Nutrition Gets Fancy With Curate Snacks

Us gals are always on the look out for new healthy and interesting grab n’ go snacks.  Call it the too busy syndrome or too curious syndrome.  Balancing full time jobs with our passion for blogging sometimes leaves us with … Continue reading

Tips for Trekking Your First Trail Run

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Now that Race-tober has come to a close, we’ve had a chance to reflect on all the “firsts” we’ve experienced this month: Monica ran her first 10K, Run 10 Feed 10, Kate took her sister to her first 5k, a very rainy yet triumphant Monster Dash and one of our most memorable races, our first trail run with the The North Face Endurance Challenge at Kettle Moraine State Park.  The North Face went above and beyond in sponsoring us, not only giving us sweet race gear before the race, but also surprising us with a backpack full of running essentials once we made our way to our hotel.

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For anyone who has been running 5Ks for a while or would love to just get out in nature more, we think a trail run could hit both those spots.

Here are some things we learned from our experience:

These shoes were made for trailin’

Invest in a pair of trail shoes.  Your feet will thank you for your generosity.  When we first received our North Face Ultra MT trail shoes, we noticed how stiff they were as compared to our norm runners.  A wise friend explained that trail running shoes and more hearty with more tread so you have better grip and can withstand stepping on wily rocks and sticks that may try to block your path.  These shoes are also waterproof to withstand wet and muddy trails.

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Climbing every mountain 

The environment of trails can vary from run to run.  You may find well groomed trails, wild overgrown ones, or paved trails in your travels.  You may find you require more stamina and time to trail run than what you’re used to so don’t feel discouraged if you are slower paced than your average pavement jaunt.

Dress to impress–the wilderness

The weather the day of our trail run was not exactly what you would expect for early October but Midwest weather is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, ya never know what you’re gonna get.  Chilly and brisk was the name of the running game for our race day.  Keeping in mind that we were going through the woods, we wore layers.  For rain, try a light or medium weight rain jacket, like The North Face Women’s Venture Jacket.  Trust us, don’t wear your poncho to run unless you want to sweat like a wild hog as you swish through the wilderness.

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And some advice from the trail running pros!

Runner’s World: 21 Quick Trail Running Tips

Active.com: 9 Trail Running Tips for Beginners

Trail Runner: The 10 Commandments of Healthy Running

Ready, set, go!

You can still take on the North Face Endurance Challenge in California, Washington D.C. and New York or try an Illinois trail run if you’re our neighbors.

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Still trail shy?

The North Face offers their free Mountain Athletics training sessions every Tuesday and Thursday in Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. to help you prep for your next ski jump, rock climb, run or crazy jazz hand competition…whatever your goal may be.

Fit Foodie 5k Race Weekend: The Most Delicious 5k Around!

Yoga + Fro Yo Running + Risotto Boxing + Bacon…+ Beer Who says you can’t enjoy fitness AND food.  Certainly not us as we are 2015 Fit Foodie 5k Race Ambassadors! Cooking Light & Health Magazine are sponsoring a calve … Continue reading

Give Some Good with Outshine Frozen Snacks

We have a unique chance to give a little this month with a new first of it’s kind charity effort, the “Give Some Good” campaign, situated at one of our major transportation hubs, Union Station.  Outshine Frozen Snacks, maker of fresh fruit and yogurt bars, is spearheading a creative movement to reduce food deserts.  National attention was drawn to the concept of a food desert in 2006 when Mari Gallagher’s research illuminated a lack of access to healthy and fresh foods in areas of poverty.  The gap is closing but we still have a way to go.  In Chicago alone, over 383,954 Chicagoans were living in a food desert as of 2011.

So how can you help?

A charity promoting billboard (that is secretly a superhero robot…jk), is currently located in the BNSF tunnels of Chicago’s very own Union Station through June 9, encouraging travelers to get involved with reducing hunger!

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It’s easy to give!

  1. Simply do a secure swipe of your credit card straight down the middle of the billboard and $1 is donated to hunger.  That’s a 4th less than your daily latte habit!
  2. Each swipe starts a film sequence on the billboard screen that shows a bounty of fresh produce falling into the hands of a girl (symbolizing your awesome charity efforts)
  3. Each $1 swipe supports Feeding America in donating 9 POUNDS of fresh produce to hungry families.

Outshine Frozen Snacks is teaming up with Feeding America, one of the nation’s top hunger combatants, to help bring produce to those in need, with the goal of donating two million pounds of fruits and vegetables (we kinda feel like Dr. Evil saying “one million dollarsss” but this is for GOOD!!).  Even if you aren’t in Chicago, you can help during June and July by purchasing specially marked boxes of new Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars in stores.  Made of 100% frozen yogurt blended with real fruit like Strawberry Banana, Mango and Pineapple, they are perfect for your next summer BBQ.

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Each time you buy a promo box of Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars, you help the Outshine brand and Feeding America provide one pound of fruit and vegetables to those in need.  Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars are available at major retailers like Target, Mariano’s, Walmart, Jewel and more.

So what are you waiting for, after all Fro-YOLO (fro-you only live once so feel great by helping others)!  Snack or swipe to help Chicagoans get the fresh food they need with the #GiveBrighter campaign.

*Full Disclosure: We are being compensated by Nestle to promote the GiveBrighter campaign*

Move your Bolly-licious Body with Doonya

It’s Move It March!  Yeah, March is making us mad so we are reclaiming the month in efforts to leap off our comatose couch-bound status.  Sadly, there is snow AGAIN on the ground and, with the irresponsible nature of Chicago Spring, indoor workouts are a must.  As we all need variety (or vari-itay as one could say), we jumped at a recent invite to sample a unique world dance inspired fitness class, Doonya.  Khushboo Rami, our fearless instructor and 1 of 2 Doonya instructors in the whole Chicago area, warmly welcomed us to the River North Gym for our first Doonya experience.

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Some of you probably have an inkling of what Doonya is all about from some alluring TV commercials.  Seriously, we had our debit card in one hand and the remote in the other debating on whether to buy their streaming online classes.  Doonya has actually been around since 2005 when innovator and super fit co-founders, Priya and Kajal, aspired to develop what they were doing in their Indian dance troupe to a replicable dance fitness method.  Khushboo was the 4th trained instructor in D.C. and carried the brand with her when she moved to the Chi.  So, what can you expect when you lace on your Reeboks and get ready for your flash dance moment?

Khushboo explained that Doonya has some major components that are present in every class, no matter where you attend.  There is always a mix of high and low energy cardio and 4 major dance styles are weaved throughout the class: Indian folk, Bhangra, Classical Indian dance/conditioning, and Bollypop (Indian popular dance sometimes mixed with mainstream Western pop/rap).  The signature moves, like the Bollytap, glute lifts and knee lifts, crunchy standing ab moves and the heel flick, you will be able to catch the rhythm after a few songs.  Once you have a few favorite numbers, you can request your best Bolly-shaking tunes on Facebook or directly to your amicable Doonya instructor.

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So how did our first class go?  Well, although we both work out (yoga, running, dance), our bodies were still challenged by Doonya’s high impact cardio sections.  Khushboo broke down basic moves before beginning routines which made it less intimidating for us newbies.  Near the middle, we found our sweaty spot but weren’t too concerned as the infectious dance music keeps you moving.  We really loved the M.I.A. “Bad Girls” remix and were super surprised by the challenging nature of the classical moves at the end.  Your thighs will shake!

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Ready to throw on a kurti and give it a try?  Khushboo teaches on Thursdays at 5:30 pm and drop in classes are only $15.  You can also sign up for a free 3 day pass for River North Gym and try your first Doonya class for nuthin’.  The gym is hiding on the 10th floor of the Merchandise Mart so take the Brown or Purple line if you don’t wanna mess with parking.  We can’t wait to go back to work on our shoulder shimmies.

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Here are a few of our fave Bollywood jams to get you in the bollymood for Doonya.  Do you have a secret Bolly-jam?  Let us know so we can expand our collection!

Dilli Wali Girlfriend

High Heels

1, 2, 3, 4 from Chennai Express

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. 🙂

Pure Barre Lincoln Park: Fit Review

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10 brave women made it out in the cold after a appetizer, sides, and pie holiday to get their fitness on this past Sunday at our first ever private Chiorganic Girls class at Pure Barre Lincoln Park, an admirable feet given the tendency to want to sleep off the lingering food coma.  We were grateful for our motivation to attend as we got a kick a*@ workout that toned and tightened to reset the good habits and prepare us for the back to work grind.

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Lincoln Park Pure Barre is a brand new workout hot spot that just opened November 4th.  Ashley Gertz, owner of the newly opened Pure Barre in Lincoln Park, opened the location because of her personal love of barre classes and keen business sense.  She welcomed our group with a tour and an overview of what Pure Barre has to offer.  Ashley, a former marathoner and avid runner, found that cardio didn’t promote toning and strength so she joined the River North Pure Barre and was hooked.

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Marguerite, our teacher, gave us the overview of common moves of Pure Barre and then we got cracking with an immediate plank set (WHYYY??).  Bubbly pop music as well as giggles from class participants offset the strenuousness of the miniscule muscle movements.  We rolled through abs, arms, legs and ended with (sigh*) more abs and a bridge set to tense up the tush.

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After class, we took our shaky legs to the lobby area for complimentary Kashi and Luna snack bars as well as raffle for 2 lucky participants.

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And now, we are sore…very pleasantly “can’t walk up the stairs so well” sore, evidence of a real workout.  Wanna check it out?  Pure Barre Lincoln Park offers new students a very affordable unlimited month of classes for $99.  If you join now, you can also compete in the Jingle Tuck challenge (15 classes in 30 days) for prizes and the ultimate win, a retreat at a spa in Arizona.

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Jump Away Calories at Sky Zone

Ok 80’s babies, sing it with us.  Sky Zone will make you “Jump, Jump”!  Yes, now Kris Kross is in your head, suckers.

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We had the distinct pleasure of bounding on over to a trampoline haven at the newly opened Sky Zone in Elmhurst, IL, our Chicago neighbor to the West.  Jump-a-whaaa?  It’s basically a warehouse full of tramps (the hoppy kind, people) set up for your child-like nature…and children, if you have them, of course.

When we arrived, we felt a little nervous about the thought of trampling small children with our lack of coordination as we saw them running into the building.  Sky Zone has a pretty sweet set up, however, to make sure adults and kids leap with ease.  Sky Zone has scheduled jump times to reduce crowding and several jump arenas with different activities.

So what ya do when you get there?

First, we signed a online waiver, grabbed our cute pink sky socks (in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month) and stopped by the snack bar to get some water.

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Jump Tip #1: You don’t need to pay for water.  There are water fountains (uh duh, why didn’t we look earlier?).  There is no slushie fountain, though, so you will need to pay for that Blue Rasberry Slushie craving you have.

We started our jumpsperience at FOAM ZOOOOONE with some very inept flips into a big pile of orange and blue foam cubes.  There’s a monitor in each area directing flip traffic so you can belly flop, front flip, or just slide down the trampoline on your face into the pit…as one of us did (heheheh).

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Jump Tip #2: Wear Jump appropriate clothing.  Half shirts, low riding pants and thong panties may be a bit too revealing as you claw your way depths of foam helllll.  Seriously, its a struggle getting out of those cubes!

Next, we moseyed over to the open jump dome and were surrounded by all ages of jumpers.  The coolest aspect about open jump is that its organized chaos.  The dome is divided into personal trampoline squares so jumpers can have their own private trampoline dreams without being tackled by a fellow participant.  As we jumped back and forth between each other’s squares, we noticed how dang hard trampolining is.  We burned calories, sweat and didn’t even feel like we were working out until our legs revealed their shaky nature once we left the dome.

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Jump Tip #3: If you use the Sky Zone lockers, put your key somewhere safe!  Ours jumped right out of our pocket and left us with a $10 locker key replacement fee.

Finally, we tried out WNBA aspirations at Sky Slam, the Slam Dunk section.  One of us, the tall one with hops aka Monica, enjoyed the area, while the other, the shortie, got kicked out for trying to dunk in the kids line.  Kate can’t slam dunk and now it’s been proven by cold hard evidence.

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Sky Zone visitors can try their hand (or legs) at Ultimate Dodgeball.  We just didn’t feel like getting smacked in the face by 8 year olds so we skipped out.  Fitness classes are also available for those who want a dedicated low impact/high calorie workout without all the rug rats running about.

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Final Jump Tip:

Sky Zone is affordable (fitness classes are only $10 and open jump is $15), fun and will make you fit!  Check out the class schedule and open gym times here and hop to it!

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