I cannot believe it’s already May 22. I also cannot believe the fact it was 40º two days ago when June is in less than 10 days. Global warming are you out there? If so, please go away. I find these things very hard to believe but what’s on top of my list of shocking news is that my blog is almost a year old! YAHOOOO!
Last year I had the idea of starting a blog around January-February when I first began writing for my school’s newspaper, The Phoenix, but never really imagined I would actually pull through with it. Because I am quite the procrastinator, I just kept putting it off until one night in May when one of my best friends, Ari (I hope you’re reading this Ar!), texted me telling me I should really start one up due to all of my foodstagrams. I knew she was right all along. I bit the bullet and one Friday night, I figured out how to buy a domain through BlueHost, linked it up to WordPress and it took off right away.
From that first Friday my blog went up to the Sunday after, I worked long and hard on my blog sitting at my dining room table questioning how to make it look appealing, get posts up and thinking of what to even post in the first place. At times I had no idea what I was clicking, how to work advertisements, how to get the views and most importantly how my friends and family would view me from my posts.
A few months in, I decided to begin reviewing products for companies that I had a true passion for (ex: Purely Elizabeth, WayBetter Snacks and Quinn Popcorn) and dining out in Cleveland (my home-town) at all of my favorite places. I even found some new ones that I can’t wait to get back to and gobble up more mouth-watering treats (like this ahi tuna with artichokes at Pura Vida).
Ever since my blog began, I’ve grown not only as a writer through my work on my blog and my healthy restaurant reviews for The Phoenix, but I have created a connection with brands and businesses, allowing myself to further my passion as a true foodie. I never thought I would be in the spot I am now, almost to 2,500 followers on Instagram, forming friendships with other food bloggers via social media.
Social media is continually growing and I am thankful my blog/Chickpea in the City get to be apart of it all.
In honor of the past year working on grueling over my camera for 20 minutes at a time to take a picture of an açai bowl or making batches of vegan cookies for my friends, I decided to use this post to show off some of my favorite meals and moments I’ve had this past year being the “Chickpea in the City”.
Starting off, I found a new love for tea and coffee. When I first tried this tea from Asado Coffee Roasters, they even added steamed almond milk and it only cost me under $2. I knew right then and there my coffee/tea craze had officially begun. For the past few weeks I’ve been devoting my money to boxes of Yogi Tea and Allegro Coffee at Whole Foods (with homemade cashew milk).
Through the past year I also discovered two huge revelations or changes in my life. One of them was incorporating more meat back into my life and listening to my bodies cravings for it. I spent all of last summer eating primarily vegan (with the addition of eggs + fish but no dairy) and throughout this past winter/fall, I realized that when I am craving meat, it is totally acceptable to consume it and not feel ashamed of it. Of course I try to eat local and antibiotic/hormone-free meat as often as I can when I do eat it, but when the craving strikes, I learned to listen to my body.
My second revelation that was a big deal for me was adding dairy into my diet. The past year or two I have restricted myself from eating any dairy. Any time it is on a salad or sandwich, I always ask for it without. To be honest with you, a lot of dairy I am not a fan of because it is processed or just does not taste good to me. I eliminated dairy from my diet to help with my digestive system and to clear up my skin as well. Another part of my dairy-elimination I feel derived from my past history with eating fears and disorders which I realized needed to change.
At the beginning of this year, I decided that if a salad had cheese on it, I would try to go for it every now and then. If my family and I were out to dessert and my mom ordered a scoop of ice cream, I would try it. I needed to realize that having dairy every so often will not and IS NOT going to kill me or give me 10,000 zits or have been heaving over in stomach pain. In fact, since I started incorporating dairy, I have become OBSESSED with Siggi’s Dairy and their line of skyr icelandic yogurts. The probiotics have helped my digestion improve even! In fact, I started eating Faye when it was offered for breakfast at work. Forming a better relationship with dairy and meat made my relationship with food become just a bit stronger. I’m grateful it finally happened.
Although I have been incorporating dairy, I still love my vegan food! I love trying different vegan foods and one of my best friends, Jenya, is in fact a vegan. When we go out to eat, I tend to get what she’s ordering just to mix up my usual diet and try something out of the box. For instance, I’ve had vegan pizza before but am not a huge fan of the vegan cheeses pizza places use. Often they don’t melt/stretch like normal cheese and taste more processed to me than Kraft would.
This past week we went to a pizza place in Wrigleyville I’ve been dying to try: Dimo’s. Because they had no pre-made vegan pizzas, we ended up splitting a whole vegan vegetable one for 12″ for $14. We ordered the Naked 3Veg which came with roasted red peppers, sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Jenya decided to add vegan mozzarella Teese and artichokes. It was so good we ate the whole thing. No regrets.
Now within the past year I have devoured some of the finest brunches, breakfasts, snacks, desserts, homemade goods and so on but nothing will beat the brunch I had at Range in Lincoln Park months back.
Range has become without a doubt one of my top 5 favorite restaurants in the city of Chicago. Not only is it tucked away around the DePaul University campus, has an interior reminiscent of a farm house and a farm-to-table menu, but they are never packed for brunch and I could easily order every item on their menu.
I ordered the root vegetable Benedict (sadly no longer on the menu) and instead of english muffins there were sweet potato rounds. I never ate a meal so slow, trying to devour every bite. And local ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup? God bless America.
The best breakfast that has hit my blog/social media this past year without a doubt is my Siggi’s dairy yogurt + blackberry mashup combo in between toast on cinnamon raisin Food For Life bread.
If I learned anything from Siggi’s, you can pair it with all fruits and/or vegetables and it will taste good in any shape or form. The good thing about yogurt. I microwaved the berries so they had a jam consistency and squished it all together. I remember eating this out of a tupperware on my way to work on the subway and the amount of looks I received was infinite.
Almost beat out the time I ate kale chips out of a ziploc bag on the bus… good stuff.
The best dessert I face planted into this past year? The coconut cream pie from Café Gratitude. I went to Café Gratitude twice this year: first time in Venice and second time in Kansas City, MO. This pie was 100% dairy-free, vegan and raw. It was a dream come true and for any coconut fans, I urge you to get to Café Gratitude if you’re ever in California or Kansas City.
If I had $100 I would eat half of their menu. I can’t wait to go back the next time I visit Kansas City!
Visiting my friend, Ana Lucia, in December/January this year was a true foodie highlight experience. Our trip to Urth Caffé was memorable as it should be. The sandwiches were piled high with veggies, sprouts, avocado, lettuces of all types and our two squished tables were packed with matcha green tea lattes. Made with almond milk of course because it’s the Californian thing to do!
Ever since my trip to California, my passion for food, health and wellness has been at an all time high. I feel as though I’m in a foodie paradise 24-7. I cannot express how grateful I am for every reader on my blog, any person that has taken the time to view a recipe or like one of my Instagram photos. Thanks to you, I’m still doing this whole bit and getting a kick out of every minute. I hope this blog will last several more years and counting!
I won’t ever forget the first time I had someone notice me for my blog which was a few weeks back at a FlyWheel class. As I was putting my purse into my locker, a random woman who was going into a class looked at me and said, “Excuse me, are you Chickpea in the City? I follow you on Instagram!” as she showed me her phone and my Instagram.
My heart melted, burst into flames and fell out of my chest all at the same time. Being recognized for what I love and trying to promote others to eat and live as happily as I try to do is such a rewarding feeling.
Here’s to another year filled with foodie finds, more products to review and inform you all about, more restaurants to entice you with and many more travels to come!
Enjoy, and most importantly, thank you.