I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the SPLENDA® Brand. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All opinions and reviews are my own.
Though I try hard to stay active all year, when the weather turns cold I end up missing a lot of workouts because it’s much more appealing to stay in bed snuggled under nice warm blankets than to be up getting ready for a run or jumping around in my family room trying to warm up as quickly as possible during a workout. Spring got me up and outside more, especially to play with the kids. Now that we are headed into summer with a more relaxed day-to-day schedule, I decided it was time to really get motivated. And because I think almost everything is more fun with other people, I decided I’m going to shape up this summer with friends.
One of my very favorite sports I wish I was good at but I’m super horrible at is tennis. Thankfully, I don’t know a lot of people who are really good at it because if you’ve ever played tennis with someone who plays “for real” it can be a very stressful game! It’s MUCH more fun if you play like a group of elementary school kids who are trying to see how many times they can keep the ball going back and forth over the net. Every successful hit is a group success! Plus, if you swing a racket often enough, every once in a while you pull off something that looks like an actual swing and then you can strut around for the rest of the day feeling like Serena Williams. At least, that’s what I do.
So, I called up a few of my friends and begged them to come play tennis with me. This took some convincing for two of them since they thought it was a trick to get them to come play real tennis and neither one of them has ever played. I had to reassure them both that we were playing grade school tennis (at least that’s what I call it) and finally persuaded them to join me. Mysteriously, we had the entire court to ourselves despite the fact that the parking lot was full, so I couldn’t ask anyone else to take a picture of the four of us so here’s 3/4 of us and our fourth is taking the picture.
We played for over an hour, “play” being the key word. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Between just sharing stories and laughing about our continuous efforts to relax the rules of tennis even further (e.g. hitting it no matter how many times it had already bounced, returning it from way out of bounds), we were having so much fun we forgot we were also getting exercise. Since only one of us had any semblance of ability, our shots were all wild which meant a lot of running to try to return the ball to the other side and to chase down balls as they flew into other courts (it was a good thing we had the entire place to ourselves!).
Since it had taken some effort to get a couple of them there, I decided I needed to go above and beyond to make the experience a good one for them so I had brought along a post-game treat. I packed up four bottles of Cranberry Lemon Infused Water and some Cranberry Walnut Muffins for us to enjoy after the game. I used a SPLENDA® SWEET SWAPS™ recipe so I wouldn’t derail our fitness progress by filling us up with sugar.
I packed them up with some napkins in a cute little picnic basket that sat on the sidelines until we were ready.
My friends were really thankful for the treat, especially when they realized they weren’t packed with sugar. They were less happy when I asked if I could take another picture, but as you can see they’re all beautiful (even while they’re eating).
The muffins were the perfect snack after our game. Just large enough to satisfy, full of fresh flavor from the cranberries, just a little crunch from the walnuts, and the right amount of sweetness from the SPLENDA®. Swapping SPLENDA® for the sugar didn’t make a difference in the taste or texture of the muffins so it was a great way to limit our sugar intake and reduce the calorie count. Since this recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups of sugar, I shaved off almost 850 calories! That’s over 100 calories per muffin.
Here’s the recipe I got from the SWEET SWAPS™ website. You can find even more recipes, along with lots of tips and tricks there.
- 1¼ cups SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ⅔ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp grated orange zest
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- ⅔ cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with butter-flavored cooking spray. Set aside.
- Mix SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Mix buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, and orange zest together in a small mixing bowl. Add to flour mixture. Mix gently to combine. Add walnuts and cranberries and stir until just blended.
- Spoon batter into eight muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.