May 19, 2015 – Maiah Miller created her Running Girl Bakery because she had to. Allergic or sensitive to soy, corn, gluten, dairy and most nuts, she was running out of things she could eat. She could rarely rely on restaurants, and she had no interest in giving up sweets. Determined to know exactly what’s in the food she eats, she took matters—and all kinds of fresh, wholesome, organic, nutritious ingredients—into her own hands, and began experimenting with recipes in her own kitchen.
Admittedly, her first run at garbanzo bean cookies fell flat with her family. But, having gone crazy for her chia chocolate chip cookies, they hung in there with her and were richly rewarded once she got it right. It wasn’t long before the demand for her baked goods extended beyond the family, and she began to realize she had a business. She started baking in a commercial kitchen in Pacific Grove and began developing her website. All she needed was a name.
Born to super-fit parents given to tearing up the running trails of Eugene, Oregon, Miller and her twin sister, Sarah, rode along in a double jog stroller. Three years later, their baby twin brothers, Keegan and Collin, rode shotgun, clasped tightly on each sister’s lap.
Growing up, Miller hated running. Particularly in high school, when she felt forced to compete in track and cross-country running, as her “tall, thin, speedy twin sister” sprinted by her. Ultimately allowed to get off course, Miller chose cheerleading, gymnastics and ballet. Ironically, it was during gymnastics that she broke her femur, and her return to cross-country running helped her heal.
For someone who now logs in 6 to 8 miles a day on peninsula paths and trails, it seemed only natural to name her passion for making nutritious, delicious, alternative baked goods, “Running Girl Bakery.”
“I wanted a name that refers to my running and also suggests something aimed at athletic, healthy people, who are conscious about what they eat,” says Miller, 28. “But it is a bakery, so we’re not giving up sweets. It probably should be called Chia Cookie Company since I love chia seeds so much. They have so many great nutrients and are such a great source of energy. I put them in so many things.”
Miller’s dream is to move back to Oregon, where she would open a brick-and-mortar bakery. But when her husband, David, received a two-year assignment to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, neither was willing to turn down their opportunities—his, to attend school, and hers, to sandwich herself between the coastal beauty and the “salad bowl of the world.” Miller put her vision on hold and went to work for The Treadmill running store in Carmel, and brought her chia chocolate chip cookies, along with her gluten-free energy bars, now known as “The Treadmill Bar” and the “Go Far Bar.”
“It’s been an honor to have Maiah’s products here at The Treadmill, where she has built quite a following,” says owner Chris Cleary. “Wellness and health is 90% doing what’s right and 10% doing what makes you happy, so her cookies fit perfectly. We’re supposed to have a treat sometimes, and if it is healthy one that doesn’t come out of a box with ingredients you can’t read, all the better.
Miller has found that distance and ultra runners, who log in “more-than-marathon” mileage, go for her raw energy balls, such as Maca Goji Berry Bites, Peanut Butter Bliss Balls, or Cacao Date Seed Balls, while those just focused on health and fitness grab her gluten-free vegan cookies, brownies, granola, cupcakes and breads – all of which is available to order at www.runninggirlhealth.com.
Running Girl Bakery products also are available at Bright Coffee in Monterey, The Coffee House on Fisherman’s Wharf #1 in Monterey, at Princes Monterey Whale Watching at the end of the Wharf, and via Facebook at running girl bakery.
A fifth-generation Northern Californian, Lisa Crawford Watson has enjoyed a diverse career in business, education and writing. She lives with her family on the Monterey Peninsula, where her grandmother once lived and wrote. An adjunct writing instructor for CSU Monterey Bay and Monterey Peninsula College, Lisa is also a free-lance writer, who specializes in the genres of art & architecture, health & lifestyle, food & wine. She has published various books and thousands of feature articles and columns in local and national newspapers and magazines.