Set aside. Add a touch more oil and sauté the spinach until wilted. Before frying the egg, plate the tempeh and spinach on top of 3/4 cup brown rice. I have a habit of overlooking my fried eggs. Brett tends to be the egg master in our house. Luckily, it still tastes delicious. Top with Nori seasoning and serve.

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Marathons and big moves

If you decide to run a marathon for the first time, you must:

1) Run a Disney marathon
2) Run with someone you love

If you weren’t aware, Brett and I ran the Disney World Marathon on January 14. It was my first marathon. It was Brett’s first marathon, too, but he ran a 50 mile ultra in November. He’s a serious overachiever or psychopath…however you’d like to look at it.

As a first time marathoner, everything I heard was true. Marathons are scary!

Terrified faces

Terrified faces

It’s a mental race. You can prepare your body (or not. We were a bit undertrained…whoopsie), but ultimately, it’s your mind that does the leg work.

I was in great shape for the first 18 miles. Dancing. Smiling. Flirting with Stitch.

What?

What?

Mile 19 was my “wall.” A wall or a “bonk” is the point in a longer race where you hit rock bottom. That’s where the mental strength needs to kick in. Unfortunately for Brett and his attempt at singing Kelly Clarkson in the ESPN Wide World of Sports, nothing was helping. Not even out of tune twinkle toes to my left. There is excitement in running a big race like Disney though. You look around and realize you’re not alone. We were running the race for Homes for our Troops, but many were running in memory or honor of family, friends, loved ones, etc. It was quite inspiring.

Ultimately, I could in no way have made it through those last 7 miles without Brett. The last leg was a series of challenges.

Me: “Run from here to Safari Mickey then walk?”
Brett: “Allllrighttt let’s do it!”

He walked with me whenever I needed to. He encouraged me when I thought my little legs would go no more, and he held my hand straight across the finish line. It was just nice to have someone by my side. If you’re contemplating your first marathon or ultra race, I would highly recommend finding a close friend to sign up with. My best friend really got me through :)

#wedidit

#wedidit

I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’ve been a little delinquent here on Cooks on the Run. After our marathon, we made a tiny little decision to move to NYC. I know, no big deal, right? Piece of cake. Well, we’ve been hustling our booties off to pack our things to move from VA to the Big Apple. We’re so excited to start posting recipes and adventures from our new home. Until then, I’ve concocted a new power smoothie that has been on repeat in our blender. I know it sounds gross, but give it a shot. You’ll surprise yourself!

Ginger Carrot Smoothie

1/2 cup unfiltered organic apple juice
1/2 cup water
A handful baby carrots (6 or 7)
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen mango

Blend together the juice, water, carrots and ginger for 2-3 minutes. Add the frozen fruit and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy!

You need a little ginger in your life ;)

You need a little ginger in your life ;)

Resolutions

Resolutions are scary. I’ve been sitting on mine for a week. Can I keep these promises I make for myself? With most resolutions, you’re making a commitment to:

  • Better yourself
  • Change your habits
  • Do something you’ve been meaning to do, but have been putting off
  • Do something kind for others

I find it strange that most of us only make commitments once a year, giving yourself 365 days to get to where you want to be. Oftentimes, these goals are BIG. I want to lose XXlbs this year. I want to completely turn my diet around and eat “healthy.” But what does healthy mean? How are you going to lose weight…on a day’s schedule? On a week’s? Trying to wrap my mind around a fitness plan that extends 365 days makes me dizzy.

Here’s what you need to do: start smaller and make more concise commitments.

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like this :)

If you’ve ever run a long race, you’ve encountered what we like to call “the wall milestones.” When you’ve completely bonked, you look for the next landmark ahead of you and use it as a milestone. See that stop sign? Just get to it. Now, see that pole? Just get to the pole. That street sign up there? Make your tired, dead weight legs get there.

Baby steps!

For example, here are a few of mine for the next month:

  • Have a vegetable with every larger meal (B, L and D)
  • Do some form of exercise for 30 minutes every day (i.e. running, gym, yoga, or even a long walk with the dog) – it’s kinda hard to say no to our runner…

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  • Get up from my desk once a day to take a 15-20 minute walk outside
  • Learn one new word a day (hey, you can never stop learning!)

Plain and simple. If I accomplish these resolutions, I may have to reward myself with a new outfit :) From there, add to or change your goals. Challenges are not easy so make sure to pat yourself on the back for your achievements.

Question: What are your upcoming resolutions?

 

Here’s to the new year

The most monumental moment (alliteration, heh) of 2013 occurred yesterday. Brett Lance got a smartphone. Yes, you read right. Brett “I will always keep my 2006 flip phone/I’ll never be a smartphone zombie” Lance spent all of last night like a little boy discovering a toy store for the first time.

In the car on the way home from Best Buy:

Brett: “I’m going to learn how to use my smartphone like a BOSS!”

Me: “Oh god…”

I really didn’t mind. We spent most of our date day outside running and playing in a cute little town called Reston.

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Date day at the W&OD Trail

We reminisced on holiday time with our family while out on the trail.

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The ladies…and Cody :)

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The gents

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Playtime with Cody

We ate amazing “make your own” veggie burgers at The Counter.

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My vegan veggie burger with sweet potato fries

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Brett’s non-veggie burger…he was in love.

I made some world class new granola, which we’re planning on eating as our pre-marathon breakfast. Combine 1 cup of this granola with 1/2 – 1 cup almond milk, a banana and a protein shake roughly 2 hours prior to race time. For us, this will be at 3am on January 12th…yay. At least we’ll have a great meal to power the day.

Ginger Cacao Nib Granola

3 cups old fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (we did almonds and pepitas)

1/2 cup mixed cacao nib and chopped crystalized ginger

1 cup raw agave nectar

1/4 cup EVOO

A handful of dried unsweetened coconut

1 Tbs vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 325. Combine the agave, oil, vanilla and spices to a small pot and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl. Mix in the wet ingredients.

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Spread out on a baking sheet, making sure that you create a thin layer. Place in oven, removing and stirring every 5-10 minutes for roughly 40 minutes. Remove from oven once the granola is toasty and golden. Let cool for a few minutes, break into small pieces and seal in an airtight container…or eat…

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Get in my belly #nomnom

For us, 2013 was a mighty roller coaster. A move to Virginia from our home in Boston, races, blogging, Homes for our Troops fundraising, family visits and date days galore. We’re looking forward to an exciting 2014 filled with new adventures, starting with the Disney World Marathon.

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See you at the starting line – Happy New Year!

Late night eats

One of my good friends, Jeannie, sent me a message the other day.

“I work out post-work and usually don’t get home until around 9ish. Sometimes I don’t have the simplest energy to cook dinner, sometimes even eat, but I know I should…any suggestions?”

As I told Jeannie, we give props to anyone that pushes themselves to go straight to the gym after a longer day at work. As a morning gal, I have difficulty motivating myself in the evening, so I commend anyone that does! Gold star, Jeannie :)

Some of us aren't as motivated.

Some of us aren’t as motivated.

We have nights like this all the time. For all you late night gym heroes, I have a couple ideas, but the biggest one is…Quinoa. Quinoa is packed and proteins and super simple to make ahead of time. I will make a batch on Sunday and save it for my later nights when I know that cooking…is not in the cards. I keep it light and easy.

Make a few cups of quinoa ahead of time. Remember: 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/2 cups water. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Chop up any veggies ahead of time (or defrost them!) from what you have in your kitchen.

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Combine 1 cup quinoa with some veggies. Add 1 Tbs of EVOO, salt and pepper. If you have fresh basil, it gives the dish some nice flavor. If not, feel free to add your favorite spice  to add a little something extra.

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and it’s pretty to look at

If you’re in a “cereal” mood, quinoa also works well as breakfast for dinner.

If quinoa isn’t your thing, another easy dinner is a smoothie. Check out some of our smoothie recipes. If you always have frozen fruit on hand, dinner will be ready in 3 minutes or less :)

Don’t be discouraged by the late night aversion to lifting a finger in the kitchen. Just be prepared…to be lazy and dinner will be waiting!

All about the pom

I was first introduced to the lovely pomegranate in college. My good friend and roommate at the time Molly, pulled one out of the fridge, and turned around to witness my perplexed face. Up until I was 10, I believed that if I accidentally ate fruit seeds, they would grow in my stomach. My Mom told me this so I would stop swallowing watermelon seeds. No judging. Go ahead and eat those pomegranate seeds – they are good! :)

Naturally, I loved pomegranates as soon as I tried them. Molly and I would sit and eat the seeds right out of the skin like monkeys, while watching VH1 countdowns. Again, no judging.

Brett and I look forward to the fall/winter season when pomegranates are in season. Poms are a strange looking fruit…seriously, weird. The name “pomegranate” literally means seeded apple. Despite its’ unusual looks, the pomegranate does have many health benefits. Not only is pomegranate juice high in Vitamin C, but potent with antioxidants, fiber and low in calories. It makes for the perfect snack, addition to a smoothie or topping for a dessert!

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NOM

Of course, there is always the question of ripeness. How do you tell when a pomegranate is ripe when you’re in the grocery store? They should feel heavy (they’re full of seeds and juice) and the skin should be firm. If you see discoloration (almost like bruising), that does not affect the quality of the fruit.

Now, pomegranate juice stains and when you just slice it open like an apple or an orange, you waste seeds and increase the chances of staining your clothes (believe me, this has happened). Plus, it’s just plain messy.

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Check out this cool method Brett and I use to gently open a pomegranate with less fuss and more fruit! Make sure to look for Fred’s appearance half way through…he’s a snoop in the background.

 

 

12 Days of Christmas for Runners

It’s that time again. Christmas music, the inability to find parking spaces and lots of wrapping. Last year, I had tape stuck to my forehead on several occasions. Still, the holiday season is a time to celebrate with family, friends and loved ones. With the amount of family we have, Brett and I always try to do something creative. The past few years we made a popcorn snack blend and gave it away in Christmas cookie tins. We have a fantastic idea for this year, but we won’t spoil the surprise…yet ;)

You know you’re a runner when all you want for Christmas involves athletic apparel, shoes,  GU, Babyfood apple sauce like Happy Baby for longer runs, compression tights and did I mention shoes? Well, here’s a list you may want to print out or send to your loved ones (pssssttt….BRETT) before the holiday passes you by.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a night headlamp so I don’t eat the ground. If you’re a trail runner or frequent night runner, a night headlamp is essential for your gear. Having a light guide my way has saved me numerous times from becoming better acquainted with the pavement. REI is having great sales right now – you can get a Black Diamond night headlamp for under $50!

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a Road ID in case I don’t get #1. If you don’t have one, you should put it on your list for Santa. If something were to happen to you out on a run, wearing a Road ID gives those around you an easy way to identify you and an emergency contact. Given my inane ability to get lost or fall over, I wear mine on a regular basis even when I’m not running…don’t judge me.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…3 pairs of Smart Wool run light socks! As an avid hiker, I’m sure you’re just as amazed at the feel of smart wool as I am. My feet have never felt so good. Seriously. Stocking stuffer.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Yurbuds to tune him out on long runs. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty skeptical about these alien looking earbuds. I was a super fan of the Skull Candy brand, but they easily fall out on longer road adventures. Put these babies in and twist. They. Stay. Put. It’s glorious.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…BROOKS VAPOR DRY GLOVESI had a pair of Brooks running gloves, but sadly, they got too familiar with Fred’s mouth. They keep your hands dry, warm and allow you to use your phone or iPod without removing your gloves. I would love a new pair!!!*&#@(&! *SUBTLE HINT

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…CW-X compression tights for when I’m so sore I can’t move. I always make fun of Brett whenever he goes to put on his recovery tights. He looks like a woman desperately trying to pull up and button a tight pair of jeans. After experiencing desperate soreness after a day on the trails and wearing my compression sleeves, I realized why he continues to struggle in putting them on. They really do help in supporting your muscles. It’s worth every second of the “jean squat” struggle.

On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…the Saucony ViZi jacket with LED lights included. In pink please. Shine bright like a diamond  ;) I have one of these jackets and I’m obsessed. I wear it in the fall, winter, spring and whenever it rains. The LED light is great for when you have early a.m. or p.m. runs to ensure your presence on the road. The bright colors and reflector sleeves help, too.

On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Sunwarrior Protein to keep me full of vegan protein. For any of our vegetarian/vegan friends in need of additional sources of protein, we use Sunwarrior. Often, I’ll add some to my smoothies post workout and it gives me the energy I need to recover.

On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…car magnets to brag about my miles. You know you’ve seen them. Of course, they are rather annoying to non runners, but for those committed to running, having a car magnet is like a rite of passage. You bet that Brett purchased his 50 sticker after running his first ultra. Like it or not, this is a great present for your running pals.

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…an Ollydog belt so I can keep up with my dog hands free. The leash allows for some flexibility and frees up your hands from leash duty. Having the side pouch gives you a place to store your keys and any essentials you need with you. Our racer greyhound can only run a few miles so we don’t have to worry about carrying anything. He’s a speed demon with no stamina.

On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a foam roller so I can roll out all that soreness. Foam rolling aka “a self-myofascial release,” helps muscles to recover from intense activity and assist in movement efficiency and flexibility. Make sure you consult the interwebs on how to properly roll. We’ll be posting a video soon with Brett as the foam rolling model :)

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…the ultimate running vacation on the planet! Just kidding…for now. Andes Adventures offers all-inclusive hiking and/or running packages in some really cool places around the world. It’s not cheap by any means, but if you want to travel and have a running/hiking adventure? This is for you. Brett and I dream a drool worthy dream that we’ll someday be able to go on the Galapagos vacation together. Le Sigh.

Merry running to all of our friends!

xoxo Rudolf and Scrooge

xoxo Rudolf and Scrooge

Hot cocoa, snow and baking

If you’ve never made your way to Upstate New York, then I’m afraid you are unaware of the true definition of snow. I hate to say it, but when it gets “snowy” here in Virginia, Brett and I long for Syracuse.

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even our car gets it…

We did, however, have a cold and snowy weekend. It began with a bundled up night walk accompanied by “I can’t wait to stick my snout in yellow snow” Fred. Brett surprised me when we got back inside with his homemade hot cocoa. There’s something about having a warm cup of hot cocoa on a cold night. Winter is coming! Anyway, Brett’s recipe is simple and great for a night of Christmas movies and dog snuggles. You too, Brett, you too.

Brett’s Homemade Hot Cocoa (Serves 2)

 2 Tbs Cocoa powder

 1 tsp Cinnamon (try Vietnamese variety, perfectly sweet for this)

1/8 tsp salt

A pinch of cayenne (if you want an extra kick!)

2 C. unsweetened vanilla almond milk or other plain/vanilla non-dairy milk

4 tsp honey

Warm the milk on medium high heat while stirring until it steams.

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don’t forget your ingredients

Once the milk is steaming, add the cocoa powder/dry ingredients and honey.  Whisk until fully mixed.  NO LUMPS ;) Pour gently into two mugs and enjoy!

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Since we were snowed in most of yesterday, baking therapy was in session. Every year, I make Brett a special batch of pumpkin bread. It doesn’t hold a candle to my Mom’s banana bread recipe, but he indulges me and tells me it’s his “favorite.”

Now, here’s the important tip of the day: If you do not own The Joy of Cooking, get out of the kitchen. This is the cooking BIBLE (yes, all caps). This recipe comes from there. Brett has the page bookmarked for me…of course :)

Joy of Cooking’s Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (I eliminate this, we’re not huge clove fans)
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (we use almond milk instead of milk or water)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 Tbs (3/4 stick) butter, softened, or 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar or 1 cup sugar plus 1/ 3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (go, walnuts!)
  • 1/3 cup raisins or chopped dates (go for dates)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with coconut oil, which will prevent the bread from sticking. Whisk together: all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, grated or ground nutmeg, & ground cloves. Combine in a small bowl: milk, vanilla. Set aside.

Beat in a large bowl until fluffy: butter, sugar & brown sugar. Then beat in eggs one at a time.

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weeeeee

Add pumpkin and beat on low speed just until blended. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold in walnuts and chopped dates. Pour into baking dish and even out with a spatula.

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Cook for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserts fully, coming out clean…so, an hour ;)

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my work here is done.