June 9th, 2010
Runner’s Treat Cupcake – soft and springy chocolate banana cupcake frosted with peanut butter ganache and topped with a colorful running shoe chocolate candy. Price available upon request.
Just as I was cranking my training up a notch to improve my 5-K PR, my knee pain recurred. For a beginner runner like me, getting injured in the early stages of training is frustrating. But then again, for runners of all types—elite marathoners or just weekend warriors—being sidelined is akin to torture.
What do I do now in the interim? Knee strengthening exercises are in order. And of course, I now have the perfect chance to complete my runner’s cupcake that I planned on making. As I mentioned before, I wanted something with cocoa, milk and bananas which are all power foods for runners. The recipe called for vegetable oil but I really dislike its taste in baked goods (except for chiffon cakes where oil is an essential ingredient) so this time around, I used melted unsalted butter. It didn’t affect the texture of the baked cupcake and it definitely tasted better, although my niece K._ said that regardless of the fat used, the cupcake taste “sooo good.”
I bought the running shoes chocolate mold online and when I got them in the mail, I was really, really excited. Now I can create a near replica of my own running shoes in chocolate form and I get to eat them! How cool is that?
The cupcake has a certain lightness and springiness to it, which what I was also aiming for. You know you are running in proper form when your feet are quick and light and springy, like popping off the ground.
The chocolate peanut butter ganache (I used reduced-fat Skippy peanut butter) wasn’t too overwhelming after all. I am also thinking of replacing the all-purpose flour with the whole wheat version to add fiber and make the cupcake healthier.
Overall, I am very pleased with this cupcake. It has the right texture, superb flavor, and a cute and very appropriate topper. Truly a great reward to have after an exhausting but exhilarating run. A word of caution: running or exercising does not necessarily give you the license to overindulge because you believe you can burn off the extra calories during your workouts. You still have to eat healthy but it’s ok to have a “sinful” reward—like this cupcake!— once in a while.
By the way, I improved my 5-K results with a time of 33:21 in the Asian Hospital-sponsored Runew 2010 last May 2. I was gearing up for a sub-30 minutes for my next race but as injury struck, I have to take time off. I miss running already but if I want to run for the long term, I need to allow my body to fully recover. I know it will take a while but it’s all about keeping perspective. In the meantime, there are more cupcake flavors to try, more decorations to think of and more baking projects to fulfill. This temporary layoff has its upside after all.
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So what are the power foods in this cupcake and how important are they to a runner’s body?
•Unsweetened cocoa powder – rich in flavonoids which are antioxidants that reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. They also protect skin against sun damage and lower blood levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation. Cocoa powder has no added sugar and has less saturated fact than dark chocolate.
•Skim milk – according to a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking fat-free milk at breakfast significantly reduces the number of calories eaten at lunch and also leads to feeling more satisfied.
•Banana – supplies carbs as well as potassium, which runners lose through sweating; potassium also help regulate muscle contraction and prevent cramping. Bananas are also good as pre-run food because they’re unlikely to cause gastrointestinal issues.
•Peanut butter - great for runners who are trying to lose weight. The protein and fiber in peanut butter helps you feel full. It is also a source of protein, needed to build and repair muscles damaged during training.
*sources – Runner’s World, About.com