Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cranberry Recipe Roundup + Healthy Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins.

When I think about Thanksgiving, the main dishes come to mind - turkey, buttery mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and cranberries. Perhaps as a sauce for your turkey, or in a chilled cranberry salad. My huge family gathering {over 40 people!} usually includes one of those cool whip + fresh cranberry concoctions as a side dish, and cranberry sauce in a dish somewhere. I have to admit I usually don't go for either cranberry offering. The jelly-like canned version of cranberry sauce is too strange, and I would rather save my whipped topping fix for the pies!

However you use them, including cranberries is one way to pack a healthy ingredient into an otherwise decadent holiday meal. Cranberries are full of antioxidants, as well as Vitamin C and fiber. These red beauties are actually a "superfood" that should be enjoyed year-round. In the spirit of Thanksgiving week, I compiled a cranberry recipe round-up from other bloggers. Perhaps your family is still looking for a new recipe to add to the table this year, or you will be inspired to try one of these to get your cranberry fix after the big event on Thursday. I also have a new cranberry recipe to share as part of this round-up, for a healthy breakfast treat or snack - Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful week!


Cranberry Apple Walnut Stuffing from Thrifty Jinxy:


Splash O'Port Cranberry Relish from BonBon Break:


Cranberry Orange Quinoa Salad from Gal on a Mission:


Shredded Brussel Sprouts Salad {with cranberries!} from The Kitchen is My Playground:


Cranberry Vinaigrette from Healthy Seasonal Recipes:


Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Bread with Cranberries from Andrea Meyers:


Acorn Squash with Cornbread Sausage Stuffing from The Farm Girl Gabs:


Last but not least, below is a new recipe for healthy muffins packed with dried cranberries - the oil and butter normally in a baked good is substituted with pumpkin puree and applesauce, and lower sugar is made up for by using pure maple syrup.


Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Ingredients~
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup {I used Grade A from Wisconsin}
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

How to~
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.
*In a separate bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and applesauce until smooth.
*Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to make a smooth batter.
*Spoon batter into muffin cups or a greased muffin tin. Bake for ~25-30 minutes.

{Adapted from Taste of Home's Apple Pumpkin Muffins}

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Q&A with Factor 75.

{I was not compensated to write this post and all opinions are my own. I received four free meals from Factor 75 to facilitate my review. This post contains affiliate links to the Chicago Jogger Landing Page, which means I receive credit if you purchase meals using the CHICAGOJOGGER code. Look for details below - thanks for supporting the companies I believe in!}
 
As the busy holiday season nears, I'm expecting all of us will have less time to cook. A local Chicago company, Factor 75, contacted me last month to see if I would be interested in tasting and reviewing a few healthy meals from their delivery service. Factor 75 meals are fresh, not frozen, and ready to eat or go into the fridge for another day. This was my first experience with a meal delivery service and it was an easy process! The meals arrived right on time, packed in a box with ice.

  
I ordered four meals for K and I to try, including Butternut Squash Lasagna, Pumpkin/Apple Hash with Chicken Sausage, Chicken Fajitas, and a Taco Bowl. All of the meals we tried were delicious, but my absolute favorite was the squash lasagna. Butternut squash is a fall staple in our house, and this version was cooked perfectly, paired with marinara, ground turkey, and spinach as a hearty lasagna. Factor 75 meals are intended as individual servings. However, the chicken fajitas ended up extending to two meals for me when K was out of town for work travel, with the addition or corn tortillas and extra avocado. Healthy fats! Check out this week's menu here.


Factor75 currently delivers to the whole state of Illinois, including the Chicagoland area. The company is developing plans to expand regionally in the Midwest in the next few months. Enter your zip code here to see whether the company delivers to your area. If you're interested in checking out Factor 75, you can get one free meal with the purchase of five items. Click here to check out the Chicago Jogger landing page - enter the code CHICAGOJOGGER to get your free meal. Purchasing any combination of five items qualifies you for a free meal {buy five, get one free!} - even breakfast and snacks.
 
Factor 75 is located in the neighborhood Pilsen, with a new kitchen in Northbrook, IL. I am impressed by Factor 75's tasty offerings and the company's dedication to healthy meals for busy people. The company even has an eBook: FiveSteps to Optimal Nutrition. I asked company founder Nick Wernimont to answer a few questions for readers, to provide additional background and throw my support behind a growing local company.

Q&A with Factor 75's Nick Wernimont

How was Factor 75 founded?
I had a full time job and was an MMA fighter so between 8-10 hour work days and 3-5 hours training a day I didn’t have time to eat healthy or make my own meals.  My body broke down after a short time.  Fortunately a trainer of mine introduced me to a personal chef who worked with athletes and she started making my meals for me.  The difference it made was incredible and almost immediate.  I had no idea how big of an impact what you put into your body was as to what you got out of it.  I found the biggest factor that impacted my performance, both physically and mentally, was food.

I immediately wished I had discovered nutrition earlier. I thought more people should know how it feels to walk around every day with the type of energy, focus and motivation that I did only from a change in how I ate. People are busy, though and most can't afford a personal chef. So I dropped everything and started working on a way to make it happen for them anyway.

Factor 75 isn’t about dieting. It is about Performance Eating. We want to help our customers eat optimally so they can perform at their best and get the absolute most out of their precious time. Whether you’re a marathoner, a tri-athlete, a cage-fighter; or a busy professional looking to perform better at work, a mom or dad looking to get more out of the time you have with your family, eating better means living better.

What is Factor 75's mission and inspiration? 
We believe people should spend their time creating moments that matter.  That life is not valued in number of years, but quality of moments you create. Our mission is to help people eat better so they can live better.

Our inspiration comes from our community.  These are people who lead by example, people who are always striving to improve and want to perform their best no matter the activity they choose.  They are athletes, professionals, mom’s and dad’s, anyone really who is passionate about living life to the fullest.  We respect that and are here to serve them. 

How often do your menu items change, and what inspires the changes?  
We add new dishes to our menu weekly, sometimes bi-weekly.  It depends on if we believe we have a dish that fits ours and our customers expectations.  The inspirations come from our entire team and our customers.  We all sit down and ask ourselves what dishes Mom and Grandma made that we would love to eat more often and can make healthy.  We take the dishes we all love and re-engineer them with healthier ingredients.  The result is comfort food that not only taste great but is incredibly nutritious.

Does Factor 75 use seasonal and/or local ingredients? 
Yes. We use a lot of seasonal ingredients as we rotate the menu through the year.  All of our ingredients are organic and whenever possible we use local farms to source them. 

What types of meals are available?
We have recently revamped our menu so there has been some changes.  All of our dishes are now Gluten-Free, Soy-Free and 100% Organic.  A lot of our menu is also Paleo.  We had vegetarian options but recently removed them for the time being.  Our nutrition philosophy does include animal protein and fat so we have taken them off.

What is the service area in Chicago?  
We currently serve anywhere in the state of Illinois.

How can Factor 75 help a busy lifestyle?
The average American spends 2.5 hours a day sourcing their meals.   Often these meals have very poor nutrition and frankly, taste like crap.  We save you 2.5 hours a day, delivery delicious meals that make you feel awesome.  Simple enough…

For more information about Factor 75, check out their blog and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!