Wednesday, April 27, 2016

10 Asparagus Recipes for Spring

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables of the spring season, followed closely by rhubarb and ramps. Our rhubarb plant is growing like crazy this year and I can't wait to try a stalk in the next few weeks. Since asparagus is one of the first vegetables of spring, it will have to keep me content for now. Last week I requested recipes from fellow food bloggers, using asparagus as a healthy ingredient. I got so many delicious ideas! Asparagus is full of nutrients and antioxidants, and it's a natural diuretic {source}. Below are 10 asparagus recipes for spring, using the vegetable in a variety of ways.

Check out these wonderful food blogs by clicking on the recipe links below, or the direct link to each site.

from Taylor at Food Faith Fitness

from this blog

from Michelle at The Brooklyn Cook

from Kim at Three Olives Branch

from Dini at The Flavor Bender

from Lisa at Garlic + Zest

from Jacqui at Dishing Delish

from Charlene at That Girl Cooks Healthy

What's your favorite way to enjoy asparagus?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Flourless Carrot Cake Muffins

Good morning! I made a new muffin recipe for breakfast over the weekend that I couldn't wait a minute longer to share - Flourless Carrot Cake Muffins. These muffins are packed with carrots, use oat flour and almond flour, and are naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup.

This recipe is similar to the Flourless Carrot Cake Oat Bars I posted last fall, in muffin form. I love all of the flavors of spring, and creating a healthier carrot cake for breakfast is at the top of my list.

This recipe contains no traditional flour, so I started by creating my own oat flour - simply grind one cup of old fashioned oats in a food processor. It only takes seconds to come together. Food & Wine also has great tips on baking with oat flour.

I also used a small amount of almond flour, and the best carrot cake flavors: shredded carrots, coconut, golden raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.

Try one!

Flourless Carrot Cake Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

1 cup old fashioned oats {ground into flour}
1/4 cup almond flour
4 medium carrots {or 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots}
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 ripe bananas {mashed}
2 eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

How to~
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Mix wet ingredients - shredded carrots, coconut oil, bananas, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
*In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients - oat flour, almond flour, shredded coconut, baking soda, and spices.
*Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in golden raisins.
*Bake for 25 minutes.

{Adapted from Real Simple's recipe for Healthy Banana Bread}

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Friday Eats + Hiking in Tucson

I'm in Tucson for a long weekend to celebrate a friend's wedding, and I thought it would be fun to do a "Friday eats" post with a recap of one of our vacation days. It feels wonderful to be outside in temperatures above 75 degrees, especially hiking - there are so many outdoorsy options in Tucson!

We landed in Phoenix late on Wednesday night, and drove to Tucson on Thursday morning. We spent a lot of time outdoors on Thursday, including a visit to the top of Mt. Lemmon and a 4 mile hike. It's a gorgeous, one hour drive up to Mt. Lemmon, which stands at over 9,100 feet in elevation.

It was a cloudy day, but still beautiful. We finished a loop hike, including the Aspen Trail. There was a small climb in elevation - according to my Fitbit we climbed 116 flights over 4 miles. The Aspen Trail is located just outside of the small village of Summerhaven.

On Friday morning, we were up bright and early to get ready for a long hike {my body likes to stay on central time apparently - I have been waking up naturally at 4:45 am every day}. I started with an iced coffee from the cafe at our resort. Enjoyed outdoors on our balcony. I love the cacti in the background!

I also had a yogurt parfait from the coffee shop - lightly sweetened vanilla yogurt with berries and granola. I'm usually skeptical of pre-packaged breakfasts like this, but it was really good! Especially because the yogurt was only slightly sweet.

After breakfast, we picked up K's friend at his hotel and drove to Sabino Canyon for a long hike. The Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is located in Coronado National Forest, only a few minutes outside Tucson. After researching the best hikes in the area, we picked the Seven Falls Trail - an 8.2 mile loop that highlights a tall waterfall and natural pool. The hills were full of majestic cacti - I can't get enough of the southwest plant life.

I snacked on several handfuls of trail mix by the waterfall before hiking the long route back.

After finishing the hike in about 3.5 hours, we were starving and ready for lunch. We went to Whole Foods for a salad bar fix - I had kale and a quinoa mix with zucchini and sesame ginger dressing. On the side: dolma, falafel, and a hard boiled egg.

I couldn't leave without a treat: an iced almond milk latte for the road.

Plus a "Jumble Cookie" - basically walnuts and chocolate chips. The best.

After lunch, we ran a few errands and headed back to the resort to relax. I took a short nap + shower and met the rest of our friends at the pool until sunset.

We had a large group dinner on Friday night at Commoner & Co. {6960 E. Sunrise Drive} in Tucson. I highly recommend it if you're in town - the food was delicious. We shared appetizers, and I had scallops with celery root and parmesan risotto, orange fennel salad, and pumpkin seed pesto.

Not pictured: The insanely good strawberry shortcake ice cream sandwich that we shared for dessert. My stomach regretted those bites of ice cream, but it was worth it!

I'm awake bright and early again for a hike, and the wedding festivities begin late this afternoon. Have a great Saturday!

Have you visited Tucson before?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

2016 Shamrock Shuffle Race + Weekly Workouts

I started the road race season in Chicago today with many thousands of my running acquaintances - finishing the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k race. This year marks my fifth time running the Shamrock Shuffle. Even though the run takes place every year a few weeks past St. Patrick's Day, most people are still decked out in their best green running gear.

More than 23,000 runners finished the Shamrock Shuffle this year. I was in wave 2 for the race, which didn't start until 9am. Best idea. I was freezing waiting for the race to start {it was 32 degrees this morning}, but warmed up quickly once we got going. For the elite runners, Alexi Pappas won the female title for the second year in a row, and Stephen Sambu the men's title.

I took the race easy this year, as my mileage is still getting back to "normal" numbers after the winter season. I ran the race solo in 52:50 {coming in 13,550th place} and enjoyed my Spring music to keep the pace steady.

As a reminder, if you're interested in trying a new music app for running you should check out Spring Moves!

Use the link or code below to try Spring Moves for free, with a 30-day trial membership:

Click here to download Spring Moves or text CHICAGOJOGGER to 41411 to receive an automatic text reply with a download link. Note: depending on your carrier, texting fees may apply.

Please note: If you download the app through links in this post, I earn a small amount of compensation as a Spring Moves Ambassador. Thanks for supporting this little blog!

After the race I stopped at Peet's Coffee & Tea on Michigan Avenue for an almond milk latte {my absolute favorite}, then met up with K at Baker Miller in Lincoln Square for brunch. I don't know what it is about Peet's Coffee, but I'm obsessed. Their espresso is so smooth and flavorful.

I have mentioned Baker Miller on this blog before - it's a bakery that only uses local whole grains, ground and milled by the proprietors. For the main dish, I had the vegan "meg" sandwich - cumin smoked carrots, harissa pecan sauce, collard greens, and avocado on sourdough bread. Even though K and I try to avoid sugar most of the time, we couldn't resist a brunch dessert by sharing Baker Miller's whole wheat cinnamon roll. SO good.

The rest of last week's workouts included:

Tuesday, 3/29: Ran 4 miles
Thursday, 3/31: Ran 3.75 miles
Friday: 1 hour yoga class
Saturday: active rest - walked over 20,000 steps!
Sunday: Shamrock Shuffle 8k - 5 miles

Now it's time to relax. For more on the Shamrock Shuffle, check out my 2015 race recap on the NBC Chicago Stride blog.

How was your weekend?