National Pistachio Day!

It’s so eassssy being green, if you’re a pistachio that is.  Pistachios are wearing little birthday hats as it’s their big day! National Pistachio Day is Friday February 26th and pistachios are ready to be snacked upon.   Other nuts … Continue reading

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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

BluePrint Cleanse Giveaway

Aww hello Fall.  We love you and your pumpkin spice lattes.  Before you get plumpkin, however, a change of seasons is a fabulous time to adopt new healthy habits and shed old ones.  A juice cleanse may help you transition and reset your cravings.  We were invited to try BluePrint cleanse for free to eval the benefits of a fall juice cleanse.  This ain’t our first cleanse rodeo so we can tell you a thing or two about how this cleanse compares.  Let us remind you that neither one of us is a medical professional (we just play them on tv…jkjk) so these are our personal opinions and we can’t guarantee anything similar…except you may become a unicorn.  Here are our JAQs (Juicily Asked Questions):

Why do a Juice Cleanse:

Ummm…most co-workers look at you with curiosity and/or incredulity when you show up to the break room with your lunch bag o’ juice.  Proponents of juicing contend that it provides a waterslide of vitamins to your body and flushes out toxins.  We aren’t really sure but juicing is a good way to quickly get your 5 servings of produce a day, pulverize unhealthy habits and squeeze out a clean eating regimen.

What to do before:

Not the best idea to do that 2 am White Castle before you start a cleanse.  Ease into it and keep it light.  BluePrint recommends you avoid animal proteins, dairy and processed foods before AND after a cleanse, so don’t jump into a pudding cup after you finish.  Basically become a rabbit, a healthy rabbit who loves avocado, olive oil and crunchy greens.

Where did BluePrint come from anyways?

Sneezing and coughing can lead to a thriving business!  In early 2000, Zoe Sakoutis, a certified nutritional consultant, caught a monster cold and looked for solutions from a raw foodie friend.  The answer?  A strict 7 day cleanse.  The answer worked but Zoe wanted a way to replicate without all the daily juice machine cleaning.  Zoe paired up with her friend, Erica Huss, and thus BluePrint came to fruition.  Their cold-pressed juices are a blend of USDA-certified-organic fruits and vegetables.  Ingredients are sourced from local farms (including BluePrint’s own acreage).

What was BluePrint Cleanse like?

User friendly for sure!  Juices are numbered for ease of drinkage.  Like Brian McKnight says “Start at 1” and then move your way through the day to 6 in the evening.  You drink a bottle about every 2 hours.  Juices come in recycled plastic BPA free bottles and we also received a cute juice carrying lunch bag to tote our way around the day.  You need access to a fridge or ice packs in your bag to make sure your juices stay frosty.

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Our renovation cleanse was recommended for the beginning juicer and featured 5 different juice combos to shun juice-logged feelings: 1) Green Juice 2) P.A.M.-Pineapple, Apple, Mint 3) Green Juice 4) Spicy Lemonade 5) C.A.B.-Apple, Carrot, Beet 6) Cashew Milk

“Best of Bottle” Juices?

Kate: Ok, so me and beet juice…not always friends.  Usually, it’s my most hated juice in the cleanse repertoire.  BluePrint’s C.A.B. juice has more ginger and lemon overtones and the beet doesn’t beat up your taste buds.

Monica: I love the idea of alternating juice with heavy fruits and vegetables to light lemon with a kick of either cayenne or ginger juice so I don’t get bored. The night ends perfectly with delicious rich Madagascar vanilla cashew milk….yumm.

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Any side effects?

Constantly cold!

The distinct drooling effect over your co-workers garlicky noodles at lunch.

Missing the little things…like chewing.

What were the benefits?

Kate: I noticed I could taste everything more intensely (in a good way).   After the cleanse, veggies and fruits tasted more rich and vibrant.  I lost 2 pounds (probably water weight but heyooo, makes you wanna keep up the health and wellness juice jive).  I got a ton of vitamins directly deposited into my body bank account.

Monica: I was giddy and perky on 2nd and 3rd day, so much so that my coworkers thought it was due to a new guy in my life (though true haha but I’ve experienced the exact same thing during my first juice cleanse).  I didn’t need any caffeine to get through the day even post cleanse.  No more bloating and slimmer waist!

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Now it’s your turn!

You can WIN a 3 DAY CLEANSE from BluePrint!  Click here to enter and start commenting.  You can still be “winning!” without winning with Gilt City BluePrint Cleanse Dealio.  Extra bonus news: BluePrint cleanse is debuting limited time fall dranks so ditch the Pumpkin Spice and try a six pack of 1 of 4 new juices for FREE when you buy a three day cleanse and enter the code “HARVEST“.

Don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway!

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.

2nd Annual Be Healthful Retreat!

We love spending time with our ladies but the dinner, drink, repeat thing can be unhealthy!  Get that girl bonding time in AND do something that can change your body, mind and heart with the 2nd annual BeHealthful Retreat and Conference series.

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What: 2nd Annual BeHealthful Retreat and Conference hosted by Balanced Babe and sponsored by Jewel Osco

  • Interactive Panels & Workshops
  • Yoga and Movement Gallery
  • Holistic Oasis Marketplace with free spa services and light bites
  • Two zen lounges to chill out
  • Cooking demos, shopping, product samples

When: Sunday September 27th, 11 am-5 pm

Where: Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th Street, Chicago, IL 60609—-free parking included

What are we looking forward to?

Shooo.  BeHealthful is sporting an all star line up of fitness instructors!  Rebecca Niziol, known for leading supremely relaxing yoga classes at Exhale Spa, is leading a meditation to close out.  This will be sorely needed whether you sweat it out with a high intensity interval training sesh (HIIT) with Betina Gozo, Crosstown Fitness and Nike hard hitter or several other fitness options.

Opportunities for personal growth abound!  Sessions like “Strategies for Leading a Fearless Life” and “The Art of Pitching” will stretch your mind.

Mmm how do you choose from so many spa options?  Manicures, eyelash applications, hand massages, art therapy…better get there early!

Ready to buy tickets?  Purchase them here and grab your gals for a healthful day of food, fitness and fun!

HF

The Paleo Vegetarian Diet: A Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

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

New Luna Bar Flavors Revealed!

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As busy American chicks, we’re always on the go.  On the way to yoga, spinning and the odd trapeze class to mix it up, it’s awesome to have a quick snack to boost your energy on the commute.  We’ve always been a fan of Luna Bar but now we have even more cause to nibble on them. Brace yourself for a group of new alluring Luna Bars.  Choosing may be more difficult than picking the next Bachelor.

Meet the contestants!

Contestant No. 1: Chocolate Salted Caramel (for the lady who lunges)

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“Hi, I’m Chocolate Salted Caramel.  You know, salted caramel flavors are sooo in right now.  You should pick me because I’m chewy, filling, and satisfy your sweet tooth”.

New Chocolate Salted Caramel delivers 12 grams of protein with only 170 calories.  We also love its low glycemic load, meaning it won’t leave your blood stream in a tizzy, or leave you crashing down from a sugary high.

Contestant No. 2: Chocolate Cupcake (for dames who like it dark and mysterious)

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(Photo borrowed from Luna Bar)

“Hello lovelies.  I’m Chocolate Cupcake and I know how to make a lady feel right with dark chocolate chips.  Put that flabby cupcake back and get a lean mean version that surprises and satisfies”.

Chocolate Cupcake, where have you been all our lives?  With 8 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber, we dug Chocolate Cupcake’s surprisingly decadent taste.

Contestant No. 3: Lemon Zest (sometimes you want something lively and bright!)

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“Aren’t you looking fab today!  Bring the sunshine back into your life with a zesty combo of lemon and vanilla”.

Lemon Zest isn’t a new flavor but did you know all Luna Bars, including the luscious lemon, are gluten free now?  Get reacquainted with your citrus side with 9 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

 

We got to sample all 3 at Luna Bars recent “Try Something New” Chi Reveal Party at Equinox. There, Kate and her friend met up with several bloggers and sampled a TRX max/yoga class at Equinox.  Sweat was pouring as the instructor blended interval training with the TRX ropes, a sandbag and body weight exercises.  We relaxed in the second half with a dynamic yoga flow.  Needless to say, we snacked on Luna Bars to recharge once we finished!

Which contestant will you pick to recharge your fitness life?  What new fitness activity would you like to try with your new Luna Bar experience?

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Chicago, Lettuce Eat Healthy with Just Salad

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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JUST SALAD is open!

20 East Jackson Blvd

S State St & S Wabash Ave

Hours:

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.

Cooked: Your Best Veggie Pre-Cooked Meal Delivery Service

We have ambitions of getting in touch with our inner culinary geniuses every week when we head to the grocery store…and then we end up passed out on the couch with a half eaten Morning Star Burger falling out of our hands after work.  Like it or not (who really likes it), American culture is one of the most overworked cultures in the world.  We need a break!  Don’t you often muse about have your own personal chef?  Chicagoans, rejoice!  There is a pretty fantastic option for you to get your personal chef wishes fulfilled, even without a genie!

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We were so excited when Erin Winston Silva, the co-founder of Cooked, reached out to us to sample their pre-cooked meal delivery options.  Cooked promises “Nourishing Meals for Busy Folks” and we are 2 very busy ladies so we jumped on the opportunity.  We were particularly intrigued as Cooked seemed to have more veggie options than many delivery services that we’ve seen.  We also love the values of the organization.  Chef Jona Silva’s own health journey inspired him to create local and nutritionally rich (not calorie rich) foods to promote wellness in others.  One can tell from menu offers, which change weekly, as well as Silva’s transparency in where ingredients come from.  The focus is local partnerships and he is also sensitive to food allergies like gluten or dietary preferences like vegan, vegetarian and T-Rexian. Ok, enough blabbing, we know you wanna know what you get to eat!

For $76 (tax and delivery included) dollars, we got ALL the foods below!!  Delivery was timely and Erin was available throughout to deal with a multitude of blogger questions like: “What about Monica’s chickpea allergy” and “Can you change our delivery date?  We forgot, we won’t be home!”.

Freshly Pressed Juice: Pineapple Cooler

Loved it!  It was refreshing and green-licious with kale, romaine, spinach, coconut water and a sweet touch of pineapple.

Lunch Bowl #2: Organic POWER grains with black beans and salsa ranchera

We split this, yet there was enough for a full lunch for both of us.  This puppy is only $5 and is rich in superfoods like quinoa, amaranth and other ancient grains with mysterious origins.  The salsa added a nice kick to the mix.

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Lunch: Kale, Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad

Again, the portion was plentiful.  We enjoyed the sweet touch of cranberry and the kale and rice mix was tender and garlicky with a rich balsamic dressing.

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Dinners:

Soup: Kabocha Squash and Apple Soup

Admittedly, we had to google what the heck a kabocha was.  Turns out it’s an Asian winter squash!  Last week’s weather was considerably still miserable so this warm rich soup hit the spot.  It reminded us of a sweet potato bisque with light creamy touches of spices and cinnamon.

Sesame Crusted Tofu

The 2 tofu cutlets came with zuccini noodles and vibrant red and yellow peppers, dressed with a light a soy sauce.

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Cauliflower Tacos with Roasted Poblano Salsa

Cauliflower is a vegetarian delight as it has a chunky texture.  The taco mix also included cilantro, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds with a side of fresh salsa.

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Walnut loaf with Roasted Squash and Broccolini

The squash and broccolini looked ultra fresh and colorful with bright orange and green hues and they were both cooked to perfection.  The walnut loaf was a gray meat like color and was hearty for those of you who are familiar with the texture of meatloaf.  We really liked the dressing that was provided and it seemed like it had a tahini base.

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The meals are supposed to stay fresh for 3 days but we stretched them out until Thursday and basically had enough deliciousness to stave off any grocery shopping for 2 people for the work week.  It was like a cooking vacay!  We highly recommend Cooked.  Meals change weekly to provide variety.  This week features a tantalizing coconut dal (aka lentils) and chickpea zuccini fritters.  Ready to order?  All Chi Organic Girl readers can get 10% off their first order with the promo code: chiorganicgirls so skip the shopping this week and eat cooked!

*We were not compensated for our opinions but were provided with a gift card to try Cooked meals.

GoodBelly for Good Health

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!

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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.

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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!

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*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.