Shalane Flanagan shares her favorite thing to eat before a long run

This nutrient-packed muffin recipe is from her new cookbook 'Run Fast, Eat Slow.'

Superhero Muffins are a pre-race recipe from the cookbook "Run Fast, Eat Slow." –Alan Weiner / Run Fast Eat Slow

When it comes to fast, long-distance runners in the U.S., Marblehead’s Shalane Flanagan quickly comes to mind.

Flanagan is an Olympic medalist and accomplished marathoner who is consistently one of the top elite finishers at the Boston Marathon. During her more than a decade-long running career, she’s earned numerous accolades, including a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympic Womens 10,000 meter Finals in Beijing—a new American record.

But Flanagan said in order to break records and live well, she needs a nourishing pre-race meal.

Flanagan’s forthcoming cookbook, Run Fast, Eat Slow—a collaboration between Flanagan and chef and nutrition expert Elyse Kopecky—contains over 100 recipes created for runners by runners, including the muffin recipe designed to “fuel up for a long Sunday run.”

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After Kopecky first introduced Flanagan to Superhero Muffins, she said this hearty breakfast soon became her pre-run go-to.

“The muffins are sneaky,” Flanagan said. “They taste sweet and nutty like a traditional breakfast food but hidden within are two veggies.”

Kopecky said she recommends the muffins be cooked with butter or coconut oil to give runners an added boost of energy.

“Runners often obsess over getting enough carbohydrates and protein into their diet and forget that healthy fats are also essential for energy, a healthy metabolism, cardiovascular health, hormone balance, and for enabling your hardworking body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins,” she said.

SUPERHERO MUFFINS

For a long Sunday run

Makes 12 muffins

Gluten-free, Vegetarian

Excerpted from Run Fast Eat Slow by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky (Rodale Books, September 2016). For more information and to pre-order please visit: runfasteatslow.com

These muffins were designed for superheroes like you. They’re packed full of veggies and sweetened with maple syrup instead of refined sugar. In addition, almond meal and whole grain oats replace nutrient-stripped white flour. These are Shalane’s go-to muffins—nourishing and sweetly satisfying for an easy grab-‘n-run breakfast.

And don’t fear the butter. Fueling up with healthy fats is a great way to start your day. Fat helps transport important vitamins throughout your hardworking body and will help keep you satisfied longer.

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As a bonus, these muffins are gluten free.

2 cups almond meal

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free if sensitive)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

½ cup raisins, chopped dates, or chocolate chips (optional)

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup grated zucchini (about 1 zucchini)

1 cup grated carrots (about 2 carrots)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

½ cup dark amber maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Position a rack in the center of the over. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and walnuts, raisins, dates, or chocolate chips (if using).

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In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, zucchini, carrots, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. The batter will be thick.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each to the brim. Bake until the muffins are nicely browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes.

If you have a high-powered blender, you can grind your own almond flour. For 2 cups of almond flour, pulse 10 ounces of whole raw almonds on high speed until finely ground.

Keep a batch in the freezer for a sweet grab’-n-run breakfast. Simple defrost on low power in the microwave.

Never try anything new the night before or on race day. Practice eating new foods before your training runs and learn what you digest best.

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