Tag Archives: Chicago

Weekend Warrior

23 Jun

Last weekend started with a dear friend’s bachelorette party, since this isn’t a party blog I won’t go into the details of what we did. Instead I’ll share with you some of the food and beverage choices I made starting with dinner on Friday at Adobo Grill a fairly traditional Mexican Restaurant.

There were eight of us and we shared a bunch of small plates. We ordered tamales, sopes, quesadillas, ceviche, salmon tacos and guacamole – which is some of the best in the city. A woman rolled out a cart to our table and made it our heat preference: mild, medium and hot.

Adobo Guacamole Cart

Adobo Guacamole Cart

They make guacamole just like how I would make it at home, amazing! We loved it so much that we ordered a second bowl.

Adobo Guacamole

Adobo Guacamole

The sopes, they look pretty but were disappointing in flavor. The first one was filled with plantains in mole sauce, the middle was filled with shrimp in salsa and the third one pork with goat cheese. The pork one was my favorite of the three, but I wouldn’t order these again.

Adobo Sopes

Adobo Sopes

During dinner and the rest of the weekend I didn’t pay attention to food portions, calories, ingredients, labels or protein intake. Whatever was in front of me I ate. I didn’t feel guilty nor do I regret what I ate. In fact I enjoyed most of it, it was delicious. What I didn’t enjoy was the full feeling I had, the feeling of the tortilla chips sitting in the pit of my stomach until the next day and the insatiable thirst I had due to  high sodium intake and putting on 3 lbs of water weight. Eating junk food once in a while and going overboard is a reminder of why I choose to eat clean everyday. Also, I had two alcoholic beverages the entire night, I can only imagine how much worse I would’ve felt had I drank more.

Later in the weekend…

  Warrior Dash

Warrior Dash

For those of you not familiar with Warrior Dash it’s a 3.3 mile obstacle course with cargo nets, mud pits, barbed wire, fire and more mud. This race was awesome! We signed up for the second run of the day at 8:30am, a very smart decision. The course gets muddier and muddier throughout the day as thousands of people run through it.

This is how it started.

Sqeaky Clean

Squeaky Clean

This is how it ended.

Muddy Muscles

Muddy Muscles

Muddy Muscles 2

Muddy Muscles 2

I finished with a time of 39:33.60 that put me in the top 20% overall and top 7% for my gender age group. Because of all the muddy obstacles I couldn’t run with my Polar heart rate monitor, normally I rely very heavily on it. I felt a little naked at first but once I got going I didn’t worry about it. This was the first race where I pushed myself so hard that I had to stop at one of the water stations to pour the water on my head to calm down. What can I say, I got excited. I’m always trying to beat my own time and do my personal best. I also know that my racing was impacted by the way I ate over the weekend. I definitely felt slower than normal, I won’t have to learn that lesson again.

Have I mentioned how much I love racing culture? If you’re reading this and have never participated in a race I don’t care how slow you think you are, DO IT! You can thank me later.

I’m considering a new kind of challenge for next year the 10-mile Tough Mudder. I wonder who I could get to do it with me. Who’s in?

Breakfast Burritos are Back

17 Jun

Have you missed these? I know I have. Now that I’ve discovered Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas the breakfast burritos have made a major comeback and will be here for a while.

Here’s today’s beauty.

Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast burrito

From the bottom up:
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Tortilla
1/2 cup organic baby arugula
2 eggs over easy
1/4 diced organic cherry tomatoes
1 TBS Trader Joe’s Tomatillo Salsa

Tonight I am going to enjoy Chicago’s nightlife in honor of one of my oldest and dearest friends for her bachelorette party. I can’t tell you what we’ll be doing in case she reads this, it’s a surprise.

Also this weekend I’m doing another race, the Warrior Dash. It’s an 3.3 mile obstacle course with fire, planks and a mud pit. I can’t wait to share all of the photos. I love doing mud races, they are so out of character for me and so much fun.

Have any of you ever done any mud races? Would you?

Racing and Blogging Friends

8 Jun

Where oh where have I been lately? I’ve been exercising, racing, eating well, meeting blogger friends, traveling, co-planning fundraising events and enjoying the Chicago summer.

For a quick update, in the last two weeks I ran a 3-mile race, a 10-mile race and registered for a half marathon:
Chase Corporate Challenge – Finished in 29:54, I was the fastest female at my company.
Soldier Field 10-Miler – Finished in 1:42:11, 10:14 pace, my longest distance race to date.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon – Registered for this race and signed up for a special training program at my gym. This will be my longest race ever. I’ll be blogging about my training as I go along in the coming months.

Also in the last week I met some blogging friends: Tiffany, Amy and Stacie. Thanks to Tiffany for coordinating the meet-up and picking a great spot, Coast Sushi in Bucktown. I officially love blogger meet-ups. Usually I get nervous meeting new people but you would have never known it with these ladies, we were chatting it up like old friends the entire three-hour dinner!

I ordered a seaweed salad and sashimi, two different tunas and salmon.

Sashimi

I’m not terribly picky about sushi, very easy to please. This place was especially fresh. I love sushi because it’s so easy to eat clean as long as you avoid the mayo and fried stuff. Sashimi is my dish of choice, unless brown rice rolls are available.

For dessert three of us split four pieces of mochi ice cream.

Green tea and tiramisu mochi ice cream

Green tea and tiramisu mochi ice cream

The pink one (tiramisu) was AMAZING! A small bite was the perfect end to the meal.

And here are the gorgeous ladies (excuse the red-eye):

Amy, Tiffany and Stacie

The beautiful Amy, Tiffany and Stacie

I was very happy to break my routine of staying in on Thursdays and go out to meet these women. Looking forward to the next meet-up.

What have you all been up to in the last couple of months? How have your fitness goals been going? Has anyone competed in any races or fulfilled on a weight loss goal? I’d love to hear from you!

Afternoon Drinks

15 Mar

After a long day of work all I want to do is have a drink, you know to take the edge off. A protein drink from Protein Bar!

Pier-Nut Butter and Jelly

Pier-Nut Butter and Jelly

This place is right around the corner from my office and whenever I’m in the mood for a sweet (protein) treat I head out to the Protein Bar. You can customize your drinks with your choice of protein: whey, egg or soy; your choice of milk: skim, almond or soy and your choice of fruit and extras. Lately I’ve been loving something they call The Daley Grind. It’s a warm protein shake and has coffee, chocolate and espresso protein.

Today I wanted to pretend that it was spring in Chicago so I got a cold drink, the Pier-Nut Butter and Jelly. This one’s got vanilla protein, almond milk, peanut butter, blueberries and strawberries. YUM! I am very lucky to have such an awesome spot so close to work. Ok, it’s back to work for me.

Do you have a favorite protein shake?

Random Report: Balls, Hancock and Lunch

3 Mar

Remember that bowling party I went to a couple of weeks ago? Remember how ballsy I was and asked to order off the menu? Well my request was granted and I ordered a grilled steak salad with extra arugula. They prepared it just how I like it, medium-rare and dressing on the side.

Steak Salad

Steak Salad

It’s a good thing I made the request because it was an after work party and I was very hungry by the time I arrived. The buffet food included pizzas and fried mac and cheese balls, which I would have resorted to eating. This way I got to stay on track with eating clean.

This past Sunday was my second Hustle Up the Hancock race. I participated last year and ran up 94 flights of stairs in 20:30. I had a goal of 18 minutes and I DID IT! My final time was 18:05.

Hustle with my trainer

Hustle with my trainer

This is all thanks to my trainer. He had me on a weight-lifting, stair-climbing regimen specific to meet my goal. There’s no better feeling than accomplishing a fitness goal after training hard!

It’s been a busy week this week and I haven’t had much time to prepare meals and shop for groceries, luckily where I work (in the heart of Chicago) I have an abundance of  lunch spots to choose from. Yesterday I chose Freshii and ordered off their Freshii 15 menu. The Freshii 15 is a menu of low-cal, portion appropriate options created by Ashley Koff, RD. I like that they have this option, I think it helps if you aren’t confident with choosing healthy off a menu on your own. It does the work for you.

Freshii 15 menu

Freshii 15 menu

The thing that I really like about Freshii is that everything is customizable and they have almost endless combinations for creating soups, salads and wraps.

Freshii Boostii-q salad

Freshii Boostii-q salad

For lunch I chose the Boostii-q salad because it has all the ingredients I would use at home: greens, bbq chicken (skip the cheese), avocado, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice and a splash of Sriracha (which I have never put into a salad before but now is going to become a staple salad ingredient).

I can’t wait to recharge this weekend. I’ll be registering for races, planning meals, hitting the gym and creating some running plans for the spring and summer.

What have you been up to this week? How do you manage eating healthy during a busy week?

Vegan Valentine

16 Feb

On Monday night my valentine and I ate a five course vegan dinner at Karyn’s on Green. Neither my date nor I are vegan but we both love vegetables, culinary adventures and healthy food. The dinner was excellent, each and every dish we ordered was amazing. Living in Chicago I am blessed with all kinds of cuisine options and good vegetarian and vegan options are becoming more and more abundant. The only thing that was questionable was the fashion show. There were men and women walking in between tables wearing lingerie. Maybe it’s just me but butts in my face while I eat food isn’t all that sexy.

Anyway, back to the food, my date and I shared each plate so we could try as much as possible.

First Course
Both of the items from the first course were delicious.  The Fig & Walnut Stuffed Cherry Peppers on a Bed of Arugula and Extra Virgin Olive Oil were delicious. The salad with fresh figs complemented the savory peppers perfectly.

Fig & Walnut Stuffed Cherry Peppers

Fig & Walnut Stuffed Cherry Peppers

After sampling the Avocado & Pomegranate Ceviche on Sliced Zucchini and Mignonette Sauce I learned that not only can I eat raw zucchini, but I like it.

Avocado Pomegranate Ceviche on Zucchini

Avocado Pomegranate Ceviche on Zucchini

Second Course
This Zinfandel Poached Strawberry & Almond Rose Soup was raw, gluten-free and soy-free. It was very light and had a unique flavor. I enjoyed it.

Raw Strawberry Almond Rose Soup

Raw Strawberry Almond Rose Soup

I definitely preferred the Cauliflower Bisque with Roasted Beech Mushrooms. It was savory, hearty and warm. Perfect for a chilly February night in Chicago. I prefer warm soups in general so it was no surprise that I preferred this one over the strawberry soup.

Cauliflower Bisque

Cauliflower Bisque

Third Course – Salad
Both salads were excellent. I ate most of the Beets & Ruby Red Grapefruit on Spinach & Red Cabbage with Pomegranate Vinaigrette. I don’t usually eat salads with dressing but the Pomegranate Vinaigrette was perfectly seasoned and light enough that it didn’t bother me.

Beets with Spinach and Red Cabbage

Beets with Spinach and Red Cabbage

The Baby Bok Choy & Spicy Kimchi on Mixed Greens with Sesame Vinaigrette was also excellent. I personally don’t think you can go wrong with a plate of mixed greens. The dressing was excellent, however it was a little overpowering and very salty.

Baby Bok Choy with Mixed Greens

Baby Bok Choy with Mixed Greens

Fourth Course
Next were the large plates, Stuffed Roasted Chicken with Braised Spinach, Figs & Pearl Onions on Fennel Cous Cous. I am not a huge fan of soy however in this dish the ‘chicken’ was excellent. The dish was savory and bursting with flavor.

Stuffed Roasted Chicken Braised Spinach Over Cous Cous

Stuffed Roasted Chicken Braised Spinach Over Cous Cous

The Roasted Red Beet Risotto with Aged Cashew Cheese Shavings and Grilled Asparagus was on the sweeter side and hearty as well. This was my first time eating cashew cheese and I loved it! I want to get my hands on some more. This plate was extremely filling, I had a hard time finishing it.

Red Beet Risotto with Aged Cashew Cheese

Red Beet Risotto with Aged Cashew Cheese

Fifth Course – Dessert
I only took a photo of one of the desserts but both were equally awesome. I’m not the biggest chocolate person but the Red Velvet Chocolate Terrine with Raspberry Coulis and Vanilla Ice Cream was divine and decadent. I couldn’t tell that this was vegan.

Chocolate Terrine

Chocolate Terrine

The other photo-less dessert was a raw, gluten-free, soy-free Almond Crusted Strawberry Cheesecake with Cocoa Nibs and Strawberry Coulis. Heaven on earth. I’d get both desserts again.

If you live in Chicago or are passing through I highly recommend Karyn’s on Green. My super-meat eating date and I left full, satisfied and happy with our dinner.

Curried chicken chili and clubbing

11 Feb

What do chicken chili and clubbing have in common? Absolutely nothing but I’m going clubbing this weekend and I’ve been enjoying chicken chili all week.

As years go by people’s interests and hobbies change. One of my favorite activities used to be clubbing. Yeah, I used to be a Jersey-Shore-fist-pumping-dance-your-butt-off-til-5am-at-the-club type, I’m not kidding. For some of you who have met me over the last few years or who have been following this blog you may find it hard to believe. In my late teens through mid-20s I was at every club opening and DJ night in Chicago and even traveled Europe visiting the biggest clubs in Berlin, Mykonos, Athens, Madrid, Ibiza, London and Barcelona.

These days I prefer to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, go to the gym and cook delicious meals at home. My latest invention in the kitchen is Curried Chicken Chili.

Curried chicken chili

Curried chicken chili

Ingredients:
2 free-range chicken breasts, fat trimmed and pounded
1 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp green curry paste
1.5 TBS coconut oil, divided

1 medium onion diced
1 medium red bell pepper diced

28 oz can of no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 TBS cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp curry powder (this is optional and to your preference, I added sweet curry powder)
15 oz kidney beans

Step 1:
In a shallow dish brush lemon juice over the chicken until covered on both sides. Then sprinkle with chili powder and cumin, covering both sides. Spread green curry paste on the chicken with butter knife. Cover and let stand in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Step 2:
Preheat skillet to medium and add half of the oil. Sautee chicken until cooked through, about three to four minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and let cool. Once cooled dice the chicken into bite sized pieces.

Step 3:
In a medium-sized pot over medium heat sautee onion and red bell pepper until soft, about three minutes. Add diced chicken and mix ingredients.

Vegetables and Chicken

Vegetables and Chicken

Add tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, coriander and curry. Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

With Tomatoes

With Tomatoes

Step 4:
Add beans, mix thoroughly, cover and cook for 15 more minutes. You can serve it straight out of the pot or over a bed of quinoa. Enjoy!

Are there any other chili-loving club heads reading my blog? If you’re out there what are your favorite dance tracks?

You are Invited to Vital Nights for Vital Bridges

14 Jan

As most of you know I volunteer my time with the Junior Networking Committee for Vital Bridges. For those of you in the Chicago area I am inviting you to attend our next fundraiser on Wednesday, January 26 at 6pm. All of our events are fabulous, fun and a feel-good time because the money is going to an amazing cause.

Vital Nights at Nacional 27

Vital Nights at Nacional 27

The reasons why I volunteer with Vital Bridges:
01 They are local and I love that I can make an impact so close to home
02 They provide nutrition counseling and healthy foods to people who would otherwise be without
03 The volunteer staff is a very caring, awesome group
04 Volunteerism and contributing to others is key in my happiness

If you really want to get in touch with the mission watch this video about Vital Bridges (I’m warning you now, it’s a tear-jerker).

Some more information about this event:
We host all of our events at various Chicago gems and Nacional 27 is no exception. There will be tapas served for the duration of the evening  as well as free Bacardi drinks from 6-8pm. Additionally we have – in my opinion – some of the best raffles prizes around (past prizes include a night’s stay at the luxurious Elysian Hotel in Chicago, Equinox membership with personal training sessions and massages, $500 gift card to Sunda and $500 gift card to Rockit, theater tickets, gift cards to RL, etc.). I also happen to be a good luck charm, the last two events three of my guests won raffle prizes.

This time there will also be a unique performance by Katarina, a violinist accompanied by a DJ set by DJ Love Jones. For a fabulous evening you can buy your tickets ahead of time for $25 or pay $30 at the door. For those of you who can make it, I look forward to seeing you there.

For any of my readers, do you do any volunteer work or have volunteering stores you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them.

Holiday Party Highlights

17 Dec

There will not be a breakfast burrito today. I ate a peanut butter and jelly with sliced bananas sandwich, but here are a few highlights of my company holiday party instead.

The food at the holiday party was as colorful and diverse as our nail polish colors.

This year’s holiday party was held at District Bar. It’s an ‘upscale’ sports bar that turns into a dance party late night on any given weekend night. It’s a nice space for a sports bar, I’ve held a fundraiser there in the past.

As far as office parties go we had the usual open bar, buffet of hors d’ oeuvres, music and dressed up coworkers. Usually our office parties are monochromatic in food choices, so I wasn’t expecting much. To my surprise we had a rainbow of food at this years party. I stacked up a plate full of everything, this plate my second helping. Look at all those colors.

The full plate

The full plate

Here’s what’s on my plate, from the top left and clockwise:
• Bacon wrapped scallop
• Mini Chicago cheese-steak bite
• Teriyaki marinated grilled chicken skewer with sweet chili sauce
•  Salmon tartar with black sesame in radish cup
•  Tomato basil bruschetta with fresh mozzarella
• Grilled pita & hummus bite with olives and sun-dried tomatoes
•  Roasted mushroom cap stuffed with creamed spinach & parmesan-pine nut crust
•  Tuna tartar ala nicoise

Here’s what I ate and didn’t take a photo of:
• Buffalo chicken & bleu cheese flatbread
• Chicken & chorizo quesadilla with avocado cream
• Brownie bite with bailey’s whipped cream & maraschino cherry
•  Mini profiterole cream puff

Everything was delicious, my favorites were the bacon covered scallops and the buffalo chicken and blue cheese flatbread. The only disappointment was the grilled chicken skewer. It wasn’t bad, just not amazing. The sweet chili sauce had an odd aftertaste.

The Chicago steak bite was nice and spicy.

Chicago steak bite

Chicago steak bite

You can’t go wrong with bruschetta and fresh mozzarella.

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

And what’s not to like about tuna tartar on a potato chip?

Carpacchio

Tuna tartar ala nicoise

I’d recommend this place for an afternoon of football or any time you’re looking for some great bar food. I will definitely go back for the buffalo chicken and blue cheese flatbread.

How were your holiday parties?

‘Afternoon Tea’ at the Peninsula

2 Dec Peninsula cake

A couple of weekends ago a few girlfriends and I had Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula in Chicago. We went to celebrate my friend Carolyn’s birthday and her becoming a CPA. This was my first time at Afternoon Tea and I think that’s a great reason for a review. I’ve had a few people ask me if I ever eat sweets and junk food. The answer is yes I do. I just prefer them on special occasions like this one and when possible I prefer to make ‘clean’ versions of my favorites.

Now on to the Tea.

Tea cup

Tea cup

These were the ladies of the afternoon, we dressed up for the occasion.

Carrie, Lynn, Alana and me

The setting at the Peninsula is luxurious and equipped with fine China, fresh flowers, live music and extraordinary customer service. From the moment we walked in the staff attended to our every Afternoon Tea need.

Ordering from the menu we chose the prix fixe option which included warm scones, desserts, savory sandwiches, warm quiche, coconut cake and choice of tea. There were also gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, children’s and a la carte options. Overall, everything was delicious and decadent. The ladies ordered champagne with their tea, I almost never drink alcohol, so I didn’t have any. Our server, to have me feel included brought out a champagne glass with ginger ale. It was a nice gesture and we were all able to share a toast with no one left out.

All the food was served on a three-tier tray…

Three-tier tray

…sweets on the top, vegetarian in the middle (for Alana), and savouries on the bottom. You can’t see it here, but we also had a basket of warm scones with a side of butter, lemon custard and raspberry preserves.

First up was a warm spinach and mushroom quiche. It came straight out of the oven and it was delicious. Just the right size for the start of our snacking.

Spinach Mushroom Quiche

Spinach Mushroom Quiche

Next up was this bite sized turkey sandwich, simple and fresh just how I like it.

Turkey sandwich

Turkey sandwich

I then moved to the top tray of sweets. There were six sweets total. I liked all but one of them. There was a nice variety of tart, chocolate, fruity and nutty so that everyone could enjoy their favorite flavor. My favorite was this cranberry cake.

Cranberry cake

Cranberry cake

In the middle of our feast a server brought out this warm coconut cake with warm melted chocolate inside.

Warm coconut cake

Warm coconut cake

The last thing we ate were the scones with lemon custard and raspberry preserves.

Scones

Scones with lemon custard and raspberry preserves

At first glance, the tray of sweets and savories didn’t seem like it would be enough to satisfy my hunger but after two hours of munching on tiny sweets and sandwiches and sipping on tea I was full. It was much more sugar than I am used to in a single afternoon.

On a scale of one to five, five being the best, I would rate the Afternoon Tea a four for flavor and quality and I give it a two for health and feeling good afterward. At the end it was just too much sugar.

Overall, a good experience, worth it every once in a while. I’d like to make my own ‘clean’ version o afternoon tea. 🙂

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