Win a Lifeway Kefir Prize Pack and Tame Tummy Troubles!

If there’s one thing politicians on both sides of the aisle should be able to agree with, it’s the stance of being pro-biotics.  HA!  Haven’t heard of probiotics as a hot button issue?  Well, perhaps that’s because they are a … Continue reading

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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Halos Mandarins Giveaway

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Why HALOOOOOO there!  We love giving away love to our readers but even better is a giveaway with pocket sized healthy treats, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  So have you ever tried Wonderful Halos mandarins?  At 50 calories each, these little orange fruits pack a punch of vitamin C without the seeds. We were given a bag to try but we’ve been buying these bebes in bulk since winter citrus became the rage again (or in season as the laymen say).  You can just throw them in your lunch bag, peel them without ruining your manicure, and with minimal desk mess.

But let’s veer off the beaten grove path.  You can also cook some sunny recipes with Halos to brighten up your day.

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One gloomy Sunday, we went bananas for mandarins with our brunch.

Baked Orange French Toast from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom

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We kept close to the recipe but shaved off the zest of a Halos mandarin and subbed cinnamon for nutmeg.  Make sure you butter the pan or use PAM spray as our forgetfully blissful selves missed this step and our french toast had separation anxiety from the baking pan.  Taste overrides appearance, however, and this orangey french toast didn’t disappoint.  We tossed some mandarin pieces on top with a drizzle of pure maple syrup for pure deliciousness.

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Blueberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins from Damn Delicious

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This tasty and healthy recipe from home cook and blogger, Chungah An, features greek yogurt, fresh blueberries and orange zest.  These little muffins were simple to make, moist, fluffy and fruity!

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Looking for more Wonderful mandarin Halos ideas?  Wonderful Halos has a cool creative blog with more than just recipes.  Just in time for Valentine’s day, you can find sweet crafts and snacks to delight kids and adults alike.

Orange you glad we shared these recipes (hehehehe)?  Now for the giveaway details so you can make your own holiday halo-ful:

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Your Wonderful Halos Gift Basket giveaway includes a juicy bunch of Wonderful Halos mandarins,a Wonderful Halos branded lunch box, backpack, water bottle, chapstick (mandarin flavored), sunglasses and stress ball shaped like a mandarin.

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway and happy halo-ing!

Sweet Scarletts Grapefruit Giveaway

Saying “so long” to sweet summer strawberry season can be saddening but as berries make their way out, sunny peak seasoned citrus can fill your fruit fancies.  Maybe grapefruit, however, isn’t normally your top citrus treat. Grapefruit can bring memories … Continue reading

Bake 425º Pizza Review

For once the suburbs beat Chicago to something yummy.  New local business, Bake 425°, promises Farm-to-Crust Bake at Home pizza and operates in Highland Park, Hinsdale, Evanston, Glencoe, Winnetka and Lake Forest.  Bake 425° took over the hole left by HomeMade Pizza Kitchen but with a modified format.  Owner, Bill Borneman, decided to keep the ease of the pre-made ready to cook pizza but shift to locally sourced, small batch and organic ingredients.  Specialty diets are honored with gluten free crust and vegetarian pizza options.  For traditionalists, classic cheese, Margherita and “pick your own topping” choices begin the menu.  Adventurous pizza monsters (like us) will be pleased, however, by the unique menu items like Poblano and Chicken Sausage pizza or the Earth Lover pizza with truffle oil, Yukon Potatoes, Portabello mushrooms and Béchamel.

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Bake 425° gave us one pizza, one salad and a cookie to sample and review.  We chose the Go Green vegetarian pizza, Sunshine salad and chocolate chip cookie.

What we liked:

Pizza: The Go Green pizza comes with pistachio pesto sauce, brussel sprouts, quartered cherry tomatoes, garlic oil and mozzarella.  Pesto sauce on pizza is a total thumbs up and the brussel sprouts were (thankfully) roasted and crisp.  Crust is whole grain so some consumers may not be used to the dough’s heartier taste compared to white flour.

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Salad: The Sunshine salad was filled with spicy arugula greens, roasted butternut squash, pine nuts and shaved mozzarella.  Lemon oil dressing complimented the mix with a tart and bright flavor.  The salad did need a little bit of salt and pepper to balance the sour lemon.

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Ease of Cooking: Bake 425° gives you everything you need to cook your ‘za, except an oven of course.  Instructions are clear and you are provided with parchment paper for cooking, eliminating the need for any pans or clean up!

Serving Sizes: We fed three people, which averaged about $10 dollars a person…not bad for a quality take home meal.

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What we would change:

The Chocolate Chip Cookie: Nothing really against the taste of the cookie but after eating a pizza, maybe the gelato that Bake 425° offers would balance out the meal better than ending with more dough.  We were so stuffed from the pizza, we barely touched the chocolatey dude.

Why would you try it?

When you are having one of those “I wanna stay in my blankey and bake on my couch” kind of nights, Bake 425° can simplify your night without compromising your taste buds.

Pay it Forward with My Fit Foods

Back to school time brings joy and challenges.  The world just seems to speed up and you have less and less time for meal prep.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  So why not strike against prepping!  Chicagoland My Fit Foods can help busy people feel less busy.

This quick healthy food chain started in Houston before spreading it’s healthy roots to five different states.  All foods are gluten free and many are paleo-friendly.  On our visit to My Fit Foods we noticed how it separates itself from other convenient health meal services with its offering of supplements, protein powders, and muscle building snacks.  They have a registered nutrition on staff who works with you to set goals and keeps you in check.  A 21 day challenge option can be a best bet for someone trying to make healthy eating a habit.  Sunny, the registered dietitian at the Clybourn location of My Fit Foods, explained how different types of fitness goals, including weight loss, gain, toning or bulking up, could be integrated into the meal plan.  Sunny doesn’t stop at just nutritional counseling.  She encourages participants to work out and lends a listening ear for clients, even if they slide off track.  The meals are very meat focused, however, and as there is only a smattering of veggie options, this service wouldn’t be the best bet for strict vegans and vegetarians.  Carnivores rejoice, however, with a bevvy of meaty flavors.

Kate’s favorite dish was the turkey chorizo egg white omelette with seasoned sweet potatoes.  Monica’s favorite breakfast (one of few vegetarian options) was the “Fit Energy Bar” consisting of a yummy peanut butter cranberry bar with berries and non-fat greek yogurt.

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We also loved the daily cleanse ingredients available for purchase.  Get a daily dose of energy with liquid B12, apple cider vinegar, lemon, and unsweetened cranberry juice and ditch the caffeine habit.  We liked to sprinkle turmeric and chili powder in for a little extra vitamin va va voom.

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Ready to bite into a quick bit of healthy food?

My Fit Foods is currently promoting Pays “Fit” Forward this September every Friday with a focus on friends and charity.  Healthy eating is taking on a whole new meaning of “feel good,” with My Fit Foods’ “Pay Fit Forward” campaign.  During the month of September, My Fit Foods’ is encouraging their guests to share healthy lifestyle habits with friends, whilegiving back to those in need.  Guests who purchase a meal at My Fit Foods during participating “Pay Fit Forward Fridays” will be offered the option to donate a FREE meal either to a friend, or to a local hunger-relief charity.

“My Fit Foods is committed to making healthy flavorful meals convenient and accessible for everyone,” said David Goronkin, CEO of My Fit Foods.  “We recognize that it is much easier and more fun to adopt healthy habits with a friend or partner.  We look forward to having our guests come in and participate, whether it’s sharing a delicious meal with a friend or paying it forward to a local charity.”

As part of the “Pay Fit Forward” program My Fit Foods retail stores will guarantee a donation to each of the local charities within the respective markets.  Donations in Illinois will go to the Lakeview Pantry, one of Chicago’s largest and longest-operating food depositories.  Wanna double the impact?

My Fit Foods invited celeb besties Ashley Tisdale and Vanessa Hudgens; Mandy Moore and Minka Kelly; Nina Dobrev and Julianne Hough to eat at My Fit Foods during the month of September.  If any of these celebrity duos accept and visit any My Fit Foods retail store during the month of September, My Fit Foods will DOUBLE its Pay Fit Forward hunger-relief charity donation.  Guests and social media users can help My Fit Foods rope these BFFs into the action by tweeting and using the hashtag #PayFitForward.

Disclosure: Thank you to the Clybourn My Fit Foods location and Sunny, the kindest registered nutritionist around, for free meals and knowledge in exchange for this post.

Giveaway! Pure Canada Maple Syrup

If you read our last post, we tried to coerce you into running the Fit Foodie 5k…we are still trying.  Come with us!!

One of the sponsors of the race is Pure Canada Maple with their delish maple syrup.  Who can say no to a big ol’ stack of pancakes with maple syrup?  You can even modify them to make them healthy no grain paleo banana cakes…or something goodish for you :).

Here’s some things we didn’t know about PURE CANADIAN maple syrup!  Don’t be going for none of that processed syrup wanna-bees.

  • It has many health benefits for runners (or wanna be runners like us).  It naturally contains essential vitamins and nutrients such as maganese, riboflavin, zinc (just in time for cold season), magnesium and potassium.  Many of these are vital elements for muscle repair.
  • It doesn’t cause the same blood sugar spike as many sugars and alternatives like the oh so pervasive corn syrup.
  • It contains polyphenols similar to those you find in healthy tea, red wine and flax seed and 54 different antioxidant compounds.
  • It has simple carbohydrates that are easily broken down by the body into glucose and used for fuel during exercise.

Follow us on race day and look for our #ILOVEMAPLE tweets to learn more.  Oh, and, wanna win some satisfying syrup?

Enter our giveaway and tell us in the comments what fit foodie recipe could you use Pure Canadian Maple Syrup in to win a maple prize pack*.  We would love some roasted brussel sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of Pure Canadian Maple Syrup.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!!!

*Prize pack may include a variety of the following items: maple water, maple syrup and other maple themed items.

Infographic shared from the Pure Canadian Maple website.

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Throw Shade at Food Allergies with Sun Cups

Ah the pleasures of being Aunties!  You get to see your nephews, hug them, play games with them and give them back.  Both of us have outgoing nephews under 3 who love to snack.  Sadly, both of them have food allergies.  Nut, dairy, shellfish, gluten and more can all lead to unhappiness for many people.  This is precisely how the fabulously chocolatey dessert, Sun Cups, came about.  In 2008, Seth Ellis Chocolates opened their door to find a determined dude with chocolate and sunflower seed butter in hand who wanted a comparable Peanut Butter Cup substitute for his nut allergic son.  Challenge accepted and thus Sun Cups were birthed from a chocolate womb…or maybe created in the store.

Sun Cups are not only nut free (and pack with sunflower butter goodness) but also gluten, egg, shellfish, soy and fish free.  If that wasn’t enough wholesomeness to sunny your disposition, Sun Cups are non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Kosher, and they help the environment by using Rainforest Alliance Certified farms for their chocolate.

We were given illuminating Sun Cups to sample and brought them to a park picnic to share with our peeps.

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Milk Chocolate Sun Cups

Dark Chocolate Sun Cups

The dark chocolate cups had a nice balance of sunflower butter filling and a firm semi sweet dark chocolate shell.  There are 2 in a pack and we refused to share.  Dark chocolate is a great choice for getting your healthy flavonoids while treating yo’self.

Caramel Sun Cups

Our male comrades are caramel hounds and gobbled these up before we could even breathe on them.  One tester commented: “The caramel tastes like buttery melty toffee”.  We are happy it made his soul shine but jealous too.

Mint Sun Cups

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Mint and sunflower seed? Uhh let’s see how this works.

Sun Cups also sell milk and dark chocolate bars for the simplistic types.  C’mon who doesn’t like a good cup!? You can find Sun Cups online or at health food locations nationwide.

Eat Local: Burger Point Restaurant Review

Do you ever wonder where your McDonald’s cheeseburger meat came from?  Unless you’re subjected to some kind of food coma induced nightmare, you probably have avoided being “in the know” on fast food meat origins.  “But burgers are so delicious”, you say.  Yeah we get you, (well the dabbling meat eater one of us, aka Kate, does and the veggie burger fiend one of us, aka Monica, may have an inkling too).  Burgers, in all their glorious forms, are special sammiches.  But as we are grown people, we like grown and sexy sammiches with ingredients we can name…and we LOVE food that’s locally sourced and not only tastes fresh but is fresh.

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Recently, we visited the South Loop to try a locally owned burger slinging business, Burger Point (with no creepy clowns, bonus!).  Owners, co-founders and couple, Asha Mathew and David Esterline, pride themselves in providing consumers with grass fed beef as well as organic chicken, turkey and veggie burgers.  Asha and David started Burger Point about 3 years ago and used to gaze at the space across from their condo and dream of opening their own business.  They often craved a juicy organic burger a ala North side DMK burger so they snatched up the corner spot on State and Archer and started their own burger revolution.  Local sourcing is their priority and many produce items come from David’s produce shop.  95% of the menu is house made.  Meat is ground, formed into fresh patties in the restaurant and meals are made to order (take that, Burger King!)

The menu hosts 17 specialty burgers, wangs (or wings as some might call them) with house made sassy sauces, and side options like house cut sweet potato fries.  We started our culinary experience with hearty samples of the vegetarian chili.  A toasty bowl of chili is definitely the thing for a Chicago arctic winter.  It had a healthy amount of cooked “just right” beans, a perfectly thick consistency and a nice kick of spice.  We liked the bits of tofu floating around in the mix as it added to the filling nature of the chili.  This dish could make your meal and Burger Point gives you free toppings like cheese, sour cream, olives and onions to boost it’s fill factor.

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For the main event, Kate got a little meaty and tried the #7 hamburger, called the Dirty South, with aged cheddar cheese, double smoked crisp bacon and BBQ sauce on a homemade pretzel roll.  The flavor of the bacon and burger was juicy, not greasy, and Kate noticed a markedly higher meat quality than chain restaurants.  Kate’s fave part was the PRETZEL BUN!! “I know me and gluten are iffy but this was a homemade pretzel bun”

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Monica tried the #14 with the moniker the Best Damn Veggie Burger Ever, which sports a homemade veggie patty with chipotle aioli, havarti cheese and avocado on a sesame seed bun.  She liked the balance of beans and rice, simplicity combined, but needed more kick from the chipotle aioli to counterbalance.

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Becoming a Burger Point Superfan can have perks.  Customers can use the delivery ease of Grubhub or Ordersnap to ensure no leaving of one’s bed is necessary, crumbs be damned.  If you do choose to wear pants and leave the house, Burger Point is located on the quiet corner of Archer and State.  Frequent Feeders can join a rewards endeavor called the 5 Star Program.  Every $5 spent gives the user a point which can eventually lead to free point earned foods.  One customer even racked up so many points that there is a burger named after him, the #17 Saigon Johnny, featuring fresh ground chicken, sliced cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro with sriracha aioli and soy sauce.  The couple and their manager, Ryan, like to let their minds run wild with new monthly recipes.  Their salmon burger is very popular for the Lenten season and now they are working on the aptly named Heart Attack consist of 5 different types of bacons. We are guessing it features pork, beef, turkey, chicken and tempeh bacon (haha we actually have no idea.  Is there such a thing as chicken bacon?  Chicky bake for short?)

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The South Loop neighborhood is close to popular Chicago locales like Soldier Field, the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium in addition to public transportation making it an accessible choice for tourists and locals alike.  If you want a relatively quick and tasty meal that doesn’t challenge your moral meat values, leave those golden arches behind and taste Burger Point!

Be Healthful Retreat: A Holistic Health and Wellness Retreat

The Healthful Guide Presents:

The Be Healthful Retreat: A Holistic Health and Wellness Retreat

Event: Be Healthful: A Health & Wellness One Day Retreat

Hosted By: The Healthful Guide and In Good Taste Magazine

http://behealthfulretreat.eventbrite.com/?aff=IndustryAffiliates&afu=87145668223

Oh DANG! Workout classes all day, mini spa treatments, juicy samples

#BeHealthful will partner with In Good Taste Magazine, Whole Foods, Karyn’s Raw, and other health and wellness leaders in Chicago for an all ­day wellness retreat and holistic health industry event at Moonlight Studios.  Get ready to be educated, entertained, and inspired!

Be Healthful will offer a series of pop­ up fitness classes, workshops given by wellness professionals, healthy eats, and over 20 health conscious vendors.  The retreat will provide an oasis for guests to recharge and reset for the week ahead.  All will leave pampered and energized.

Thirty percent of ticket sales will be donated to the official charity beneficiary of the event, Charity4LIFE.

The one day retreat is an “open ­house” meaning guests can come and go throughout the day and can build their own itinerary. Upon registration, guests can reserve their spot in what workshops/yoga classes they want to attend, and also the times that they want to visit each vendor for their spa services and wellness consultations.

What is included in the registration fee ($39.00) and $10 OFF code: CHIORGANICGIRLS

  • ­ 10 yoga and pilates classes (you can take as many as you like throughout the day) Moksha Yoga, Exhale Spa, Pilates Pro Works, Abigail Simon of Joffrey Ballet, Yoga Six, Tru Body Yoga, Yoga Loft, Flex Pilates, and more.
  • ­ 7 workshops including Ayurvedic detoxes, reflexology workshops, nutrition and motivational talks, cooking demos, and more.
  • ­ Spa services including: full body spray tans, facials, oxygen treatments, light therapy sessions, scalp and shoulder massages; mini makeovers including makeup consultations and hair styling, and more.
  • ­ Wellness consultations including: detoxing consults, posture examinations, tongue examinations, mind and body consultations, and more.
  • ­ Food and Beverage tastings including juices, a variety of plant ­based cuisine, vegan and paleo baked goods, artisan teas, and herbed popcorn. (guests have the option to purchase goods from vendors at guests discretion)

Oh DANG! Workout classes all day, mini spa treatments, juicy samples…what are you waiting for?  Come join us because we all need a chance to recharge and pamper ourselves.

About The Healthful Guide:

The Healthful Guide is a plant based dining and healthy living directory for the city of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Healthful is dedicated to bringing more awareness to living a nourishing and holistic lifestyle. Their core belief? That life is all about being Healthful. To learn more visit http://eathealthful.com