Easy Grilled Chicken Dinner + How To Not Quit Mid-Run


Easy Grilled Chicken Dinner features strawberry vinaigrette-marinated grilled chicken with a tangy fruit chutney, served with roasted brussels sprouts!



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Thank you so much for the anniversary well wishes – and congrats on all your milestones too! Ahh, love. :)

Ben and I held hands over dinner at Django – a French restaurant “without the attitude” downtown.


Best meal we’ve had at a restaurant since Emeril’s NOLA in New Orleans last Spring, and certainly one of the best meals we’ve ever had in Des Moines. We started with Braised Pork Ravioli served with crispy prosciutto, butternut squash, leeks, mushrooms and prosciutto broth topped with parmesan cheese, then absolutely stuffed ourselves silly on our mouthwatering entrees.

Seared Sea Scallops with lobster-sweet corn mashed potatoes and red onion-sweet corn butter sauce for her…

Bouillabaisse, a French fisherman’s stew of scallops, mussels, halibut, shrimp and potatoes in a saffron scented seafood broth, for him.

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We died. We literally died and went to French-cuisine Heaven. Things were said about the ultimate deliciousness that is lobster-sweet corn mashed potatoes that can’t be repeated on this blog. If you live in Des Moines, or within a 30 mile radius, get to Django…now! ;)

I sopped up more butter with more rolls than I care to ever think about again, so I hit the trail after work today to knock out 4.5 miles on my trail. It is goooooorgeous outside right now! I think I even got a little tan line. ;)

Now, copious amounts of butter, bread and potatoes the night before a 4.5 mile run is not an equation for success, and there were several times when I wanted to stop, park it on the nearest bench, and throw in the towel.

Whenever I feel like quitting in the middle of a run, though, I go through my book of How to Not Stop Mid-Run tricks:

1. Concentrate on your breathing: think about breathing deep and evenly. Concentrate on your breath instead of how bad your thighs are killing you. PS I used to get terrible migraines in college after running in PE, and my doctor finally deduced that they were coming on because I wasn’t BREATHING when I ran. I was concentrating more on not looking like I was dying on the mile run in front of cute college guys, than I was on, you know, my overall well being. Breathe when you run. Breathe hard. And loud even, if you want. You can certainly hear me coming now!

2. Think about fake arguments or complicated math problems in your head: Sounds ridiculous but honestly I completely lose myself in my head when thinking about what I should have said in this one situation or another, or when I’m trying to solve some crazy formula in my head. Such as, ok, if I left at 4:45, and it takes me 40 minutes to run 4.5 miles, what’s my average mph? See? There goes a good 5 minutes, at least!

3. Repeat after me: I often find repeating a little mantra or phrase over and over, and over and over, in my head gets me just a little bit farther. Something like pain is temporary, accomplishment is forever, or anybody can do anything for 5 more minutes!

4. Slow down: if concentrating on your breathing or thinking about something else doesn’t work, and you still feel like calling it quits – slow down! The only one who’s looking at how fast you’re running is you. Don’t be scared to slow down to a jog if you feel like you’re too tired to go. There’s nothing wrong with taking a walking break, but try slowing your run down a bit first!

Ok? Ok.

Tonight, I nearly kissed my grill after I was done eating dinner. I used it to make Grilled Strawberry Chicken, that was out of this world!!!


I started by pounding two chicken breasts until they were even, then marinating them all day in Strawberry Vinaigrette. Simply whisk the following ingredients together!

2 Tablespoons Strawberry Preserves

2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

3 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt & pepper


Tonight I removed the chicken from the marinade and followed my formula for perfect grilled chicken: piping hot grill + 3 minutes on each side. That’s it!


The topping for my strawberry-kissed grilled chicken was this Dried Fruit Chutney from The Gracious Gourmet!


This chutney is kind of like chunky fruit preserves, but it has a touch of zing and zip from ginger and vinegar.


It. Is. Amazing. and has dried fruit like apricots, cherries, dates, cranberries and apples in it. It’s really good over soft cheeses, like brie or cream cheese…


Or draped over my grilled strawberry chicken!!!


Sweet – almost apple fruit-leather tasting – but again, not too sweet because of the ginger, vinegar and a touch of garlic in the mix.


So, so, so, so, SO amazing – and all-natural too! It totally enhanced the slightly sweet, caramelized flavor of the strawberry vinaigrette. Ben and I both wanted more when we were done!


On the side, I whipped up roasted brussels sprouts. It’s been ages!


Simply pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees, then cut the core off the end of the sprouts and slice in half. Discard any loose outer leaves. Place the halves on a non-stick sprayed, foil-lined baking sheet.


For a carton of sprouts, I drizzled on 2 teaspoons olive oil, and lots of garlic salt and pepper. LOTS!


Line ’em up, then roast for 15 minutes.


Flip, then roast for 10-15 more minutes.




I just sigh in utter delight when I eat these.


My favorite roasted veggie. There, I said it.


The perfect feels-like-summer dinner.

That’s all I’ve got to say about that…


Oh! For dessert, I grilled up some mangoes!!!!


I just peeled a mango and sliced the two “cheeks” off.


Sprayed each side with non-stick spray, then grilled for about 2 minutes on each side.



Dotted with a little whip cream!




Ugh I am perfectly full and happy. That was just what I needed after such a heavy dinner last night.

I’m off to clean the house. Ben and I are going away this weekend and I always like to leave/come home to a spotless place! :D

Have a good night!


What are your tricks for distracting yourself while exercising?

What are your favorite things to grill?

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  1. ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh…I thought I was the only person on earth who did math while I was running! I used to calculate my days calories in my head, but now that I no longer count them, I do figures for time left/pace and all that crazy stuff…or budgeting! That totally cracks me up that you do it as well because I always thought it was so weird of me to think about in a workout!

  2. I’m with you on #2 – thinking about intense situations makes the time just fly by for me!

  3. Shannon 04.06.2011

    I had mango for dessert too! LOVE!

    I need to try the strawberry marinated chicken, that sounds so good!

  4. I need to try your strawberry marinade! Love the sound of this winner of a chicken dinner!

  5. Lauren 04.06.2011

    Ah, there are so many things in this post that I’m drooling over, I don’t even know where to begin. What an incredible anniversary dinner. Toly and I tried French for V-day but it was NOTHING like that!!
    And dinner tonight looks amazing!!!!!! Love the strawberry sauce. And dessert…..holy yum!

    So when I run outside, I hardly ever stop but whenever I am on the treadmill, I always stop after ever 2 miles just to take a drink and catch my breath. I’m not sure why I need to do it inside but it actually helps me. I always increase the speed and/or incline after I stop so it gets harder each time.

  6. Kira 04.06.2011

    My husband always gives me a hard time when I insist our house be clean before we go away for a weekend or vacation. Glad to know it’s not just me. ;) Totally want to try the grilled mango!

  7. I actually used food so much to distract myself. I normally run before lunch or before dinner so I focus on planning all of the meals details in my mind when I’m feeling like I want to stop. I think about the ingredients, the prep, the yummyness… ha! Works for me!

    Grilled chicken looks amazing by the way :D

  8. C. 04.06.2011

    Ha! I also do math while running if it’s a particularly hard workout- I like counting back from a certain number, that changes all the time. Good ideas :)

  9. Oh, I need to make this chicken! It sounds amazing!

    We love grilling at our house….I love grilled pineapple. i could eat that every day!

  10. where did you get the chutney – sounds AWESOME. and i love your running tips – i have run five half marathons, but after about six months off from running (i stuck to fitness classes over the winter) i am having a hard time getting back into it and i have my first 5K this weekend. i am sure I will be chanting those mantras as I am running up and down the hills of the KU campus :)

  11. Hannah 04.06.2011

    I do math too!! Or I countto 4 for each inhale and exhale and focus on breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. Anything to keep me from thinking about being tired or all of the stuff I need to finish when I’m done running!

  12. dmcgirl 04.06.2011

    When you have kids, math while running will be history!!! Unless you try to calculate the cost of them! ;-)

    I love your roasted veggies but I really love the relationship you have with your oven. I just hate mine!

  13. ktlovespie 04.06.2011

    I love grilling naan bread, it’s the only way to do it!

  14. I choose a spot in the distance to “see if I can run that far” and then when I get there usually pick another spot. That keeps me going for awhile. I allow myself walking breaks if I’m truly out of breath, but often I want to stop because I’m bored, so I’ve learned to know the difference and can (usually) force myself not to stop if I’m just being lazy.

  15. kirsten 04.06.2011

    I love the strawberry chicken idea!

    I count my steps, usually to 100, when I am tackling a hill. I try and see if I can defeat the hill in less than 100 steps. I also pick out something in the distance I am running towards and when I get there I pick a new goal to run towards. On long runs, the last couple of miles are devoted to thinking about some refreshing dark chocolate almond milk! Yum!

  16. Heather 04.06.2011

    I always try to do math problems or think about my day during my run – definitely sucks up some time.

    I laughed when I read you did that – I thought I was the only one.

  17. That meal does look life altering…haha. I had one of those a few days ago, too. I like grilling pizza.

  18. If I’m on a treadmill or elliptical, watching tv definitely distracts me. If I’m lucky enough to make it to the gym before work, Nick at Nite is on with the good stuff (e.g., Family Matters)! ;)

  19. Stephanie 04.06.2011

    Thank you so much for posting your “How to Not Quit Mid-Run” tips…I went for a run today and sure enough I stopped mid-run. I was so disappointed with myself. I need things to distract me and keep me going so thanks!

  20. Jillian 04.06.2011

    I’ve never had a bad meal at Django. Our favorite is the Poutine…to die for. Also, the Pot de Creme for dessert is just heavenly. For your next special occasion, check out Baru 66. We ate there in February for my birthday, and it was the second best meal of my life, next to Morimoto’s 10 course tasting menu in Philadelphia.

  21. Jillian 04.06.2011

    I wanted to add two things…have you tried TJ’s cranberry mago salsa? It is amazing. I ate it with grilled chicken the other night. Also, my new favorite breakfast is their frozen mango chunks topped with their European style yogurt, a tiny drizzle of honey and slivered almonds. It’s like dessert.

  22. Emily 04.06.2011

    zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes! nom nom nom

  23. oooh what a good marinade :)

  24. I don’t know about distracting but to keep myself going, when it gets bad, I say the mantra: “If this was easy, everyone would be doing it.” I also just make myself go one more mile ,5 more minutes, etc. and keep up the increments until I’ve reached my required time anyway. Finally, sometimes I look at my run as a time to pretend I’m someone else. I’ll pretend I’m working at my dream job and think about all of the amazing things I’m going to accomplish. Cheesy but true!

    PS- your grill skills AMAZE me :-)

  25. jad18 04.06.2011

    I count my steps when running to distract myself. I get to 100 and start over.

  26. Misty 04.06.2011

    I had that ravioli at Django tonight and it was incredible. Very sad it isn’t something on their menu all the time!

  27. Stephanie 04.06.2011

    OMG I am OBSESSED with The Gracious Gourmet products! they sent me their fig almond spread andchile red pepper tapenade which are both amazinggggg. i still have to try the pineapple mango chutney and balsamic four onion spread too … i am so hooked on these delicious treats!!! guess you know yvette too ;)

  28. Natalie 04.06.2011

    Thanks so much for including this great recipe using our Dried Fruit Chutney from The Gracious Gourmet! The photos are gorgeous. I’m sure it tasted even better than it looks!

  29. ashley 04.06.2011

    At my old gym in Ames they had little tv screens on every single treadmill- I’ll run all day if you put a tv in front of me!! If I’m running outside, I take an iPod and I set a little goal for my run (x many minutes, say) before I leave the house, and then I just do it! :)

    Like you, I hate our gas grill and am always worried about losing an eyebrow or blowing up the deck, but recently I’ve grilled burgers and pork steaks. I guess I don’t have a favorite yet! I love when my husband grills us kabobs of any kind though!

  30. Tobbiefox 04.06.2011

    When I do my long bike rides (30+ miles), I think of math and logic problems too. It helps pass time and miles. :)

    And ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS?! My wife and I looove brussel sprouts, but we never imagined this particular approach to eating brussel sprouts!! We gotta try it soon!

    Strawberry on top of grilled chicken? OMG, that has to go on our menu and soon, stat! :)

    Enjoy your weekend. My wife and I are the same way — we love coming home to a spotless home after a trip away.

  31. Hope 04.07.2011

    Strawberry Marninated Chicken sounds incredible! I’m always looking for different ways to prepare chicken and this one sounds great! I am totally with you! I LOVE roasted brussels SO much! I could eat them every single day. They are delicious! My fiance hates them. So more for me! :) Oh, and grilled mango?! Yummy! I’ve never had grilled mango before. I am definitely trying that!

  32. Ashley M. 04.07.2011

    I just started running and my mantra is “anyone can do anything for one minute”! Maybe once I gain a little more stamina, I can bump that up to five minutes :)

  33. EmilyB 04.07.2011

    Girl, you can’t discard the extra leaves from the BS! Roast those bad boys too…sometimes they’re the best crunchy treat on the pan!!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 04.07.2011

      I just mean the nasty, dried outer ones, but you are SO right. The ones that fall off as they are roasting are the BEST THINGS ON EARTH. Better than potato chips!

  34. Kristen 04.07.2011

    I love how you did the mangos! Easy, and healthy! That chicken looks devine.
    Running distractions: Figure out what to write with the items I see on my run. Example: there are no public bathrooms open before summer. Oh, that chould be a blog. Or…man there is a lot of dog poor on the sidewalk today. Oh, that could be a blog. Then I write it in my head!
    Fav thing to grill: all meat! oh, and pizza too!

  35. Melissa 04.07.2011

    Dear God, that anniversary dinner sounds amazing. I had to read over Seared Sea Scallops with lobster-sweet corn mashed potatoes and red onion-sweet corn butter sauce at least twice and then spend several minutes drooling over the photo!

    I do the same things when trying to get through a long run! The mantras especially! I also like to try to figure out what my time would be if I ran, say, 8:23 miles for 4 miles then I should be done in . . . Yep, it keeps my mind occupied! Or, I do the reverse and think of how fast I want to be done with 6 miles, and then divide and try to figure out what my pace should be. Glad I’m not the only one crunching #s while I run! ;)

  36. Luann 04.07.2011

    I have started roasting broccoli now because of all your posts about roasting vegetables and it is without a doubt one of my favorite ways to eat it. I know you are budget conscious but wanted to tell you that if you ever have a coupon for the non-stick foil it is amazing when roasting vegetables in the oven! Saves using spray and works even better. Love it! I always keep some on hand now. Not really sure of the price difference but you should really try some if you can snatch it up for a good price!

    Also, for some reason, your saying you always clean your house good before you go away made me think of my mom. Not only did we always have to clean the house good before we left for a trip, we had to make sure we had on good underwear with no holes in it. Heaven forbid if we were in a wreck and they found us in holey underwear. :) We still love to tease her about that to this day! Gotta love my precious mom!

  37. StartedOver@28 04.07.2011

    I am about 40 miles from DSM, is it worth it for me?

    I love to grill steak!

    And a strange but true fact…I can keep myself going longer on a treadmill than I can during a run on the outside. I have an easier time forcing myself to do intervals inside vs. out.

  38. Stephanie 04.07.2011

    needed those midrun tips!! perfect!!! thanks! cos u will be proud to know i am going to run my second 10k the 8th of May! :)))
    those strawberry chickens look might fine. Strawberries are good in food: did u see my Orzo Strawberry Salad??

  39. I like your tips of tricking yourself not to stop running!
    I do alot of those same things. I’ll think about what I want to eat as a recovery snack or for dinner, think about blogging, make “To-Do” lists in my head, calculate how far I’ve gone and how far I still want to go, etc.
    What makes something a “chutney”? I’m always confused of the differences between fruit preserves, jams, jellies, etc.

  40. I try and think about stuff when I run…whether it is new recipes or my schedule for the rest of the night or how my day went. My best runs are when I am angry about something because I keep going over it in my head and I run harder, faster and longer.

  41. Sarah 04.07.2011

    Holy moly, those scallop dishes looks so delicious that I *have* to cook up some scallops this weekend.

  42. Nicolle 04.07.2011

    The chicken looks amazing! I’ve never heard of The Gracious Gourmet before but I’m intrigued. Their website doesn’t list any retail stores in IA, though. Where did you purchase yours?

  43. Sarah W 04.07.2011

    coming home to a clean apt/house it the best! I also tell myself during a heavy set of lifting ‘just go hard these 30 seconds and your done’
    I have a method of perfect grilled chicken. heat up the gril. place chicken on side 1 for 7 minutes. Flip, keep on side 2 for 6 minutes. Turn off grill but keep lid shut! Let those babies sit for 5 minutes and you will have perfect chicken. Voila!
    how do you pick a good mango?

  44. Nicole 04.07.2011

    Tip — do NOT discard the leaves that fall off the B. Sprouts when you cut them, they make yummy little chips! Its my favorite part! :)

  45. Really, you can figure out that math problem in 5 minutes?! I’m sure that one would keep me stumped the entire run. I’d probably have to stop running and start etching it out into a tree trunk or something.
    That’s just because me + math = dumb. Regardless, I love to grill chicken, so I will have to try that marinade! Sounds delish.

  46. Lindsey 04.07.2011

    I also do math equations in my head! Keeps my mind off the run and I get lost in them, then have to start back at the start! Glad to hear I am not the only one with this crazy idea! I love a good running mantra too :)

  47. 1. That mango looks amazing.
    2. That chicken looks bomb.
    3. THANK YOU for these tips! I’m only running at 2 miles right now and working my way up, but I always feel like stopping half way through.

  48. Jess S 04.09.2011

    Mmm, I LOVE Django. Did you know they have no corkage fee? Any night, you can bring in your own bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner – no charge! Just another high point!

  49. June 04.10.2011

    I just wanted to let you know I roasted the brussell sprouts… they were amazing!!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing!

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