Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Favorites - Gyms in Chicago

As I'm wrapping up to leave Chicago for INSEAD, I'm reflecting on all of the wonderful experiences that I've had here. Because of this blog, so many of these experiences have revolved around being active and there is such a great health and fitness scene in Chicago, I'm going to miss it! A lot of times, please ask me where my favorite places to workout in Chicago are, so here's a list! There are way more gyms in Chicago than I could ever hope to visit so these are just a few that stand out to me.

River North CrossFit was my original box in Chicago when I first moved here. I spent many early mornings there and hot afternoons on the track training. The community is like no other!

CrossTown Fitness was a new addition to my fitness routine after I attended Sweatworking there with Every class is different and has a combo of cardio and strength. Plus, they do stand up paddle boarding on the lake on Saturdays.

Not exactly a gym, but my friend Kate Hiipakka has been central to the Chicago fitness community since I got here and she introduced me to both NTC Chicago and Shred415. Check out her blog at The Four Percent.

And finally, the best running group ever, Crew Runs the World! They got me through my second Chicago Marathon and my half marathon PR earlier this year. We have very fond memories of battling polar vortexes, snowy sidewalks, and icy winds along the lakefront (I will not miss those things about Chicago).

Thanks to everyone in Chicago who has motivated me and pushed me to be healthy and fit!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Instacart grocery delivery service

You wouldn't expect to hear this from a health blogger, but I've gone to the grocery store once in the past month. I've been so busy prepping for my move and trying to catch up with all my friends before I leave, so Instacart has been a lifesaver! This app and website is super easy to use. You just type in your address, pick a participating store (Jewel, Whole Foods, and more for Chicago), pick your groceries, select a delivery window (as fast as two hours from ordering), and someone goes to grocery store for you and delivers the groceries to your door. There is a small delivery fee but I think it's worth it because I really dislike going to the grocery store. The best part is that you get free deliver and $10 off your first order with my link!

My orders with Instacart have all come out pretty good. The person calls you when they're in the store if they don't have something you want, you can then choose substitutes and the final price is adjusted accordingly. One time, I got some bread and opened it a day after the delivery only to realize that it was molded. I noted this in my delivery rating to Instacart and they refunded the amount for the bread. So, they work with you if something goes wrong. Good customer service is always a plus.

Another function that is growing on the Instacart site is the recipe center where you can actually browse recipes and add the ingredients directly to your cart. Here's the recipe that I posted for Sweet Potato Hash.

Give Instacart a try and let me know what you think!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Favorites - Smoothie Ingredients

These are the things I put in my morning smoothie, not necessarily all at once. Just add a frozen banana and water or almond milk.

Athletic Greens is my ultimate nutritional insurance. It contains the optimum combination of nutrients derived directly from vegetables and other super foods. A mild taste, easy to blend (even with water), and they even have travel packs.

Vega One is the original healthy plant-based shake that has everything you need to make your day nutritious. The flavors are excellent and you can get creative, like making the pumpkin smoothie above. Protein-rich and a filling breakfast.

I love green tea, more than coffee, and this Organic Matcha powder makes the perfect addition to my smoothie as a caffeine and antioxidant boost. Also, congrats to Agnes of Aggie Runs for winning this giveaway!

Finally, spirulina is the ultimate superfood. It is literally the most nutritious, whole food that we know of and contains a much higher concentration of nutrients than any vegetable. I always add a scoop or two of the powder into my smoothie, which also gives it this wonderful green color. 

What's in your morning smoothie?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Icebreaker Merino

Beach volleyball is one of my favorite things to do in the summer but we haven't had the best weather in Chicago. Warm weather was scarce during the first half of the season and I couldn't wear my usual bathing suit so I opted for my Icebreaker Merino Wool long sleeve and tights instead. 

Icebreaker clothing is made out of wool from the merino sheep of the New Zealand mountains. These sheep live in extreme weather, from the frozen winters to the warm summers, and their coats have to be able to adjust. That's why the merino wool fabric is so versatile. Early summer in Chicago is warm but breezy and the temperature drops at night, so this lightweight clothing has been perfect.

I'm wearing the Flash Long Sleeve Half Zip and the Rush 3/4 Tights. The tights aren't as elastic as I would like them to be but they are soft and comfortable. The long sleeve, however, I can't stop wearing! It's prefect for throwing on on the way to the gym or summer sports. I've worn it during kickball and volleyball and before/after paddleboarding. It's still comfortable even when I have a wet bathing suit on. I also love how lightweight it is because even though the sun is warm, it can be breezy and cool in the shade.

I'm excited to try more Icebreaker merino clothing for my upcoming travels and as the seasons change. It seems very versatile for all weather conditions and different types of activities. You can check out the women's running and fitness collection here.

Have you worked out in wool clothing?

What's your favorite summer adventure?

*Icebreaker Merino Wool provided me with this complimentary outfit in exchange for this review post. All pictures, text, and opinions are my own.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Favorites - Vegan Cookbooks

A reader asked me what my favorite vegan cookbooks are, so I made a list! 
Click on the images to buy on Amazon.

Brendan Brazier make plant-based eating popular for athletes and "normal" people alike, food is fuel.

Peggy K cooks like Brendan Brazier but will a feminine twist…aka, more desserts.

Amber's raw recipes are straightforward and her desserts are amazing.

All of the classic recipes turned vegan, great for starters.

Not exactly a cookbook, but still contains great recipes for treating food as fuel.

What are your favorite plant-based cookbooks?