Healthy Fast Food: Green Bean Chicago

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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.

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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.

Menu Highlites:

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

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Gluten free Chicken Caprese Panini – mozzarella, basil, tomatos, red onion with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

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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

Green Beans

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.

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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!

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Seasons 52 New Winter Menu

Chicago had it’s first snow fall Saturday-officially pushing our glorious fall weather onto a slippery patch of ice and out the door.  As the nights become darker earlier, we find ourselves seeking toasty dishes to fulfill our need for warmth … Continue reading

New to our Brunch Bunch: La Grande Vie

There is nothing better than Sunday brunch.  Even better is not waiting for Sunday brunch…a very rare thing in Chicago, much like unicorns.  When we arrived to the Gold Coast to get the scoop on La Grande Vie’s brunch service, we were a bit perplexed on how to enter as it is situated in a apartment building.  Once we jumbled our way in, we were intrigued by the loungey space and gorgeous chandelier hanging over the entryway.

La Grande Vie

La Grande Vie located in Chicago’s Gold Coast

Great atmosphere: Check!

We were immediately greeted, seated and whisked away to some awesome veggie brunch choices.

We started first with the LGV Panini, sans Ham, with creamy avocado, swiss, scrambled eggs and roasted tomatoes.  The panini was big enough for us to split and came with slightly spicy, crispy potatoes.

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Next came the Frittata with asparagus, red pepper, onions, and cheddar, a solid and hearty dish but not as tempting as our other offerings.  Dipping the egg and hidden potatoes into La Grande Vie’s homemade fresh sweet and chunky ketchup made this dish more interesting.

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The absolutely best part of our experience was the Orange French Toast with orange compote and triple sec maple syrup.  We need to preface this with an important point.  Neither one of us is bowled over by orange flavored breakfast goods but La Grande Vie got this dish supremely right.  It has all the right french (toast) curves.  The bread was crunchy on the outside and delectably soft and custard-y inside and our pick for one of THE BEST FRENCH TOASTS in the city.  The marmalade like topping was very mild and complementary.  A bigger surprise was the candied orange peel with it’s refreshing juicy pop of citrus that added a contrasting flavor profile.  Aww man, now we are thinking about this french toast at 9:37 at night and wishing it was here to comfort us in this polar vortex.

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Fabulous Food: Check!

Cameron, our waiter, was both attentive and helpful throughout our meal.  We liked that nobody hovered and bothered us while we ate but we also didn’t feel ignored.  During our stay, we noticed a separate room with a party popping in it.  There was a networking event for gay men going on but unfortunately, we couldn’t really sneak in unnoticed.  Mark Buot, general manager, explained that La Grande Vie was trying it’s hand at new events.  The room is also available for no charge if you need a spot for a swanky baby or bridal shower.

Satisfying Service: Check!

We’re a little bummed that it’s Monday but hey, at least we made it through Monday and that’s only 5 more days til brunch comes back around.  Has anyone else experienced the culinary delights of La Grande Vie?  If not, get over there..and grab us some french toast in case we can’t get out snowy driveways.