Feb
02

I have arrived in Denver,  looking forward to my new life here but I am sad to have left so much behind in Chicago.

When I was young, I dreamed of living in Chicago, I dreamed of spending my entire adult life there. After several amazing years in that city, it was time for me to move on.. but a part of me feels like maybe I wasn’t quite done with Chicago yet. There is soooo much to see and do there, you could never see it all in a lifetime.

On my bucket list, there are hundreds of restaurants in Chicago that I’d still like to visit, maybe I’ll have the opportunity in this lifetime and maybe I won’t. My fingers are crossed….

Reminicent of the amazing life I lived in Chicago, I re-visit some of the posts I wrote about my experiences in that vibrant city. Below, you will find links to those posts. 
xox

Handlebar

Karyn’s Chicago

a BLOODY good time at Handlebar – Chicago, IL

 Wanderlust

Wanderlust – Chicago 2013

10 unique ideas for celebrating Valentines Day in Chicago

Chicago Diner

The Chicago Diner – Logan Square

Veggie Fest Chicago 2012

Native Foods Cafe // Wicker Park

Vegetarian Fast Food

restaurant spotlight: Native Foods Cafe, Wicker Park

Veggie Fest 2013

Veggie Fest 2013

what Valentines Day was

Green City Market

Green City Market

Love

Crista


Feb
01

Today, Feb. 1, 2014 marks the day that I officially move from Chicago to Denver. 
This move has been a long time in the making and has caused me stress, anxiety, and excitement. Needless to say, I’m ready for this new beginning. 

As you read this post, I could be driving across the country with the pooch in tow, picking up the keys to my new apartments, or unloading my car. I could be opening the door to my new apartment for the very first time or blowing up my air mattress, which will serve as my bed for a few days until my furniture arrives. 

Whatever it is that I am doing, I am overwhelmed with emotion, happy and sad alike, and I am thankful. Thankful to have the opportunity for a new beginning. Thankful for the people who have made it possible for me to get here. Thankful for the memories I have left behind in Chicago. And thankful for a beautiful new home.

Throughout the fall/winter, I spent a few weeks in Denver preparing for my big move and I blogged about my time spent. In this post, you will find links to all of those posts.

Wish me luck with my new adventure, I look forward to sharing it with you right her at peace. love. quinoa! 
xox

Washington Park

Mountains Were Made To Move You

I’m Moving To Denver!!

Denver: You’ve Got A New Herb To Cook With

Rocky Mountains

a Staycation in Denver

airbnb: a Vintage Decor Apartment

Snow Days!

Red Rocks

Boulder Eats: Leaf Vegetarian

Play Life: Exploring Colorado

autumn at Washington Park

Beet Box Denver

getting my relax on

a morning sweet treat from Beet Box

Love

Crista


Jan
29

After leaving the gym a few nights ago, I was hungry. I wanted food and I wanted it fast. I had a few errands to run before going home to eat. Had there been a restaurant hat serves healthy food fast, I’d have been there however, the only fast-ish food options within the vicinity were McDonalds, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, etc… I walked in to the local grocery hoping to make a salad but they were already disassembling their salad bar for the night. mad face

I have found that there are more and more veg-friendly fast food options becoming available, but they are mostly limited to urban areas. In the suburban area I’ve lived in this past year, there are ZERO options. I mean, the best you can do is make a salad at the grocery store salad bar. 

In the city of Chicago, where I lived for many years, there are several options, if you know where to look. Sometimes it’s a hassle to find parking which then makes a “quick trip” painful and frustrating, but that’s beside the point.

Native Foods Cafe

The Native Foods Cafe concept is similar to that of Panera, your food is ready within 2-5 minutes after ordering at a counter. I eat at Native Foods Cafe about once-twice a week because of the convenience and instantaneous delivery of a meal. They have several locations throughout Chicago so no matter where you are in the city, you are probably near a Native Foods Cafe location.

Karyn’s Raw Vegan Gourmet Restaurant has a cafe in audition to the sit-down restaurant that offers pre-packaged meals and a smoothie/juice bar.

I stumbled upon the Vegetarian Fast Food restaurant in a Chicago suburb years ago, and it has since then been one of my favorite indian restaurants. Convenient when you’re in the area, but it is out of the way if you are not. I wish there were more restaurants like this one scattered throughout the Chicago suburbs, but there aren’t. I guess it doesn’t matter, I’m moving in a few days anyway.

Vegan Food

A few more of my favorite veg fast food restaurants in Chicago include: Upton’s Breakroom, Quesadilla La Reyna del Sur, and Vegetarian Express.

I actually just went to Vegetarian Express for the very first time a few weeks ago and I’m totally bummed that I didn’t discover it sooner, they serve amazing food. Now I’m moving to Denver so I won’t get to eat there again (maybe) and blah blah. Boo.

I’m anxious to see what the vegetarian-friendly fast-ish food options will be like in Denver. I know they have a Native Foods Cafe and an Udi’s, which are both undeniably awesome and I do remember Beet Box having vegan sandwiches that are quickly made-to-order while you wait… but I hope to find more. I hope Vegetarian Fast Food (the indian place) and Vegetarian Express open up shop in my new hood. Just sayin.

Beet Box Denver 

PS. Have you tried Chipotles new Braised Tofu Sofritas? I haven’t YET…. but I do love me some Chipotle. Guacamole, mmmmmmm.

Love

Crista


Dec
15

Last weekend, I had brunch at Karyn’s Raw for the very first time. I have dined there several times, but somehow I wasn’t aware of the fact that they do a brunch buffet on Sundays.

Karyn's Raw

I learned of the buffet from one of their newsletters that advertised the buffet for only $19.99. I felt like it was a joke – a RAW buffet, all-you-can-eat for only $19.99!?!? 

Karyn's Raw

Well, it’s true my friends. I talked to Karyn myself, and she said that she is going to keep the raw buffet that price for the remainder of the winter. This deal is rare, the normal price of the buffet is $29.99.

Dear Chicagoans or anyone visiting Chicago soon, GET THERE.

Some of my favorite items on the buffet last week included the Kale & Quinoa Salad, Thai Veggie Stir Fry with Kelp Noodles + Peanut Sauce, Bean Burro, Dinner Roll + Gravy, and the Sweet Flat Bread.

Beyonce + Karyn Calabrese
*Photo from Karyn's Instagram feed

In other news, Beyonce (yes, THE Beyonce) just stopped in to one of Karyn’s restaurants, Karyn’s Cooked while she was on tour in Chicago. Maybe you haven’t heard the news, Beyonce & Jay-Z are on a 22-day plant-based vegan diet. Why 22 days? Because it take 21 days to form a habit and on the 22nd day, you have found the way. I hope they stick with it after the 22 days are up and if not, I hope they gain a new level of consciousness and inspire others to try a plant-based lifestyle.

Love

Crista


Dec
11

BRRRRRRRR.
It is bone chilling cold here in Chicago.
We had our first big snow here last night, it was beautiful to wake up to.
It’s always fun to make the first footsteps in the fresh, powdery snow.
In weather like this, it’s hard to want to do much besides sit on the couch, with my fuzzy socks on, snuggled in a warm blanket…. and blog.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll do anything to stay warm.
Here are a few comfort foods that may help to warm your body and your soul:

Aveda Tea

Comforting Hot Tea

apple carrot quinoa chili

Apple Carrot Quinoa Chili

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Grapes

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes

Breakfast Quinoa

Breakfast Quinoa with Fruit & Almonds

Kale Breakfast

Kale + Avocado Toast Brunch

….let it snow, let it snow, let it snow….

Love

Crista


Dec
05

arize kombucha-2

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a buddy of mine and we were debating whether or not kombucha needs to be refrigerated after opening. You see, after I open a bottle, it takes me half the day to drink it… and I’m not always near a refrigerator to store it in-between sips…..

arize kombucha

At a food market in Chicago, I met these guys who were selling this Arize Kombucha, they don’t think it is necessary to refrigerate kombucha after it has been opened, however we all agreed that it does taste better when it’s cold. 

If you are NOT going to refrigerate your kombucha after opening, it is recommended that you drink it within the day. The longer it sits out, the more vinegary kombucha will taste, AND it will continue to ferment.

SO it is BEST if you can keep your kombucha cold, but  if not, it’s not the end of the world, and the kombucha is still drinkable if you let it sit out for a good portion of the day….

arize kombucha-4

Love

Crista


Oct
07

HandlebarHandlebarHandlebar
My buddy, Doug was in from out-of-town (Omaha) over the weekend so we took him out for a late night on Friday – Big Star & Boystown…. He overdid it and puked the entire night. Ew. But… what can you expect? It was his first time…. So anyway, he was desperate for a hangover cure which required us to hang around Handlebar for Bloody Mary’s. Perfect, right? I thought so.
Handlebar
Well, problem is: my little friend Doug-E-Fresh has never had a bloody mary. And he didn’t like it. I encouraged him to just do it. Just drink it. Drink the entire thing. It’s an acquired taste. It took me two or three bloody’s before I loved. But he wouldn’t. So I had to do it for him. ((the look on his face is priceless…. and disappointing)
HandlebarHandlebar
Handlebar
There are two places in the city that serve up our “favorite” bloody mary’s. Rocking Horse & Handlebar. If I had to choose my favorite FAVORITE between the two, I don’t think I could.  Handlebar has better food so……..
Handlebar
We have become quite the bloody mary snobs this summer… In fact, I will only drink a bloody mary made with a house-made mix. I will NOT drink a bloody mary that is made with a pre-made mix. blagh.
One of my favorite things about Handlebar’s bloody mary’s are the cherry peppers they garnish with – my favorite garnish EVER. Oh, AND the fried pickle. Yeah, that rocks too.

Handlebar
Yesterday, I mentioned the vegan biscuits and gravy at Stone Fox in Nashville. Well guess what? Handlebar has vegan biscuits & gravy too. Score.
HandlebarHandlebar
I’m sad that patio season is coming to an end here in Chicago….. really really really sad.
Handlebar

Love

Crista


Aug
17

In August of 2011, a popular California chain of vegan, organic-friendly restaurants, Native Foods Cafe opened up in my favorite Chicago neighborhood, Wicker Park.

We lived in Wicker Park for a few years so we ate at Native Foods Cafe a few times a week. I loved it, we could walk there, take the dog, sit out on the outdoor patio….  people there knew us by name… the place felt like home.

Native Foods Cafe // Wicker Park
We have since moved out of the neighborhood but on Fridays, I still work in a salon located in Wicker Park just a block away from Native Foods Cafe. For years, I made it a habit to pack my lunch for work but now I make it a point to not pack my lunch so that I have an excuse to go to Native *smiles*

My salon colleagues at the salon all love Native Foods just as much as I do, in fact they are way more popular there than I am. It’s a restaurant that ANYONE can love whether or not they eat vegan food regularly.

Native Foods Cafe // Wicker Park
So they have this rewards program at Native Foods and after you’ve spent a certain amount of money, you are rewarded. Well, since the opening of this Wicker Park location, I have spent $650.00+ there!!
I don’t even go there every week anymore!
(now that I’ve fallen in love with Antique Taco again)

I will say that Native Foods Cafe has OUTSTANDING customer service, best ever…. and even though I only visit 2-3 times a month, they recognize me and offer me a warm “welcome back” every time I walk through the door. A few weeks ago, the manager offered me a free vegan oatmeal cream pie just to thank me for being a regular customer. Thanks mister.

Native Foods Cafe // Wicker Park
Native Foods Cafe
Although I’ve been stuck on the Caribbean Jerk Kale Salad lately, I decided to try something I’ve never had before on my latest trip to Native:

the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger
thinly sliced Native Original Seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions, and crispy Native Bacon on a bun slathered with BBQ sauce and ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, onions, and tomato, topped with crunchy battered dill pickle chips

Native Foods Cafe

Take a good look at those fried pickles in this photo, they’re in my belly right now. Those fried pickles were the best I’ve ever had, no big deal. Oh, and that bacon.

Native Foods Cafe

Native Foods Cafe

Oh, and those seasoned fries.

If you had to choose between classic seasoned fries and sweet potato fries, which would you choose? It’s a hard decision, right?
Yeah, well I have to make that decision at Native Foods every time I step foot through the door. 

Native Foods Cafe
Here is another decision you have to make at Native Foods: Are you going to drink the Lavender Lemonade, the Watermelon Fresca, or the Native Iced Tea?
I never choose just one, I always make a blend.

Native Foods Cafe

Native Foods Cafe

On this particular trip to Native Foods Cafe, I ran in to Chef Kendall who was on location prepping for the new fall menu and photographing dishes for a new cookbook. She was kind enough to hang out with me for a few minutes and let me check out her collection of props. (!!!!!!)

Native Foods Cafe

Native Foods Cafe

Imagine me pointing at the prepared food, asking “whats that?” …”and that” ….”what about that?”
Chef Kendall was kind enough to answer all of my questions, and she schooled me on jackfruit. 

Native foods Cafe // Wicker Park
I heart this place.

Native Foods Cafe
1484 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
773.489.8480

Love

Crista


Aug
12

Over the weekend, we attended the long-awaited, Veggie Fest in Naperville, IL.

veggie fest

veggie fest

veggie fest

veggie fest
Our weekend was filled with laughs and good food.
We were mostly there for good food, the laughs were a bonus. 

veggie fest

And good food is exactly what we got.
Pictured here: Masala Dosa & Fresh Squeezed Lemonade.

veggie fest

veggie fest
Our favorite (drool-worthy) dish from Veggie Fest is the Caribbean Jerk Chicken (I said that last year). The vendor who makes it only does it once a year for Veggie Fest, I wish they had a store front in Chicago – we’d be there weekly.

veggie fest

veggie fest

veggie fest

veggie fest

veggie fest

veggie fest
Cafe Mocha Kale Chips?? Wow. I can’t even imagine what they might taste like.
I was told these will eventually be available in stores like Whole Foods, but they couldn’t tell me when. Could be years? Why would they make us wait that long?!?!

veggie fest
veggie fest

Earth Balance Popcorn?!? How did I not know about this prior to Veggie Fest?? They say it is available for purchase at Whole Foods (but I didn’t see it at Whole Foods earlier that day…?)

veggie fest
We’re kind of obsessed with Henna Tattoos now…. 

veggie fest veggie fest

veggie fest

veggie fest

To see photos from Veggie Fest 2012, click here.

Love

Crista


Jun
21

summer

Summer has finally arrived! 
I’m happy to say that Chicago is cooperating with some pretty fine weather, high 80’s.
Celebrate with slices of watermelon, trips to the beach, and outdoor festivals!
Last night, I celebrated with one full hour of Sun Salutations during my yoga practice.

{an article I enjoyed reading: 10 Life Lessons in 108 Sun Salutations}

On my agenda today: create beautiful hair in the salon, buy a pair of vintage cowboy boots (for Summerfest & my trip to Nashville), and I’ll welcome my boyfriend home after being gone all week training for his new job.

Happy Summer!
xxoo

Love

Crista