For my fall break four day vacation, I planned a few weeks back to go to Kansas to visit my mom. When you think of Kansas, most people imagine The Wizard of Oz, tornadoes and houses in the middle of fields. Usually people from Kansas tell you they live in a populated town such as Kansas City. Yet where my mom lives really is a scene out of The Wizard of Oz. However, we spent Saturday and Sunday driving through different towns – including Wichita – so it wasn’t so bad this time around.
When I arrived at O’Hare around 7am on Saturday, I knew I could rely on their Cibo Express stand to offer me some healthy options for breakfast. The past few times I’ve gone to O’Hare I’ve opted for this superfood cereal by the company Vigilant Eats.
They come in a select variety of flavors including Espresso Maca Mulberry, Goji Cacao, Coconut Maple Vanilla, and Maca Double Chocolate. I’ve tried both the Espresso and Goji but am still in need of trying the other two.
The great thing about these cereals is that they’re certified vegan, non-GMO organic AND gluten-free. They’re sweetened with a low-glycemic sweetener, coconut palm sugar, along with maple powder and vanilla extract. The Espresso flavor contained sun dried mulberries (Earth’s sour-patch kids minus the sour sugary aspect) with cinnamon and cacao nibs. I was in heaven. All you need to do is add some water, mix it around and its good to go! I added half a banana too because you always need some banana in your day.
Once I landed in Wichita and was picked up from the airport, my mom, step-dad and I drove through Wichita in and around the little town so I could see the side of Kansas where they don’t live. Commonly known as the more populated city closest to their town.
We stopped in the cutest shop called The Spice Merchant, where my mom and step-dad go every Saturday to buy their coffee beans and tea leaves. The store was jam-packed with huge tubs of flavored coffee beans in the center and far back was a smaller portion of the store with shelves lined up with loose leaf teas, as well as brands of different tea bags. Chocolate tea? Peppermint? Every flavor imaginable.
While my step-dad walked off to buy some French Roast, my mom and I ended up buying a small jar of honey, a disc of Taza’s 85% Dark Chocolate (which tastes incredible). Being dairy-free, certified organic and heavily cocoa based… I was in love. We also bought a bag of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt because that’s my go-to for all of my meals.
I also spotted this huuuuge jar of Sweet Potato butter. I think it might have been my dream come true. A whole jar of mushed sweet potatoes. It looked to good to buy… so I didn’t. But I have a feeling I might be asking my mom to send me a jar when finals roll around.
After we made our purchases from The Spice Merchant, it was up to me to find a restaurant around the area through Yelp. Luckily, I stumbled upon Harvest Kitchen + Bar.
Surprisingly enough, we all were unaware the restaurant was located inside of a Hyatt hotel so that was interesting when we drove by. Once we got inside, it looked like your average fancy hotel restaurant and thankfully, it was completely deserted.
Although it took what felt like an hour for our food to come out, it was right up my alley and completely satisfying. I ordered the Heirloom Bean Dip ($7) as an appetizer which came with the best crispy artichoke hearts and roasted potato wheels I’ve ever tasted. My entree was the Vegan Hash ($12) which consisted of quinoa, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower and a coconut oil butter. I didn’t really taste any cauliflower but if sweet potatoes and mushrooms are in a dish, you’re guaranteed to please me.
My mom and step-dad ordered the Bourban Brat Reuben ($12) and Whiskey Pork Sliders ($12) and enjoyed them both… Even if it did take way too long to prepare.
It’s always nice to see meat-free options on a menu that also serves pork sliders and bratwursts, showing how versatile a restaurant can be in serving the needs of everyone. I love it.
After our lunch, walking through town and going to church, we stopped in at Wichita’s new Whole Foods to do some grocery shopping for the night and rest of the weekend. This is when I spotted the most beautiful creation to exist in any Whole Foods I’ve ever been to… a smoothie bar. I really thought nothing would ever be able to top the gelato bar and restaurant stands in the Lincoln Park Whole Foods in Chicago but I guess I was wrong.
The smoothie bar featured an awesome list of choices from regular fruit smoothies to green ones. I ended up switching my mind 3 times and definitely (I’m sure) annoying the cashier but how can I decide between kale and pineapple or banana and dates?! Ah!
I ended up making my own with kale, unsweetened almond milk, pineapple, peach and brown rice protein. It wasn’t super strong but definitely very tropical and kale-strong. I loved it. And the cashier accidentally rung it up for $1 instead of $7. $1 kale smoothie from Whole Foods? Wish that happened all the time!
The first night in Kansas ended on a high note: with chicken tacos. It was so nice to have fresh chicken from Whole Foods made by my mom. Something I haven’t had in over 6 months and I couldn’t have been happier. Tacos are hands down my favorite meal and when combined with Frontera Mexican Taco Skillet Sauce they are the best little bites of heaven ever. We added sliced tomatoes, fresh guacamole and a homemade canned zucchini salsa. I also put a dollop of So Delicious Dairy-Free Greek Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt. Quite the name for one product. This stuff was seriously amazing. Tastes so similar to greek yogurt and a perfectly replacement for sour cream for those dairy-free friends out there.
The corn tortillas were super little which I always love because then you can have more tacos! All the tacos in the world. Because only a little bit goes inside each one, I ended up just throwing more chicken, guacamole and salsa on my plate after. I just can’t resist the guac!
For my first day in Kansas, my meals were unbelievable.
Be on the lookout for the rest of what I ate on the rest of my trip later in the week!