Hey Chicagoans! We’re sure you’ve noticed how easy it is to incorporate local farmer’s market produce into your summer time recipes but cooking in winter, jeez what to make? Then, along comes the Green City Market Cookbook. Inspired by the beloved Lincoln … Continue reading
Tag Archives: vegan
Food Goodies at the Green Festival
As we become more and more aware of the limited resources our earth has, the idea of being green has continued to take a front seat in our minds. But what can we do to become more conscious consumers? How about attend a whole festival dedicated to green lifestyles?
I recently attended the Green Festival at Navy Pier and discovered new tasty treats from eco-friendly companies. With over 20,000 people attending each of the 3 festival days, the Green Festival had a ton to offer. My friend and I only explored the food section which represents about one quarter of the vendors present. So here is the best of the best of the yummy samples we tried. Save your appetite for this event next year!
Quick and Easy Superfood Breakfasts
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 :).
Relishing the Pro Chef Life: Fresh Meal Delivery Service from Relished Foods
UPDATE: 8.21.14 Relished has expanded and rebranded to become Home Chef. They now offer vegan and veg friendly menus as well…all the more reason to stay home and be lazy instead of grocery shopping!
Ooo we are so sick of winter in Chiberia and we’ve had too many days of stir crazy all day pajama pants wearing. This weather sure hasn’t made it easy to get out to grocery shop, let alone put on any real semblance of clothes. Enter Relished Foods to conquer any reason to brave the cold white landscape we now call home.
Relished, is a fledgling Chicago area company that delivers fresh ingredients with clear visual instructions to cook healthy delicious meals like a pro. Each order includes three meals for one week. Recipes rotate weekly.
Now to the good food stuff!
We received 3 recipes:
- Farfalle Pasta with Shrimp
- Arugula and Fennel Salad with Chicken
- Naan Pizza
We were hesitant about the Farfalle Pasta recipe which seemed too simple and possibly bland but once we noticed the fresh prepped ingredients and easy instructions our curiosity got us…. Farfalle Pasta sans Shrimp recipe included fresh baby spinach, basil, plump juicy cherry tomatoes, garlic and asiago cheese. This is how manageable the recipes are. We washed the vegetables, sliced the cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic. Lastly, we added EVOO, sea salt and grounded whole black pepper…so taxing (wink)!
Once we took a bite of this dish, we were pleasantly surprised by the flavors. Although simple, the dish was satisfying and complex.
With the arugula, we got to experience some ingredients we don’t usually utilize like fennel, and even champagne vinegar (you fancy, huh). The chicken was lean and still juicy. Relished packaging made it manageable to have one vegetarian and one omnivore eating the same meals as the meats were packaged separately from the veggies.
The naan pizza made us giggle in delight because we love artichokes, roasted red peppers and onions. All you had to do was plop the toppings on and bake. The recipe made two 8 inch pizzas.
What we learned about getting Relished pro chef meals sent to our house:
- All meals take 30 minutes or less and require minimal cooking skills.
- Recipe cards were visually stimulating, well articulated and can be used again!
- Food came in a space aged cooler box and ingredients stayed fresh until we were ready to cook.
- Meals cost around $10 a serving.
We really appreciated that all meals were veggie heavy, creative and delicious. Relished is only about 6 months in and they have also indicated that they are exploring only veggie/vegan meal options to expand their dietary offerings. Now if only they would send us some hot cocoa to warm things up for us, we be all about staying in for another week or so.
Thanks to Relished for inviting us to try such yummy and vegetastic meals!!
Chicago Thin Crust? A Pizza Must!
Oh Twitter, how we love thee. Recently, the Chicago Food Scene held a Twitter poetry competition for free Blaze pizzas. We dug deep back to our middle school Haiku writing days and typed a clever pizza ditty….and won!! Once our coupons came, we gleefully braved the snow to try the “new to Chicago” casual pizza chain, Blaze Pizza, situated in Boystown right near the El stop. We weren’t really sure what to expect when we entered but the staff hollered out a welcome and invited us to come closer.
As we shyly peeked around, they detailed the Blaze pizza process for us. The fine art of pizza creation is set up in an assembly line format. Patrons can pick their own pie toppings and sauce or choose a signature ‘za and watch while it is made. Pizzas are 11 inches of thin crust glory and take only 3 minutes to cook. We were intrigued by the gigantic oven and learned that 12 pizza could fit inside which brings to mind sitcom hijinx of craaazy pizza cooking. The oven man assured me that he avoided that magnitude of pizza multitasking. The oven does, however, cook pizzas at a blazing (get it?!!!?) hot 800 degrees.
There were a ton of signature veggie pizza options available to us as well as gluten free and vegan substitutions. We decided on the Red Vine, with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil and chunky red sauce, and the Green Stripe, with pesto sauce, arugula, and garlic minus the chicken.
Pizza Highlights: Blaze Pizza is a real departure from Chicago style pizza and a real good one at that. The crust was light, crispy and a titch garlicky. Our wallets were happy because their pizzas only cost 8 bucks and we each walked out with leftover slices. We also tried the S’mores pie, a chewy marshmallow with melted chocolate in between 2 British biscuits. It had appropriately crumbly texture but we decided it could have used a quick pop in the oven.
Status: Liked, retweeted and plused, we loved Blaze Pizza and will be back to make our own creation. Thanks to Blaze Pizza and Chicago Food Scene for choosing us as the creative poetresses that we are and giving us pizzas instead of an award.
Meatless Monday: Cranberry Spiced Butternut Squash
Are you suffering from a lingering Thanksgiving coma? Are you currently looking at a squash that your aunt brought you over the holiday with a perplexion on how to use it. Squash is one of those winter foods that we didn’t know what to do with during our early cooking days. Now we know there is a multitude of squash available: all that can be turned into awesome veggie meals
Recognize any of these variety of squash???
Here’s a starter recipe for the puzzling squash. This week’s Meatless Monday dish features yummy natural cranberry sauce and a winter superstar, Butternut Squash. If you’re feeling extra lazy, which we’re guessing you still are as we noticed your Santa pajama pants, you can grab pre-cut and peeled butternut squash from the grocery store instead of machete-ing that sucker. If you’re more adventurous, cut open the squash length wise, scoop out the seeds, peel and cut into 1 inch cubes in preparation.
Cranberry Spiced Butternut Squash
- 2 cups butternut squash, chopped in 1 inch cubes, peeled
- 1 cup natural cranberry sauce (no jiggly cran jelly people!)
- 1/2 cup no salt sunflower seeds (no husks)
- Maple syrup to taste
If you’re feeling spicy, you could add 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Vietnamese cinnamon is our favorite).
- Fill a medium sized pot with water and bring the water to a boil
- Boil squash until tender
- Drain water
- Mix all the ingredients while squash is still warm
- Add maple syrup until desired sweetness
Easy peasey butternut squash can be transformed into other various hearty dishes. You can puree it with veggie stock and spices for a delicious savory soup, mix it with arugula and feta, or, for a sweeter treat, try roasting it with cinnamon and butter. Now put on some real clothes and go attack that squash!
Meatless Monday “Meat” Loaf
Are you reaaaaaady…to learn how to make delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes just in time for Thanksgiving? Are you prepared to make plant based entrées fit for even the most carnivorous foodie? You won’t even miss the meat!
On my beauteous bday, I attended Whole Foods Market Cooking School in Lincoln Park to learn about preparing meatless meals thanks to Google+ Local Chicago.
- 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils such as Melissa’s Steamed Lentils (all natural, no preservatives, non-GMO)
- 2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
- 1 cup rolled oats, blended such as Bob’s Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning blend
- 1/2 tbsp sage
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp ketchup to spread on loaf
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- In a blender, place rolled oats and blend into powder
- In a saute pan, add oil. Italian seasoning and sage. Allow to cook until oil absorbs spices and aroma fills the air. Add onions and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent and soft.
- In a large bowl, add cooked lentils, cooked rice, blended oats, sauted onion and garlic mixture, crushed tomatoes and BBQ sauce. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour loaf mixture into a well-greased bread pan and pat down. Add ketchup to the top and with the back of spoon, spread to coat the exposed loaf.
- Bake for 1 hour. Let sit for 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and enjoy!!
Kate has been bugging me to demonstrate my new culinary skills for the holiday. She may have to wait for Part 2, French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy, coming soon! Don’t drool like her while you’re waiting. 😉
**Recipe from Whole Foods Cooking School, Lincoln Park
Tis’ the Season for a Restaurant Preview: Seasons 52 River North
You know how sometimes divine providence throws you a foodie bone? A light shone down on us last Monday when we received a mysterious email invite to a restaurant preview for Seasons 52. We immediately got the googlin’ fever and checked out the scope of the restaurant. River North, eh? Must be semi-fancy. Then came the menu snooping and the what to wear conversations.
As two small town bloggers in a big town, we didn’t quite know what to expect from our first media reception. The first thing we noticed was that we had accidentally matched our outfits. Ok, bright side, we are a more united front in our navy and white striped twinsie clothes.
The second thing we noticed was the atmosphere. Seasons 52, just a ferris wheel away from Navy Pier, sets out to be a casual wine and piano bar with seasonal rotating entree elements. There was definitely mood lighting when we arrived and the pianist was crooning a little Dawson’s Creek like ditty as we walked to the reception area. The restaurant layout features open spaces, a circular bar area, Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design and *highlight* a chef’s table where you can spy on and get served by the executive chef of the restaurant…oh the pressure for those line cooks as you scrutinize their every chop!
What we ate: We started off with two flatbreads. The crust was noticeably buttery and crisp (but not microwave pizza rock solid) which was a nice balance. The ripe plum tomato and mozzarella flatbread with basil was not unique but satisfying. The Sonoma goat cheese flatbread was more intriguing with luscious chunks of roasted garlic, a trio of mushrooms (black trumpet, portobello and oyster), spinach and scallions. Kate HATES goat cheese, yet it was mild enough that she actually didn’t spit the flatbread into her napkin and admittedly, enjoyed it.
Next, came an only made for us goat cheese stuffed ravioli with chive aioli and shaved root veggies on top. The staff was kind enough to treat us due to the rest of the samples being meaty (short ribby and chipotle pineapple shrimpy to be exact). Marty, the most knowledgeable server in the history of mankind aka the Aristotle of waiter-ing, explained that two key attractive features of this new joint.
1) They have a gazillion menus to serve your (and our) picky friends. That means your vegan, vegetarian, T-Rexian, salt-free, and gluten hating peeps can all eat dinner in one spot. REMARKABLE!
2) Certain menu items and pieces of entrees change with the seasons to produce peak flavor. For example, mushrooms, root vegetables, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and other fall goodies appear in fall only. As a contrast, items like berries, melons and cucumbers would find their way back to you in summer.
Finally, the epic portion of our evening was about 8 baby parfait desserts to choose from. We split them to avoid the old “pants splitting at a restaurant” dilemma. One surprise favorite was a creamy key lime parfait and of course, good ol’ pumpkin was right in season. Seasons 52 also offers a fresh fruit parfait for your more health conscious self. We met famed Ask.com health blogger, Nina Cherie, at the reception and she modeled appropriate dessert choosing. *Sigh* P.S. She’s awesome!
Any “eh ok” things?: Seasons 52 is in River North. Parking, meh, might wanna take the red line el train..oh wait! VENTRA (fist shaking).
What we LOVED the most: The service! All the staff were not just aware of their craft but were interesting, friendly people. We had a long conversation with the super attentive and yoga loving server, Kelly as she toured us around the restaurant, refilled our drinks non stop and encouraged us to take free dessert home. Need we say more?
Seasons 52 opened October 17th for all. Go get your own review on and tell us what you think!
Taco-Tastic: A Soft Shell recap of National Taco Day
Friday October 4th…a day that will live in infamy… a day to gorge on (dare we say it) one of the best hand held foods known to (wo)man: the taco. Take that, fried food on a stick! Below is a smattering of some of the most tantalizing taco trends in the Chi area.
Taco Joint won our hearts again with their National Taco Day deals. The brand new River North hotspot has a wealth of wealthy people watching. Read more details in our previous post about it’s sister spot, located in Lincoln Park. Mon cheated with another friend and enjoyed the $2 dollar panela, black bean, mushroom and arugula tacos with a refreshing grapefruit margarita and some twitter # provided free guac on National Taco Day. (Kate: Sad faced 😦 but will persevere)
West town hides our prime birthday celebration spot, De Cero, on the restaurant row strip of Randolph Street. De Cero’s Tacos De Rajas, tickle our taco fancy, with mildly sweet green peppers, cojita cheese, cilantro and crema. For the salsa aficionados, De Cero boasts a range of flavors, from the tart pickled jalapeño to the spiccccy habanero mango. Bring your friends along as you can order paired taco trays so that everyone can delight in the taco variety.
Latin Asian fusion restaurant, Saucy Porka, puts a twist on the taco (theirs’ is called a baco) with a bao bun base as the taco shell. We hounded them at the recent food truck rally for their crispy ginger tofu baco with crisp Asian slaw and can’t wait to take over their downtown location to experience their Tostones, curry sweet potato fries, and Ho Chi Minh tofu sammich.
Vegans and T Rexs alike can rejoice in the Baja tofu tacos at the little Logan Square gem, Ground Control. The lightly fried tofu is topped with pickled red onion, crunchy cabbage, black sesame and a vegan Baja sauce that tastes a little ranchy. Sweet potato tacos also grace the menu with sautéed kale, firm mushrooms, and a not too hot chili tomato sauce.
We are drooling at the thought of partaking in the taco goodness of Antique Taco or Ay Chiwowa as we’ve heard taco-tastic reviews…ooh do we feel a Taco-Tastic review, part II coming soon?
Dearest readers, where do you go to get your taco fix? We got a fever and the only prescription is…more cow bell…oops, we mean tacos!
One Salad to Rule them All (AKA Fiesta Quinoa)
Did we ever admit sometimes we are terribly lazy? When it came time to prepare for the opening credits of our “Lord of the Rings” Ravinia park movie picnic, Kat, predictably, was poking about. With a nudge and some coaxing, she whipped up the easy peasy quinoa even Gollum would approve of…
- 2-3 cups Quinoa
- Vegetarian broth
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 can of corn
- 1 cup of fire roasted salsa
- 3/4 cup red bell peppers
- Scallions (green onions), chopped
- Cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp, chopped jalapeno
- 1 tbsp, chopped garlic
- 1/2 tsp grounded cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Cook quinoa in vegetarian broth as per instruction on quinoa package. Rinse and drain black beans and corn and mix together with quinoa and bell peppers. Add the mixture of fire roasted salsa, chopped scallions, cilantro and jalapeño pepper with cumin, salt, black pepper, olive oil and lime juice.
Modified recipe from savvyvegetarian.
Mmmm our precioussss quinoa was a success. We are sure it will make a return for the Return of the King movie next summer at Ravinia. Maybe you will brave the fires of Mordor and join us next time. Enjoy!