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Joan Benoit Samuelson: Awesome runners, awesome cookies

Joan Benoit Samuelson is an inspirational runner and it turns out, she’s not bad with nutrition advice either!

Tara Cookies
My first batch of oatmeal cookies using Joan Benoit Samuelson’s recipe — it’s a winner all around.

Most runners know that there is no shortage of opinions about nutrition out there — with seemingly endless chatter about the latest electrolyte drinks, protein supplements, energy bars, gels — and then there are the musings (often backed by studies) about what’s best for our bodies. There are always common debates like lots of carbs versus minimal carbs, meat or no meat, chocolate milk or recovery mix drink. We get advice on optimal pre-race fuel, mid race fuel, post race fuel — the list could go on.

I was watching the end of the 1984 women’s Olympic Marathon on YouTube over the weekend (video below). Joan Benoit Samuelson ran such a courageous race in Los Angeles. Sidenote: I’d like to find a copy of the entire race.

One of the suggested videos that popped up on YouTube was a video of Joan talking about nutrition — it was very cool to hear what she had to say. In many ways, her thoughts line up with my coach’s philosophy on nutrition: keep it simple, with as much real, rather than processed, food as possible.


In the video, Joan talks about her garden and all the fresh veggies she yields. I can attest to the beauty of a backyard garden. Just this weekend, I pulled some soup from the freezer which I had made in September with some of our garden veggies — yum.

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Joan also talks about one of the go-to snacks she’s relied on for years: her homemade oatmeal cookies. In the video, she explains how a nutritionist has “dissected” her recipe and given it the thumbs up, as it covers a lot of what a runner needs in their diet.

I like cookies, a lot. I also like my nutrition to be pretty simple. So, on Sunday night I gave Joan’s recipe a try — and it’s a winner. These are easily the best tasting oatmeal cookies I’ve had. The recipe is easy to put together. Give it a shot if you’re looking to keep your fuel simple and totally tasty.

Joan Benoit Samuelson’s Oatmeal Cookies

6 cups ground oatmeal

3 cups unbleached and/or whole-wheat flour

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup softened or melted butter

1 cup safflower or sunflower oil (I substituted with olive oil)

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup nuts and/or raisins (optional – I went with raisins and crushed pecans)

Mix all of the ingredients together. Bake in small dollops at 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes approximately five dozen cookies.