Cooking in Chaos with Chicagoans

Want to show off your cooking skills while eating twenty different dishes all at once? Sounds like a crazy reality show right? A few weeks ago, Monica and a friend attended the launch party of Chaos Cooking</strong in one kitchen with only ten burners and one sink to share with over 50 fellow Chicagoans.

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So you must be wondering how do over 50 people cook in one kitchen?  Well think BYOU!  Bring yo’ own utensils, peeps.  I had to bring my own ingredients and supplies so I threw knives, bowls, cutting boards and such in a box and headed out.   There were several pots in the kitchen for people to use, however, making the event a potluck style social with the twist of cooking on the spot with strangers.

People arrived at the spacious Test Kitchen located in Noble Square and were greeted by the bubbly hostess and event organizer, Victoria DeMatteo.  As more people arrived, others immediately felt a sense urgency and started to prep their food.   Cravzy provided VIPs (those who bought tickets early like me) one ingredient such as tofu, golden beets, asparagus, fish filets, chicken thighs and more.  I selected Manila mangoes to prepare mango salsa.

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Fellow Chicagoans of all different ages and backgrounds came together and had a great time cooking in chaos.  Some dishes were from online recipes such as simple yet yummy mango sticky rice while others created their own dish and even brought electric grill for toasty bread with goat cheese spread and fresh asparagus. A few even stepped out of the box with unique ideas like beer soaked rice.

  

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 So if you have a creative and non-claustrophobic cooking spirit, check out the Chaos Cooking events, held once a month with friends and fellow Chicagoans.  Sign up at Cooking Chaos website for future events or even host an event at your apartment. The next event is Spanish wines and tapas at our fave bistro, Blue Star Bistro & Wine Bar.  Click here to RSVP for this event on June 12th.

What new dish would you make if you had to cook in chaos?

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Detergent for the Green and Eco-Restless

We’re always looking to reduce the amount of chemical exposure we have on a daily basis.  With a multitude of ingredients on products and a limited time span, it’s often hard to figure out what you are putting in and on your body.  Reading the ingredients in our fave products often feels like you’re deciphering an ancient code with no decoder ring.  And laundry detergent is no exception.  Phenalyna-glycol a wha?  You want your clothes to be clean but do you need a ‘laundry’ list of items in your detergent?

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So what’s a more clear option?  Spearheaded by a former fashion designer, Puretergent aims to fill the gap between eco-friendly and fashion forward.  Kate attended a brunch to check out the new line with fellow Chicago bloggers at delicious Beatrix.  The line not only includes a minimalist ingredient list but has easy instructions and identifying packaging for the laundry illiterate.

Check it!  You have a pile of sweaty yoga clothes.  Should you choose the:

  • Colors
  • Whites and Dirty Stuff
  • X-Tra Sensitive

See, not as hard as a Choose Your Own Adventure Book.  Whites and Dirty Stuff it is!

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Now what about the other essential elements you look for in a detergent?

Scent: Botanical fresheners like Aloe Vera, Lavender and Eucalyptus are the scent base.  None of the products smell perfume-y or strong and we especially liked the relaxing lavender smell of the Colors detergent.

Texture: No gooey sticky gel here.  Puretergent is almost like water when you pour it in.

Clothes Feel: No clothing softener needed as Purtergent promotes natural softness.

And the best thing about Purtergent?  It excludes chlorine, phosphates, nonylphenol ethoxylates, alcohol, dyes, optical brighteners, animal products and EPA priority pollutants so you can rest easy in your freshly laundered jammies.

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Puretergent is available at Target and runs at a similar price as most major brands.  Anyone feel like doing our laundry ;)?

Kettlebell Fitness for your tush and thighs

Spring and pending summer raise the “risk” of going out for fruity umbrella drinks, thus raising the probability of expanding our shorts sizes.  YIKES!  Sometimes you gotta switch up your fitness routine to get over the summer drink hump.  But what do two fitanistas do when they’ve tried a gamut of fitness styles?

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Go to an expert!  Our bestest personal trainer friend alerted us to a Kettlebell option in Chicago that we just had to try.  Chicago Kettlebell Club is the go-to place for kettlebell sport training in Chicago, and is home of Chicago’s growing kettlebell sport team.  They also offer intro classes for greenies like us.  The only Kettlebell experience we’ve had was in circuit training-like classes where we hacked our way through the traditional wood chopper exercise.

But now, we know better!  One of the best things about Chicago Kettlebell Club is the bubbly, informative and meticulous instructor, Bea Rodriguez (read her personal story about how she got hooked on kettlebell).  When entering, we were late (we need to work on that!) to the North Side space where Bea’s small group training sessions are held, Evolution, but Bea looped us right in.  There were about 4 other people in the class and the circuit was posted on a dry erase board for more experienced classmates.  Bea warmed us up and then helped us through the entire class with basic kettlebell handling, form, and facts.  This was much appreciated as we figured out we had noooo idea how to handle that sucker.

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Basic Kettlebell Tidbits:

What Da…is a Kettlebell anyways?

Kettlebells originated in Russia and are either cast iron or steel balls with an attached handle.  They range in weight as can be quite light or supremely heavy.  Bea uses steel competition Kettlebells in her classes.

So how much do they weigh?

We started off with a 8 kg kilogram kettlebell (good ol’ pinky the Kettlebell) which equates to approximately 17.6 lbs and bumped up to the light blue 10 kg kettlebell (approx. 22 pounds).  The largest kettlebell (an appropriately colored gold bell) at Evolution weighs 48 kg lbs.

For the math curious, 1 kg=2.2 pounds (Oh you tricky metric system!)
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There are different schools of Kettlebell thought/technique: Girevoy Sport Style and Hardstyle

Girevoy style Kettlebell classes focus on endurance over time whereas Hardstyle does more explosive movements where you tire quickly.  Bea practices Girevoy Sport style, aka fluid style, but you may encounter Hardstyle at your local gym.

You can compete with Kettlebells.

No ways! There is an upcoming competition in Chicago in June, and there are many competitions that team members can attend throughout the year, in Chicago and other states and countries.

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So who should join the Chicago Kettlebell Club?

Whether you’re in Chicago or not, you can join Coach Bea‘s kettlebell sport team.  Male, female, beginner and advanced athletes are all welcome. All you need are 2 things:

1) Set aside 3 times a week to follow Coach Bea‘s weekly programming, whether at home or a gym that has competition bells (in Chicago, Evolution Fitness at 6122 N Pulaski Rd and Phenomenal Fitness at 1450 S Michigan Ave has them)

2) Set up in-person coaching (at Evolution Fitness or Phenomenal Fitness) or video technique coaching.  You may also choose to attend optional team practice sessions at Evolution on Saturdays at 12pm.

Pricing will depend on location and the training package you choose.

Email Coach Bea at chikettleclub@gmail.com with your name and phone number if interested.  More info can also be found here http://thechicagokettlebellclub.com/faqs/

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Here’s a sneak peek demo of a kick butt Kettlebell signature move, the Double Turkish Get-Up 24kg .

Umm soo..do Kettlebells make you lose weight?

As with all things, your nutritional lifestyle and exercise both factor in but yep, Kettlebells burn some major calories so they are an effective tool to get your blood pumping!

We wholeheartedly recommend this class for beginners or advanced fitness students.  Aside from being comfortable with basic swing variations and squat techniques, there was one thing we were definitely sure about…..Bea’s Kettlebell class worked us out!  Our booties and thighs were sore enough to make us think we walked up a mountain!

 

Ready to try it out?  Your first class with Bea is free!  Contact her to get started today.

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And for you competitive go-getter types, here’s a taste of what a competition looks like:

Happy swinging!

 

Girl’s Fit Night: Exhale and Women’s Health Core Fusion Party

We don’t know about ya’ll, but we love spending quality time with our best pals and quality time is even better when you can get fit together!   Exhale Spa Chicago, one of our fave luxurious spa and workout joints, is hosting a free event this coming Tuesday.

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The event includes complimentary evening Core Fusion classes, lite bites, goodie bags, giveaways, DJ’s and more!  The illustrious and well known, Women’s Health magazine, will also be kicking off their “Next Fitness Star” competition with guest star contender, Emily Scrhomm, during the party.  

Core Fusion Barre+Cardio, Exhale’s newest class will be one of the featured workouts for attendees to try during FusionFest.  If you haven’t tried an Exhale class, their instructors are impeccably skilled at merging ab wrenching exercises with toning Barre tricks and sweat inducing bursts of heart pumping moves.  

Anyone who attends the complimentary FusionFest classes will also be the recipient of a free month subscription to WH Fit Club (https://fitclub.womenshealthmag.com/), the online fitness center that gives access to the hottest, most coveted workout studios and leading fitness experts across the country—including exclusive workouts from Exhale co-founders Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp and Exhale’s National Yoga Director Stefanie Eris.

We would love you to join us in a fit and fun girl’s night!  Sign up here, grab your sticky grip socks, cute fitness gear and we’ll meet you at the Barre.

Final Details

Date: Exhale FusionFest, Tuesday May 20th

Class times: 5:25pm, 5:45pm, 6:35pm, 7:45pm

Location: 945 N. State, Chicago, IL 60610

Get “Flattened by Flavor” with Potbelly’s New #Flatbreads!

Is the old white bread rigamaroll bringing you down?  We have developed a forever love of Potbelly’s whole grain bread subs (sorry Subway :/ ) that keeps us coming back for the skinny mushroom melt and the vegetarian Mediterranean.

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But what’s this?  Potbelly has unveiled a new bread experience: the flatbread gloves are off and Potbelly is ready to battle.

Last Thursday, we had the privilege of tasting the new multigrain flatbreads with the toppings of our tried and true sandwich stars.  And boy howdy does Potbelly know how to make you feel special!  Bottles were popping and flatbreads were flowing.  Ok well, actually the new frozen raspberry lemonades with the tiny shortbread cookies on the straws were popping.  We can dream right?

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Once we checked in, we walked upstairs to the VIP lounge.  Each table had several snack bags of BBQ Popchips awaiting our arrival.  Potbelly staff walked around with samples of the several types of sandwiches on the new flatbread.  We both tried a full sized veggie Mediterranean and Kate nibbled the tiny sized grilled chicken and cheese.  The Wreck, Turkey and Tuna on the flats were also available but we didn’t partake.  After we gobbled down our sammiches, we delighted in a “Drop the Popchip in your mouth” competition.

BBQ Popchips!

BBQ Popchips!

Review!

Nutrition: With 90 calories less than Potbelly’s traditional breads, the flatbread is a solid nutritional choice for somebody watching the waistline while craving a sammitch.

Taste: We are a big fan of the skinnys as too much bread can be overwhelming.  The flats had a mild multigrain flavor, not too overwhelming.  They have a nice balance of outside crunch and inside softness as well.  The raspberry lemonade was off the chain tasty but our guess is it is not on the health conscious list.  For a nice summer treat in 80 degree weather, it would alrighty but not the best idea in addition to a cookie, chips, sandwich, shake…hehehe…although light and airy Popchips are a good choice if you just hafta add the chips.

So when can you grab the flats and flatten them out?  Flats go national wide on May 6 and the yummy lemonade hits stands in June.

 

Our VIP Goody Bag from Potbelly

Our VIP Goody Bag from Potbelly

 

Run the Night to Save Some Light! Join the 5k Energizer Night Race

Just as we started to begin to bear running outside again (shaking our fists at the lingering Polar Vortex), we were presented with a chance to not only stretch our fledgling run skills but also to help improve the quality of lives for others.  Sure, fun runs abound in the Chi.  There’s beer runs, chocolate runs (yum), Santa runs, Neon Color Glowy Runs and so on.

But your 5K can be silly and charitable!  Imagine, for example, running down Lake Shore Drive in the dark with a set of bunny ears on.  No, this is not your typical wild Saturday night.  This is the Energizer 5k Night Race for a Brighter World and we are your run ambassadors!

SO why do we need to make a brighter world?

The mission of the Energizer Night Race is to spread awareness of the dangers of unclean lighting.  When you participate in the Energizer Night Race in Chicago, you can help the 1.3 billion people that lack electricity.  Your time running will aid in Energizer’s efforts to donate over 14 million hours of light to families around the world through their partner, One Million Lights – a non-profit that provides clean, safe, affordable solar lighting to rural communities globally.  When we were reading through the info, we were surprised to learn about the usage and dangers of kerosene lighting which is still prevalent in many countries.  To be honest, we sometimes don’t consider all the comforts of home we have!  Are you inspired to lace up those shoes yet?  Here’s the details of the race!

 Energizer Night Race for a Brighter World

Saturday June 7, 2014

Lakeshore East Park

6PM Race Day Packet Pick-up/On-site Registration

7 PM Pre-Race Festivities

8 PM 5K Race Step Off

8:45-10:00 PM Post-Race Celebration

(Keep the bunny ears on for that extra party ‘je ne sais quoi’)

 

Your $35 entry fee includes your Energizer LED headlamp, bunny ears, event shirt as well as pre and post race entertainment.

 

And now we want to spread the positivitenergy™ to you!  We have race GIVEAWAYS so spread the word to keep the lights on!

To win, please tell us how you light up others’ lives and an email where we can reach you.  Deadline May 24th, 2014.

 

Prizes (click on each to see the prize):

2 Free Race Entries

5 Energizer® 3 LED Headlights

Energizer® Solar™ LED Flashlights 

Sign up, spread the word, put on those ears and run faster than a…well, faster than an Enegizer bunny, that’s apropos right?