hauteeats

Super #Smoothie Sundays, Cocoa Sunflower Bliss: Haute Eats

Cocoa Sunflower Bliss

Cocoa Sunflower Bliss

Sunday is synonymous with resetting for the week ahead, for me that means getting back on track with food and workouts if my meals haven’t been as great all weekend.  Additionally, I have been trying to find new ways to get more protein after a workout, and started experimenting with all kinds of smoothies, some delicious and others not so tasty.  So I thought, why not share some of the wins for those looking to break the normal smoothie routine.  Check out todays potassium and protein packed super smoothie:  Cocoa Sunflower Bliss! (Note:  I make mostly protein smoothies and juice my veggies, but you can always add a bit of kale or spinach to any of my recipes or use a vegan plant-based protein powder like I do.)

 

Cocoa Sunflower Bliss

  • 1/2 banana (potassium to keep you balanced)
  • 1 cup cold almond milk (I usually make mine to avoid added chemicals if I am home, but when I am on the road I keep some store bought stuff on hand)
  • 1 scoop Amazing Meal Chocolate Infusion Protein Powder (I have tried a few and chose this one for now as I buy it in bulk.  Its made with lots of good plant-based proteins, and is vegan, gluten free, and non-GMO.)
  • 1 tsp Dastony sprouted sunflower butter (they stone grind their butters to a silky smoothness – and add nothing else + packed with iron and good fat to keep you fuller)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (for added hydration and protein post workout – I buy these in bulk in my organic food market)
  • 1 dash cinnamon (optional – adds a kick of flavor and balances sugars)

Blend together in blender of choice (with ice if you want it super cold).  Serve in a glass or drink out of your bullet blender (like I do).  Cheers to a happy, haute and super Sunday!

 

Advertisements

Eating my way through Chicago: Haute Eats, Haute Travel

delicious cheese stuffed peppers at RPM Italian

delicious cheese stuffed peppers at RPM Italian

Wow, that sounds gluttonous doesn’t it…

I’ll qualify this post by saying this was my birthday week in Chicago, but also by saying I love the Chicago food scene.  I hit up some amazing restaurants during my last trip out there, and had to share some of the haute eats with you!

First night dinner – RPM Italian

This was a kick-off the weekend dinner, and RPM provides quite a scene to do it.  I wasn’t sure if I was in a restaurant or a club, with the crowds, packed bar and constant carding (thank you age gods).  We were seated in the bar area in a nice large booth, perfect for people watching and enjoying the meal.  We had lots of goodies, from the table treat – cheese stuffed peppers above – to the ricotta spread, to several pastas and risottos we tried. Overall, it was a fun meal at a lively venue, but not my favorite of the week.  Maybe because I am less of a pasta person in general.

pastas galore at RPM Italian

pastas galore at RPM Italian

delicious ricotta at RPM Italian

delicious ricotta at RPM Italian

 

Day 2 Breakfast – Stan’s Donuts

This was an unexpected treat, some post workout donuts from Stans (super healthy, right).  We grabbed some, including the maple cinnamon pretzel roll, and the bacon maple bar, to bring back home. Not ignoring the delicious Molly’s cupcakes we ate, but those were for a sweet treat later in the evening (my favorite was the red velvet with cream cheese frosting).

sweet bday treats - famous Stan's Donuts and Molly's Cupcakes

sweet bday treats – famous Stan’s Donuts and Molly’s Cupcakes

 

Day 2 Brunch – Siena Tavern

I am a Top Chef junkie, so nabbing a table for a big brunch group at Siena Tavern was amazing.  One of the restaurants of fan favorite Fabio Vivani, this spot is a lively and open space, perfect for adults and kids on a Saturday morning.  We tried a bunch of things, from the salads, to the fries with sage and parmesan (yummy, even though I am not a fries person), as well as brussel sprouts, eggs dishes, pizza and pancakes.  (Just about everything it would seem)  My favorites were the brussel sprouts and the cheese pizza, but my almond pancakes weren’t half bad either.  Check out some of the highlights below.

eggs benedict special at Siena Tavern

eggs benedict special at Siena Tavern

almond pancakes at Siena Tavern

almond pancakes at Siena Tavern

yummy pizza and brussels at Siena Tavern

yummy pizza  and farro salad at Siena Tavern

 

Day 2 Dinner – Boka

We classed it up a bit for dinner, with a trip to the newly reopened Boka.  After hearing rave reviews from a friend, I had to check it out.  We dined on some delicious gnudi as an appetizer, every salad on the menu (loved the asparagus with green goddess dressing) and I had halibut for dinner (a bit buttery for me sadly).  The final treat was some chocolate, salty, raspberry delight, which I was happy to indulge in. Forgot to snap a lot of pics, cause we were focused on chatting and celebrating, but it was a lovely dinner.

sweet treat at Boka

sweet treat at Boka

 

Day 2 Night Out – Untitled

Indulged on many of my favorite cocktail there, the Cucumber Vodka Gimlet (the best way I can order a limey, cucumbery, vodkay drink).  Delicious, and dangerous.

cucumber limey vodkay drink from another spot - just for inspiration

cucumber limey vodkay drink from another spot – just for inspiration

Day 3 – Brunch/Afternoon Snack

Stopped in to Goddess and the Grocer for a lovely veggie and green goddess sandwich to help recover.  No photo taken on this day, but this is what it looks like on their website.  Dinner was homemade salad and some red wine love.

photo credit - goddessandthegrocer.com

photo credit – goddessandthegrocer.com

 

Day 4 Dinner – Summer House

California meets Chicago at Summer House, which is exactly what the doctor ordered after some major eating all weekend.  The cuisine is super light, fresh and delicious, and the seating is like an outdoor patio but indoors (cause it’s Chicago after all).  We had the japanese eggplant (amazing) and the roasted cauliflower, ahi tuna mini-tostadas, and the veggie tacos (heaven on a plate).  This may rack up as mu favorite meal of the trip!

countdown to summer at Summer House

countdown to summer at Summer House

ahi tuna mini-tostadas

ahi tuna mini-tostadas

veggie tacos - so amazing

veggie tacos – so amazing

 

Day 5 Lunch – Little Goat

Another Top Cheffer!  And a local favorite, Stephanie Izard kicked off the the famous Girl and the Goat, and then came back with Little Goat.  It’s diner food at it’s best, with lots of breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings.  I had the shrimp and grits (love southern food) and my friend Jeff had the french toast with fried chicken bites hidden on the plate.  Totally delicious!

shrimp and grits at Little Goat

shrimp and grits at Little Goat

Jeff about to devour the French Toast at Little Goat

Jeff about to devour the French Toast at Little Goat

 

Day 5 Dinner – Adobo Grill 

For the last meal, we headed to Adobo Grill, for some Mexican-style comfort food.  Located in Old Town, its a cute little spot, with a lot of great eats.  I had some spicy margaritas, fresh guacamole, Adobo salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette and tamarind chicken tacos. We ended the meal with a final sweet treat, tres leeches cake (quite appropriate since I went off dairy the next day – but that is for another post).

Guac and chips - half-eaten ;) - at Adobo Grill

Guac and chips – half-eaten 😉 – at Adobo Grill

spicey margarita at Adobo Grill

spicy margarita at Adobo Grill

Tres Leches Cake at Adobo Grill

Tres Leches Cake at Adobo Grill

 

Whew – that was a lot of haute eats!  Can’t wait to go back to Chicago and check out some new (for me) spots like Japonais by Morimoto (fresh tofu anyone), Schwa, and others…and revisit some Chicago Faves like ING, Balena, Quartino, and others.

Hope this is haute inspiration for your next Chicago trip!

 

My week of trying Blue Apron Meals: Haute Eats

IMG_0128

This past week I got my first Blue Apron delivery, courtesy of a friend who has been doing it for some time and sent me a free trial week.  After listening to her cooking up some awesome sounding meals, I had to try it.  I got the vegetarian option since I was sharing my plates with other vegetarians in the house.  Now I will note that a week is not enough to get the full Blue Apron experience, but I thought I would comment on some of the things I liked and didn’t like about my trial week.

meal 1 - tofu fajitas with guacamole and sour cream

meal 1 – tofu fajitas with guacamole and sour cream

First of all – what is Blue Apron?  It is a meal delivery service, similar to other competitors like Plated, which sends you all the ingredients to cook fresh meals at home.  They partner with local farms (in NY/NJ) and producers to get the ingredients they can, and source the rest elsewhere.  They also partner with innovative chefs to get cool recipes, which are easy to execute.  But the end goal is that you do the cooking, and end up with an awesome meal.

meal 2 - roasted fennel with fresh linguine and lemon ricotta

meal 2 – roasted fennel with fresh linguine and lemon ricotta

Why Blue Apron rocked my week: (this list is long)

  • Even though I knew the menu, I was really excited to get my box and to see all the goodies inside.  I guess this is foodie-ness at its max when you get excited about a box of ingredients.
  • It really got me excited about cooking these meals, all of which I had never had before. The best part was not searching for what you need, cause everything comes all perfectly portioned and ready to go.
  • The recipe cards are awesome, really user friendly, and can easily be punched and placed into a binder to create a lovely cookbook. I wonder if Blue Apron markets custom binders for these, that would be very cool.
  • The ingredients are local (like local to NY, and only when possible) and low calorie (also when possible)
  • The cuisines range across the globe, so it’s a great way to learn about some different styles of cooking.
  • Most of the recipes can be easily replicated on your own, but you have to do the grocery shopping on your own.
  • You can choose between 3 or 5 meals/week, and 2 or 4 servings, depending on your needs and schedule.
  • You can maybe stretch the servings out a bit, especially if you are a light eater.
  • $10/pp/meal is not a bad deal, even for cooking at home.
  • You can choose to skip a week, or multiple week, by logging onto their site.  And the BlueApron.com site is pretty user friendly, and is a great way to keep up with their recipes, even if you don’t join.
  • Customer service was very helpful, and replied to an email I sent within the day, which is great.

 

meal 3 - chickpea "chile" soup with m'smen bread

meal 3 – chickpea “chole” soup with m’smen bread

 

What wasn’t so rockin about my Blue Apron experience:

  • Lots of packaging – I think this is a complaint many people experience when they get their box, and is probably due to healthy and safety concerns, but there is a lot of waste.  I would be interested to see how inventive they get in the future with their packaging. Compostable maybe? Returnable? Just some ideas.
  • My menu for the week was just ok, meaning I was more excited about meals I had heard about on other weeks, but since it was a free trial, I didn’t skip it.
  • I had to doctor some of the recipes to my taste, i.e. adding some veggies and spice to the fennel pasta to kick it up a bit. Not a negative, but just very mild in flavor.
  • While not unhealthy, I would not say the recipes I have tried and tasted were particularly healthy.  Using fresh ingredients is best, but this can be hard if you are watching calories, fats, etc.  I suppose you can always modify here when possible.
  • The price – it’s not bad – but it’s the same for vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, which seems odd since most meats add $$ to your grocery basket.

If you are trying, will try or have tried a meal delivery service like Blue Apron, please feel free to chime in here.  For everyone else, hope this gives you a minor bit of insight on how it went down for me.  If this fit into my non-traveling-all-the-time lifestyle, I would seriously try it for longer than a week cause it was good, and haute eats.