Monday, March 28, 2011

Give 'em a second chance.

I've been seeing Brussels Sprouts all over menus recently. I am surprised and elated that they seem to be making a comeback. As a child, like most people, I thought I disliked brussels sprouts. Now I realize that they were probably just overcooked or not cooked properly. I adore brussels sprouts now and am so happy to see these tiny buds frequenting menus.

Brussels sprouts fall into the cruciferous category of vegetables. They are known to be cancer fighters, extremely high in Vitamins C and K, and an excellent source of fiber for the digestive system.

According to Whole Foods:
"It is very important not to overcook Brussels sprouts. Not only do they lose their nutritional value and taste but they will begin to emit the unpleasant sulfur smell associated with overcooked cruciferous vegetables. To help Brussels sprouts cook more quickly and evenly cut each sprout into quarters. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out the health-promoting qualities and then steam them for 5 minutes."
So next time your out eating or cooking give the brussels sprouts another chance. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you too like brussel sprouts.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Going Green

The Chicago River dyed Green in honor of St. Patty's day.
St. Patrick's Day doesn't have to mean drinking green beer, wearing your green Mardi Gras hat and acting like a leprechaun. I'm using it as a metaphor for following a plant based diet. Going green diet wise is better for you and the environment. Here are a few of some of my favorite "green" things in Chicago.

Chicago's North and Clybourn's Whole Foods is one of the biggest in the world. While there are many Vegan and Vegetarian items available to bring home to cook there also is an extensive selection of pre-made Vegan items. Some of my favorites are the Vegan Pizza (made with Daiya cheese and Seitan crumbles), Vegan Sonoma Chicken Salad (made with Gardein, Veganiase, red grapes, celery, and walnuts), and the Dijon Porcini Cutlets.

Eating out as a Vegan can be tough. Thankfully Chicago has many fabulous Vegetarian and even Vegan friendly options. Some of my favorites:

The Green Zebra
Looking for a fine dining restaurant with fabulous atmosphere and Vegetarian/Vegan food. Green Zebra has long been one of my favorites to bring friends in from out of town or to celebrate a special occasion. Their menu changes seasonally to provide local and organically grown dishes. I like to go with a group and order several dishes to share so I can taste a little bit of everything. I have yet to find a dish that I didn't like. Allow they are not Vegan they will make eliminations and substitutions where they can. Located in heart of Wicker Park at 1460 W. Chicago Ave. A hidden gem in an ever changing neighborhood.

Karyn's on Green
The latest addition of Karyn Calabrese to her restaurant family. Karyn's on Green is a Vegan's dream menu. Everything on the menu is animal free. As well as a menu that delineates gluten and soy free items. Her entrees don't sound like what you would expect to find on a Vegan menu. "Chicken Legs", "Shepherds Pie", and "Crab Cakes", but rest assured no animals were harmed in creating these delicious eats. Your non-Vegan friends won't even know what's missing. A definite must eat for Vegans in Chicago. And don't forget to order some side dishes to share, the brussel sprouts are to die for. Located at the edge of Greektown near Harpo Studios at 130 South Green.

CD Smores Cake
Chicago Diner
Every Vegan/Vegetarian knows about Chicago Diner. "Meat free since 1983". Chicago Diner serves everyday Vegan food. They are known for their creative transference of your favorite everyday foods in tasteful vegan creations. Items like "Meat" loaf, Country fried "Steak", Gyros, Philly "Steak", The Radical Reuben and their trademark C-Zar dressing on their Chickn c-zar salad and sandwich. The perfect place for any meal. All the comfort foods a Vegan could crave. Don't forget to check out the dessert menu. The Chicago Diner is known for their deserts and even supply them to Whole foods to sell in their bakery. Decadence and cruelty free. The carrot cake is on the top of my list anytime. Located at 3411 N. Halsted in the heart of Lakeview.

Ste. Martaen: Vegan Food Truck
This truck roams Chicago's neighborhoods for lunch and dinner. St. Martaen publishes their stops on Facebook and Twitter. You can tweet, call or text the driver to request a stop in your neighborhood. Menus change daily and they update you as they run out of certain items. Next time you feel like fast food or ordering in try Ste. Martaen for your Vegan needs.

Go Green and Meat Free Chicago!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Watch out Shakira

Looking for a fun, energetic, and hip shaking class that makes you forget that you are working out and not just having a good time shaking your groove thing to the music? Have you tried Zumba yet?

Unfortunately for me, the Zumba class at my gym is offered on a night where I am usually teaching. But whenever I have a cancellation that night I rush over a shake my thang. Right now the class is only offered on one night, once a week at my gym.

This class is SO much fun. Great latino and club music that makes me feel like I am partying in Rio or Ibiza. The combinations are fun and fairly simple. Hooting and clapping are encouraged. My teacher has a great energy although she never really speaks in class, just demonstrates and we follow. Each class we learn a few different dance routines and then at the end there is a shimmying section. I really stink at this part. Great at the upper body shimmy and humbled by the lower body shimmy. I do it with a smile on my face and just laugh at my own lack of junk in my trunk. Kim Kardashian would ROCK this class.

If you're looking for a fun class to let loose and get a great workout, you should definitely give Zumba a try.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

You're only as old as you feel

"True age lies not in years or how you think you feel, but in how you actually are as infallibly indicated by the degree of natural and normal flexibility enjoyed by your spine throughout life. If your spine is incredibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young." - Joseph H. Pilates (Return to Life Through Contrology)
Another year has come and gone and I find it hard to believe that I am nearing my 40's. I'm turning 37, to be exact, although even I had to do the math the other day to be sure that was in fact my age. With the years has come much knowledge and experiences, however I truly feel like a 20 year old still in my body. I still move through my days with vim and vigor and don't see my impending age limiting me in any way. I also don't feel the time clock ticking to achieve certain things in a particular time as I did in my earlier years. When it's right, it will be right.

I feel very fortunate to have been exposed to health and fitness from such a young age. To continue to learn and explore new and old methods. I listen to my body in a more profound way now than when I was younger. I choose to nuture, nourish, pamper, treat, and feed my body and soul physically and mentally every day. I thrive on my passion for teaching and am inspired daily by my teachers, peers, and students. So today on my birthday, I celebrate life in all its glory. I lift my arms to salute the sun in the morning and backbend opening my heart to grace with gratitude for my flexible, mobile, efficient, and youthful spine.