Friday, March 27, 2015

Speedy Treadmill Workout + Shamrock Shuffle Updates.

I woke up this morning to an inch or two of lake effect snow on the ground, temperatures in the 20s and reports of icy roads on WBEZ. Needless to say, the run I had planned on meeting a friend for did not happen. Thankfully I have a few treadmill workouts in my pocket for days like this. Even though it's almost April, icy sidewalks are still a threat sometimes. This is spring in the Midwest!

The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k is on Sunday so I hope Mother Nature shapes up over the next 48 hours. As an NBC Chicago Stride blog contributor, I had the exciting opportunity to interview an elite runner recently with the Nike Oregon Track Club, Alexi Pappas. She is a 2016 Olympic hopeful and is running the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday. Alexi holds the #1 bib in the race. Check out my Q&A with Alexi on NBC Chicago Stride!

A few more quick Shamrock Shuffle updates:
  • Sign up for NBC Chicago's team (it's free!) NBC Chicago has several employees running the race. Two runners, Zoraida Sambolin and Kye Martin, are participating in the "Run for TODAY" competition. If they win, they will travel to New York to run another race and anchor from the Today Show plaza. Winners are determined by how many people they can get to join their team in a local race. If any of you are registered for the Shuffle, or know other people who are running, consider signing up! All you have to do is fill out this online form, nothing else is required. I'm on the team!
  • Take a running selfie to be featured on NBC Chicago. Are you planning to take a running selfie at the race on Sunday? If so, send it to NBC Chicago for their photo gallery. Check out the details here. Use the hashtag #ShamrockSelfie or email photos to
  • Log your race miles with Nike+. Nike is running a race promotion on Sunday with the chance to win an entry to the marathon! All runners who log the Shamrock Shuffle race using the Nike+ app, make their final mile the fastest, and share on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #shamrockshuffleFF have the chance to receive an automatic entry to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dark Chocolate {Black Bean} Brownie Bites.

On this chilly spring Monday, I have a new {healthier} dessert recipe to share that comes at a perfect time. Perfect because today is my birthday - what better way to celebrate than to share mini dark chocolate brownie bites with you?

These brownies have a secret healthy ingredient, because they contain an entire can of black beans. Pureed black beans work well as a flour and butter substitute - and I swear you can't taste the beans! I also included a few Tablespoons of coconut oil to add healthy fats to this dessert. Most 'regular' brownie recipes call for at least one cup of white sugar. I added only 1/3 cup of brown sugar by using cherries for natural sweetening. You can't taste the cherry flavor, but it adds extra moisture and sweetness to the brownies.

These brownies also include two new {to me} ingredients - Droste cocoa powder and Just Cashew Meal from Trader Joe's. Droste was founded in the late 1800's as a confectionary in Holland. I wanted to use a higher quality cocoa powder for this recipe, and I found Droste at my regular grocery store. However, any pure/raw cocoa powder will work! You can also use any type of nut meal for these brownies. The cashew meal I used helped the finished brownies bind together with a delicious nutty flavor.

I made this batch in a mini muffin tin to create small, bite-sized brownies. These brownies freeze well in a covered container - they are also delicious microwaved for just a few seconds and topped with almond butter!

Dark Chocolate {Black Bean} Brownie Bites

Makes 24 mini brownies.

15 oz. can black beans {rinsed and drained}
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 eggs
1 cup frozen dark cherries
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup cashew meal
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

How to~
*Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
*Rinse and drain the beans.
*Defrost the cherries for ~3 minutes in the microwave. Drain the excess liquid.
*Add beans and coconut oil to a food processor; process for ~20 seconds.  Add defrosted cherries. Process until blended.
*Add the pureed mixture to a stand mixer. Mix in the eggs, brown sugar, cocoa powder, almond extract, baking powder and salt. 
*Use a medium cookie scoop to add brownie batter to a well-greased mini muffin tin.
*Bake for ~22 minutes. 

{Adapted from recipes by Taste of Home and Minimalist Baker}