The World’s Healthiest Granola?

Granola may bring to mind images of incense burning, camping, and a halo of healthiness but store bought kinds are often sugar bombs.  But can some granolas live up to the healthier than the hype?

20160617_125845_27803675745_o

 

We recently were given samples of Viki’s Granola new on-the-go Granola Packs to test for their health-o-meter reading.  Viki’s Granola is not your grandma’s granola but, dang, it could be.

First, Viki is an actual person, Viki Sater, who creates the actual granola, originally for her daughter’s bake sale.  Her small batch granola was so popular that orders began pouring in.  Currently, Viki’s granola offers 5 different flavors: Original, Blueberry Almond, Maple Cranberry, Banana Walnut and Apple Cinnamon.

So is this really the healthiest granola out there?  Check out these healthful stats.

Nutrition

Sugar: Per 1/4 cup of granola, Viki’s has on average 4 grams of sugar.

Nutritionists suggest you should look for granola with 8 grams or less of sugar. The 1.5 ounce on-the-go Pack is perfectly portioned so you don’t have to wonder if you just snarfed down a crazy amount of granola.  Also, bees rejoice, Viki’s only uses organic honey or pure maple syrup as a sweetener.  You won’t find any high fructose corn syrup here.

Calories: With about 150 calories per pack, you would want to add some fruit or yogurt for a meal but this is a sizable snack to have in your bag after a workout.

Ingredients: Each granola features only 6-7 ingredients (gluten free oats, organic honey, unsweetened coconut, and different nut and fruit combos) and none that you would have to look up to figure out what it is.  This is about as clean as you can get for a processed food.  Viki’s is mindful of special diets as well.

• Gluten Free
• Non-GMO Verified
• Cholesterol Free
• Zero Trans Fats
• Sodium free
• Dairy Free
• Kosher Pareve

Taste

20160606_155819_27436196241_o

 

Viki’s Granola is pretty versatile as it is not overly sweet.  Expect soft honey touched oats intermingling with dried fruit.  It’s inclusion of tree nuts like almonds and walnuts adds a nice crunch and a pinch of healthy fats to keep you fuller longer.  We liked eating it with a splash of coconut almond milk or mixing it up in a parfait.  Viki’s website has other fun recipe suggestions like granola covered frozen bananas (summer yummer) or even granola crusted chicken.

vikis

You can purchase Viki’s Granola at several grocery stores or even order online.

So is Viki’s the World’s Healthiest Granola?  It’s pretty close.  There are a small amount of other granolas out there vying for the title.  Does your favorite granola have a shot at the title?

Advertisements

Easy Gluten Free Treats with Garden Lites

Gluten Free

Gluten free goodies are hit or miss. Sometimes you try a gluten free muffin that’s as heavy as a hockey puck and wonder: “Is this the only option I have for muffin glory?”  For people with gluten sensitivities or, even more serious, those with Celiac disease, the need for gluten free options is real. But do we want them super processed or super disgusto?  No!

Garden Lites gets to the root of this matter and offers gluten free frozen treats to cure your muffin madness with fluffy de-lite-fulness.

Ingredients

  • First 2 elements: zucchini and carrots in almost every products
  • Gluten free flour mix: brown rice, sorghum flour, flaxseed meal, or cornstarch
  • Allergens: Nuts free and dairy free.  Some products are soy free, too. (Check particular products, however, for allergen information)

Garden Lites shear off unnecessary fillers and keep their ingredients at the root of what’s needed to make their souffles and muffins.  Most have a list of 10 or less on the nutrition facts.  The most processed item we noticed is soy lechitin, a common emulsifier used in chocolate and other health related food products.  Obviously, it’s best to eat whole foods, but Garden Lites’ chocolatey or blueberry oat muffins will harvest your health compared to those fast food muffins.

Taste the Goodness

20160614_092300_27768963186_o

We dug into the Chocolate Muffins, Ninja Power Muffins (Heroes in a half shell…turtle power!) and one of Garden Lites’ savory options, the Butternut Squash Souffle.

20160602_074251_26826647154_o

These muffins are great for tricking kids into eating veggies and tricking adults into being health conscious.  The muffins and souffles are all soft in texture and not grainy.  They are also produce packed with the following nutrients:

  • Calories for one muffin range between 80 to max 120 calories,
  • 2-5 grams of protein, and 8 grams protein in souffle
  • 2-4 grams of fiber, and 5 grams in souffle
  • less than 11 grams of sugar, 18 grams in souffle

The Chocolate muffin is moist and melty like a baby lava cake.

20160614_092343_27768963776_o

The Ninja Powered Muffin is but a morsel with a chocolate chip zucchini bread flavor and is aimed at the youngins’.  We like Ninja Turtles though so we also enjoyed them.

20160602_074421_26828323053_o

The Butternut Souffle was cornbread like in texture with the mellow aroma and flavor of squash.

20160620_122631_27525209050_o

Purchase Options

Garden Lites are available at Costco, Target, and Amazon — and let us tell you that Amazon shoppers are all over the Garden Lites, like bees on flowers.  Also, you can purchase the frozen products at HealthyGoodness website and get a FREE pint of Three Twins ice cream here!  What are you waiting for?!  Go Power yourself with Gluten Free Goodies!

20160602_074023_27336718062_o

 

*We received free Garden Lites coupons to sample the product.  We were not monetarily compensated and our opinions are our own.*

Paddle and HIIT the Beach with Crosstown Fitness

Wanna throw shade at your same ol’ summer workout routine? Join Crosstown Fitness and Chicago SUP for a blazing combo high intensity interval (HIIT) and Stand-Up Paddle Board (SUP) class on gorgeous North Avenue Beach Chicago this sunny season.

sillypaddle

Crosstown Fitness, a HIIT training gym with 2 locations, West Loop and North side, houses some of the best trainers in the city and no class is ever the same. Chicago SUP is Chicago’s original Stand-up Paddle Board outfitter. They have 2 paddle ports on North Avenue Beach and Diversey Harbor.  This perfect partnership is 3 years strong and is still walking on water.

Betina Gozo, Nike Master Trainer and Director of Fitness at Crosstown Fitness, leads a sweaty, sandy and sizzlin’ HIIT sequence to heat things up before you cool it down with the calm cardio of paddle boarding. Betina starts class off with sand running sequences, such as short sprints, butt kicks and high knees. She then moves on to body weight training like bear crawls, push ups, or 1 legged paddle dead lifts. If you didn’t know, running and exercising in sand helps strengthen weaker muscles in the legs and is lower impact than running on pavement. Come for a few weeks and you’ll shore to be feeling like Sponge Bob Svelte Pants.

1leggeddeadlifts

After you HIIT the beach hard, it’s time to paddle! Ok, so what is SUP? It’s a beachy blend of Surfing and Kayaking, where you stand on a wide surf board and use a single bladed paddle for momentum. SUP challenges your core, balance and is also low impact. However, with all these benefits, you may still feel a lil’ crabby about paddling for the first time.

Fear not! Chicago SUP staff are friendly and ready to help you feel like a fish in water. When we stepped up to the board, staff members gave an overview of the paddle parameters and techniques. They also loan out water proof phone holders so you can safely selfie your way through the waves.  Chicago SUP staff provide Baywatch like support, eyeing the tides by your side as you paddle. If you’re feeling shaky about your sea legs, you can always kneel or straddle the board to anchor yourself with more stability.

skyline

After you serenely sail around Lake Michigan and dock your board, drift into Castaways for a drink or chill at Green City Market in Lincoln Park to refuel with fresh farmer’s market produce. Your perfect summer Saturday is planned–you’re welcome!

When:

Every Saturday, 8:30-9:30 a.m. (weather permitting) through October

Where:

Chicago SUP stand, North Avenue Beach Chicago. The SUP stand is south of the Castaways boat and the volleyball nets.

Sign Up:

Shell out $25 for a sandy bottom adventure or a 10 pack pass is $220! Members can get wet with sweat for free. Check out Crosstown Fitness website to purchase and for more package options.

Other High Tide Tips:

Wet to Wear? No shoes are needed for the workout. Wear a swimsuit or sweat wicking clothes that dry easily (*you may fall off your board*).

There are cubbies for your belongings at the Chicago SUP hut but don’t bring anything too valuable.

Finally, everyone wants to be at the beach (beach..as Nikki Minaj says), so parking may be tight. You can access public transportation, park near Lincoln Park zoo, but come early to make sure you have time to score a spot for your vehicle.

*Thanks to Marissa Joseph and Dana Hartung of MJPR for hosting us and for the pictures of the event.  We were offered a class for review but were not compensated for our opinions.*

 

 

 

 

 

Down and Dirty Mudderella Recap

We DID it, our first mud run as a Chi Organic Girls team! We took a leap of faith off the final 10 feet high platform onto an inflatable and then trailed dirt to the finish line.
image

So what muddy mysteries did we solve and what mud madcap adventures did we have? Muck through our review of our first ever Mudderella run.

Muddy Mistakes

Sooo dressing for the after effects of a mud run is a challenge.  Double check what you pack the morning of. Kate forgot a dry bra for after the race–leading to wet t-shirt contests all day. Bring layers, a towel, and a bag for wet clothes too. Although the weather channel may tell you it will be 80 degrees, what they actual meant was 60 degrees. We were freezing after our Antarctic hose off and really should have packed warm joggers and a jacket just in case. You can always remove an extra piece of clothing if you are hot.

Need more mud run tips? Check out our previous post here.

wp-1466002483061.jpg

Muddy Mastery

Smells like Team Spirit

15 obstacles and 5+ miles=determination! We loved Mudderella’s pre-muck area with free braiding, fake tattoos, warrior makeup (purple lipstick anyone?) and face painting. Oh and a roof….when we arrived, it was pouring so it was a perk to stay dry and pretty for first pictures. Women were totally in the spirit of the challenge with creative team names like “Cookie Mudsters” or “Girls Gone Dirty”. Green tutus and team camaraderie filled the barn we huddled in.

Bringing a muddy spectator buddy to drive us to and from the event was a huge win. Our friend followed our route, took shots of us in action, and held our finisher t-shirts so they wouldn’t get dirtified.

What we especially embraced was the power of women. We dragged each other through mud pits, other women launched us up walls. We let chicks stand on our shoulders literally to breach obstacles. You don’t experience that in the competitive race world so THIS is exactly why non-competitive runs like Mudderella are essential. Whether you walk the whole way or run like madwomen, Mudderella girls are ready to encourage, cheer and lend an actual helping hand.

image

Thanks to Mudderella for hosting us!  Any other questions about this fab fun female event?!  Reach out to us in the comments section.

 

Chicago Patio and BBQ time at Porkchop

During May, National BBQ month, we were invited to give Porkchop West Loop a try.

This is one of those restaurants we always drove by on Randolph and thought, yup, someday we need to try that.  Of course, Chicago BBQ has tough competition compared to BBQ meccas like Memphis and Kansas City.  We do have a smattering of saucy spots like Porkchop, however, to tickle your taste buds.

Look and Feel

Think Austin mixed with Chicago mixed with Deliverance.  Rustic wood is the format for the space with saws dotting one wall (let’s do some DIY crafting), yet the bar space, snuggling cozily under a staircase, is hipster chic with mason jar hanging above.

porkchopdecor

decor2

Superior Service

Melanie, our bartender/server, popped out from behind the bar counter to immediately seat us.  The vibe here won’t be killed as the atmosphere is warm and unfussy.  Paper towel roll napkins are ready to wipe BBQ coated finger tips, with cutlery and BBQ sauce options flanking both sides to convenience you.

Pretty Patio

If there is one thing Chicagoans are constantly searching for, it’s patios and rooftops.  The Holy Grail of the season, patio seating is in high demand.  Porkchop offers open air seating inside when weather is nice and a small patio for prime people watching.  Patio doggies are welcome as well.  We spotted 2 cute baby boxers at patio play during our dinner.

Food for the Masses

Portion sizes are Texas style, large so leftovers are an expectation.  We sampled the fried okra, mac and cheese and chicken tacos as starters. Stop judging ;).  The mac and cheese was rich and creamy and, good lawd, the noodles were nonstop.  The chicken taco meat was well seasoned and sprinkled with onions and cilantro and the fried okra breading was light, crispy and slightly addicting.

tacos

 

okra

 

For dinner, we were close to full but wanted an excuse to drizzle more foods with BBQ sauce.  We ordered the fried chicken sandwich and pulled pork sandwich.  Both come with hand cut fries, the yum kind with skins still on. The pulled pork was juicy but I prefer mine super saucy so I used the Chicago Style BBQ sauce, infused with rosemary and olive oil, to douse it. The chicken sandwich was pounded thin and had a peppery breading.  It didn’t disappoint either with it’s buttery bun and simple slice of red onion and crisp lettuce.

porkchop3

porkchop2

Veg options are available including a handmade veggie burger and a wealth of sides. May we suggest an all sides meal?!

We would love to go back and gorge on their brunch, which features southern specialties like fat Elvis Waffles, shrimp and grits and Johnny Cakes.

So what’s our final Q-cision?  If you’re looking for a low key night, solid happy hour, portions for the whole fam, and a quaint patio, Porkchop can deliver with minimal Q mess and no stress.

 

*Porkchop offered a free meal for honest review.  We were not paid for these opinions and they are our own.*

 

Guest Post: Off the Couch

mountainath

In addition to our spectacular The North Face Giveaway, we’ve partnered with Lauren Fairbanks, Chicago Mountain Athletics trainer, to guide us (and you!) on our trail running journey up to the Wisconsin Endurance Challenge in September.  This week, Lauren is sharing how to start a training program.  If you have been glued to your sofa, watching Netflix with a slice of pizza lying on your chest, this is a great place to begin.  If you have the idea that “I’m a NOT a runner”, this is for you too.  Welcome to Chi Organic Girls, Lauren!

lf

 

Lauren Fairbanks is a Certified Personal Trainer and Holistic Health Coach with a passion for helping people reach their goals.  As a lifelong athlete with an expansive knowledge of nutrition she strives to share her expertise with everyone she meets.  She loves working with people and helping open their eyes and minds to the positive effects of proper nutrition, physical activity and living a balanced life.  Lauren was a Division I Track & Field Athlete at Central Michigan University where she graduated with a B.S. in Dietetics.  Along with her Dietetics degree and personal training certification she also holds specialty certifications in Kettlebells, TRX, and Pre/Post Natal Training.  When she’s not busy working with clients you can catch her running or riding her bike around the city, cooking, checking out Chicago’s newest restaurant, or planning her next travel adventure.

GUEST POST

Off the Couch: How to get Started Training 

By Lauren Fairbanks

Sometimes the hardest part of beginning any exercise routine is simply just figuring out where to start.  With all the new fitness trends and loads of confusing health advice out there, it can quickly become overwhelming to any newcomer to running.  Running can be one of the most painful, but rewarding athletic endeavors to take on.  I hear a lot of people make the excuse “I’m not a runner,” or “I’m not fast enough to race.”  Pending you have no injuries and your body and mind is up for the challenge, anyone can be a runner.  Look around next time you’re walking past a race on a Sunday morning, runner’s come in all shapes, sizes and athletic abilities.

The awesome thing about running is that you can really do it anywhere, and you don’t need a fancy gym membership or a ton of expensive gear to be good at it.  It’s a great way to get fit, build up your confidence and enjoy the outdoors.  If you are brand new to running, I recommend joining a running group in your community to help get you started.

The most important part of beginning any training program is making a goal.  Goals not only give you a purpose in your training but they also give you something to focus on.  Deciding whether you want to run your first 5k or your first marathon will help you be able to lay the foundation for your training plan.  A beginner can run any race, its just about allowing enough time to train for it.  Next up: sign up for that race and share your goal with someone else.  This person will become your accountability buddy.  Your accountability buddy can be a person in your life that is supportive and encouraging and who is invested in helping you reach your training goals.

running

The one important piece of equipment that you will need to start running is a good pair of shoes.  You can visit your local running shoe store and they will help get you fitted for a pair that works for your feet.  If you have never run before, a great way to start your training is with a run/walk method.  This can be as simple as 1 minute running followed by 1 minute walking for your desired distance.  As you feel more comfortable you can increase this to 2-3-4-5 minutes of running at a time.  There are tons of extensive running programs online, but sometimes its best to keep it simple and easy to follow when you are just starting out.  I would recommend getting in 3 runs/week, with one of those being your “long run”.  Your long run will vary depending on what distance you’re training for and how far along your are in your program.

It is so important to start any training plan at your own pace.  Starting a program that is way to aggressive for you can set you up for failure, disappointment and possibly even injury.  Making sure you start slow, and gradually build your speed and mileage will reduce your risk of injury and keep you feeling strong.  It’s so important to listen to your body and be patient with your progress.  You don’t go from couch potato to running 50 miles a week overnight.  Time, commitment and a good attitude will go a long way in running training.  If you stick with it long enough you might just experience that “Runners High” that you’ve heard all runners talk about, and that definitely makes all the hard work worth it.

Look for more tips from Lauren in upcoming posts. There’s still time to get outfitted in free The North Face Gear and join us at the Wisconsin Endurance Challenge. Check out our The North Face Giveaway today!

Win: The North Face Ultimate Trail Running Pack

Are you itching to blaze your own trail?  We have the giveaway to stoke your fire for outdoor fitness!

We’re partnering with The North Face, maker of top quality outerwear and outerwear (and Chicago’s God send for winter coats), to get you on your path with a prize pack including entry to The North Face Endurance Challenge Series Wisconsin and your own trail running kit.  You gotta look good hitting those trails.

21915129706_9b6bbe2eee_o

 

Trace the Trail History

The North Face Endurance Challenge Series is the largest trail running series in the world.  The series of weekend race festivals takes place between April and December in six locations across North America. Remaining races are in Ontario, Wisconsin, Utah and California.  With 7 distance options ranging from 5K to 50 miles and a Kid’s 1K race, there’s something for everyone, from beginning to hardcore runners.

You may even catch a peek of ultrarunning stars from The North Face athlete team, including Dean Karnazes, Rob Krar, Dylan Bowman and Rory Bosio, at one of the events…perhaps flying past you on their way to their finish line.

This famous race series bloomed from Dean Karnazes’ 2006 quest to run 50 marathons, in 50 states, in 50 consecutive days (say whaaaaa!?).  Nearly 90,000 runners have participated since the inception of The North Face Endurance Challenge.  Wanna learn more about what would inspire someone to run 50+ miles?  Check out our interview with ultrarunner, Rob Krar here.

Train for the Trails

IMG_20150331_193132442

Need trail training buds?  Take advantage of free coached workouts with The North Face Mountain Athletics Training Events in Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. or San Francisco.  Mountain Athletics Trainers, like our sponsor trainer Lauren Fairbanks in Chicago, accept you where you are at and push you to be your best…even if you huff and puff to run a quarter mile.  Ready yourself with tips and tricks for getting fit with upcoming guest posts from Lauren!

 

Ready for Race Details

21929289262_22bb36a29c_o

What: The North Face Endurance Challenge Wisconsin

When: September 18-19, 2016

Where: Kettle Moraine State Park in Wisconsin (free parking provided as well as free nature!)

Race Options: GORE-TEX® 50 Mile, 50K, Marathon, Marathon Relay and Kid’s 1K race held on Saturday, and the Half Marathon, 10K, 5K races and Kid’s 1K race on Sunday

Check out our awesome 1st 5K trail run experience and tips for The North Face Endurance Challenge at Kettle Moraine here.  We aren’t quite at that 50 mile distance yet, but you can run with us in the 10K trail run through gorgeously wooded Kettle Moraine State Park.

Ready to Win

21948618591_03c1b1e1a9_o

Our goodies at 2015 Endurance Race Challenge

YOUR PRIZE: One free registration  for any distance (worth between $35-$95) in the Kettle Moraine State Park, Wisconsin Event  September 17-18, and a training kit (shirt, shorts, shoes and running jacket…worth a lot of moolah!).   Check out our pictures to see examples of what your kit might contain.  We absolutely love our The North Face fuzzy warm hats, rain proof jackets and tough trail running shoes and are sure you’ll love yours too!

Contest Duration: Contest runs June 3rd through July 3rd

How to enter: Send an email to us at chiorganicgirls@gmail.com with the subject line “Endurance Challenge – I want to run” and share why you want to run The North Face Endurance Challenge.  Best entry wins!