Today marked the day that Chicago received it’s first snowfall of the year. With our up and down temperatures these past few weeks, it comes as no surprise that two days ago I was sitting comfortably on a park bench not exactly “cold” and tonight I wore a parka and scarf out of my yoga class. I’ve been experiencing crazy changes in body temperature thanks to the outside conditions from feeling as if I’m on fire to going outside for a walk in 40º weather to escape the heat. Not quite sure what’s going on with Chicago lately.
Welcome to my life in the mid-west. As if temperature wasn’t already an issue with what to wear, I now have no idea what I want to eat/drink ever – whether it be hot soup or a cold smoothie bowl. Safe to say half of me is stuck thinking its still summer in Chicago, wanting an iced tea, while the other half is dead set on the fact Thanksgiving is in less than a week and hot coffee seems necessary.
Because this week has had so many twists and turns, I want to share with you some of my favorite little bits. While I think each week is flying by quicker than the next, I’m only two days away from finishing my first HUGE internship at a Public Relations firm in the city (#missionaccomplished) and four days away from spending Thanksgiving with my family in Kansas. This semester is over in three-ish weeks and all I am looking forward to is 2016, if we’re being real here. I’ve got tons of things planned and praying on a million stars I’ll be landing an internship in California come June.
Until then, I’ll try to focus on the here and the now by telling you what I’ve been very into as of the past few days…
1. Brown Rice Bowls and “Scarlet Glow” Iced Tea / Lunch at Brightwok Kitchen
I’ve expressed my love for Brightwok before as I first tried out their menu in September and ever since have fallen in love with the food, atmosphere and how kind each employee is. If the average person is addicted to Chipotle, then I’m addicted to Brightwok. My usual order is a salad with chicken (local + Ohio farm-raised), a rainbow (literally) of veggies and their tahini ginger sauce, but I’ve really been trying to switch it up with the cashew miso sauce. As if the food wasn’t phenomenal enough, their freshly brewed ice teas are unsweetened naturally and the Scarlet Glow (hibiscus, naturally sweet) is UN-REAL. I could drink it by the pitcher.
It may get rid of my love for cold brew coffee. That’s saying something. Now if only they had kombucha on the menu… Mmm…
This week I had it for lunch twice. My new favorite order? Adding brown rice into my veggie bowl. They’re also adding a new item to the menu that is VERY in line with this Chickpea… I’m just a little excited about it. Any guesses to what it is, friends?!
While getting packages of food every week can be fun, after a while it can become a bit excessive. There are times my kitchen is filled with boxes stacked high, overflowing, ready to be recycled and I don’t know where to even begin. While I adore most of the packages I receive from brands I really do love, there was one package that knocked me off of my feet recently. A big box of HUMMUS! In numerous flavors! You can imagine how excited I was at the sight of hummus on my front step.
I came across Hope Foods Products around a year ago and with the first bite of their Kale Pesto, I was HOOKED. Then I used their Thai Coconut Curry flavor as a dip for my roasted sweet potatoes and I just about died (I can thank my friend May for that one).
What initially drew me to Hope Foods’ hummus was the fact the ingredient list is short, to the point, completely organic and doesn’t contain any preservatives for added freshness. But no need to preserve anything since finishing off one container of this hummus is easy to do in about two sittings. Servings per container is 8 supposedly but you can betcha with this Chickpea there are only 2 😉
My package included an array of flavors that pair phenomenally with rice cakes, toast, on top of seafood, as a “dressing” for salads, or even on a cookie (ex: chocolate hummus + chocolate chip cookie… get to it).
My favorites in order: Super Hemp and Thai Coconut Curry (best with roasted vegetables), Kale Pesto (perfect on zucchini noodles and pastas) and Spicy Avocado (great on my toast when I’m longing for some avocado-y goodness).
3. Cappello’s Primal Palate’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Dessert is a tricky item for me to get into. When I was younger, I was hooked on sweets. Ask my uncle and brother, they always make a joke about my love for Oreo sundaes when I was little. Now as I’ve shifted towards a healthier lifestyle (while still reaching for balance, of course), I like to find sweets that taste decadent but still include high quality + nutrient dense ingredients. Finding healthier versions of childhood favorites can be a pain sometimes when these desserts end up either tasting like cardboard rocks, they fall apart with one touch or have a bunch of added soy.
But when I found upon Cappello’s, their ingredient list seemed pretty reliable. They use a base of almond flour to hold the cookies together, paired with dairy-free chocolate chips, REAL maple syrup and coconut oil (no butter or eggs here, folks). Cappello’s began with a focus on gluten-free gnocchi, fettuccine and lasagna noodles but the cookie dough… it is on a whole new level. It comes in a roll just as you would imagine your favorite Tollhouse dough, ready to slice and bake.
I heated by oven to 350º and popped 13-15 cookies onto a baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Fresh out of the oven, they tasted like a healthier clone of the packaged egg-filled dough you’d eat as a kid. Bonus perks? Because these little guys don’t have any eggs, you can eat them right outta the freezer. Nom so hard.
I’ve kept my leftovers in a tupper ware container on my kitchen counter and my roommates and I have been snacking on these all week. I recommend dunking them in a glass of cold almond milk. You can thank me later.
4. Woodstock Foods Cashew Butter + Goji Berries
This past summer I discovered the magic of cashew butter and I have to tell you, once you dive into cashew butter, the rest of the nut butters are history.
I find it silly that I spent most of my high school life focusing on how much fat I was consuming by one tablespoon of nut butter and was always worrying that it was too much or not enough. Now I simply dip my spoon into that jar between 3-5 times for ONE slice of toast. No regrets. Especially now that I’ve got a big ‘ole jar of Woodstock Foods cashew butter. This butter is all-natural, unsalted (personal favorite) and is comprised of cashews with sunflower oil. Nothin’ else! The taste is completely different than others such as almond or peanut but is just as creamy and rich, I promise. Cashews are my favorite nut so I might be a bit biased but this is the best nut butter, in my opinion!
I topped my usual piece of sprouted toast with some, followed by goji berries. Just 1/4 cup of goji berries has 4 grams of protein and they add a small crunch to toast or oatmeal. Besides that, they’re pretty darn cute too.
5. Being a real “Chickpea in the City”
These past few months I’ve been consumed with a lot mentally that sometimes it really is nice to get away from what my next Instagram post will be or what my next assignment for class is. Exploring the city is my favorite way to escape it all. The city I live in every single day yet sometimes don’t get the chance to see because I’m so consumed by staring at a computer screen for 8-12 hours a day.
Last Saturday, I was craving to go shopping with one of my best friends, Ana Lucia, and instead of spending the whole day doing just that, we took advantage of the weather and rode the bus down to the Field Museum. We spent a solid two hours there and took photos with the dinosaur, Sue. I hate to admit it but I was not that impressed. I was expecting abnormally large Jurassic Park-size T-Rex. Sue did not fit the title.
I can’t get over how silly this seems because we were excited to see a T-Rex… yet honestly, it was one of the most pleasing weekends I’d had in a while. There’s something so enjoyable about “being a tourist” in my own city. It was nice to not focus my day on going out to a restaurant or foodie event either because honestly, sometimes I just want to do things NOT involving food. Ya feel me?
6. Macy’s Christmas Windows
I love throwing in these little odds and ends to my “Friday Favorites” because there is so much in this city that I see when I go for walks that I truly can’t help but fall in love with. Exhibit A: the Christmas windows that the Macy’s on State Street puts up during the holidays. This year’s theme is planets and each one is more perfect than the next. If you live anywhere near the city or are traveling to Chicago this coming month, you must check these out.
The “Earth” window is my favorite hands down. It has a model of the Earth with a 3D aerial view of downtown Chicago. I can’t handle how creative this year’s windows look, let alone how talented the designers of them are.
Fun Fact: I love taking photos of things with people in front of them for some odd reason.
I ended my Friday by going for a walk during my lunch break and even though it may have been 40º, it was so peaceful. I walked with no specific destination and eventually ended up in The Loop, staring down State Street and at The Chicago Theatre. A successful way to end the week, followed by a yoga class and listening to this song on repeat. I kind of feel like a dork for admitting it but I have probably listened to it 200+ times since it came out last week.
Now that Friday is over and Thanksgiving is reeling in, I hope to share some delicious turkey day eats in the next few days with all of you! Until then… Happy Friday (or basically Saturday since I’m such a late-night blogger)!
*All opinions, comments and views are my own. Thank you to Hope Foods and Cappello’s for helping make this post possible.*