This past weekend we went to the Good Food Festival for the third year in a row. Click here to read one of our first blog posts about our first Good Food Festival three years ago. Yesss, we are celebrating the three year … Continue reading
Monthly Archives: March 2016
Run and Strength Train with CrossTown Fitness
Runners and Lifters will love this Chicago Workout with @CTFChicago Continue reading
Healthy Fast Food: Green Bean Chicago
It’s not often that healthy and fast food share the same title but magic is possible. Behold, we hath found a restaurant that aims to do both (oh and its yummy, princes and princesses). We know there’s a few chain healthy alternatives in Chicago but none are 100% gluten free, GMO free and free of common allergins (no nuts, coconut or chickpeas) like the new Green Bean Chicago.
It’s not often that you learn about the passion behind the restaurant you are eating in either. Owners, Executive Chef Mike Watson, Aaron Bush and investor and dietary manager Srinivas Ravanam partnered on this daunting culinary adventure for many reasons. Mike thinks about the health of his children and how fast food often targets them. Aaron works in the health and wellness industry across the state and sees how limited healthy food availability affect people throughout Illinois. Both wanted an affordable fast healthy option for working families. Both strive for a healthier tastier lifestyle for themselves.
We received free samples of their menu for review.
Pick Your Protein: Chicken, Portabella Mushrooms (vegetarian) or Steak
Wrap it up: Choose a gluten free wrap, gluten free panini, or keep it simple with a salad
What’s Your Flavor? Choose Asian, Caesar, Caprese, Griller, Greek or Spanish style toppings
What we ate:
Gluten free Mushroom Griller Panini – pineapple, asparagus, mixed greens and spicy mango sauce
Gluten free Chicken Caprese Panini – mozzarella, basil, tomatos, red onion with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Gluten Free Mushroom Caesar Wrap – croutons, parmesan, romaine and caesar dressing
Sides – Sweet Potato Fries, Tempura Green Beans, Black Bean Hummus
Dessert! – Gluten Free Caramel Cupcake with Italian Salted Caramel Gelato
Loving the light life:
All meals (entree, a side and a drink) are balanced to run around 500-600 calories. There is NO soda at Green Bean but instead homemade stone fruit waters are provided for the combos. Price point runs about the same as a Panera, Chipotle or chain greasy fast food meal, around $8-$9 for a meal.
Who needs gluten?
Kate is sensitive to gluten and has tried gluten free wraps and breads before. Some good (Udis), some not so good (some kinda yucky wrap). Chef Mike’s personal gluten free bread and wrap recipes (a mix of tapioca and rice flour with extra love) don’t seem “gluten free”. Both were hearty and satisfying.
Take us to flavor town!
Monica noted the sweet potato fries were delightfully crispy. Chef Mike explained they are made fresh 4-5 times a day…no preservatives here peeps. She also adored the salted caramel melty creamy gelato. Kate was stuffed to the brim by her chicken caprese panini and, although she doesn’t normally get the feels for mushrooms, these ones were garlicky, juicy and free of that sometimes unpleasantly earthy flava flav. No complaints at the taste office here.
Final Tasting Notes:
We highly recommend Green Bean. It’s health conscious, allergy friendly, and you get your monies worth. Fun Foodie Fact: You can get breakfast or lunch/dinner ANY time (for you brunch cravers). It’s also awesome if you have a social group with dietary needs. You can bring your diabetic dad, celiac sister-in-law, and nut allergic nephew all to the same place! Green Bean is expanding to Schaumburg (yaya suburbanites!) and plans to franchise in future locations. So lighten up and head to Green Bean when you’re in the mood for a healthy and quick meal!
Yoga 101 @ Studio Three Chicago
Do you wanna know a secret? We’ve been practicing yoga for years. It’s what brought our friendship to fruition. BUT! We’ve never taken a Yoga 101 class until now.
Studio Three’s new FREE Yoga 101 class offers a format that is accessible to anyone, from new yogis, to sweaty gurus (especially those who need patience practice). So don’t be nervous if you’ve never ventured into this world of open mouth tongue out breathin’. We checked it out 2 Saturdays ago and checked our assumptions at the door.
Studio Three’s yoga studio features linen covered decorative lamps (good for staring at in a hard pose), hardwood floors and natural light to induce relaxation. Studio Three also features cycling and interval training in its other 2 studios.
Attending your first yoga class can be intimidating. You know, those people all stretching and showing off their wacky legs behind their head poses. However, our teacher, Todd Rhoades, was bubbly, welcoming and accommodating to all in the room. Luckily no one in our class was stunting either. Todd is multi-talented and has a background in yoga, and dance. This evident in his grace and ease at talking through poses.
Note: Emily DeBouver and Maggie McElhiney are teaching an “It’s Britney B*^#h” dance class on March 25th at Studio Three if yoga’s not your thang.
Format (may vary by teacher):
We began with pranayama practice, breathing in one nostril and out the other, sometimes feeling like a drowning hippo. Prana what, now? It’s a breathing practice for yoga to help you be in tune with your gorgeous bod. We then moved on to sun salutations with an explanation and demo of each step. Class may seem slow if you are used to quick vinyasa flow but we were sore after and learned a ton. Classes can cover a variety of topics including etiquette, form, history and/or alignment.
Where: Studio Three, 648 N Clark Street
Chicago IL, 60654
When: Saturdays, 1:45-2:45 pm
Bonus: This Saturday, March 19th, is Yoga 101 with QUICHE AND MIMOSAS!!
Sign Up: First, sign up for an account. Next, schedule yourself!
Already experienced? Studio Three could appease many a yogi with styles from Forrest Yoga (from the amazing Allison English) to Hot Power, Flow, or challenging Hi-Def (integrated yoga and strength training). We gots to go back and give another try another style.
*Update* 3/25/2016 Yoga 101 will morph into Power Yoga 101 for April.
Low Sugar Protein Bars: Luna Improved
A busy life calls for easy snacks. We love having the option of something we can just throw in our gym bag and go. What we don’t want is eating a nutrition bar that is basically a candy bar disguised as a health food. We’ve been Luna Bar fans for years but were excited to find out they reduced their Lemonzest and Chocolate Peppermint Stick. Both have 25% less sugar than before. We received samples to taste test the evolution.
Snack Bar Stats
Sugar: Reduced from 12 g to 9 g
Protein: 9 g
Fiber: 3 g
Chocolate Peppermint Stick
Sugar: Reduced from 12 g to 8 g
Protein: 8 g
Fiber: 4 g
What do we think?
Suga, we don’t miss you:
The low sugar bars actually taste better than before and there are no artificial sweeteners.
Crumbly Cookie Style:
We also noticed a change in texture. Both tasted less dense and the oats were crumbly which was pleasing.
The ingredients are mostly organic and non-GMO. Cliff Bar, the parent company, works with organic farmers and focuses on sustainability in their practice. With under 200 calories and a boost of vitamin and minerals, these Luna bars can be included in a healthy diet.
Luna Bar is also releasing 3 new choco-riffic bars with only 5 grams of sugar and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is a major yesss because of its antioxidants.
Luna Bar flavor creations, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk, Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, and Dark Chocolate Hazelnut are now available, each with 5 grams of sugar!
Which flavor tickles your fitness fancy? Do you have a go to flavor of Luna Bar that you already love? Tell us in the comments!
20 Minute Toning: Ignite Fitness Review
Admit it. Sometimes, during tough workout videos, you lie there huffing and puffing hoping your virtual teacher won’t catch you slacking. That feeling is slightly guilty/awesome because you know this workout is challenging you.
It may seem that 20 minutes of fitness won’t do squat (HA!) but high intensity workouts can pack a punch for more energy and toning. We received a complementary Blu-Ray copy of the Women’s Health Ignite workout starring Next Fitness Star winner Nikki Metzger to test its fit factor. Nikki Metzger isn’t just some gym rat of the street. She’s a Master Trainer and owner of BODI gym in Scottsdale, Arizona. She’s not afraid to slap you with a bad @#s fitness routine.
Ignite fires you up with 3 x20 minute stand alone (or get crazy and plow through all 3) workouts. Bonus: An 8 minute bananas ab sequence in case you didn’t feel sore enough.
More of a traditional weights workout, but still maintains an interval format. Nikki demos the moves and sets before each change. Free weight usage is optional, removing intimidation for the recently sedentary.
Guacs, this is a doozy. Plyometrics take center stage for this cardio heavy chapter with crazy hard moves like the evil planky bear or real move name: Lateral Bear Crawl.
Your muscles will get HIIT from the front and the back with this 360 high speed interval routine. Expect 45 second sets with 3 sets in each rotation. Moves include modified burpees with a row added, plank walk outs and our Snapchat favsie: The Starfish Crunch.
- These 20 minute speed workouts torch calories and slow time. You can fit this into a busy life!
- Nikki’s lady crew each demo-ed a different move level for beginners up to bodybuilder lost your mind mode.
- As a trainer, Nikki is approachable and encouraging. Also, we like her fitanista style with 3 on fleek fit outfits to choose.
- 8 minute abs was like 8 minutes confused. Transitions were too too fast so it was hard to follow where to move next.
- Closed caption anyone? This is 2016 so I am sure the fitness industry would want people with hearing issues to be able to follow along with verbal cues too.
- Why do all workout videos have drum kit music created on a Casio keyboard for their background? We suppose it’s necessary to appease a majority of viewers (?) but we think even keyboard cat could do better.
Final (Get) Cut
Extra Extra! Get your 20 minute toning with Ignite here. Not ready to commit? Check out a preview of Nikki’s training here.
Looking for other workouts? Check out some suggestions from previous posts here.
Meatless Monday: New Laughing Cow Asiago Cheese
Cheese! The friend of many a vegetarian and, in excess, a possible foe to your caloric intake. Laughing Cow Brand Spreadable Cheese Wedges can make you giggle in cheesy delight however and ease your cheese anxiety (easy cheesy..hahahaha).
We’ve always been a fan of Laughing Cow cheese. Their spreadable wedges are portable, low in calories, high in protein and a versitile snackaroo. One of their newest flavors, asiago, is savory and satisfying when on the go, a quick after work snack or even when hosting a partaaaay. We received free samples during the launch of the asiago wedge back in January and lightened up our New Years but then bought even more for the Super Bowl. We decided to create 2 contrasting recipes to showcase 2 sides of the same cheese.
Kate’s Sweet N’ Spicy Wedges
- 1 Can Crushed Pineapple Slices
- 1 Jar Jalapeno Jelly
- 1 12 ounce Jar sliced Jalapenos
- 1 bag CrunchMaster Multiseed Crackers
- Laughing Cow Asiago Cheese
Sooo…this is so easy! Lay out the Multiseed Crackers crackers on plate. Use a cheese knife or butter knife to spread 1/4 wedge of cheese (or more if desired) on each cracker. Spread jalapeno jelly on each cracker. Garnish each cracker with a piece of pineapple and a slice of jalapeno. These lil’ crackers got demolished at our NYE gathering so we’re sure you’ll love um.
Monica’s Italiano Caprese Wedges
- Cherry tomatoes sliced in halves
- Fresh Basil leaves
- Italian herbs
- Garlic Sea Salt
- Whole Black Pepper grinded
- 360 Whole Foods EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- Laughing Cow Asiago Cheese
Peel open several Laughing Cow Asiago cheese wedges, remove wrapper and set each wedge on a plate. Sprinkle dried basil leaves, Italian seasoning, garlic, sea salt, and grounded black pepper on each wedge. Slice cherrry tomatoes in half and wash/pat dry the basil leaves. Add fresh basil leaves and halves cherry tomatoes to each wedge.
Laughing Cow Asiago can also be smeared on tortilla chips and turned into breakfast nachos with scrambled eggs and veggies, spread on a bagel with spinach and roasted peppers or whateva’ you like (as T.I. says). Or try the Pistachio Pear Honey Asiago recipe posted recently for a sweet treat. Click here to read the recipe.
Are you team Sweet N’ Spicy or team Italiano? Do you have any other Laughing Cow Recipes you love? Offer 9 total flavors, you can #savorthemoment with a different flavor every day! Find Laughing Cow products at a grocery store near you.
Winter Running Gear: YakTrax Run
What is it about Midwestern winter (and sadly sometimes spring) that can totally diminish your run game? The chill in the air, the icy scaled sidewalks, that daunting first inch of snow…man we wanna grab our snuggie and hot chocolate just writing this! We kept trying to figure out how we could keep running safely when the weather outside became frightful Snow solution? A fluffy white magical Yak picks you up and you sashay through the shivery slush…or you could try YakTrax for a more realistic tool for winter running woes.
What’s a YakTrax you ask? The name sounds like a new Dr. Seuss character and just in time for his birthday! But we digress. We read a couple of “Best of Winter Running Gear” articles and YakTrax brand traction devices dominated many a list so we ski jumped for joy when we were given a pair from Implus, fitness accessory brand leader, to trek across the blustery terrain.
Inspired by a Himalayan Sherpa, the original Yaktrax model features a spikeless coil design that grips the ice and snow with each step. Yaktrax Run’s combination of removable spikes and steel coils, providing 360° of unbeatable traction. Continue your training during the winter with the same stability you are accustomed to on dry surfaces. The Yaktrax Run can be worn in temperatures as low as ‑41° Fahrenheit.
Mittens Up (Yup, Thumbs Up)
Throw your mittens in the air if you just don’t care…about running in the cold. Here’s the positives about YakTrax Run and winter running.
- Fit like a Glove – YakTrax Run snuggled around our sneakers and stayed put during our jogs.
- No Directions Needed – You could dream of sugar plum fairies while putting your YakTrax on (aka daydream). They are user intuitive and are marked to guide you (left and right/heel and toe)
- Dashing Through the Snow – YakTrax did not have a drastic affect on our gait. They kinda feel like you’re bouncing a bit on a cloud of snow. We only put in a 5k distance so not sure how they’d fair on a longer jaunt.
Mittens Down (Thoughts for improvements and tips)
- The Weather Calls For Snowzilla – When reviewing other runners, YakTrax Run is made for a specific type of weather. You probably shouldn’t run across an ice skating rink for prolonged amounts of time as they aren’t made for thick ice or feet of snow backwoods running. Stick to mildly icy pavement and moderate snow for best results.
- Slushy Slush (our new rap name) – Slushy snow can get trapped in the back of the heel so you may have to tap tap tap a tree once in awhile to get it out.
For you non-runners, YakTrax carries 6 other types of traction variations for any purpose from your ma’s walks in the afternoon, to your bestie who hits the ski slope every weekend.
Strap up your run shoes in some YakTrax Run coils for only $40 here, less than that Yak (about $2000) and besides Yaks weigh 700 pounds so where would you house them?
For now, the weather has us chanting the mantra of the post office: Neither rain, nor moderate ice nor snow can stop us from running–now that we have YakTrax Run coils. Maybe a tornado would stop us though…just sayin’. What do you think about YakTrax or other run traction devices? We would love to hear your thoughts. Comment below and until next time, happy trails!