One Hundred Miles of Solitude (featuring Cranberry, Cherry, Walnut Oat Bars)

Yesterday morning, I stood at the entranceway to our living room and surveyed the damage.  There were stacks of books and magazines on the coffee table, tumbles of blankets on the couch, a smattering of empty mugs with used tea bag strings dangling over their rims.  My abandoned crutches were leaning on the door, my physical therapy CPM machine on the floor. 

Two weeks after my hip surgery I can finally walk without assistance.

This, unfortunately, means I can clean as well.

It’s fine.  I like it actually.  It’s very cathartic after two weeks of being absolutely still.

Shannon, my insane boyfriend and exceptional caretaker, has taken the weekend off to run a marathon in Niagara.  He’s an ultra runner.

This marathon is 100 miles.



I know.

I think the same thing.

I’m in denial that anyone could run 100 miles in their lifetime, let alone in one day.  It’s a thing I don’t believe even after seeing it with my own eyes.  It’s disarming and humbling to me, as there is nothing I do that could even begin to compare.

But then, yesterday afternoon, I shuffled (having not yet recovered my determined New York stride) my way down to Fairway to restock our empty fridge.  I was pushed and shaken, beaten down and scowled at by frustrated New Yorkers, anxious to move on to the enjoyable part of their day.  And it hit me: every day in this fucking city is a 100 mile marathon.  Shannon’s pretty clever.  He’s out there listening to his feet thump on the trails or swish through the snow.  He’s got nothing but mountain ranges, open skies and his heartbeat to focus on.  One hundred miles of struggle.  One hundred miles of ambition.  One hundred miles of solitude.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the challenge of this city, just like Shannon loves his runs.  And though I might not get a medal or a gasp of amazement when I tell people about my day, I get a feeling of accomplishment every moment I continue to survive in this impossible, glorious city of wonder.

Shannon says these bars save him at about mile 65- when he’s more than halfway done, but nowhere near the finish line.  They save me when I’ve been waiting for the D train for over 20 minutes.  They have just the right combination of nutty protein goodness, oaty fiber goodness and spicy comforting goodness to pull you out of whatever hole you’re in.

Note to my gluten-free friends: there is a debate about whether oats are completely gluten-free.  If you have a medium to high allergic sensitivity to gluten, I would steer away from regular oats entirely.  Bob’s Red Mills makes gluten free oats, and I can highly recommend quinoa flakes and quinoa flour as substitutions for the oats and flour in this recipe.  Guaranteed gluten free and a guaranteed superfood; quinoa is amazing.


Ultra Bars

Cranberry, Cherry, Walnut Oat Bars
Cranberry, Cherry, Walnut Oat Bars


  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 cup chopped nuts of your choosing (walnuts are in the pic)
  • 1 cup dried fruit of your choosing (cranberries and cherries are in the pic)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8’x8’ pan.
  3. Cream the butter with both sugars until fluffy.  Add egg and beat until combined.  Mix in vanilla and water.
  4. Sift the flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt and baking soda together in another bowl.  Add it to the egg mixture.  Stir in oats, nuts, fruit and mix well.
  5. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes.
  6. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

12 thoughts on “One Hundred Miles of Solitude (featuring Cranberry, Cherry, Walnut Oat Bars)”

  • Made these great bars–they feel healthy but probably not at the rate we are devouring them…. thanks for another delicious recipe and so happy to know you are up and at’em again.

  • Hey Alison – Sorry to hear about your operation. Glad you’re recovering so well. I can attest from bitter experience (10 hours in the emergency room with abdominal pain!) to the fact that ordinary oatmeal contains troubling amounts of gluten. It’s mainly from cross-contamination with wheat either in the field or in the mill. However, Bob’s Red Mill offers a Gluten-Free Oatmeal that’s delicious. I have it every morning with no ill effects. Quinoa is also great, though. – Alison

    • @Alison – How lovely to hear (read) your voice! Ten hours in the emergency room sounds like a nightmare. I’m going to edit my post because of it (most of the information I got said that it would depend on your level of gluten intolerance, but I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea). I love Bob’s Red Mill products too. Anyway, hope life is grand and welcome to the blog!

  • Jill and I have a mutual friend here in Wisconsin that did the 100 mile thing too. When that became too difficult she switched to triathalons. Hey if they don’t like your shuffle call Mike he needs to get out more often. Jim Underkofler

  • Allison,

    So nice to hear that you are on your feet and better yet, up to TACKLING Fairway! I wish there was some magical hour when I could have that store to myself, but I fear that it is some ungodly hour in the morning.

    Thanks for all the heavenly recipes.

    Kristine and John

  • You heard me asking for a nutritional healthy bar that taste great. I will be making them today. Keep you posted. Mahalo.

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