Best of the Good Food Festival 2016

This past weekend we went to the Good Food Festival for the third year in a row.  Click here to read one of our first blog posts about our first Good Food Festival three years ago.  Yesss, we are celebrating the three year … Continue reading

Super Sonic Health Tonic: Tonica Kombucha

If you haven’t been reading our blog since the good ol’ days, you may not know we are Krazy for Kombucha.  Kombucha, a fermented tea, provides a boost of B vitamins, probiotics to help your tummy, and is rumored to have detoxing and immunity boosting powers.  We tend to go for kombucha when when we have have the digestive downers and are known as kombucha pushers on our friends with colds.

Now that has been cleared up, we have to tell you about a new Kombucha we are loving, Tonica Kombucha.  Tonica comes from our neighbor to the north, Oh Canada.  You may know Canada as the land of yummy things like poutine, ketchup fries, and Makintosh toffee.  Now you can also equate it to something healthy!

Tonica Kombucha was started by Zoey Shamai who, in our opinion, is sort of an Emma Stone doppelganger as well as (more notably) a traveling yoga teacher and home kombucha brewer.  Once she started sharing her home brew, her Canadian crew went crazy too so she expanded into a business.  Her Toronto based Kombrewery pumps out 8 different fuzzy flavors of Kombucha: Ginger Rapture, Green Tea Revival, Nude Brew, Peach Resolution, Mango Passion, Coffee, Vibrant Blueberry and Jasmine Tea.

We were given samples of Jasmine Tea, Coffee and Peach Resolution to try and review.


We were a quite curious to see how this kombucha would taste.  The coffee kombucha had a bubbly texture and light coffee flavor.  It also provided a decent boost of energy that could replace a moderated coffee drinker’s caffeine needs. It had a balance of sweet without being overpowering.

Tonica coffee

Jasmine Tea: 

Most of us know that tea is a go to health drink as it has super anti-oxidants and Jasmine tea happens to be a star in the tea world.  The Tonica Jasmine tea has a fresh floral flavor along with the fizz and a sweet fragrant balance.  Jasmine tea also has caffeine (surprise) so you can sub it in for a detoxifying morning jolt!

Tonica 1

Peach Resolution:

If you have a resolution to lose weight or kick a sugary drink habit, try this inspired flavor. Peach resolution has only 30 calories, 4g of sugar and a mix of fermented organic green and black tea, rooibos, which are great for metabolism boosting and halting hunger. It surprises your palate with blackberry leaves, ginger pieces, calendula petals and organic peach extract as well.


Tonica is only 45 calories for 1 bottle with natural carbonation.  It’s 100% raw and certified organic.  It’s also full of healthy bouncing baby bacteria, the kinds you need to keep a balanced body PH.  Tonica can be purchased in ‘Merica at Whole Foods.



One kind tip for 1st time kombucha drinkers: Tonica, like most kombuchas, is a fizzy party.  Unless you want to shower in kombucha, DO NOT shake the bottle and for extra precaution, open over a sink so all your delicious kombucha doesn’t escape.  Ready to taste Tonica?  6 flavors are available at our Chicago area Whole Foods or you can check to Tonica locator here!

Be a Natural Beauty with Whole Foods Lincoln Park!

Now is the time to bare shoulders, freckled cheeks (face cheeks silly people) and calves as summer in Chicago has officially begun!  With all that exposed skin, you gotta look your best but wouldn’t it be fab if you could baby your skin with natural products?  Big box stores often have a smattering of natural skin and hair care but Whole Foods Lincoln Park has trumped them by expanding an entire section of the store for your holistic beauty regime.  Men, don’t feel left out!  They have a section for you and your bearded self too.


Last Thursday, we were giddy to experience a sneak peek of the extension of the department.  First, we indulged in some rooftop yoga with Moksha Yoga, Mamma Chia vitality drinks and Whole Foods staff.

Afterwards, we put on our pink hard hats and toured the new beauty section and sampled holistic products.  Here are some highlights!

Fit and Active:

Looking to protein it up but not ready to commit?  Whole Foods Lincoln Park will offer a new Active Lifestyle section with both plant and whey based proteins that avoid the dreaded artificial sugars, colors or hydrogenated oils.  A superfood bulk (think maca, mangosteen or moringa) and protein powder selection will be available as well so you can taste and try a small amount before shelling out protein bucks.  We tried vegan protein samples from Vega and even got to spin our recovery drink flavors out with a green energy blending bike.


Stopping by after a workout?  You can belly up to the new juice and smoothie bar to get a post workout boost or ditch the sports drinks and try Nuun, a fizzy electrolyte filled tablet to enhance your water.


Let Your Inner and Outer Beauty Shine:

Whole Foods Beauty section doesn’t only include vitamins and supplements.  Check out natural mineral based makeups, paraben-free hair cares and lotions and formaldehyde free nail polishes (among 6 other chemical free ingredients) in the new widened glowing aisles.  Feel like getting some tips on where to start?  A beauty concierge will now be waiting to address your coconut oil curiousness or coral lip color consulting needs.  We smoothed some BB cream from Pacifica while meandering around the store.  Pacifica products are 100% vegan and many use coconut water or milk (can you say “hello, I smell like a heavenly tropical island”?)  We also love that the products aren’t expensive in comparison to department store brands so you can do good things for your body and your wallet if you have a tight budget.


A Manly Regime:

Men, you have no excuse to not be metro…or just kempt and not dirty…with Whole Foods Lincoln Park’s exclusive men’s section.  No more digging through the aisles to find the sad men’s corner at the end.  This area of the store has face, hair and body care products free of gross chemicals and just for you.


Ready for Action!

Whole Foods kicks off their beauty celebration with a bag o’ beauty goodies, “Ready for Action” Bags, valued at $50 bucks for only (Wait for It!!) $12!  Packed in a hand printed zipped active clutch (as we like to call it) printed by RIJI Green, a company that works to end human trafficking, you will find your summer survival kit!

  • Toms of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant, Natural Powder Scent (2.25 oz)
  • Aubrey Pure Aloe Vera (4 fl oz)
  • Boiron Arnicare Gel (.5 oz)
  • Amazing Grass Amazing Meal, Vanilla Chai (.88 oz)
  • Goddess Garden Organics Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, Everyday or Kids (1 oz)
  • Garden of Life Perfect Food Raw Organic Green Super Food, Real Raw Chocolate Cacao (.34 oz)
  • Nuun Active Natural Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tabs, Lemon + Lime (10 tabs)
  • Spectrum Essentials Seed Blends – Orchard Fruit, Savory, Tropical Fruit, or Warrior Vitality (.5-.7oz)


Ready to become a natural beauty?  Visit Whole Foods Lincoln Park on Saturday June 27th to step into action.

Whole Foods Lincoln Park,1550 N. Kingsbury, Chicago, IL 60642

You can be extra cool like us and shop and do rooftop yoga this Sunday with this special charity event!


10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Experience the lighter side of yoga with YogaQuench!  After a 1-hour relaxing yoga session, sample wines and cheeses while learning about these pairings from our Certified Cheese Professional.

BYOM: Bring your own mat.  Proceeds benefit local nonprofit, Yoga for Recovery.  Register here.


Whole Holiday Gift Ideas with Whole Foods

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.

DIY Gifts

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.


Swirlz Cupcake – Vegan Peppermint Chocolate

Feeling inspired?  Go out there with confidence and shop, dear friends, and impress those peeps with your Whole Foods Holiday swag.

A Very Veg Thanksgiving: Baked French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy

Here’s Part 2 of delicious side dishes from my cooking adventure, French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy taught at Whole Foods Market Cooking School in Lincoln Park.  Thanks to Google+ Local Chicago for hosting this culinary experience!

When you see the food pics below, you’ll know why the whole class was clamoring to get a close view of the finished product.


French Onion Soup

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4 large sweet onions, thinly sliced with the grain
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, recommend cabernet sauvignon
  • 2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1 small baguette
  • 1/2 pound Swiss, Gruyere, or Emmenthaler cheese, shredded

Emmenthaler Swiss Cheese


  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  • Dry heat a large soup pot or dutch oven for 2 minutes.  Add to hot pot the sliced onions.  Sprinkle salt and drizzle olive oil over onions.  With a large spoon or tongs, constantly turn the onions so they do not stick to the bottom.  Continue stirring and flipping for 5-10 minutes.  The onions will start to shrink and caramelized beautifully.  Add the thyme and stir once more.  Place a lid on the pot and continue this 30 minutes, stirring every so often.  This is where the base of the flavor comes from.  The longer you caramelize, the deeper the flavor.
  • Slice baguette to fit your bowls, either on a diagonal or in circles.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, until bread is completely dried out.
  • Add red wine and balsamic vinegar.  This will help deglaze the pan and pick up more flavor.  Let cook another 10 minutes with no lid.  This will concentrate the liquid a bit to help deepen the flavor.  Add bay leaves and water and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to simmer, place lid on pot and allow to cook another 15-30 minutes.


  • Ladle into bowls, place bread over soup and sprinkle on cheese.  Place under broiler for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes.  Be aware of the time as the broiler can burn food very quickly.  Enjoy!

Vegan Thanksgiving Cooking Class


Mushroom Gravy

Whole Foods Market recipe adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or almond flour for gluten free
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2tsp thyme
  • salt and peper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast


  • In a large bowl, mix 2 cups vegetable broth with flour.  Whisk until there are no lumps.  Add remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth and set aside.
  • Heat a large sauce pan.  Add oil and shallots.  Saute about 5 minutes until shallots are limp.
  • Add garlic, mushrooms, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir until well combined.  Saute about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked.

Vegan Thanksgiving Cooking Class1

  • Add wine and bring to a boil for 3 minutes, letting the liquid reduce.  Stir often.
  • Add broth mixture and nutritional yeast to the pot.  Let cook 10-15 minutes until gravy thickens.

Vegan Thanksgiving Cooking Class2

So this is my first experience with mushroom gravy as a born vegetarian!  Use on whatever dish you want….cover your greens, your mashed potatoes or slather it on the Whole Foods “meat” loaf recipe from part 1.

Craving more variety for your veggie-giving?  Check out the following veg/vegan recipes as a Thanksgiving side dish or fall treat and have a healthy happy holiday tomorrow!

Super Moist Pumpkin Bread by Post Punk Kitchen 

Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger and Vanilla by Post Punk Kitchen

Candied Yams by Earth Balance Made Just Right

Buttery Apple Cider Carrots by Earth Balance Made Just Right

Vegan Pumpkin Pie by Whole Foods Market

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.

“Meat” Loaf

  • 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