Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chai Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats + Weekly Workouts

How was your weekend? We had the biggest pre-Thanksgiving snow in the Chicago area in over 100 years - 11 inches according to the official recording at O'Hare Airport. In the city we had less than half of that in accumulation, but it was still way too much for me. I made the most of it by cooking up a batch of Chai Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats overnight on Friday, so we could enjoy a warm breakfast while watching the snow.

This Chai Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats recipe would also be perfect for a healthy family breakfast before Thanksgiving this week. It only takes a few minutes to mix the ingredients, and I love that it cooks overnight and is ready to go when you wake up. Keep this in your recipe file for winter mornings that look like this:

Pass the spoon!

I used a new chai spice blend that I picked up a few weeks ago from Savory Spice Shop in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. This chai spice includes cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, star anise, allspice, and bay leaves.

You can also make your own if you don't have chai spice in your cupboard - the DIY Chai Spice Mix recipe from Fit Foodie Finds sounds delicious!

Chai Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats
Yields: 6 servings

1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 teaspoons chai spice seasoning
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

How to~
*Cook on LOW in a slow cooker / crock pot for 6-8 hours.
*Keep leftovers refrigerated. Reheat each oatmeal serving for one minute with 1/4 cup almond or regular milk. and stir well.

Today also marks the end of week three of the November Fitness Challenge. Earlier this month, I posted about the Nike Get Out Here Contest and my November Fitness Challenge. Nike is challenging athletes to "Get Out Here" this winter as the season changes and we are tempted to hibernate indoors. I'm also challenging myself to "Get Out Here" with five workouts per week in November, outdoors as much possible.

I didn't get outside as much as I would have liked, but I'm hoping to fit in several runs outdoors runs in the final challenge week. Here are my week 3 workouts:

Wednesday, 11/18: Ran 3.1 miles
Thursday, 11/19: 45 minute Cardio Barre class; ran 2 miles
Saturday, 11/21: 20 Minute Home Bodyweight Workout
Sunday, 11/22: 1 hour Pilates class; 3 mile walk

Did you workout this weekend? What's the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Affiliate link:

Friday, November 20, 2015

24 Hours in Door County

In October, K and I visited Door County in Wisconsin for a long weekend. I have posted about Door County a few times on this blog. Over the summer, we spent a week up north with family and ran the Door County Hairpin 5k Race. This fall we ran the Run Wild Quarter Marathon in Sturgeon Bay. We got married in Door County a few years ago and it remains our favorite place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Door County is located on a peninsula in northeastern Wisconsin, surrounded by Green Bay and Lake Michigan. We spend most of our time in "Nordoor" - the northern half of Door County. We try to visit at least a few weekends every year, since K's parents have a vacation home in the area. I have a huge list of my favorite places - today I'm sharing my top choices for 24 hours in Door County.

8:30 am - Breakfast at Base Camp Coffee Shop

The best coffee on the peninsula can be found at Base Camp Coffee Shop. I always get an almond milk latte, either hot or iced.

You can find an amazing selection of French-inspired breakfast treats {and lunch} at this delicious cafe. My favorite thing to order is the house-made hazelnut granola yogurt parfait, but I'm partial to quiche if the weather is cool. During the winter, you can rent shoe-shoes and cross-country skis from Base Camp. Base Camp is open daily at 7:30 am.

Base Camp Coffee Shop is located at 10904 Highway 42, Sister Bay, WI.

10:00 am - Hiking at Newport State Park

After lingering over your coffee and breakfast, head further north to Newport State Park for a morning hike. Newport State Park is over 2,300 acres in size, located near the tip of the Door County Peninsula. It's also Wisconsin's only designated wilderness park. My favorite trail for a hike is the Rowley's Bay loop trail, totaling 4 miles.

Other outdoor activities at this park include off-road biking, camping, swimming, and snow-shoeing. Don't miss the beautiful lake views during and after hiking! Find more information on trails here.

Newport State Park is located at 475 County Highway NP, Ellison Bay, WI. Note: A vehicle admission sticker is required.

12:30 pm - Lunch at Door County Creamery

Door County Creamery is a dairy farm and creamery, with a cafe featuring amazing sandwiches and treats to take home. I always pick up a few bars of goat's milk soap and flavored goat cheese {wild ramp is my favorite}.

Owners Jesse and Rachael started making cheese in 2010, and opened their cafe and shop in summer 2013 {read more history here}. The Creamery also has a dinner + wine menu, and the best goat's milk gelato {my favorite flavor is lemon cookie - crazy good}. Stop here for lunch after your hike! If the weather is nice, you can dine outdoors and pet one of the goats on your way out.

Door County Creamery is located at 10655 North Highway 42, Sister Bay, WI.

2:00 pm - Shopping

Take a walk after lunch to check out a few shopping spots in Sister Bay. On Deck Clothing Company is down the block from Door County Creamery, selling women's and men's clothing as well as Door County-themed gear. I picked up a few sweaters on our trip.

Walk down the street Ecology Sports, located above the Base Camp Coffee Shop. Don't miss stopping at Sister Bay Marina on your way to check out the beautiful water views. Ecology Sports has a wonderful selection of outdoor and active wear. I purchased a new coat and scarf, and new running gear for cold weather - SmartWool socks and a head warmer.

On Deck is located at 10635 N. Bay Shore Drive, Sister Bay, WI. Ecology Sports is located at 19094 Highway 42, Sister Bay, WI.

3:30 pm - Visit Seaquist Orchards Farm Market

After walking around Sister Bay to shop, get back in the car and drive to Seaquist Orchards, 2 miles north of Sister Bay. Seaquist is my favorite cherry orchard and they have amazing cherry products. You can't miss the cherry pie and dried cherries. I always pick up several containers of cherry pie filling to bring home {I actually have big plans for a dessert recipe for Friendsgiving this weekend - coming soon}.

Seaquist Orchard products are locally grown and processed - they also have an apple orchard, and the best apple cider. The orchard has just under 1,000 acres of tart cherries, a few acres of sweet cherries, as well and apples and pears. You can also shop for products online.

Seaquist Orchards Farm Market is located at 11482 Highway 42, Sister Bay, WI.

5:00 pm - Cider Tasting and Island Orchard Cider

You might be ready for a nap at this point, but stay with me! You can't miss a free cider tasting at the Island Orchard Cider Tasting Room in Ellison Bay.

Island Orchard Cider is a gluten free, hard cider with a tasting room and bottles of cider for sale. Island Orchard started with an apple farm located on Washington Island {off the northern tip of Door County}. They create a French Normandy-style cider, which is dry and not overly sweet {my favorite}. According to Island Orchard Cider, French hard ciders are known for their champagne-like qualities. You can also find Island Orchard Cider for sale at a variety of stores throughout Wisconsin - search for a store here.

Island Orchard Cider is located at 12040 Garrett Bay Road, Ellison Bay, WI.

7:30 pm - Dinner at Wickman House

Finish your day with dinner at Wickman House in Ellison Bay. The farm-to-table restaurant is located inside a beautiful 3 story house, on over 4 acres of land. The house was built by Andrew Wickman for his family in 1872, and was re-imagined as a gorgeous restaurant in 2012. Wickman House serves dinner Thursday - Saturday nights, and brunch on Sundays. Check out the dinner menu here. {Hint: My favorite dish is Rushing Waters Trout!} Wickman House is popular, so I recommend making a reservation online in advance.

Wickman House is located at 11976 Mink River Road, Ellison Bay, WI.


There are many wonderful places to stay in Door County - we stay with K's family, but since we got married in the area there are several hotels I can recommend. Gordon Lodge in Baileys Harbor; Pheasant Park Resort in Sister Bay; Birchwood Lodge in Sister Bay; and Scandinavian Lodge in Sister Bay.

On your way out of town, don't miss a stop at Koepsel's Farm Market for pure maple syrup, fresh ground almond butter, and a huge selection of jams, salsa and cheese. We picked up all of the above, as well as caramel apples for the road and a bottle of New Glarus Cherry Ale to share with friends. Koepsel's also features a really neat antique store, connected to the farm market.

Koepsel's Farm Market is located at 9669 WI-57, Baileys Harbor, WI.

Have you visited Door County? What's your favorite relaxing vacation spot?