Easy Peasy Omega 3ies! The Healthy Fat for your Brain

We’re sure many of you have heard about the benefits of fatty acids.  Yahhh fat isn’t all bad!!  But you have to choose the healthy fats to keep your body happy (so back away from those processed cupcakes and chips).  Some fats, such as Omega-3 fats, can combat heart disease, dementia, depression, ease the pain of arthritis and more.  Omega-3s are your brain’s super friend!

SO…where do you find them?  Your body doesn’t produce Omega-3s so you can only get them through food or supplements.  Fish contains two forms of Omega-3, DHA and EPA, which seem to have the best benefits.  But what if you don’t like fish or you’re concerned about mercury ingestion?  We certainly aren’t seafood peeps due to personal preferences.  Luckily, a vegetarian form of fatty acids, ALA, can be found in flax seed, spinach, walnuts and vegetable oils.  Although supplements are not ideal, sometimes they work better for a busy lifestyle (especially if they are tasty and in gummy form).  We aren’t big fans of chalky pills or burping up fishy oil flavor (eww) so we recently added Be Bright to our regimen.

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Be Bright, a Coromega product, is a non-GMO superfood oil blend with coconut, avocado, chia seed, hemp seed and black cumin.  Even with it’s rich coconut flavor and pudding like texture, it is still plant based, dairy free, vegan AND gluten free, all tucked into a squeezable eco friendly package.  Be Bright can be integrated in your morning smoothie, stirred into your oatmeal for a sweet touch or just eaten off the spoon as we like to do for a quick fix in the morning rush.

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Coromega sells other Omega-3 products such as gummies for the candy chewy type of person as well as tropical, mango or orange flavors for the sunny citrus types.  You can find these Omega-3 goodies online or at GNCs and Vitamin Shoppes throughout the Chicagoland area.  Free one week samples available on Coromega‘s website.  Happy Squeezin’ for Brain Pleazin’! (yeahhhh we did that :P).

*We were not compensated for our opinions but were provided with a free sample of Coromega’s Be Bright Superfood Oil Blend.

Help Bring the Herb-N-Juice Truck to life in Chicago!

One of the highlights of living in our great city is the bevy of food trucks we have.  What we don’t have, however, is an eco-friendly juice and smoothie truck!  Imagine your summer yoga sesh in Millennium Park and walking out to find a delicious organic juice blend waiting for you in the Chicago heat.  Herb-N-Juice is a startup company created by Joe Wehrli.  Wehrli, originally a Midwesterner, moved to California for a bit and was inspired by the holistic juicing culture.  His focus is on organic, local produce, and homemade vegan protein blends, delivered in a green juice truck (a cool tech-ed up golf cart).  Wehrli intends to expand to a store front eventually and will include healthy bowls, cold pressed juice and smoothies.

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We had the pleasure of trying the goods this past Saturday at a Chicago Food Bloggers Tasting Party alongside Wehrli’s amiable family and friends.  We were treated to 4 different juices, 2 smoothies and 1 bowl.  Here’s all the juicy details!

Juice 1:

Orange, apple, carrot, celery, ginger

The color was a vibrant tangerine with a sweet carrot smell.  Wehrli intends this to be his morning blend to give you a quick jump in the morning as a substitute for your morning caffeine fix.  The taste was a good balance with no overpowering fruit or veggie flavors.  It has a clean finish with a sweet aftertaste.

Juice 2:

Beet, Apple, Pomegranate, Lemon, Cucumber, Carrot

This is the detox heavy hitter of the bunch.  Kate’s not a huge fan of beets and found the juice to be palatable and less earthy (thankfully) compared to other beet blends.  Monica loved the bright rosey color (contributed by the pomegranate) and loved the light texture.

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Juice 3:

Granny smith apple, celery, kale, cucumber, lemon, pineapple, pomegranate

This green blend is surprising with it’s limey color and balanced flavor.  It is neither too tangy nor too sugary.

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Smoothie 1:

Chocolate almond milk, organic peanut butter, banana, homemade vegan protein powder, greek yogurt

We both loved the smoothie which is surprising as Monica detests all things banana.  The protein powder (Wehrli’s own mix of hemp seeds, chia seeds, lucuma, maca and a few other vegan high protein sources from a natural provider, Nuts.com) is mild and doesn’t detract from the flavor of the chocolate and peanut butter.

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Smoothie 2:

Coconut-almond milk, acai puree, banana, mango, strawberry

This tropical blend is delicate and bright.  Both of us enjoyed the frozen purple milk-shakey texture and the coconut touch.

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Wehrli also served up a diabetic friendly juice with green apple, mint, parsley and other greens.  Although it is not as fruit filled, it is pleasant and maybe even preferable for veggie lovers with it’s alkaline nature.

By now, we’re sure you’re begging to find out where the truck is waiting to grab some easy nutrients.  Well, that’s where help is needed.  Wehrli’s truck is still in process as it is electric, has solar panels AND, unlike most food trucks, the juices and smoothies are made on site.  Many food trucks make their product at a stationary location and then bring it out, pre-cooked, into the world.  This emission free concept has run into some financial snags as Wehrli is attempting to be green with every aspect of his business.  Wehrli will also utilize plant made cups that are fully compostable.  So what are you waiting for?!  If you can, help get Herb-N-Juice on the road by donating to their kickstarter campaign.  Depending on your donation, you may get a rad Herb-N-Juice Tshirt or every hipster’s fave (including our own), a mason jar with the cute Herb-N-Juice logo.

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Juice up!  Winter will be over soon and your swimmy suit is waiting in the wings. :)

5 Easy Tips for Mental Wellness

Ok, so does anyone feel like they just took off their NYE party hats and watched January fly by? February is coming up in a few days and one of the themes of the month is heart health (Ya know, Valentine’s day and all that).  Apart from the physical care of your heart through healthy foods and exercise, another lesser thought of factor is caring for your emotions (stress, loneliness, depression and the like).  We so often focus on the physical and often ignore our mental health needs!  Our friends at the Rooted Center are guest posting this week to share ways we can minimize stress, check in with our emotions and improve our mental well being to make this February full of self care.

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Guest Contributors
Shruti Sekhri of Rooted Center
Dr. Katie Ray, DC
Heather Fraelick, LMT
Heidi Shimko, LAc MSTOM, NCCAOM BOARD CERTIFIED, ACUPUNCTURIST, REIKI MASTER

When it comes to all over well being it seems as if a lot of us are focused on working out or improving our diet.  When we gain weight or get sick, we turn to medicine or again to focus on our physical health.  What if taking the time to nurture our mental health and well being could help prevent weight gain and other health issues?  Mental wellness is just as important as exercise and nutrition, because when we are stressed, our cortisol levels spike which causes a slew of health issues.  When we are stressed, we may not get enough sleep, we turn to emotional eating, and we simply don’t feel well.  Here is how we can help lower stress and improve our allover well being with mental wellness tips!

1) What is the importance of mental wellness?

Mental wellness is pervasive and impacts our physical health, intellectual capacity and our relationships.  When our emotional life is out of balance, it can manifest into physical ailments (we’ve all heard about stress caused illnesses), it can drive us to make reactive decisions that are driven from hidden emotions rather than clarity, and it can cause us to have unhealthy relationship interactions.  By practicing mental self-care, we can reverse these undesired results and instead gain self-confidence, self-worth, and greatly improve our quality of life.

2) How can we become more aware of how we feel?

The first thing that we have to do is set the intention to become more aware.  Once we have that, then we have to give ourselves permission to allow any feeling to be OK – in other words, we have to let ourselves know that we don’t have to judge if we are good or bad for feeling the way that we do.  This creates the safe space for us to start feeling what we feel.

Once we have the safe space, we can have some tools to dig in: 1) put an alarm on your phone twice a day and ask yourself – how am I feeling?  Where do I feel it in my body?  How is my breathing 2) do some stream of conscious journaling – that means just write anything that comes to mind even if it makes no sense 3) Try to just grab a set of pastels and start doodling on some paper and see where it leads you.

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3) What are some ways to cope and deal with stress?

Stress is pervasive and it can actually even be stressful to try not be stressed.  The first thing to do when you’re feeling stressed is to stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath.  Then, see if you can go for a 10 minute walk.  If that’s not an option, start doodling or journaling to find what is creating your stress.  A lot of times, when we know what is creating stress and anxiety for us, the knowledge itself starts to release us from it.

4) What holistic health practices also help maintain a mind body balance that can help with mental wellness?

Some key practices that help our mind and body stay connected and drive towards mental wellness include acupuncture, reiki, chiropractic care, massage therapy, aroma and essential oil therapy, yoga, nutritional balancing, and certainly talk-, equine-, or art- therapy.

5) What are 5 things we can do daily to maintain a healthy mental state?

1)    Schedule time for ourselves – even if it’s 10 minutes (you don’t have to stress about how much or if it’s enough)

2)   Set alarms on your phone to check in with how you are feeling

3)   Notice how you are breathing and see if you can extend your breath once in a while

4)   Spend time talking to someone who gives you empathy rather than advice. Advice is good, but to feel understood is paramount.  In fact, see if you can find an accountability buddy and just text each other one thing that you did for yourself that day

5)   Take a moment to find something you’re grateful for every day

Oh and treat yourself sometimes!  Rooted Center is hosting “Be Your Own Valentine”  on February 7th from 4-7 pm to give you a chance to Love Yo’ Self with mini spa treatments, expressive art sessions and more.  The $25 dollar suggested donation goes to NoStigmas.org.  NoStigmas is a global non-profit movement utilizing Peer-2-Peer connections to promote mental wellness and prevent suicide.  Their individual approach provides education, support systems and access to mental health resources at no cost. 

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Your Fittest Week Ever

Don’t give up on those resolutions yet!  Chicago land is popping this week with low cost and free fitness workshops, health and nutrition seminars and fun events.  Oh and it’s nice-ish outside so you could attempt to brave the outdoors…so, take that winter!

Wednesday Jan 21

Speaking of running, isn’t it more fun with a pack?  Join other lady runners at Fleet Feet Lincoln Square for Chick’s Night.  Runners and walkers are welcome and routes range between 3 and 6 miles.  Can’t do a Wednesday?  Run clubs are also available on other weeknights through Fleet Feet.

Thursday Jan 22

“Shake and pop. Shake and pop.”  Do you ever imagine you’re dancing at a club during your cardio classes?  Your dream is now a reality!  Join Flirty Girl Fitness, live DJs, 3 different dance instructors, back up dancers, lights, sound, and fellow cardio heads at the first ever Club Cardio Concert at Sound Bar.  Tickets are only $15*, cheaper than the usual drop in, and drinks are available for purchase.  This is for the grown and sexy so 21+ only allowed.

Are you trying to explore food allergies or gluten free living?  Bountiful Eatery is hosting a gluten free meetup from 7-9 pm on Thursday.  Holistic Health Coach, Joy Duginske, and Gluten Free Mom, Tiffany Hinton, will share tips and thoughts on gluten free lifestyles.  Attendance is free!  RSVP here.

Friday Jan 23

Do you ever tip toe around your living room pretending to be the Black Swan?  Ok, maybe that’s just us.  Aspiring adult ballerinas and hip hop heads can take free classes at the Joffrey Ballet (GASP! So exciting) at Free First Friday.

Free First Friday

Joffrey Ballet, 10 East Randolph

12:00-1:00 pm Keep Fit Ballet with Kim Sagami
1:15-2:15 pm Pilates with Zineb Chraibi
6:30-8:00 pm Intermediate Ballet with Lynne Alberding
6:30-7:30 pm BeMoved with Jennifer Edgcomb
7:00-8:00 pm Hip Hop with Dantriell Houston

Saturday Jan 24

Whew!  You made it to the weekend.  Now chill and enjoy the fine art of meditation at 9 am with Hamsa Ayurveda and Yoga founder, Monica Yearwood.  No need to register!  Just show up and experience the brain changing power of meditation.

Free Meditation Group
Saturdays, 9 am (open and ongoing). Hamsa Center, 3807 N. Lincoln Avenue.

And then hype yourself back up with free and intense cardio from CrossTown Fitness at the South Loop Lululemon store.  Join Kailee Martin at 3 pm at the Roosevelt Collection.  You must register online to attend.

Photo courtesy of Cross Town Fitness

Sunday Jan 25

2015 is a year for dancing!  Learn some Latin moves for free and heat up your winter at the South Shore Cultural Center with Chicago’s Winter Dance.

Winter Dance, South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.

  • 2-3pm – Lisa “La Boriqua” Latin Street Dancing (salsa lesson)
  • 3-5pm – Viva! Marc Anthony Tribute Project (live salsa band performing two 50-minute sets)

3 Natural Immune Boosting Ideas

“Hooray Cold and Flu Season!” said no one ever (sorry we had to jump on the meme bandwagon).  Yessir, we here in the shivering Midwest are under an alien invasion.  Just kidding, it’s a germ invasion but we think that’s just as scary.  So what are some ways to boost your protective body shield, aka your immune system?

You often read about superstars like ginger, lemon, and honey but their are some lesser known herbs and spices that people throughout ancient history have used to improve their health.  Recently, we were given 3 different immune boosting products to try, all hailing from India: Tulsi Tea, Chyawanprash Organic Herbal Jam, and Turmeric Supplements from Organic India.

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Organic India is a pretty amazing company too.  Organic India was formed in the 1990’s by a group of visionaries who according to their mission “establish a sustainable business model to support the livelihood of thousands of impoverished farmers in India by providing training and education, enabling self-sufficiency and skills that could be passed on to future generations.”  Couldn’t have said it better ourselves!  All of their farmers are taught about and practice organic and biodynamic farming and all of their products are certified organic.  In addition to the samples we were offered, they also sell organic ghee, organic whole husk psyllium and organic sugarcane syrups.

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Tulsi, also known as “Holy Basil” was said to be discovered in India almost 5000 years ago.  Of course, the Tulsi in our tea wasn’t that old…we hope.  Various research studies have suggested that Tulsi can help with respiratory issues, fevers, diabetes and digestive problems as well as everybody’s enemy, stress.  Tulsi may also reduce coughs and cold and could act as a replacement for your daily ‘tussin intake.  Organic India‘s Tulsi tea is quite the stress reliever.  It has an earthy herb flavor that seems decadent, like a nice hot bath with candles and bubbles.  Tulsi tea can easily become part of one’s morning routine or afternoon unwinding time after work.  For more info about Tulsi tea, check out this article.

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Betcha didn’t know turmeric was ginger’s cousin.  What a small rooty world right?  Turmeric has a powerhouse component called curcumin that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  Turmeric has been linked to the following positive health benefits: improved brain function, lowering risk of cancer and heart disease, reduced joint pain, and improved digestion.  Turmeric powder can be easily integrated into cooking delicious dishes, making quick detox drinks, or even just mixing the powder with honey and eating it. If you don’t feel like getting creative in the kitchen, you can get a daily turmeric fix with Organic India‘s turmeric supplements.

And now for something new, Chyanwanprash.  Now, Monica grew up with this little herb dandy but this was Kate’s first time trying it.  Chyanwanprash an ayurvedic herbal tonic made in a jam like mixture with over 35 herbs in it. Wowsa!  It’s been linked to improving respiratory function and getting that digestive system working properly by reducing flatulence (commonly known as the toots) and other maladies like diarrhea.  It is also believed to promote anti aging so we are looking forward to immortality (mwahahaha).

Organic India’s products, their history and mission, as well as some informative and nifty blogs about health are available on here. What are some favorite herbal remedies you use to boost your health?  We need all the health we can get!

GoodBelly for Good Health

Listening to the radio can be enlightening sometimes…like, say when you hear that 9% of your local school district is out with the flu.  Cold and flu season is descending upon us like one of the Khaleesi’s dragons (yes, that was a Games of Thrones reference, we miss it so!), vicious and unrelenting!  Other than hiding in a bomb shelter or wearing a head to toe hazmat suit, what are some more social ways you can keep healthy?

One way is adding probiotics into your diet.  In our super bug society, good little bacteria flora often get killed off with the use of antibiotic soaps and drugs.  These good flora may help ease digestion processes (reduce bloating, gas, etc or make you more regular) and improve the immune system (read more on factors that influence the micro flora balance here).  Bacterial flora are often chilling out in yogurt but not everyone is able to digest dairy products.  GoodBelly, a probiotic juice drink, offers a dairy free, soy free, non GMO, organic AND vegan alternative probiotic boost* for people looking to win the fight on germs.  Each quart or shot also serves up immune enhancing vitamins and others, such as the PlusShot, include calcium too!

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GoodBelly probiotic drinks contain live and active cultures of the probiotic strain, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V®).  This thoroughly researched strain, with over 125 species of flora, has demonstrated an efficient ability to make it’s way through the digestive track and improve both digestion and immunity.  Many product options are juicy and fruit filled while some are for the purist who just wants a “straight shot” without the sugar.  Those with digestive issues should try the SuperShot which contains 50 billion cultures (flora everywhurr!).  We tried 1 flavor of the 32 ounce GoodBelly quart, Pomegranate Blackberry, and one flavor of the 2.7 ounce shots, Blueberry Acai.

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So how’d we fare?  Well the Pomegranate Blackberry is seriously tasty and we liked it so much, we got another quart and snagged a Mango too.  The shots were definitely more concentrated and we felt you could taste the oat base a little more in this version.  Stomach wise, Kate already took probiotics pills and enjoyed the benefits of better digestion processes. GoodBelly is a tastier alternative to pills and is easy to incorporate as a breakfast juice or just a meal in general when running late for work.

Ready to give it a shot (ha)?  GoodBelly walks you through with a 12 Day Belly Reboot with buy 2 get 1 free coupons and a money back guarantee.  Each day, you drink 8 ounces of GoodBelly and you can measure how you feel online with the Belly Tracker to see your results.  3 quarts should get you through your 12 day trial.  We found GoodBelly at the South Loop Mariano’s and it’s available at all Whole Foods.  You can also use GoodBelly’s “Find a Store” function for a store near you!

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*Gluten sensitive folks, take note, although gluten free GoodBelly is available, we have had a hard time finding the elusive green capped bottles in the Chicago area.

We did not receive compensation for this post but did receive coupons for free products.

New Year’s Mind, Body and Soul Detox Workshops

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Did the holidays leave you dazed, not dazzled?  Do you need a little help forming what 2015 will look like this year?  Lisa Payne, celebrity trainer and fitness writer, and Sarah Baker, Chicago based health and wellness consultant, are teaming … Continue reading

Chicago Green City Cookbook

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Hey Chicagoans!  We’re sure you’ve noticed how easy it is to incorporate local farmer’s market produce into your summer time recipes but cooking in winter, jeez what to make?  Then, along comes the Green City Market Cookbook.  Inspired by the beloved Lincoln … Continue reading

Win a Sweet Holiday Prize Pack from Madhava!

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The holiday season brings about so many chances to celebrate…and with celebration comes lots of food, glorious food.  But there are benefactors who want to help you celebrate AND minimize the impact on your health.  Recently, we were contacted by Madhava … Continue reading

Whole Holiday Gift Ideas with Whole Foods

If you’re like most peeps, you have a bevy of holiday partays, gift exchanges and soirees to attend to in the next few weeks.  So what if you need to bring a gift or a tasty treat to your event?  You could make several stops or…you could go to Whole Foods!  Yah we know, for us with low account balances, Whole Foods may seem a bit intimidating.  But we were pleasantly surprised to learn some new developments at Whole Foods this past week at a tour of their River North headquarters.  As we walked from room to room we delighted in the holiday goodies.  In no particular order, here are some Holly Jolly Holiday ideas from Whole Foods.

DIY Gifts

Did you know Whole Foods is a DIY hot spot?  If you have a crafty side, you have all you need to develop a relaxing bath salt, tantalizing sugar scrub, or soothing lip gloss by snooping through Whole Foods’ beauty and bulk section.

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Beauty

On our tour, we created our own Epsom salts by mixing 3 cups of salt with essential oil and flower choices.  We picked the eucalyptus oil (as cold season is on the rampage right now) and calming lavender oil (cuz the holiday traffic is making us pull out our hair.  Then we threw in some bright yellow dried calendula flowers (a relative to chamomile), lavender buds, light pink Himalayan salt, and some crinkly red rose petals.

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Floral

Who says the poinsettia is the only petal you can gift?  The Whole Foods Headquarters arranged a flower bar for guests to create holiday bouquets.  Pluck some deep red and purple buds, add some baby’s breath, and grab a cute mason style jelly jar for presentation.  You can feel charitable about your choice too.  Whole Foods carries fair trade and organic flowers as well as Veriflora Certified flowers (Veriflora certification indicates better working conditions such as no child labor, fair hiring practices, and access to education, healthcare and other needed services).

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Life of the Party

You all know that thing where you’re at a party and everyone is talking around the food set up?  Party food can make or break a soiree.  Stopping by a gathering?  Whole Foods produce, bakery, and cheese departments all offer unique and most talked about treats.  Our favorite cheeses at the gathering were the truffle stuffed camembert (a soft, creamy french cow cheese with a layer of tasty fungus…yes that’s a truffle, weird right?) and a pyramid shaped goat cheese.  In the bakery section, we delighted in gluten free and vegan options like a rice flour crust blackberry pie and the banana hazelnut vegan cupcake from local cupcake purveyor, Swirlz.  And on the non-semi healthy side of things, the gigantic Carol’s cookie was so fresh and chocolately and big enough to feed your whole family.  Or be the angel of the party, bring a fresh fruit tray and rejoice on your savings.  Whole Foods has heard our wallet cries and is now setting out to price their produce on par with competitors like Marianos and Jewel-Osco.

Hosting your own get together?  Lazy it up with Whole Foods catering and wow your guests with gruyere and spinach stuffed mushrooms, ripe guacamole, or ethnic goodies like spanakopita, a greek stuffed phyllo dough appetizer.

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Swirlz Cupcake – Vegan Peppermint Chocolate

Feeling inspired?  Go out there with confidence and shop, dear friends, and impress those peeps with your Whole Foods Holiday swag.