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This gingerbread loaf, made with athlete-conscious ingredients, will win over any crowd, no matter the occasion this holiday season. This loaf is moist and fluffy, and includes sweet caramelized pears and crunchy pecans nestled inside for an extra pop of flavor and texture in every bite. Serve warm with gelato for dessert, sliced and toasted for breakfast, or delivered as a holiday gift with a carton of eggnog, you can’t go wrong.
1 cup white whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ TBSP ground flax seed meal
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup 1% milk
½ cup canola oil
½ cup molasses
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (grade A or B)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large pear, finely diced
½ cup chopped pecans
2 TBSP coconut oil
2 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp salt
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the coconut oil and let melt. Add the pear, pecans, 2 TBSP maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
3. Let the pear and pecans caramelize for about 10-12 minutes, stirring every minute with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, flax seed meal, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.
5. Add the pears and pecans to the flour mixture and toss until well coated. This will prevent them from sinking in the loaf.
6. In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, canola oil, molasses, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla extract.
7. Add this mixture to the other bowl. Stir gently with a spatula or wooden spoon until the ingredients are well incorporated.
8. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for about 55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the top bounces back when touch. * Tent with foil half way into cooking so top doesn’t burn.
9. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, remove from pan, and let cool at least 20 minutes longer before slicing.
Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif., and the co-founder of Harmony Bar. A former professional XTERRA triathlete, Cerra now races for Twenty16 Women’s Professional Cycling Team.