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
Say you just kicked butt in your HIIT workout with your friends and you all want a post exercise snack…but one of you is gluten free, one’s paleo and one’s veggie. What’s a diverse group of gals n’ guys gonna do? Snap your fingers and put some spring in your step because there’s a pop of healthy foods at the ‘new to Chicago’ Snap Kitchen.
Snap Kitchen originated in Texas and is described as “fresh, healthy take away” food. The company works up a sweat partnering with local farmers and food producers while practicing sustainability. Their to-go lime green containers are BPA free, microwaveable, compostable and recyclable. They honor a wide range of dietary needs and 99% of their meals and snacks are gluten free.
Another core value of Snap Kitchen is their transparency. Containers are marked with allergen information, nutrition counts and, best of all, symbols that easily snap shot what is or is not in the dish (think dairy free, vegetarian, sodium conscious, paleo, and more). Snap gives you a choice of 3 sizes of meals ranging for different body needs. Calorie counts range from 200-300 calories a dish for a small and up to 500 calories for a large meal. As they serve up breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options, it’s easy for Snap Kitchen to supply your every meal. Customers who are interested in uncomplicated weight loss can also try their 21 day Snap Commit Program, a 3 day quick start, or a variety of juice cleanses.
When we checked out the Lincoln Park Snap Kitchen, we were surprised by the open layout and organization. The location is relatively new so the raw juices were not available yet BUT we were given breakfasts, lunches and snacks to sample. Kaitlin, the Lincoln Park GM, explained that the meals were organized by nutritional needs. Vegetarian and vegan meals lined bottom shelves while meatier options were above. Meals are chef inspired so you won’t find any run of the mill “diet meals” here. Although there’s a small seating area and a microwave available in store, Snap Kitchen is mostly for on-the-go people trying to simplify their food life. We could totally imagine dropping in after a hard training day for a quick bite or a refreshing juice.
Let’s snap, crackle and review the most pop-ular dishes in our opinion!
Carnivore Choices (Kate)
Home, home on the range…where the deer and the bison playyyy. So, I never thought I would like bison. I tried buffalo once and wasn’t a fan. The Bison Breakfast bowl with house made apple maple bison sausage (yumm), scrambled eggs and sauteed spinach and the lunch Bison Quinoa “Hash” with organic kidney beans, red quinoa and brown rice topped with scallions and cheddar cheese were my highlights. I tried something new and loved it! I also appreciated that the meats are grass fed and free range, thus cutting out some worry about hormones, antibiotics and corn fed lifestyle.
Veggie Visions (Monica)
Snap Kitchen offers unique vegetarian options. I sampled the spinach, scrambled egg whites, goat cheese and sweet potatoes and vegan peach oatmeal for breakfast. What could be easier than just grabbing a container out of the fridge on the way to work? For lunch, I munched on Caveman Quickies (granola, dried cranberry, honey and almonds with a sprinkle of cinnamon) and no guilt chia pudding. I ended my long days at the office with a quick gluten free dinner of mixed vegetable “lasagna” or Mediterranean eggplant “lasagna”, both nutritious and light but filling to my tummy.
Gluten free brownies and chocolate chip cookies you say? Yes, you can have delicious unprocessed desserts with Snap. Ingredients like coconut oil, flax seed and taste like whoaaa, you really can’t go wrong when loving these desserts feels so right and light.
With 3 locations in the Chicago area and 2 more on the way, Snap Kitchen is a convenient moderately priced options for people on the go who want to make healthy choices. Interested in winning $500 worth of this good stuff? Enter Snap Kitchen’s Snap in the City Contest for a shot at not cooking for months!!
We bet you’re wondering by the title how Paleo and Vegetarian can even be in the same sentence together. You’re probably also looking at a pack of bacon and wondering: “Is this vegetarian”? No my friends, bacon isn’t veggie friendly … Continue reading
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!
It’s easy to give!
- 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!
- 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)
- 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.
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*
Just Salad…the restaurant title explains some of the genius of Chicago’s brand new salad eatery chain, a transport from the NYC. It also makes us think of “Just Jack” and believe us, these salads will make you wanna do the same Will and Grace character Jazz Hands!
The first Just Salad location, placed conveniently for the downtown business set or tourists/culture lovers is just steps away from Grant Park at 20 E. Jackson. Vibrant orange and lime green accent walls add energy to Just Salad‘s design and the Chicago location is situated in the historic Gibbons building which adds to the charm of the atmosphere. Just Salad separates itself from the downtown munch bunch by providing quality healthy food with affordability.
These key points will make other eateries green with envy:
- Just Salad‘s menu is created by a registered dietitian and nutrition info is readily available.
- Protein offerings range from grass fed meats, sustainable creatures of the sea (aka seafood), organic tofu, & humanely raised antibiotic free cluckers.
- Many produce options are GMO-free, organic and even local when possible. Veggies are baked, raw or steamed and never canned (hey hey no BPA!)
- Just Salad encourages us to reduce, reuse, recycle and be rewarded! You can purchase a reusable ultra cute salad bowl and every time you bring it back for a salad refill you score extra toppings or CHEESE.
So what did the Chiorganicgirls (royal we) think of it? Well dang, who doesn’t love a good fresh salad. As you walk in, you enter into a world of your salad imagination. Like Chipotle x2, there’s a long topping assembly like starting with a bevvy of green choices. Romaine, kale, mixed greens, spinach, and other lettuces start you off and then your head begins to spin (salad spin, ha) with the possible salad combinations. The produce was very fresh, colorful and crunchy. The portion size for the price was superb and the reusable salad bowl held about 2 servings of salad=only about 4-5 bucks for a big serving of salad with primo toppings.
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, you can start with a signature salad recipe. Our favorites were the Thai Chicken Crunch with romaine, red cabbage, celery and crispy wonton pieces, and the (what did you like Monical?). There’s even a Chicago inspired salad, the Windy City Kicker, with Italian sausage, giardiniera,red onions and celery. If you wanna get really jazzy, get your Dr. Frankenstein on and create your own crazy salad (butternut squash, falafel, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, horseradish chive dressing…you monster!). We also really loved the menu because it’s colored coded to help you avoid allergy or even preference snafus. You can easily tease out sneaky hiding seafood, gluten, or dairy. Finally, don’t let the name fool ya. Wait for it! SURPRISE, there is more than just salads at Just Salad. Wraps, juices and smoothies are available too. We def need to go back after some sweaty warrior II poses at the Millennium Park summer yoga to try the Peanut Butter Chia Warrior with almond milk, chia seeds, PB, agave nectar and banana. Doesn’t that recipe make you want to do Just Salad Jazz Hands now?
No? Well how about a Kale Yeah (sorry had to!)
JUST SALAD is open!
20 East Jackson Blvd
Mon – Fri: 10:30am – 9pm
Sat – Sun: 11am -8 pm
*We were not compensated for our opinions but did get to try some yummy free salad.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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?)
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!
Listening to the radio can be enlightening sometimes…like, say when you hear that 9% of your local school district is out with the flu. Cold and flu season is descending upon us like one of the Khaleesi’s dragons (yes, that was a Games of Thrones reference, we miss it so!), vicious and unrelenting! Other than hiding in a bomb shelter or wearing a head to toe hazmat suit, what are some more social ways you can keep healthy?
One way is adding probiotics into your diet. In our super bug society, good little bacteria flora often get killed off with the use of antibiotic soaps and drugs. These good flora may help ease digestion processes (reduce bloating, gas, etc or make you more regular) and improve the immune system (read more on factors that influence the micro flora balance here). Bacterial flora are often chilling out in yogurt but not everyone is able to digest dairy products. GoodBelly, a probiotic juice drink, offers a dairy free, soy free, non GMO, organic AND vegan alternative probiotic boost* for people looking to win the fight on germs. Each quart or shot also serves up immune enhancing vitamins and others, such as the PlusShot, include calcium too!
GoodBelly probiotic drinks contain live and active cultures of the probiotic strain, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V®). This thoroughly researched strain, with over 125 species of flora, has demonstrated an efficient ability to make it’s way through the digestive track and improve both digestion and immunity. Many product options are juicy and fruit filled while some are for the purist who just wants a “straight shot” without the sugar. Those with digestive issues should try the SuperShot which contains 50 billion cultures (flora everywhurr!). We tried 1 flavor of the 32 ounce GoodBelly quart, Pomegranate Blackberry, and one flavor of the 2.7 ounce shots, Blueberry Acai.
So how’d we fare? Well the Pomegranate Blackberry is seriously tasty and we liked it so much, we got another quart and snagged a Mango too. The shots were definitely more concentrated and we felt you could taste the oat base a little more in this version. Stomach wise, Kate already took probiotics pills and enjoyed the benefits of better digestion processes. GoodBelly is a tastier alternative to pills and is easy to incorporate as a breakfast juice or just a meal in general when running late for work.
Ready to give it a shot (ha)? GoodBelly walks you through with a 12 Day Belly Reboot with buy 2 get 1 free coupons and a money back guarantee. Each day, you drink 8 ounces of GoodBelly and you can measure how you feel online with the Belly Tracker to see your results. 3 quarts should get you through your 12 day trial. We found GoodBelly at the South Loop Mariano’s and it’s available at all Whole Foods. You can also use GoodBelly’s “Find a Store” function for a store near you!
*Gluten sensitive folks, take note, although gluten free GoodBelly is available, we have had a hard time finding the elusive green capped bottles in the Chicago area.
We did not receive compensation for this post but did receive coupons for free products.
Did the holidays leave you dazed, not dazzled? Do you need a little help forming what 2015 will look like this year? Lisa Payne, celebrity trainer and fitness writer, and Sarah Baker, Chicago based health and wellness consultant, are teaming … Continue reading
The holiday season brings about so many chances to celebrate…and with celebration comes lots of food, glorious food. But there are benefactors who want to help you celebrate AND minimize the impact on your health. Recently, we were contacted by Madhava … Continue reading
If you’re like most peeps, you have a bevy of holiday partays, gift exchanges and soirees to attend to in the next few weeks. So what if you need to bring a gift or a tasty treat to your event? You could make several stops or…you could go to Whole Foods! Yah we know, for us with low account balances, Whole Foods may seem a bit intimidating. But we were pleasantly surprised to learn some new developments at Whole Foods this past week at a tour of their River North headquarters. As we walked from room to room we delighted in the holiday goodies. In no particular order, here are some Holly Jolly Holiday ideas from Whole Foods.
Did you know Whole Foods is a DIY hot spot? If you have a crafty side, you have all you need to develop a relaxing bath salt, tantalizing sugar scrub, or soothing lip gloss by snooping through Whole Foods’ beauty and bulk section.
On our tour, we created our own Epsom salts by mixing 3 cups of salt with essential oil and flower choices. We picked the eucalyptus oil (as cold season is on the rampage right now) and calming lavender oil (cuz the holiday traffic is making us pull out our hair. Then we threw in some bright yellow dried calendula flowers (a relative to chamomile), lavender buds, light pink Himalayan salt, and some crinkly red rose petals.
Who says the poinsettia is the only petal you can gift? The Whole Foods Headquarters arranged a flower bar for guests to create holiday bouquets. Pluck some deep red and purple buds, add some baby’s breath, and grab a cute mason style jelly jar for presentation. You can feel charitable about your choice too. Whole Foods carries fair trade and organic flowers as well as Veriflora Certified flowers (Veriflora certification indicates better working conditions such as no child labor, fair hiring practices, and access to education, healthcare and other needed services).
Life of the Party
You all know that thing where you’re at a party and everyone is talking around the food set up? Party food can make or break a soiree. Stopping by a gathering? Whole Foods produce, bakery, and cheese departments all offer unique and most talked about treats. Our favorite cheeses at the gathering were the truffle stuffed camembert (a soft, creamy french cow cheese with a layer of tasty fungus…yes that’s a truffle, weird right?) and a pyramid shaped goat cheese. In the bakery section, we delighted in gluten free and vegan options like a rice flour crust blackberry pie and the banana hazelnut vegan cupcake from local cupcake purveyor, Swirlz. And on the non-semi healthy side of things, the gigantic Carol’s cookie was so fresh and chocolately and big enough to feed your whole family. Or be the angel of the party, bring a fresh fruit tray and rejoice on your savings. Whole Foods has heard our wallet cries and is now setting out to price their produce on par with competitors like Marianos and Jewel-Osco.
Hosting your own get together? Lazy it up with Whole Foods catering and wow your guests with gruyere and spinach stuffed mushrooms, ripe guacamole, or ethnic goodies like spanakopita, a greek stuffed phyllo dough appetizer.
Feeling inspired? Go out there with confidence and shop, dear friends, and impress those peeps with your Whole Foods Holiday swag.