Friday, February 28, 2014

Marinara Meatloaf + February workouts.

Did you know today is the last day of 'meteorological winter'? It's still freezing outside here {yet it's in the upper 20s now, a heatwave!} and we are supposed to get snow all weekend. I thought today would be the perfect time for a favorite healthy meatloaf recipe made with marinara sauce and quinoa as the binder, instead of the usual breadcrumbs and eggs. Not that there's anything wrong with tasty breadcrumbs and eggs!

Posting this recipe is another example for me of why meatloaf is not the most beautiful thing to photograph - I got a new camera for Christmas and I'm still trying to figure it out.

Marinara Meatloaf
1 pound extra lean ground turkey
3/4 cup marinara sauce + 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/3 cup dry quinoa
2/3 cup chicken broth

How to~
Rinse the quinoa thoroughly and cook in chicken broth according to package directions. Mix the ground turkey, marinara, seasonings, and quinoa together. Top the meatloaf with 1/4 cup marinara sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for ~50 minutes, until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

I shared my January workouts last month, and I'm planning to do the same at the end of each month. Even though the mileage is nothing to get a trophy for {ha} it still works as one kind of motivation. I need all I can get with this cold and ice keeping me inside on the treadmill.

 {Calendar image via Oh So Lovely}

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Week 1 Endurance Challenge + Interval Treadmill Workout.

How is your week going? I realized this morning that the first week of the endurance challenge is over! I was busy and missed the maintenance run last week, but I'm hoping to make up for it in week two. Here are the stats:

Week 1
Sunday: Ran 4 miles {long run}
Tuesday: Sculpt Class
Saturday: Ran 3.2 miles {intervals}

I also want to share a few things I found yesterday:

*Favorite recipe {I made this last night and it was delicious!} How to Carmelize Onions - The Kitchn

*Favorite app {I haven't allowed myself to buy any yet this year...} Finally - The Girl Scout Cookie Finding App of Your Dreams - Jezebel

*Favorite workout tips {I have been experiencing lower back pain once in awhile, and this is a good reminder to take a break} 5 Good Reasons To Go For A Less Intense Workout - HuffPost Healthy Living

Speaking of a less intense workout, here is a quick, 35 minute treadmill run of intervals. I'm starting to burn out on using the treadmill so I'm making an effort to mix things up.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Half Acre + Three Floyds event.

Last week K and I attended a beer collaboration event at a favorite Chicago brewery, Half Acre Beer Company. The collaboration was with Three Floyds Brewing out of Indiana. K's favorite beer is Zombie Dust from Three Floyds with Half Acre beer options a close second, so we had to go. That night also happened to be the three year anniversary of us meeting - and we have been married for almost 8 months!

There were four beers available at the event, and the collaboration beer was Shewolf, an American IPA-style beer. We both really liked it and bought a few bottles to take home. The event allowed us to hang out inside the brewery all evening and dine on a bento box filled with tasty Asian inspired eats from Chef Bill Kim.

I didn't start enjoying interesting craft beers until after I finished law school, moved to the city, and started sampling local beer options, but I'm so glad I finally saw the light. There is a long list of breweries in Chicago that we still need to try - the countdown is on for summer patio time.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Raw Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bars.

This recipe for Raw Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bars is a "clean eating" dessert with no added sugars and no baking required.

I love eating LARABARS, but they are a pricey snack and sometimes hard to find. My favorite part is the short ingredient list - I've been trying to avoid processed foods lately in an effort to eat "cleaner". A few weeks ago I picked up a giant container of medjool dates at CostCo for only $6, and I've been wanting to try making homemade bars. It finally happened!

These are more of a dessert bar, with a brownie / "frosting" topping. The base comes together quickly in a food processor with dates, almonds, and a small amount of cherry juice.

There are no added sugars in this recipe, since I used unsweetened cocoa powder, raw almonds, and no-sugar-added almond butter. These bars can be stored in the freezer after they are set {and they are delicious to eat straight from the freezer, no thawing necessary!}

Raw Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bars
Makes 12 square bars.

Base Crust~
1 cup pitted medjool dates
1 cup mixed raw almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 Tablespoons cherry juice {from the thawed cherries}

Brownie Topping~
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tablespoons unsweetened almond butter
1/3 cup tart cherries {frozen}

How to~
    • Cook frozen cherries in a saucepan on medium low until thaw. Drain of all liquid, setting aside two Tablespoons for the crust.
      • Mix together base crust ingredients in a food processor, starting with the almonds. Once the almonds are well chopped, add all other base ingredients and process. 
        • Grease a glass 9x12 pan {I used butter}. Spread base crust evenly in the pan and press down with a fork.
          • Mix brownie topping ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread evenly over base crust.
            • Cover pan in aluminum foil and freeze for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator for an additional hour, or overnight. Freeze leftovers.


              {Adapted from Raw Vegan Fudge Brownies on POPSUGAR Social}

              Sunday, February 16, 2014

              6 Week Endurance Challenge.

              I came across an article on Pinterest on How to Double Your Endurance in 6 Weeks while running, from the Active website. Runners World has a similar plan. Both encourage running three days per week to avoid injury, utilizing different types of runs to increase speed and endurance.

              I have a few races coming up this spring, including an 8k at the end of March, a 5k in early May, and a 10 mile race at the end of May. Completing a 6 week challenge is perfect timing to get ready for the 8k and build up a base of solid running to prepare for 10 mile race training. Most of these runs will be on a treadmill but I'm hoping to start running outside again in mid-March, once the sidewalks are clear of ice and we hit 40 degrees regularly {balmy!} This challenge makes me very excited for spring.

              Compared to many other running / fitness blogs I'm a reader of, this looks like a conservative running plan. But, as a casual runner who does races for fun and motivation, it's perfect for me. I'm planning to post progress from the previous week every Monday.

              Runners World has a helpful explanation of different types of runs. These are the three I chose to focus on during this challenge:

              Maintenance run - a run at your 'regular' pace, to maintain fitness.

              Interval run - a run with short sprints followed by a slower recovery jog, to increase speed.

              Long run - a slower paced run, to increase distance endurance.

              Friday, February 14, 2014

              Happy Valentines Day + Banana Cherry Muffins

              Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you have a day full of love from yourself and people in your life - whether it be your friends, family, significant other, or children. I'm sharing a short list of things I am loving this week in honor of the day, including a new healthy muffin recipe - Banana Cherry Muffins. K and I are celebrating by going out to dinner tonight at a new 'farm to table' restaurant in a neighborhood we don't visit often.

              Love #1: A funny valentine. I love a good farm joke.

               {image via Pinterest, from scribbler}

              Love #2: This stir fry tutorial from theKitchn - How to Stir-Fry Chicken. This recipe made a quick and delicious weeknight dinner this week.

              Love #3: The song Ho Hey by The Lumineers. Because it's my wedding first dance song, and I still can't listen to it enough.

              {image via Pinterest, from Ritzy Bee Blog}

              Love #4: 10 Smart Food Swaps for a Healthy Heart. Sharing since this month is the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month.

               {image via we heart it}

              Love #5: A new healthy muffin recipe with no butter or oil - and tart cherries frozen from last summer in Door County. I can't wait to be back in the orchard again!

              Banana Cherry Muffins
              Yields: 1 dozen muffins

              1 cup white flour
              1 cup whole wheat flour
              1/2 cup brown sugar
              1/2 cup apple sauce
              1 cup tart cherries
              2 ripe bananas
              2 eggs
              1 teaspoon baking soda
              1 teaspoon vanilla
              1/4 teaspoon salt

              How to~
              *Mix dry ingredients in a bowl - flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
              *If your cherries are frozen {like mine were}, make sure you drain them of extra liquid before adding to the muffins. {I added mine to a pan on medium low and cooked them for ~5 minutes until they were no longer frozen}. Drain and discard the juice from the cherries and set aside.
              *Mix the wet ingredients in a mixer on low - eggs, bananas, vanilla and applesauce.
              *Add the dry ingredients slowly, mixing only to combine. Stir in the cherries.
              *Bake at 350 degrees in greased muffin tins or cups for ~20 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.

              {Adapted from Peanut Butter Runner's recipe for Easy and Healthy Banana Muffins}

              Tuesday, February 11, 2014

              Chicago Skiing + Green Smoothie Base Recipe.

              I went cross-country skiing this past weekend {in Chicago!} The Chicago Park District rents cross-country skis and snowshoes for a few weeks in January and February at Northerly Island, near the Museum Campus and Soldier Field. It's only $5 for a two hour rental.

              Please excuse the marshmallow coat {it was 15 degrees...} Northerly Island is a peninsula that goes out into Lake Michigan with beautiful views of the skyline and lake, at close to 100 acres in size. Adler Planetarium is located on the peninsula. I learned the area was originally built up for the second World's Fair, held in Chicago in the 1930s. It previously held a small private airport until the mid 90s. Today, it hosts a concert venue and there is a long-term plan to create a nature/ecology learning experience.

              The skyline was gorgeous - even though it was a very gray {and snowy} day. The ice on Lake Michigan was the craziest I've seen since living in the city. It was endless and you couldn't see open water with the naked eye. Huge ice chunks have built up against the shoreline, in a beautiful icy blue color.

              I have one more cold thing to share this morning - my green smoothie base recipe. I have been drinking one of these almost every morning lately, willing spring to arrive! You can mix this up by subbing any frozen fruit for the ice cubes, changing the type / flavor of yogurt, or using a different nut butter.

              Green Smoothie Base Recipe
              2 handfuls spinach
              1 Tablespoon almond butter
              1 cup almond milk {I use 'original'}
              1 banana
              1/4 cup yogurt {I use lowfat vanilla}
              4 ice cubes

              Friday, February 7, 2014

              Mexican Frittata.

              Happy Friday! I'm so excited the weekend is almost here. Since I am trying to make the best of winter this month, we are going cross-country skiing on Northerly Island tomorrow morning with friends {fingers crossed for beautiful skyline views, I'll report back!}

              Speaking of winter, Huffington Post has a hilarious letter I need to share: An Open Letter To Slushy Corners, The Absolute Worst Part Of Winter.

              My favorite line: It was three days ago now that a large rodent named Phil informed, nay, threatened us, with six weeks more of your frozen resolve to wreak havoc on our socks, leggings and non-rubberized footwear.

              Ha! Anyways. If you need a light recipe to keep you a little warmer this weekend, I highly recommend making this frittata. I adapted this from one of my first recipes on this blog, a light Tomato Frittata with kale and chicken.

              This version is vegetarian and includes black beans, tomatoes, and lots of cilantro. I topped my slices with smashed avocado - making an easy "guac" by mixing a bit of lime juice and salt in.

              Mexican Frittata
              Makes 8 frittata slices; serves 2, with leftovers.

              4 whole eggs
              4 egg whites
              2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
              1/4 yellow onion {chopped}
              1/2 cup Mexican-blend shredded cheese
              1 cup grape tomatoes {sliced}
              1/3 cup black beans {rinsed and drained}
              1/3 cup skim milk
              1/4 cup cilantro {chopped}
              1/2 tsp baking soda
              1/4 teaspoon salt
              1/4 teaspoon black pepper
              1/2 an avocado {sliced, smashed, mixed with salt and lime juice!}

              How to~
              Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating, chop the onion and saute in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Chop the cilantro and slice the tomatoes. Whisk eggs, milk, baking soda, salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese, cooked onions, tomatoes, black beans, and cilantro. Carefully pour this mixture into a well-buttered or sprayed tart/pie dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The frittata is done with a fork come outs clean, and the top is lightly brown. 

              Wednesday, February 5, 2014

              20-30-10 Apartment Workout.

              I have a rough time doing push-ups and planks. I have weak arms, and I'm a wuss about it. I go to a 'sculpt' class once a week that uses only your body weight for an hour workout and often through tabata training, and it kills me every time. I have been going to this class for seven months now and I still feel like jello the next day!

              I think the jello feeling keeps coming back week after week because the only other workouts I do involve running, and even that has been hard to fit in over the past few weeks. This winter has not been very motivating. I can't wait to start a training plan for spring races - I'm going to share next week.

              In the meantime, I'm planning to make an effort in February to add an extra 'sculpt' workout on my own every week - ideally after a run. I live on a second floor apartment with neighbors below, so any moves involving hopping or jumping are out for me. That makes it hard to do a lot of the workouts I see on Pinterest at home. But, I've got one to share today that will do some sculpting without the jumps.

              Monday, February 3, 2014

              Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bowl.

              Did you dine on any buffalo sauce-flavored snacks for the Super Bowl? I didn't, but I have a healthy version of a 'buffalo' recipe to share to make up for it! This Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bowl is an easy way to get your buffalo sauce fix with protein-packed quinoa and crunchy veggies {carrots + celery}.

              One of my favorite places to grab a healthy lunch while working downtown during the week is Protein Bar. I usually get either a Buffalo Bowl with tofu or a protein smoothie. Before trying the buffalo-flavored bowl, I was never a huge fan of 'buffalo sauce' or foods flavored with hot sauce. I don't like eating chicken wings because they're so messy {I know...} and I didn't grow up in a family that kept hot sauce in the fridge.

              However, I'm a hot sauce convert with this dish! I used Frank's Buffalo Sauce, but I think any favorite buffalo sauce will work.

              This dish has only a few ingredients, including crunchy celery and carrots, blue cheese, chicken, and quinoa, but it's packed with flavor.

              This turned out to be a delicious copycat recipe of the Protein Bar Buffalo Bowl. I tried to keep the use of cheese light in this recipe, and you can use less sauce to lower the sodium count, if needed.

              Make this dish for yourself and a friend ASAP!

              Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bowl
              Yields: 2 servings

              1 cup chicken broth
              1/2 cup quinoa
              2 stalks celery
              2 carrots
              1 cup shredded chicken {I used rotisserie}
              4 Tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
              2 Tablespoons blue cheese, plus 2 teaspoons for serving

              How to~ 
              *Rinse quinoa with water and drain. Bring quinoa and chicken broth to a boil; simmer until water is evaporated and quinoa is fluffy {about 15 minutes}. Add extra water and keep simmering if needed. *While the quinoa is cooking, chop the celery and shred the carrots.
               *Once the quinoa is done, mix the chicken, buffalo sauce, celery and carrots. Add 2 Tablespoons of blue cheese.
              *Top each bowl with a small sprinkle of blue cheese before serving.

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