Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pomegranate, Chocolate Chunk & Coconut Cookies.

Happy weekend!

Mine has been full of running and eating, with a few festive events thrown in for good measure. I started Saturday with a 7 mile run with the Nike+ Run Club. A few members of my Nike+ Chiberia Challenge team met for the run, and completed the 5 mile route. My friend S and I kept going afterwards to hit 7 miles for the day. We celebrated with a quick visit to Stan's Donuts & Coffee around the corner. I had a lemon + pistachio old-fashioned donut with an almond milk latte. This was my first visit to Stan's and I highly recommend it! My donut had a crunchy exterior and a delicious pistachio glaze frosting. Stan's opened earlier this year, bringing California-style donuts to the Midwest. The original Stan's in L.A. has been open since 1963! I have a feeling this shop will do great in this city as well.

Sunday morning started with more running {you may notice there's a theme here}, with the festive Rudolph Ramble 8k race at Diversey Harbor in Lincoln Park. This was my first time running a holiday-themed race in the city. We had gorgeous weather for the Midwest in December, in the upper 40's. My Nike+ Chiberia Challenge team is currently in first place, and I ran just over 45 miles this week to finish out the first six days of the challenge!

With all this running, I've snacked on a cookie or two most nights this week without regrets. I love cookies with lots going on inside - this version combines pomegranate seeds, chocolate chunks, and sweetened shredded coconut. Pomegranates are back in season through early winter, and you might as well add an ingredient to your dessert that's packed with antioxidants, right?

I reduced the sugar slightly from the original recipe to make up for the sweetened shredded coconut. This recipe makes a large number of cookies, over three dozen using a medium-sized cookie scoop. These cookies also freeze incredibly well. If serving for a party, take them out of the freezer the night before to thaw and they will taste fresh as can be.

Pomegranate, Chocolate Chunk & Coconut Cookies
Makes 3 and 1/2 dozen cookies.

1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter {2 sticks}
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda {dissolved in 2 teaspoons hot water}
1 and 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
2/3 cup shredded coconut {sweetened}

How to~
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
*Cream together butter and the sugars. Add vanilla and eggs until combined.
*Dissolve the baking soda into 2 teaspoons of hot water and add to the mixed ingredients. Add the salt.
*Add flour in several batches, mixing until combined.
*Add the shredded coconut, pomegranate seeds, and chocolate chunks.
*Bake for ~10-12 minutes.

{Adapted from All Recipes' Best Chocolate Chip Cookies}

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Year of Wellness - Call for Nominations.

The blogs on my "follow" list have been full of thoughtful holiday gift ideas over the past few weeks, ranging from gadgets for foodies to gifts for a fitness-loving lady friend. I love reading gift idea lists, but I have one more to throw out there if you're thinking about an extra special holiday gift for a family member or friend this year: consider submitting a nomination for the Year of Wellness Contest from Fitness Formula Clubs {FFC}!

This is the third year of the Year of Wellness, and the winner will receive an entire year's worth of wellness gifts, including personal training, nutrition consulting, massages, and more from various sponsors {valued at more than $15,000}! FFC started this contest to give back to the community, and offer someone the tools needed to start {or in some cases, continue} a healthy lifestyle journey.

The first Year of Wellness 2013 winner was Quinetta Taylor, pictured at the Gift of Hope Lifesaving Partner Awards ceremony this fall. Gift of Hope is an organ and tissue donation non-profit organization. Quinetta applied for the Year of Wellness to continue her weight loss journey as a woman suffering from chronic kidney disease. At the end of her winning year, she had lost an amazing 120 pounds.

 {Daniela Spaid of FFC and 2013 Year of Wellness winner Quinetta Taylor}

Year of Wellness submissions must include a photo and 300 words or less on why the nominee deserves to win {you can also nominate yourself}. Entries will be posted on the FFC website on December 16th, and voting by the public will continue through midnight on December 31st. A panel of judges will vote on the winner out of the top five nominees with the most votes. One winner will be selected in mid-January, and the winner must live in the greater Chicagoland area.  

Entries are due on Monday, December 15th - click here to submit a nomination.