Another day, another week gone by. My apartment becomes progressively colder by the second but luckily my dad was kind enough to have a space heater delivered to me this week (HALLELUJAH). I’ve been throwing on my Madewell ribbed circle scarf followed by a sweater or flannel almost every day. This might be a sign that I need to do more online shopping because we all know (us Chicagoans, at least) that one can never have too many layers. Especially when Chicago winters hit.
It may come as no surprise to you but this week I’ve been thinking about nothing but smoothies and summer foods. I wake up every morning craving an ice cold smoothie bowl even if the temperature outside reads 40º (like it did Thursday). I even sat down this morning to have a smoothie and put on my jacket beforehand… oh the extremities one takes to enjoy cold food in cold weather!
As tomorrow marks Halloween, which means November comes to us in less than 48 hours, I had to dish out my Friday favorites with staples from this week.
Okay so I might have taken this photo last week but I thought it was valid to include into this week’s post. Lately, a huge part of my work day/work week consists of finding time to eat lunch outdoors or somewhere in peace, free of distractions, assignments and people constantly asking me questions/telling me what to do next. Some days I don’t even take a lunch break until I have an hour between my internship and job to sit on a bench or under a tree at a nearby park. This gives me time to focus on the present moment, enjoy my lunch piece by piece rather than scarfing it down in 5 seconds worried about printing this or checking off that.
This lunch was one of my favorites because I threw it together when I thought I had “no food”. Avocado smushed with veggies, my all time favorite popcorn (please check it out) and fruit. With my handy dandy Bkr water bottle keeping my hydrated, of course. Am I the only one who feels like a kid at school with a sandwich, fruit and popcorn or chips? Easy and simple. If only I had avocado oil covered popcorn and sprouted wheat bread as a kid *insert a laughing emoji here*.
Next up… meet my Friday lunch, folks. If you’re a fast casual restaurant, your chances of pleasing me and taking me by storm are pretty slim. Considering fast casual/fast food restaurants in general tend to be filled with artificial ingredients and wacky meats, I always end up at the Whole Foods’ hot bar when I miss the time to make my own lunch at home. Yet I have to say, the nearest Whole Foods to my work has the WORST hot bar. Half of it is the same old salad ingredients that weigh down your bowl by making 3 cauliflower chunks cost $12. No thank you. The other side consists of macaroni and cheese, pulled pork and biscuits or heavy Indian food. So bizarre.
Needless to say, instead of eating the same salad I get every time, I thought of the ONE fast casual restaurant in The Loop that I have my heart fixated on. Brightwok Kitchen! I included Brightwok in my September favorites but really, why not include it again because it continuously wins me over anytime I’m craving healthy FAST.
From stir-fries, noodle bowls and salads with fresh vegetables (I go half raw/half cooked), the healthy options are always transparent. I’d also like to add, their aesthetic with mason jars, wooden tables and unsweetened iced teas gets me. Today my pick was the tahini ginger sauce over chicken (local, antibiotic free, from OHIO), raw carrots, sauteed broccoli, zucchini and bean sprouts. Can I go here every Friday, please?
Now turning gears to spooky foods or at least pretty freaky looking (in the theme of Halloween), I tried a kelp noodle dish last weekend for the first time! Thanks to a tiny juice shop, JuiceRx, located in Old Town. Aside from selling tons of juices like their Matcha Almond Latte with sprouted raw almonds and spirulina, they sell raw vegan salads, coconut-based desserts, chocolate truffles and flavored kale chips. Between two different varieties of kelp noodle flavors, they offer an almond butter thai sauce and a hemp seed pesto.
For those of you who have no freaking clue what I’m talking about referring to “kelp noodles”, they are thin, glass-like noodles made from… you guessed it… KELP! A brown seaweed which contains a hefty dose of iodine, calcium and and iron. The funny thing is they have 0 nutritional value. They don’t require cooking, are less than 10 calories and pretty similar to eating air if ya think about it. This is why raw chefs almost always mix them with nutrient dense sauces (like JuiceRx does with almond butter and pesto).
I chose the basil hemp seed pesto sauce and it actually blew my mind. The dish seemed so small but let me tell you, all of the oil, hemp seeds, and the dried olives on top were unexpectedly filling. Kelp noodles have a great crunch to them and being so similar to actual angel hair pasta, it shocks me how lack any carbohydrates. Kelp noodles are one of those foodie trends you just have to try! I recommend them if you get the chance. Just make sure you load up on sauces to experience a full-flavored and nutrient rich meal!
Speaking of nutrient dense foods to stuff into your mouth this season, another favorite shop of mine in the Old Town neighborhood is Real Good Juice Co. Some of the best branding, colors, ingredients and flavors I’ve tasted in the city. The shop may be small, but the juices and smoothies pack large flavors. This week Real Good partnered with Sprig to deliver seasonal juices and smoothies to those for lunch and dinner in the downtown Chicagoland area. If you haven’t heard of Sprig, they are a meal-delivery service bringing organic and local food to customers within 15-20 minutes tops! Pretty sweet deal if ya ask me.
On Wednesday I ordered the “Howard-O-Lantern” through Sprig (created by Real Good) and I was blown away. Usually I just make my own smoothies but clearly that is a bit difficult when you’re in downtown Chicago working. Can’t bring the Vitamix everywhere, now can we!? The smoothie was a blend of pumpkin, coconut nectar, organic banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, Medjool dates and himalayan pink sea salt. I stuck it in the freezer for an hour, shook it up, poured it over iced and called it a day. Quite the way to snack in the fall if ya ask me.
It wouldn’t be Halloween if there weren’t some treats involved. My go-to baking company, Simple Mills, has reeled me in with their chocolate chip cookie mix. Over the summer, I first tried their pizza dough mix, followed by their muffins. Both make me think I could live a diet of primarily muffins and pizza but now I might just have to include cookies into that equation. These suckers are gluten-free and vegan but because of the added coconut flour (packed with fiber), they taste similar to small fluffy clouds. Tons of vegan cookie doughs on the market have evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup or plain white sugar and half the time don’t taste that appealing, whereas Simple Mills knocks it out of the ballpark.
Simple Mills’ cookie dough mix is meant for baking but I thought who doesn’t love the raw stuff?! This proceeded into making a second batch with a “flax egg” instead of a chicken egg so I could freeze it and eat it raw. The results were unbelievable and this has been my Halloween “treat” all week long. A spoonful of this raw frozen dough into my face hole. Reaaaally dreamy. And like I mentioned earlier, I’ve got a thing for frozen dessert and when coconut oil is added and frozen, it turns into a huge brick of creamy goodness.
While tomorrow not only marks Halloween but the first year I’m not celebrating it with costumes and parties, I’m going to spend my day filled with relaxation, meeting with new blogger friends and enjoying the last hours of my favorite month.
What are your favorites of the week? How are you spending your Halloween? What is your go-to lunch around the city?
*Thank you to Sprig and Simple Mills for offering products to Chickpea in the City. All other products/items in this post were unpaid for/not sponsored. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I only represent and blog about brands/products I truly trust, love and care to promote.*