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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Any side effects?
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!
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!
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!
“Hooray Cold and Flu Season!” said no one ever (sorry we had to jump on the meme bandwagon). Yessir, we here in the shivering Midwest are under an alien invasion. Just kidding, it’s a germ invasion but we think that’s just as scary. So what are some ways to boost your protective body shield, aka your immune system?
You often read about superstars like ginger, lemon, and honey but their are some lesser known herbs and spices that people throughout ancient history have used to improve their health. Recently, we were given 3 different immune boosting products to try, all hailing from India: Tulsi Tea, Chyawanprash Organic Herbal Jam, and Turmeric Supplements from Organic India.
Organic India is a pretty amazing company too. Organic India was formed in the 1990’s by a group of visionaries who according to their mission “establish a sustainable business model to support the livelihood of thousands of impoverished farmers in India by providing training and education, enabling self-sufficiency and skills that could be passed on to future generations.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves! All of their farmers are taught about and practice organic and biodynamic farming and all of their products are certified organic. In addition to the samples we were offered, they also sell organic ghee, organic whole husk psyllium and organic sugarcane syrups.
Tulsi, also known as “Holy Basil” was said to be discovered in India almost 5000 years ago. Of course, the Tulsi in our tea wasn’t that old…we hope. Various research studies have suggested that Tulsi can help with respiratory issues, fevers, diabetes and digestive problems as well as everybody’s enemy, stress. Tulsi may also reduce coughs and cold and could act as a replacement for your daily ‘tussin intake. Organic India‘s Tulsi tea is quite the stress reliever. It has an earthy herb flavor that seems decadent, like a nice hot bath with candles and bubbles. Tulsi tea can easily become part of one’s morning routine or afternoon unwinding time after work. For more info about Tulsi tea, check out this article.
Betcha didn’t know turmeric was ginger’s cousin. What a small rooty world right? Turmeric has a powerhouse component called curcumin that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Turmeric has been linked to the following positive health benefits: improved brain function, lowering risk of cancer and heart disease, reduced joint pain, and improved digestion. Turmeric powder can be easily integrated into cooking delicious dishes, making quick detox drinks, or even just mixing the powder with honey and eating it. If you don’t feel like getting creative in the kitchen, you can get a daily turmeric fix with Organic India‘s turmeric supplements.
And now for something new, Chyanwanprash. Now, Monica grew up with this little herb dandy but this was Kate’s first time trying it. Chyanwanprash an ayurvedic herbal tonic made in a jam like mixture with over 35 herbs in it. Wowsa! It’s been linked to improving respiratory function and getting that digestive system working properly by reducing flatulence (commonly known as the toots) and other maladies like diarrhea. It is also believed to promote anti aging so we are looking forward to immortality (mwahahaha).
Organic India’s products, their history and mission, as well as some informative and nifty blogs about health are available on here. What are some favorite herbal remedies you use to boost your health? We need all the health we can get!
Does anyone feel a small scream in their throat when they see Christmas decorations coming out the day after Halloween? Yep, it’s the kickoff to the whirlwind holiday season, that season of cookies and brownies and parties. And soon enough, our thighs are looking like those gigantic turkey legs that people get at county fairs. When you’re busy, how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Well your own personal in-house chef works…if you’re Beyonce. If you aren’t channeling your inner rich chick, however, there are some options to keep you eating well. Thankfully, the trend of meal deliveries has flown into our lives and we are gobbling up the idea! This past week, we got to try Factor 75. So what factors would make you choose them as opposed to another meal delivery service?
1) Options! You don’t have to sit on Santa’s lap to get what you wish for with Factor 75. Everybody loves options, especially those with more restrictive dietary needs. When we checked in to pick our food, it was easy to balance our different desires. We chose 2 vegetarian meals, 2 gluten free meals and one snack. Factor 75 hooks up almost any eater with paleo friendly, dairy free, vegetarian and gluten free possibilities. Factor 75 has also partnered for Aritzone and sources local ingredients so you can not only eat clean, but with a clean conscience.
2) Ease! Who doesn’t need a break from shopping cart collisions and entertaining long lost cray relatives? Your Factor 75 meals are cooked up by a chef, delivered by a nice FedEx person right to your door, and all you do is heat those puppies up and eat. Can we also mention no washing dishes either?! *High Five*
3) Holiday looove! Remember that dude you only dated through New Years? Factor 75 is low commitment. Try 5 meals and if you aren’t feeling it, you cancel. If you like it, continue that relationship til’ Easter!
What did we eat, tho?
The spicy paleo meatballs, made from grass-fed beef, had a hint of cinnamon that made them stand out from a boring ol’ chunk of meat. They came with a side of brussel sprouts, cooked with celery root and mushrooms in a brown butter sauce. The meal was hearty, quick to heat up and kept me full until a late dinner.
The chicken sausage with apple and pumpkin hash and a frittata was my second dish. The chicken sausage and hash were tasty but the frittata was just ok. I think it’s because I don’t like reheated egg that much (personal problem!).
Sometimes I wake up late and don’t have time make my own breakfast (hitting the alarm clock for that “5 more minutes”). That’s where Factor 75 comes in handy with super goji berries mixed in steel cut oatmeal with cinnamon spice. I’m not used to steel cut oats so I added a lil’ more sweetness with brown sugar. Of course, you need a bit need protein to survive the workday so a hard boiled egg is included as well.
After work is over and I finish yoga class and my health coaching program homework, I have no time to cook but (yay) my Factor 75 dinner menu is sitting in my fridge. The vegetarian dinner option I selected was Southwest Quinoa bowl with mixed beans (black, white, pinto & kidney), red onions, cilantro and mashed sweet potatoes were hidden on bottom with sides of cheddar cheese and a chipotle aioli.
Shared goodies (Holidays are about sharing, yeah?):
The superfood bites were healthy and tasty super stars with chia, flax, cacao nibs, coconut, oats, honey, and applesauce. Hey buddy, these were way better than a crappy fruit cake!
Are you ready to take a break from the cooking grind? Try Factor 75 here, and when you purchase 4 meals, get a free meal on us (see, we like to give!) when you sign up using the code “CHIORGANICGIRLS” as well as a free healthy Ebook with tons of tips. Let us know what you think too! We would love to try a few more recommended meals (maybe the autumn stuffed acorn squash or butternut squash lasagna…hint, hint) to save us some time after standing in those Black Friday lines.
Superfoods are all the rage right now but why shouldn’t they be? They are super after all, super at making your body feel spectacular. In a world of fast food, we’re all in need of healthy heros like Sambazon!
The brand Sambazon focuses on fair trade, non GMOs and sustainability of the cute lil acai superberry. We recently tasted two of their acai breakfast (or any time of day, for that matter) options and simply swooned over their hunger pang crushing powers.
The first sample was the chocolate, almond and coconut milk protein smoothie. Lactose issue folks and vegans can rejoice over this tasty drink containing 8 grams of vegan protein to get the day started. We are a big fan of coconut milk as it adds a rich touch that makes the drink feel decadent.
The second option, Acai Berry Superfood Smoothie Packs, breaks down to the bare essence of the superfood, fair trade organic acai berry pulp, in a convenient frozen ready to blend serving. We love to make green smoothies to get a pop of spinach or kale in the morning and incorporated the pack into our easy and quick green recipe with coconut water, spinach and blueberries.
Monica & Kate’s Super Samba Greenie:
- Take 1 cup coconut water (like Zico or Vita Coco) and put in a magic bullet or blender.
- Add a smattering of blueberries, handful of spinach and half a superfood smoothie pack and viola!
Your not too sweet not too sour SUPER green smoothie has been created!
Like the Sambazon Protein Smoothie but wanna make your own version?
Monica and Kate’s Fake Out Samba Protein Smoothie:
- 1 cup Coconut-Almond blend milk
- 1 packet Samanazon Acai superfood smoothie pack
- 1/2 cup frozen banana
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (like Ghirardelli)
Voila! 3 breakfast options to break from your egg and granola routine. Ready to get in touch with your inner champion? You can find Sambazon at oh so many retailers like Marianos, Jewel-Osco, Whole Foods, Walgreens and even (*gasp*) Walmart! They are everywhere :).
We’ve jumped from winter to winter to oh my, is that spring we see? There was that one blissful 60s weekend and the tulips have somehow managed to peek out of the ground and stretch their leafy arms. What’s best way to enjoy the promise of such weather? With a break, of course. A very classy wafel break. We Americans have been doing our break all wrong, you see. We’ve been missing the stroopwafel, a cookie made of two thin Dutch waffle-like wafers with gooey caramel in-between. When we first received a sample box from Rip van Wafels, we screamed in delight. The presentation of the monthly coffee/tea & stroopwafels was cuter than a bucket of bunnies cuddling puppies. Numi Breakfast Blend tea, the featured beverage, was packed in a handle mason jar with two legions of individually wrapped wafels on each side. Numi is a perfect partner for Rip Van Wafels with it’s focus on fair trade and organic products. First things first, we didn’t follow the suggested directions of placing the stroopwafel over a steamy beverage to warm the ooey-gooey caramel loveliness inside. After about 4 days of mindless wafel munching (Kate received and commandeered the wafels at her house), Monica closely examined the packaging and realized the delicacies of this Dutch tradition, koffietijd, or a mid morning coffee and wafel break.
Subscribers to Rip van Wafels will get a new coffee or tea in each box as well as sturdy traditional stroopwafels or their fanciful cousin, the cocoa filled wafel. We are curious to know how the cocoa filled wafel would stand up to our Chicago micro-roasting coffee companies. Yumm, delicious collaboration could be on the horizon!
So what say you America, shall we start a mindful revolution of stroopwafeling and mid morning time outs? We say let’s import the Dutch tradition and while we’re at it, let’s bring back the old school kindergarten nap time to the adult work world too!
Oh winter…devilishly evil Chicago winter. You haven’t been able to keep us down…especially with all these events and restaurant openings popping up. What about you, dear readers? Have you wound your scarf around you and strapped those snow boots on to take the chill out of winter? Here are some spots that may make you wanna brave the great white Midwest.
Remember that ol’ Lasalle Power company dance club you used to troll to pick up your future v-day date? Well now it’s been converted into a brand new Gino’s East. Chicago’s legendary pizza spot just got classy at its River North location. Three floors of expansive rustic cozy hangout space will eliminate your wait with your out of town guests as you get your “mangia” on with artichoke pizza, pickle-y sliders and fat stuffed cheese sticks with spinach. The restaurant proclaims to be including a brewery opening in several months as well…just in time for Spring!!
Our next pick is a neighbor to the north, Pizzeria Serio, a hidden addition to the food scene on Belmont avenue in Lakeview. WGN’s Chicago Best honored Pizzeria Serio as one of Chicago’s fave pizza. Check out the video here. We hopped over snow mounds to meet with the Chicago Food Bloggers and Pizzeria Serio was gracious enough to host our group. We sampled several tasty starters like a Spinach Salad (baby spinach leaves, red onion, mandarin oranges, goat cheese and walnuts in homemade citrus dressing) and the more traditional Caprese. For veggie lovers and goat cheese lovers (eww says one of us..the goat cheese hater) try the spinach specialty pizza (EVOO, sea salt, black pepper, fresh garlic, tomatoes, spinach, ricotta and goat cheese sans sauce). For the more purist pizza crowd, try the wood burned crusty Eat Your Veggies (onions, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives) and get your 5 a day veg serving…a good excuse to eat mas pizza if we do say so…and we do.
In a whole other country (this is what it feels like to Chicago residents) is Farmhouse in Evanston. This tavern makes their own burgers, condiments and soda from scratch with ingredients plucked straight from Midwestern farms. Even their beverage selection is pulled only from Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. The majority of interior pieces are reclaimed woods and salvaged materials. At the kick off to North Shore Restaurant month, going on now, we gobbled down hot beer battered Wisconsin cheese curds with crispy warm centers and fresh Tavern-cut peppery potato chips with homemade ranch-like dipping sauce. On demand for our next visit is the Old World Grains Burger with Forest Mushroom and Poblano Pepper. For those of you who don’t venture that far out of our city, there’s also a sister location in River North with a slightly different menu and a two floor space. Don’t all these pics of yummy food make you wanna trek through your alley to the El?
What a weekend! Instead of doing the same old St. Patty’s day crawl, we decided to take care of our health and attend the Good Food Festival at the UIC Forum. It’s all about Chicago foods, local farmers, composting and environmental friendly practices, organic treats and lots of awesome tastings! These included Chi area tomato sauces, hot sauces, greens, cheeses and milk, and chocolates (Kate gave up chocolate for lent so she seemed a little tortured as I enjoyed my tastings :p).
Here’s a few of our favorite vendors out of over 150 vendors.
Traders Point Creamery, a family-owned organic dairy farm in Zionsville, Indiana used grassfed cows to produce a creamy strained yogurt that tasted so light and fresh! They offer original and honey greek yogurt as well as probiotic drinks, (Raspberry and Banana Mango were featured), BGH free milk and creamy cheeses.
Kate: Monica and I loved the girls at NessAlla. Both knowledgeable and friendly, their Kombucha came in original flavors like Lemongrass Ginger and the seasonal Red Clover. They also sell kits to make your own Kombucha.
And lastly, our all-time favorite product was Phoenix Bean a Chicago based company that produces beyond yummy tofu products. This was our second time sampling and we had to buy the spicy mango tofu. It has great texture and delicious flavors of cilantro, chili, garlic and more. You can pop them right in your mouth or add them to quinoa, spinach or other greens for a meal.
Our stomachs were full and happy when we left. It’s definitely one of those yearly events that we will make sure to attend and we were told by staff that they are sure to expand next year.