Thursday, March 5, 2015

Seattle Recap - Running + Hot Chocolate 5k.

{I received travel accommodations to Seattle and race registration for two as a member of the Hot Chocolate Blog Ambassador Program. All opinions are my own.} 

I've said this before, and I'll say it again - one of the best ways to explore a new place is on foot. I always look forward to running and wandering neighborhoods and outdoor spaces whenever I have the opportunity to travel {see active recaps in Florida, Door County, and Europe}! K and I returned from a long weekend to Seattle on Monday night. I have so much to share from this trip as we packed in many outdoor activities with friends while visiting. Spring is blooming in Seattle!

We finished a 4+ mile run/hike on Friday morning with our friend Jenny in Discovery Park. At over 500 acres, it's the largest city park in Seattle, located on Magnolia Bluff. It's a beautiful wooded area with two miles of tidal beach and a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound. On a clear day, you can see both the Cascade and Olympic Mountain Ranges. Even though it was overcast and mildly raining, it felt wonderful to run outdoors in temperatures above 40 degrees. Forty is many degrees warmer than the past month in Chicago. We stopped by Volunteer Park Cafe for lunch after the run {highly recommend - don't miss an almond milk latte + chocolate cherry oatmeal cookie} and wandered around Volunteer Park afterwards.

The second run of the weekend was bright and early on Sunday morning with the Seattle Hot Chocolate 5k. The race was very well organized, with separate start times for the 5k and 15k. Runners were placed in corrals with ~3 minutes between each racing group. Our Seattle friends dropped us off around the corner only ten minutes before the race and we were able to get right into our corral {D} with plenty of time to spare.

The Hot Chocolate race has numerous locations around the U.S. I ran the Chicago Hot Chocolate 15k race back in November {race recap here}. The Seattle 5k course had a few gradual hills and one steeper hill at the end, winding through downtown and the Pike Place Market area. I opted to run the 5k instead of the 15k to save my legs for exploring on our last full day of the trip, which ended up being a very good idea. We headed out for a mountain hike immediately after the run. Fueled by post-race chocolate, of course!

Seattle Recap Part 2, coming soon.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Healthy Mint Breakfast "Milkshake."

To celebrate the new month of March {my birthday month!} and the upcoming Irish holiday in a few weeks, I have a healthy new green breakfast "milkshake" to share. Yes, green for shamrock. Can you guess what this recipe is a a copycat of? The Shamrock Shake from McDonald's, of course. The last time I had a Shamrock Shake was back in college. I remember driving around town with a friend one night in late March when an ice cream craving hit to find a McDonald's still serving the green treat. We eventually found one, but the shake wasn't as good as I remembered - it wasn't minty and had a weird soupy texture - and I haven't had another one since.

This "milkshake" version is healthy enough for breakfast but sweet enough for dessert if that's your preference. The sweetness comes naturally from Medjool dates. Vanilla flavor is incorporated by using vanilla almond milk {I used unsweetened} and vanilla extract. 

I added real mint leaves to give this smoothie the signature minty flavor, but you could also use peppermint extract for a little bit of extra kick. Fresh mint leaves promote digestion and contain powerful antioxidants. The mighty leaves also contain small amounts of other health benefits, including iron, Vitamin A, potassium, and fiber {source}.

Healthy Mint Breakfast "Milkshake"
Serves two.

2 frozen bananas {sliced}
3+ cups raw spinach
10 mint leaves
2 Medjool dates {pitted}
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cups vanilla unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend and enjoy!