A Souper Lunch Option: Smart Soups

Forget you, Olive Garden!  We are bringing our own soup and salad to work.  Soup is an awesome option to consume more veggies AND feel full with fewer calories but packaged soups often have too much sodium, weird looking meat pieces, or too many additives.  We were souper (hehe) excited to try some samples of Smart Soups because they are (ehem..be jealous cans o’ soup) none of those things.  Creator, Anne Chong Hill has long history in the prepared food industry and recognized the need for high quality, easy to make food and her recipes are inspired by her international background and travel experiences.

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Smart Soups are:

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten Free (Hooray!)
  • Made with REAL FOOD and no preservatives
  • American Heart Association Certified (cholesterol free!)
  • Low Calorie and controlled sodium (as one of our friend with high blood pressure was amazed to notice during our lunch break)

Taste:

With 7 souperb (ha ha ha) flavor options, we had a hard time choosing what to try first.  We received 5 options.

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Greek Minestrone was Kate’s first go to.  Packaged minestrone tends to be bland or have too many noodles in the way.  The Greek Minestrone was packed with veggies and rich in herby flavor, possibly the best Minestrone out there except what your grandma might be able to make (if she can cook).  Pairing tip: Greek Salad with feta, olives, artichokes and mixed greens.

Thai Coconut Curry is Mon’s fave Smart Soup.  Full of coconut water blended with fresh red curry made an amazingly authentic dish, especially tasty on a rainy day.  It includes plenty of baby corn, bamboo shoots and red pepper.  Pair with side of grilled spiced tofu.

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Sante Fe Corn Chowder is vibrant with red peppers, black beans, and corn, balanced with a squeeze of lime.  Dunk a vegan tostada and plenty of avocado in it!

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Vietnamese Carrot Lemongrass is filled with rich tasty Asian flavors and veggies.  Pair the satisfying soup with a Tofu Bahn Mi sandwich.

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French Lentil Soup makes a hearty meal with green and red lentils, leeks and moorish spices.  Mix it up with a baguette and nicolaise salad.

Cooking:

Smart Soup stores easily in the freezer and couldn’t be more simple to make.  You open the bag and pop it on the stove or in the microwave and then you’re done.  You can get creative with Smart Soups too by integrating them into new recipes as well.

What’s the most delicious soup you’ve ever tried?  Maybe you could inspire a new Smart Soup!

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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!

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High Heels

1, 2, 3, 4 from Chennai Express

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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