Monday, September 28, 2015

The Pumpkin Batch Review + Pumpkin Latte Smoothie

As we reach October later this week, pumpkin season will be in full swing everywhere you look. I finally picked up a few pumpkins this past weekend, for decor around the house and outdoors. I also spent time sampling a box of pumpkin-themed items from The Pumpkin Batch and created a new coffee-themed breakfast smoothie {recipe at the end of this post}.

I received the first box from The Pumpkin Batch late last week to review and I'm in love! Full disclosure: I received the September box for free to review - all opinions and text are my own.

The Pumpkin Batch is a monthly pumpkin subscription box that launched in September. I found out about The Pumpkin Batch on Instagram in August and immediately sent an email asking for a box to review.

The company was kind enough to offer readers a special discount: Enter the coupon code chicagojogger15 at checkout by October 10, 2015 for 15% off the first month's subscription.

If you love everything pumpkin, this subscription is for you. From coffee, to sweet treats, to a few items for the home, I love the assortment of goodies that came in my first box. The Pumpkin Batch also provides extra information on each company included in the box. I fully support their choice to select products from local companies, such as the Pumpkin Maple Scone above from the bakery Eat Sweet Treats in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania {The Pumpkin Batch is based in Pennsylvania}.

The box also included delicious Pumpkin Spice Caramels from Avenue Sweets in Salt Lake City, Utah and an instant pumpkin-chocolate muffin from Kodiak Cakes in Park City, Utah. P.S.: Kodiak Cakes was featured on the show Shark Tank, and their products are now available for purchase!

This pumpkin ornament is now hanging in my kitchen, from Primitives by Kathy. It's also available in The Pumpkin Batch online store.

I'm always looking for a pumpkin candle that doesn't smell too sweet, and this Pumpkin Spice Latte soy candle is perfect. The candle is from Copper & Kraft out of Syracuse, New York - find more products in their Etsy shop.

The last two items in the September box were coffee-themed {my favorite}: A #pumpkin mug and Pumpkin Spice ground coffee from Paramount Coffee in Lansing Michigan, both available in The Pumpkin Batch's online store.

For The Pumpkin Batch, "pumpkin season has no end" - boxes will be shipped year-round. As I mentioned above, if you're interested in subscribing, enter the coupon code chicagojogger15 at checkout by October 10, 2015 for 15% off the first month's subscription.

I wanted to create a recipe using one of the pumpkin treats as part of this review, and I came up with this Pumpkin Latte Smoothie using the Pumpkin Spice ground coffee on Sunday morning. If you love the flavor of pumpkin + coffee, this caffeinated breakfast smoothie is for you.

Pumpkin Latte Smoothie
Yields: 1 smoothie

1 frozen banana {sliced}
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup Pumpkin Spice brewed coffee {chilled}
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Optional ingredients~
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons vanilla yogurt

How to~
Blend in your blender until combined.

To find out more about The Pumpkin Batch, visit their website and follow the company on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fall 2015 Running Goals + Favorite Fall Recipes

It's officially fallll! A new season is a wonderful time to take a step back and think about what you want to accomplish in the next phase of the year. What's on your list for autumn 2015? I'm focusing my goals on running this season, since I have a few exciting races coming up and fall happens to be my favorite time of the year to run.

Fall 2015 Running Goals

1- Finish a travel race

In July, I finished my first out-of-town race with the Hairpin 5k in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Fish Creek is located in the heart of Door County. In a few weeks, K and I are headed up to Door County again for a long weekend to run the Run Wild Quarter Marathon. I'm crossing my fingers for peak color that week! The photo above was taken during peak color in Door County in 2013.

2- Run in the morning weekly

With evenings getting darker by the minute {sob}, I need to change my routine to incorporate morning runs. I'm going to start with a goal of meeting a friend once per week to run in the morning before work, with other runs in the early evening after work and on weekends.

3- Road trip trail run - Indiana Dunes

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is only a short drive from the city in Porter, Indiana. I'm planning a short day trip this fall to finish a trail run and check out the beautiful views of Lake Michigan from another viewpoint.

4- Complete one cross training workout per week

I'm guilty of not mixing up my routine often enough. I'll go weeks without doing anything except running, even though I know I should be lifting weights and incorporating other cross training into my life. A new fitness studio opened just a few blocks my house, and it's great motivation to mix things up. My goal is to finish one cross training workout each week, either by lifting weights or attending a group class.

Favorite Fall Recipes

Besides outdoor running, fall is also my favorite time of year to focus on what's in season. Below are a few of my favorite seasonal recipes from this blog.


Healthy Mini Pumpkin Pies

Pumpkin Chia Breakfast Cookies

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Bites


Apple Cider Muffins

Maple Apple Crisp for Two

Slow Cooker Apple Butter


Creamy Butternut Squash & Cauliflower Soup

Quinoa & Butternut Squash with Apple Cider

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pumpkin Chia Breakfast Cookies

Pumpkin Chia Breakfast Cookies are flourless and naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup. These cookies are paleo and perfect for a healthy fall breakfast or snack.

Even though the Autumnal Equinox is still a few days away, I couldn't wait to share another pumpkin recipe. Pumpkin Chia Breakfast Cookies are my new favorite {healthy} snack!

I came up with this recipe while thinking of new ways to incorporate chia seeds into my life. Chia seeds are a good source of fiber, omega-3 fats, and protein {source}. In this recipe, the seeds combine with pumpkin and pumpkin spice for a fall-happy breakfast cookie. I used coconut flour and almond butter for substance and pure maple syrup for sweetener, so the cookies are flourless, paleo, and gluten free.

There are so many ways to enjoy Pumpkin Chia Breakfast Cookies: crumbled over yogurt; as a side to morning coffee; and straight up for a late-night snack.

I also tested one batch with dark chocolate chips, which was the best idea ever, but I decided to leave the chocolate out for this version of a breakfast cookie. If you want to make these cookies more like dessert, add 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips {Ghirardelli is my favorite}.

Pumpkin Chia Breakfast Cookies
Yields: 18-20 cookies

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes {2 pans of cookies}
Total time: 40 minutes

1 cup pumpkin puree
4 Tablespoons almond butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
2/3 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

How to~
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Combine pumpkin puree, almond butter, maple syrup, and egg. Mix well. Add coconut flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until combined. Stir in chia seeds.
*Add batter to a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, using a medium cookie scoop for each cookie.
*Before baking, use either a drinking glass or a fork to lightly smash the cookies into a circular shape.
*Bake for ~16 minutes.
*Store in the refrigerator in a covered container or freeze.

Looking for more chia seed recipe ideas? Check out my recent recipe roundup - 15 Snack Recipes for Chia Seeds.

In the mood for more pumpkin recipes? Try my Healthy Pumpkin Spice Bites and Healthy Mini Pumpkin Pies.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Run 10 Feed 10 10k Training Plan

Fall is my favorite season to run due to cooler temperatures and the lack of humidity. Now that we have reached mid-September, the number of races I want to run in the coming months keeps getting longer! I have at least two coming up in October - a destination race in Door County {Wisconsin} on October 10th, the Run Wild Quarter Marathon, and the Run 10 Feed 10 10k race in Chicago on October 17th. The Run 10 Feed 10 10k race is one month from today, so I'm sharing my four week 10k training plan that starts tonight.

{Image courtesy of Women's Health magazine}

Run 10 Feed 10 is a partnership with Women's Health magazine and the FEED Foundation, a non-profit organization fighting hunger and malnutrition around the world. Run 10 Feed 10 races are held in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. As part of each race registration, ten meals are donated to those going hungry in the local community. The fourth annual Chicago Run 10 Feed 10 10k race takes place at Diversey Harbor on Saturday, October 17th at 8:00 am. I ran this race last year for the first time and loved it {full recap here}.

Are you interested in joining me to run the Chicago Run 10 Feed 10 10k race? Use the code R10F10PR for $5 off registration. Register for the race here.

There is also an opportunity to run your own Run 10 Feed 10 race to support this wonderful cause - find more information here.

4 Week 10k Training Plan*

Week 1:
  • Interval training class
  • Run 3.5 miles
  • Long run - 5 miles
  • Run 4 miles
Week 2:
  • Run 3 miles + hills
  • Run 4 miles
  • Long run - 6 miles
  • Yoga class
Week 3:
  • Run 5 miles
  • Run 3.5 miles + hills
  • Cross training (bike)
  • Long run - 7 miles
Week 4:
  • Run 5 miles
  • Run 3 miles - intervals
  • Yoga class
  • 10k race!

Here is the Pinterest version:

For additional training options, check out Run 10 Feed 10's beginner and intermediate training plans. Read more about Run 10 Feed 10 at

{Disclosure: I am a member of the Chicago VIP Team for the RUN10 FEED10 10k race. I received one free race registration in exchange for participating in this race. All text and opinions are my own.}

*Chicago Jogger is not a personal trainer or medical expert. The purpose of this post is to share a personal training plan that readers may find interesting. Please visit a doctor before starting any running or exercise plan. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Chicago Biking: Northerly Island Park

I biked to a new park on Sunday on the lakefront south of downtown Chicago and the Museum Campus - Northerly Island Park.

Northerly Island Park is located on a peninsula on Lake Michigan, covering over 90 acres. The Northerly Island Nature preserve officially opened in early September, with more than 40 acres dedicated to native plantings and migratory birds. It's an absolutely beautiful place!

K and I visited the nature preserve for the first time on bikes, finishing a 25 mile round trip ride. The nature preserve also includes a one-mile trail with rolling hills and views of the skyline that can't be missed.

Northerly Island Park is accessible by bike south of Adler Planetarium. The park begins just east of Soldier Field {1521 S. Linn White Drive}. Metered parking is also available at Burnham Park, or you can take public transit via Museum Campus routes.

The park also holds a lakefront concert venue, FirstMerit Bank Pavilion, offering a number of popular concerts. The 30th annual Farm Aid event takes place this coming weekend.

I took a ridiculous number of photos to capture the gorgeous skyline views and puffy clouds from Northerly Island. This park was originally the vision of the famous Chicago architect Daniel H. Burnham. Northerly Island was one of the sites for Chicago's second World's Fair in 1933-1934. The park has since enjoyed a colorful history, but it's wonderful to see it transformed back to its original intent as parkland.

There is also a small, sandy lakefront beach on Northerly Island - 12th Street Beach. It was quiet except for a few sailboats on Sunday afternoon, probably because everyone else was watching the Chicago Bears game!

K and I were happy to realize that 12th Street Beach offers a nice rest area with a concession stand {tacos!} and a place to chill for a few minutes if needed. We had a snack and finished the rest of our long ride home.

Until next time Northerly Island...

Friday, September 11, 2015

3 Ingredient BBQ Turkey Meatballs

This easy recipe for 3 Ingredient BBQ Turkey Meatballs is perfect for a healthier football appetizer this weekend. I used my favorite Chicago barbecue sauce - Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet & Spicy.

Happy Friday! It feels like this week flew by with one less work day than usual. The weather finally cooled off, and it's going to feel like serious football season around here with a high in the 60s all weekend. I'm not a huge sports fan these days, but in college I never missed a University of Iowa football game. This weekend happens to be the rivalry game for my alma mater vs. my husband's - Iowa vs. Iowa State.

{Image via}

At least we can agree on one thing during the game on Saturday - healthier party snacks!

I made this meatball recipe for dinner a few weeks ago to test it, and it passed with flying colors. It's super easy, with only three ingredients - lean ground turkey, your favorite barbecue sauce, and bread crumbs. I used Gillian's Plain {Original} Bread Crumbs, which are gluten free and made with rice flour, but any bread crumb will work.

If you can get it, try Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce in this recipe. Their Sweet & Spicy sauce is my absolute favorite. I think these meatballs will provide plenty of sustenance for football cheers.


3 Ingredient BBQ Turkey Meatballs
Yields: 28 meatballs

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

1 and 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey {I used 93/7% lean}
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup barbecue sauce + 2 Tablespoons

How to~
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Mix lean ground turkey, breadcrumbs, and 1/2 cup barbecue sauce.
*Form into balls with a medium cookie scoop. Round out the meatballs with your hands.
*Bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, brush meatballs with the remaining barbecue sauce.
*Bake for 5-10 more minutes.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Healthy Mini Pumpkin Pies

Healthy Mini Pumpkin Pies are perfect for breakfast, a light snack, or a healthy dessert. These pies have the same texture and flavor as traditional pumpkin pie, featuring unsweetened cashew milk, coconut flour, and maple syrup.

I got home late this afternoon from a weekend in Iowa, hanging out with family and celebrating my cousin's wedding at Prairie Moon Winery in Ames. Even though the final summer holiday is just drawing to a close and it's still almost 90 degrees outdoors tonight {yikes}, I couldn't wait any longer to share my first pumpkin recipe of the year.

A few weeks ago, Illinois declared pumpkin pie as the official state pie through legislation passed by the General Assembly. Illinois produces most of the pumpkin consumed in the U.S. {close to 85%}. To celebrate, obviously I had to create a healthier version of pumpkin pie as my first fall recipe this year! These Healthy Mini Pumpkin Pies are gluten free, dairy free, and contain no refined sugar since they are sweetened with pure maple syrup.

I baked these mini pies in a regular muffin tin with coconut flour, and the texture turned out exactly like traditional pumpkin pie. One of these pies would be delicious topped with vegan whipped cream for dessert. Gimme Some Oven's recipe for Coconut Whipped Cream looks insanely good!

Healthy Mini Pumpkin Pies
Yields: 20 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

1 can pumpkin puree {15 ounces}
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/4 cups cashew milk {unsweetened}
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

How to~
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Mix pumpkin puree, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and cashew milk. Add the dry ingredients: coconut flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined.
*Fill lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle cinnamon on the top of each mini pie.
*Bake for ~20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
*Keep refrigerated in a covered container. The pies will last chilled for up to one week.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lemon Coconut Pie Energy Bites

If you're searching for a healthy, summer-inspired snack, look no further than this recipe for no-bake Lemon Coconut Pie Energy Bites.

Even though the calendar turned over to September this week {eek!} I still have summer on my mind with the hot, humid days in the city over the past few days. I have a long list of fall recipes to try and hopefully share {read: pumpkin}, but I'll spare you until after the last summer holiday is over.

I love the tart, pucker-y flavor of lemon in any recipe, but most of all in recipes channeling my favorite desserts. I shared Meyer Lemon Snack Bars earlier this summer and Lemon Cream Pie Overnight Oats last spring. Lemon recipe number three is my favorite one yet - the combination of lemon + coconut can't be missed.

These are no bake, vegan, paleo, and gluten free energy bites that are sweet enough for an easy dessert on one of the last summer days.

Have a wonderful long weekend!

Lemon Coconut Pie Energy Bites
Yields: 14 energy bites

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
24 California dates {pitted}
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

How to~
*Add all ingredients to a food processor. Process the mixture a few times. Stop the processor and use a spatula to re-combine the mix if needed.
*Keep processing until the ingredients are evenly combined {I like to use the "pulse" function}.
*Remove from the food processor and use a medium cookie scoop and your hands to form the mix into balls.
*Refrigerate covered for at least 30 minutes to harden.
*Keep refrigerated in a covered container - these bites should last chilled for one week, and longer if frozen.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: This is a no bake recipe; chill the bites for 30 minutes before enjoying.
Total time: 35 minutes

For more no-bake healthy snack ideas, check out these recipes:
PB&J Energy Bites
Meyer Lemon Snack Bars
Healthy Pumpkin Spice Bites
Chocolate Strawberry Coconut Energy Bites
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Energy Bites
Key Lime Pie Energy Bites 

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