Now that my summer of foodie fun is officially at an end, it's time to finally start thinking about getting back on track with some healthier eating. I will admit that I threw caution to the wind this summer and ate my way through the city with little thought of calories or gym visits (yes, it was a fabulous few months!); however, the day has come in which it's not only time for me to reinstate my 5:00AM wake-up call, but also to shift my eating habits from the luxurious and indulgent end of the spectrum back to the simple and healthy, but still satisfying and convenient, end. Thankfully, I discovered just in time that the amazing LYFE Kitchen can help to make that transition a little easier!
Open in since 2011, the California-based chain swooped into the Windy City in 2013 and quickly established itself as an authority on upscale fast-casual healthy eating. The intention behind LYFE ("love your food everyday") is to provide diners with delicious scratch-made, low-calorie cuisine at a reasonable price point; in order to keep costs down without sacrificing quality, LYFE relies on close relationships with local farms and innovative technology. The company uses a computerized ordering, cooking, and delivery systems based on software programs which divide orders into separate elements that are sent to different stations according to their relative cooking times. Platers then assemble the final products and deliver them to tables via a GPS tracking system - it's really a efficient (and very cool!) system.
After hearing all sorts of buzz about their newly added summery appetizers and Skinny Cocktails (just because we're trying to eat healthier doesn't mean we're willing to leave our cocktails behind!), Ashley and I had to pop into the newest location of LYFE in Streeterville to check out what they have to offer. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by a fragrant vertical garden of fresh herbs, gorgeous floor to ceiling windows, and plenty of natural mixed woods. Based on the look of LYFE Kitchen alone, we knew immediately that we were in for an awesome experience!
Ashley and I both obsessed over their fun water station - they have chilled, ambient (room temperature), and sparking water on tap!
Designed by Chicago-favorite Executive Chef Art Smith and Tal Ronnen, LYFE offers three distinct menus: vegan & vegetarian, gluten-free, and everything. As a former vegetarian, I really appreciate the idea of a separate menu - it makes it easy to quickly determine what you can eat without the worry of hidden ingredients!
We kicked off our tour through the highlights of LYFE's menu with selections from their shareables and flatbreads menu. Chunky Guac & Chips: freshly baked corn tortilla chips, salsa fresca, and perfectly creamy guacamole.
BBQ Chicken Flatbread: grilled chicken, sweet corn, caramelized onion, cilantro, smoky BBQ sauce, and mozzarella cheese. I loved the combination of the smoky BBQ sauce and sweet corn on this crispy flatbread!
Garlic Parmesan Sweet Potato Fries
Before we moved on to the salads and entrées, we took some time to work our way through their drink menu (we just couldn't choose between all of the delicious-sounding options!). We sampled the Ginger Pomegranate Lemonade, Orange Ginger Chia Water, Cucumber Mint Water, a Kale Banana Smoothie and two of their new Skinny Cocktails: the Cucumber Margarita and a Summer Shandy. Out of everything, my favorite was the fresh and delicious Kale Banana Smoothie, made with raw kale, ginger, banana, cucumber, apple juice, and lemon juice.
Thai Red Curry Bowl: broccoli, eggplant, peppers, peas, wheatberries, and thai basil in a coconut curry sauce
Mahi Fish Tacos: chayote slaw, avocado, cilantro, and chipotle aioli on corn tortillas, served with salsa fresca
Buffalo Chicken Salad with avocado, black beans, corn, chayote, romaine, and Greek yogurt ranch. This dish is my perfect version of a salad, thanks to the combination of the heat from the delicious buffalo chicken, sweetness of the corn, and the cooling, creamy dressing. I seriously could eat this salad every day!
For her entrée, Ashley chose the Quinoa Crunch Bowl: quinoa tabbouleh doused in fresh crunchy vegetables, avocado, arugula, edamame hummus, chipotle vinaigrette, and fireman’s hot sauce.
I chose one of LYFE's most well-known dishes: Art’s Unfried Chicken with roasted brussels sprouts, butternut squash, dried cranberries, cashew cream sauce, and dijon vinaigrette. Ashley and I declared this dish to be Thanksgiving on a plate!
Finally, we ended our feast with two of LYFE's most popular desserts: the Banana Coconut Budino with chia seeds, nut crunch, and date caramel, topped with pecans and bananas, and the Chocolate Budino, a coconut-milk-based chocolate budino with pomegranate-soaked chia seeds and toasted almonds. This was my first foray into chia-based desserts and I have to say I am now officially a fan! The chocolate budino was seriously swoon-worthy!
You can try all of this healthy deliciousness and more at one of LYFE's three Chicagoland locations.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.