September 2015 | chicago foodie girl

9.28.2015

Snap Kitchen #21DaysforGood

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have recently noticed a flurry of activity surrounding the #21DaysforGood campaign via Snap Kitchen (and if you're not following me, well, head on over and press that follow button!). For the last fourteen days, I’ve been a part of this awesome campaign/competition cantered on cultivating healthy eating habits, goal setting, and raising awareness for a lovely group of non-profits.

During the last two weeks (seven more days to go!), I’ve worked closely with the dietitians and other cheerleaders at Snap to meet my diet and lifestyle goals through a combination of healthy eating and tracking. At the beginning of the process, I set my sights on primarily adapting an overall healthier eating plan. Coming off from my summer of fabulous foodie fun, I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut while when not in food blogger mode. During the weekdays, I typically swing by Starbucks for breakfast on my way to work (I leave quite early and don't have the energy or time to sit down for breakfast), eat portable, but boring and not necessarily the most nutritious frozen meals for lunch, and then sit down to leftovers from the weekend for dinner. While I usually enjoy cooking, lately I’ve been uninspired and really overwhelmed at the idea of planning out meals for the week; I’ve mostly only been cooking rather spontaneously, which doesn’t always bode well with my schedule. Along with getting out of my foodie rut, I also decided it was time to get back to eating a set number of calories each day. While I abhor calorie counting, I know that I need to do it regularly, as I can easily fall off track and head into "eat all the foods!" mode if I'm not paying close attention.

Thanks to the meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks!) I’ve received from Snap, I’ve already been able to reprogram my weekday eating; while I definitely still indulge in food blogger events during the weekend, I’ve been able to stick to my set 1800 calories per day during the week thus far. Along with sticking to a set amount of calories (which I got away from during the summer), I've also highly enjoyed the variety of foods I've been eating through my Snap meals. I'm a creature of habit and tend to eat the exact same foods over and over (especially when I don't have a lot of time to plan). The great variety is really what has kept me interested and motivated to stay on track! Seeing as the food from Snap is prepackaged, I didn’t have to shift my process too much, as I’m all about convenience during the work week. However, this prepackaged food is *so* much better than what I was typically eating for lunch - not only is it nutritionally balanced, but also it’s quite tasty. I guess that’s why Snap’s motto is "fast food for foodies," right?! Finally, while my goal wasn’t necessarily a number on the scale (although that’s definitely part of the long-term plan), I’m happy to say that I’ve easily dropped 8 lbs in the last two weeks! Out of all of my goals, shifting my eating habits back to the healthier end of the spectrum was definitely the most important and I’m super happy with my progress thus far.

As many benefits as I've reaped so far, the #21DaysforGood campaign isn’t just for my own good - it’s also about competing for $3000 to be gifted to a charity of my choice by spreading awareness and good cheer about my experiences with Snap Kitchen. I’m competing for Felines & Canines, a wonderful neighborhood no-kill animal shelter dedicated to providing a safe and loving shelter to abandoned, injured, abused and neglected animals until their permanent adoptive home is found. They are a fantastic organization who could really benefit from some love (along with some cold, hard cash!).

You can see more on Twitter, but here's a bit of what I've been eating during my challenge so far...

Here's what 1800 calories worth of food looks like - perfectly packaged and ready to go!

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9.25.2015

Mid-Autumn Festival at Shanghai Terrace

One of the most important festivals on the Chinese calendar (second only to Chinese New Year) is the Mid-Autumn Festival. The annual event, which falls on September 27 this year, celebrates the harvest time and the biggest, brightest moon of the year. While the festival dates back centuries from the tradition of worshiping the Goddess of the Moon and celebrating the harvest, the modern day version is more about reuniting with family and close friends to view the moon, drink tea, and nosh on delicious mooncakes by the light of lanterns.

Ever since I first learned about the festival from a group of wonderful Chinese exchange students I had in a class years ago, I've longed to travel to China during September (along with it being one of the most important festivals, it's also one of the most beautiful). As much as I would just love to pick up and head over to China to celebrate, it's just not in the cards at the moment (I will get there one day though!). In the meantime, I'm all about finding alternatives that don't involve crossing an ocean, so of course, I was thrilled when the good folks at the Peninsula Hotel invited me to join them for a media preview of their six-course Mid-Autumn Festival dinner at their fine-dining Chinese restaurant Shanghai Terrace.


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9.23.2015

noosa yoghurt: unlike any other!

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but I've had a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with yogurt for the majority of my adult life. I know, I know. Could I have picked something any *less* controversial in which to have a crazy back and forth relationship? It's a quick and easy meal/snack, it's full of health benefits, it's extremely versatile, and there are a bazillion different flavor options... what's there not to love about yogurt, right?! Well, no matter how many times over the years I've tried to trick myself into loving it, realistically, I've just never been into the taste or texture (it always seemed to be too bitter and/or too runny)… until that wonderful day last year in which the fabulous noosa® yoghurt came into my life. *cue singing angels and tinkly bells*

Last fall, Diana told me that I absolutely had to try their pumpkin yoghurt because it was the most amazing stuff ever. While I admit was I was slightly skeptical, I trusted her opinion (plus, pumpkin!), so I dutifully drove to the store and picked up a single container of their pumpkin variety. Let me just say that that single container of yoghurt changed my life. It was so different than any other I had ever tried... maybe because it's Australian-style yoghurt and not just yogurt or maybe it's because it's rich, smooth, and strikes that absolutely perfect balance between sweet and tart. As I realized that day, noosa® yoghurt really is a product that is unlike any other.

noosa® in the big city!

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9.21.2015

Chicago Food + Wine Festival



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9.09.2015

Taste of Hawaii at Roy's

After coming across an extensive profile of Chef Roy Yamaguchi (which included a rave review of his restaurants) in a magazine way back in 2004, I knew his Hawaiian-inspired Roy's Chicago was exactly where I wanted to spend my birthday that year. That night, Mario and I both fell hard for the delicious array of seafood options (particularly the Misoyaki Butterfish and Roasted Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi), fun cocktails, and indulgent desserts. Over ten years later (just an aside: how can 2004 possibly be over ten years ago?! We're barely out of the '90s in my mind!), Roy's has become one of my staple restaurants - I've been back for countless birthday celebrations (Diana and I have a yearly tradition that involves a massive food orgy at Roy's during her birthday month), random nights out, and even cooking classes! So of course, when the good folks at Roy's invited me to stop by to check out their newest Taste of Hawaii Prix Fixe menu, I immediately grabbed Mario, jumped in the car, and headed down to River North to get my nosh on! 

As a firm believer in the every good dinner starts with a round of fabulous cocktails rule, I kicked off the evening with the 1988The first Roy's was opened in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1988 and this fantastic cocktail pays tribute to their original location. Made with Finlandia Grapefruit, SOHO Lychee & Patron Citronge, and served with a lychee garnish, this tart and tangy cocktail is not only my favorite on the menu at Roy's, it's also one of my favorites of all-time! 

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9.08.2015

Summer Aperitivo at Fig & Olive

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to join a group of my favorite blogger babes for a little al fresco dining at one of my favorite restaurants, Fig & Olive. While I have to admit that I'm not always a fan of taking my meals outside (I'm such a heat and humidity wimp!), it was one of those perfect late summer nights in which the scorching heat had faded away with the afternoon hours and the patio was bathed in gorgeous soft light. Yes, as much as I can be a grump about spending too much time outside during the summer, even I have to admit that Fig & Olive's lovely ivy-lined patio is really the ideal setting for an aperitivo hour filled with fresh cocktails and yummy bites.

Open in Chicago since last summer, Fig & Olive showcases the cuisine of the coastal Mediterranean regions of France, Italy, and Spain. The concept behind the restaurant is to offer diners a unique space with an open-exhibition kitchen, expansive lounge area, and plenty of natural light that captures the essence of the French Riviera. As a nod to their name, the restaurant utilizes over thirty of its own signature olive oils in lieu of butter in their savory dishes; additionally, there are multiple fig offerings on the menu all year long (their figsw are grown especially for them in California!).

Before heading out onto the patio, I just had to stop by the atrium/bar area to admire the gorgeous towering two-story olive tree.

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9.03.2015

The Great American Lobster Fest

Navy Pier: home to the giant Ferris wheel, oodles of delicious popcorn and ice cream options, the gorgeous stained glass museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, approximately a bazillion tourists... and The Great American Lobster Fest. Yes, you read that correctly: a lobster fest in the middle of one of the most unlikely locations, aka the lobster-less Midwest. Okay, so we're not exactly lobster city (we have that tiny lack of ocean problem), but we are known for our fantastic food festivals... and thanks to the wonders of NESC and overnight shipping from the East coast, we're able to join in on the excitement with our very own festival dedicated to the oh-so-delicious crustacean.


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