By Ali Lopez
MRG Contributor

This year I again had the privilege of cooking some delicious healthy food for the second annual Michigan Runner Girl Weekend—both Friday’s lunch and dinner, what a treat!

The 2017 MRG Weekend, which took place May 4-7, included a full day of running and wine tasting on Old Mission Peninsula. Everyone headed up to the lighthouse, at the tip of the peninsula, to run some trails. I decided to make a brown bag lunch for them to eat after they finished their runs. Nothing better than eating out in nature after an invigorating run in the woods (and before heading to a couple of wineries for some tastings!)

Old Mission Peninsula run. We loved exploring the lighthouse trails together!

I decided to join the group for the run and it was perfect. Cool temperatures, breezy, perfect running weather. I finished up first and headed back to get lunch ready. In each brown bag I put a wrap sandwich, a quinoa salad and a chocolate peanut butter treat for dessert. It was perfect post run-refueling, with a good mix of lots of fresh veggies, some good carbs and a healthy dose of protein.

For the wrap, I made some homemade basil hummus, but you could easily use your favorite store-bought version. I took a big whole grain tortilla and spread the hummus all around. After that came the veggies. I put a big handful of fresh baby spinach in the center of each tortilla, then added a mix of chopped cucumbers, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, shredded carrots, black olives and a light sprinkle of feta cheese.

Alongside that I put together one of my favorite salads. I love using quinoa for my salads—so light, but yet so nutritious. It’s full of B vitamins and good source of protein and good carbs. Here is the recipe for the version I made for the lunch; keep in mind that this salad is so easy to change depending on what veggies are in season.

Springtime Quinoa Salad

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in 1-2 inch pieces

1 pint strawberries, cleaned, hulled

extra virgin olive oil

1 cup quinoa, cooked

1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds

3 oz. goat cheese, optional


1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons Fustinis Grapefruit balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon REAL maple syrup

salt and pepper, to taste

To cook quinoa: In a saucepan heat 1 cup quinoa in a dry skillet to toast lightly. Add 1 3/4 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook until the quinoa absorbs the liquid. About 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside covered for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400˚.

Separately, toss asparagus and strawberries in olive oil. Spread out each in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until asparagus is tender and strawberries have lost their shape slightly.

Meanwhile, combine dressing ingredients. Mix asparagus and strawberries with quinoa and mix with dressing. Before serving mix in seeds (and cheese if using). Can be served room temperature or warm.

For dinner, since it was Cinco de Mayo, I decided to have a taco party-themed meal. I set up a variety of fillings and toppings and let the girls make their own creations. One of my favorite things about a taco party is that everyone can get what they like. It’s also a great chance to get in lots of healthy veggies! Check out my previous post on creating your own taco party here » We were in the Hospitality Suite at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, which had an awesome full kitchen.

On the menu:

Tortilla Chips

Chipotle Salsa

Salsa Verde

Mango Guacamole

Corn and Flour Tortillas

Grilled Onions, Poblano Peppers and Portabella Mushrooms

Cumin Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Mexican Green Rice

Holy Mole Black Beans

Corn Salsa

Cilantro Lime Cole Slaw

Everything was a big hit. One of the most requested recipes was for the guacamole. No surprise there! Who doesn’t love all those good healthy fats in guacamole. And you all know my love of avocado »

Mango Guacamole

2 avocados, diced

1 ripe mango (or 1 cup frozen mango), diced

2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

Juice from 1 fresh lime

fresh cilantro, to taste

Salt, to taste

Mix garlic and onion in a bowl. Scoop the avocado flesh and mango into the bowl. Mash coarsely with fork or potato masher. Add juice of 1/2 lime, stir to combine, then taste. Season with salt, more lime juice, if desired and cilantro to taste.


Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy-eating questions at heather [at] michiganrunnergirl [dot] com 

Ali will answer your questions in upcoming columns here on MRG. You can read her post about the Power of Smoothies, here »  She’s also written about superfoods and shares a great recipe for kale salad here »


Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her web site Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »

You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on a recent MRG podcast episode here »

February 22, 2023

Just Keep Moving: Changes for Michigan Runner Girl

By the MRG Podcast team Listen to this episode of the Michigan Runner Girl Show by clicking on the player at the […]

November 2, 2022

Sammie Bennett, mental health advocate and SHE RUNS Grand Rapids race ambassador: ‘There’s a place for everybody’ 

By the MRG Podcast Team Listen to this episode of the Michigan Runner Girl Show by clicking on the player at the […]

October 4, 2022

Try Trail Running This Fall (And Every Season)

Blue-gray pebbles and plump sand to the left. Cool, lapping waves to my right. A few steps farther, driftwood criss-crosses […]

September 21, 2022

Awesome Ideas for Fall Adventures at Michigan State Parks

By the MRG Podcast Team Listen to this episode of the Michigan Runner Girl Show by clicking on the player at the […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>