Category Archives: Chicago

Unexpectedly Blown Away

When I saw the invite for VIP tickets to the traveling show Cavalia Odysseo, I was intrigued, but not exactly sure what it really was. I felt like I had heard of the show before, but clearly did not know much about it. After watching the trailer and reading up a bit on it, I was definitely in.

Cavalia is a live performance with 65 horses and 48 artists performing on a stage bigger than the United Center’s ice rink. I kind of describe it like Cirque du Soleil with horses and let me just tell you, it’s truly a feast for the eyes.

Our VIP tickets included an open bar, wonderful dinner buffet, dessert buffet during intermission and a behind-the scenes visit to the horse stables and stage after the show. Learning more about the entire production of the show and meeting some of the horses really made it that much more amazing and special to me. I can’t even imagine how they put the 2,000 seat stadium together under the big top white tent, transport all the gear and equipment (in addition to the horses and everything they need) and make everything one, seamless, unbelievable experience.

Not only was the show spectacular, the service and staff were top-notch. It’s yet again one of those things that words just do no justice. Cavalia is only something that can be experienced. With that, use the code SOCIAL to get 15% off your tickets. It’s worth every single penny. The show is running in Chicago until May 14, so you have a little less than two weeks. Go!

Here are some pictures from my experience (no photography was allowed during the show, so all my pictures are from before, during intermission and after):

Cavalia Odysseo Chicago

Cavalia Odysseo Chicago

Cavalia Dinner Buffet

Cavalia Dinner Buffet

Cavalia Inside VIP Tent

Cavalia Inside VIP Tent

Beautiful Art Work Throughout Tent Area

Beautiful Art Work Throughout Tent Area

Cavalia Before Show Begins

Cavalia Before Show Begins

Cavalia Dessert Buffet

Cavalia Dessert Buffet

Meeting A Horse After Show

Meeting A Horse After Show

Up Close and Personal With A Horse

Up Close and Personal With A Horse

Beautifully Braided Hair On A Horse

Beautifully Braided Hair On A Horse

Cavalia Outside Tent After Show

Cavalia Outside Tent After Show

Seriously, if you get the chance, I highly recommend seeing this amazing show. Let me know if you go!

 

Please Note: While I was offered the VIP experience, all opinions are my own.

Trying Something New

You know I always enjoy trying something new, especially if it’s vegetarian and healthy! Cue in Chickapea Pasta that is gluten-free, vegan, organic, GMO-free and is packed with protein. What I really appreciate about Chickapea Pasta is that when you read the ingredients, it’s literally just two; organic chickpea flour and organic red lentil flour. That’s it. How nice not to see a bunch of chemicals or weird additives.

Chickapea Pasta

Chickapea Pasta

Chickapea Pasta Ingredients

Chickapea Pasta Ingredients

I’ve been hearing more and more about pastas made from various kinds of lentils, but I’ve actually never tried any until now. I have to say that I was really impressed and liked how filling this pasta is. I made this vegetarian pasta dish after an evening yoga class and I was shocked at how full I was from such a small amount. Being vegetarian, this huge for me, since regular pasta just doesn’t do the trick and I always find myself hungry an hour later. I’m literally hooked on Chickapea Pasta.

My Vegetarian Pasta Creation

My Vegetarian Pasta Creation

Here’s the recipe for the simple dish I created:

Vegetarian Pasta Dish

  • 1 cup Chickapea Pasta
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 cup organic marinara sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • optional- grated parmesan to top pasta

– In large skillet, heat oil and add garlic and onions to saute. Once translucent, add green pepper and zucchini and continue to saute on medium heat. Turn heat down to low and add spinach until all water is evaporated. Add marinara sauce, oregano and black pepper and simmer on low heat.

-Bring water to a boil and prepare Chickapea Pasta as noted on box. I personally like my pasta cooked a little well done, so I boiled my pasta for 10 minutes.

-Add drained and rinsed pasta to vegetable sauce and simmer on low for an additional 5 minutes. Add any additional seasonings to taste such as crushed red pepper or garlic powder.

-Top with grated parmesan if desired.

Chickapea Pasta Served With Garlic Bread

Chickapea Pasta Served With Garlic Bread

As you can see, this recipe was super simple and I was able to sneak in quite a few vegetables to make it extra healthy and low-fat. You can keep this dish vegan by omitting the parmesan, but I enjoyed the little added extra treat on top.

Chickapea Pasta Dish Topped With Parmesan

Chickapea Pasta Dish Topped With Parmesan

Try it out and let me know what you think!

 

Please Note: While this post is in partnership with Chickapea Pasta, all opinions are my own.

Vacation For You, Staycation For Me

I always love finding hidden gems in Chicago and sharing them with you. My latest discovery is Hotel Cass in the heart of River North in downtown Chicago, right off the Magnificent Mile. This quaint, adorable hotel is literally in the middle of all the action in terms of restaurants, bars and shopping. It’s truly a tourist’s paradise, and also quite affordable compared to other hotels in the area.

Hotel Cass Downtown Chicago

Hotel Cass Downtown Chicago

I had the chance to do a mini-staycation with my cousin Jigisha and we had an absolute blast staying at Hotel Cass. The cute decor, friendly staff and amazing location made our stay so fun and so memorable. There is also a hot breakfast buffet included and we were impressed at the number of options, especially being vegetarian! Here are some pictures from our stay:

Checking In At Hotel Cass

Checking In At Hotel Cass

Quaint Hotel Cass Lobby

Quaint Hotel Cass Lobby

Hotel Cass Lobby Hallway

Hotel Cass Lobby Hallway

Hotel Cass King Room

Hotel Cass King Room

Hotel Cass Bathroom

Hotel Cass Bathroom

Jigisha And I At Hotel Cass

Jigisha And I At Hotel Cass

Hotel Cass Hot Breakfast

Hotel Cass Hot Breakfast

View From Hotel Cass Doorstep

View From Hotel Cass Doorstep

If you find yourself staying at the hotel, might I suggest some of my personal favorite locations in the area to grab a bite to eat or a drink for the evening. Each one of these spots is less than 2 blocks from Hotel Cass:

So, I guess I’ve pretty much helped plan your entire stay. You’re welcome (ha ha)! Let me know how your stay goes and which restaurant/bar recommendations you liked best.

 

Please Note: While I was invited to stay at Hotel Cass, all opinions are my own.

Just Another Wednesday Night With Flo Rida

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I have been collaborating with Hyatt Centric to showcase my favorite things to see/eat/do around Chicago. It has been so fun to share some of my favorite gems around the city and see my followers take my recommendations!

This past week, I had the honor of attending an exclusive performance by musical artist Flo Rida at the Hyatt Centric’s newest location right off Michigan Avenue. It was a fun way to promote the newly converted property (called The Hyatt Centric Magnificent Mile) along with local radio station 103.5 KISS FM.

Flo Rida Concert

Flo Rida Concert

Unless you already know me, you probably don’t know that I am a HUGE Flo Rida fan. I absolutely love his catchy songs and have actually been requesting them quite consistently over the past two years at my Flywheel and Peloton cycling classes (just ask my favorite teacher Erin about this). So, you can imagine that I literally let out a scream when the Hyatt Centric team emailed me and not only asked me to attend Flo Rida’s performance, but also come up on stage with famed DJs Fred and Angi from 103.5 KISS FM and announce this year’s Hyatt Centric Explorer Contest winners. It was truly a “pinch-me” kind of moment.

On Stage To Announce Contest Winners With Fred And Angi From 103.5 KISS FM

On Stage To Announce Contest Winners With Fred And Angi From 103.5 KISS FM

The absolute cherry on top was that I was able to bring Erin as my guest for what turned out to be one of the best nights EVER. I jokingly told Erin that it was payback for all those times she obliged (maybe begrudgingly) and played all my Flo Rida song requests at class. She’s an amazing friend and I feel like my world came full circle to have her by my side as we danced and sang in the front row at Flo Rida’s awesome performance.

Here’s my Instastory from Instagram that evening. Just a little snippet of a truly special night that I will never, ever forget. Thank you Hyatt Centric!

 

 

Chicago Happenings- November Recap

What a fun month for me, I tried an exciting list of places I had never been before. Not all of these places are new, but most of them are, so it was awesome to go to some new hot spots. Either way, I consider this #winning. Read on:

True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen– I have been anxiously awaiting the opening of this restaurant focused on healthy eating with many vegetarian and vegan options. My friend Mamta told me about this place when it was announced it would be opening in Chicago and I couldn’t wait to check it out. I was fortunate to attend an opening party one night and go to dinner a separate night, all before the restaurant even opened to the public on November 22nd. And, let me tell you, this place is AMAZING! If you are vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten-free (or even if you are none of those), I promise you will be just as addicted to this place as I was. Literally, every single item I have tried has been a winner. I don’t come across many restaurants that I feel this way about, but I can honestly say that True Food Kitchen is going to be my second home. For reals. Just you wait and see. Now, let me get back to the unbelievable tofu lettuce wraps. Yum!

Max & Leo's Pizza

Max & Leo’s Pizza

Max & Leo’s Pizza– Located in the entrance of the awesome King’s Bowl is the famous Boston pizza joint, Max & Leo’s. Baking artisan coal-fired pizzas in a special oven that gets up to 900 degrees, this pizza is truly delicious. I had the chance to try several veggie pizzas and each was delicious in its own way. But, it always came back to that amazing crust! You can definitely taste the freshness and difference in these pizzas. One of my favorites of the evening was the L’Umina (made vegetarian without prosciutto) that had olive oil, sliced pears, caramelized onions, ricotta cheese and basil, drizzled with organic wildflower honey. And since you know I’m obsessed with pears, it’s kind of obvious that this would be a favorite. I loved the addition of the ricotta and honey, which you don’t normally see on menus, so it was nice to find something unique and so tasty. Trust me on this one, if you are craving pizza, get to Max & Leo’s ASAP. I promise you won’t be sorry.

The Little Beet Table

The Little Beet Table

The Little Beet Table– This new restaurant is pretty much any dietary restriction person’s paradise. Not only is this gem also “vegetable forward,” it’s also 100% gluten-free. And, more than any of that, it is absolutely delicious. What I truly appreciated about this great spot is that I tried vegetarian items I’ve never tried before like sweet pea guacamole and cauliflower hummus. I truly appreciated having vegetables prepared in unique but yummy ways. I also need to acknowledge their great drink menu and I totally fell in love with the spicy grapefruit margarita. I always get my spicy drinks made extra spicy, and the bartender totally delivered on it. It was such a hit, that 5 out of 8 diners at our table ordered the same drink on our second round. I like having that kind of influence! ha ha. Definitely try The Little Beet Table and don’t forget to get that margarita!

Studio Three Cafe

Studio Three Cafe

Studio Three Cafe– Aside from my actual home and my workplace, my “other” home I would declare is Studio Three. This beautiful, new-ish (just one year old), fitness studio located in River North offers cycling, interval and yoga classes. It is hands-down the best fitness studio I have been to and I absolutely love it. A new cafe recently opened on the first floor offering everything from wraps, bowls, juices, smoothies and so much more. After an awesome Saturday morning sweat session in the Peloton cycling studio, I stopped by the cafe to try some of their delicious offerings and I was really impressed. My absolute favorite was the tofu burrito which had seasoned tofu, black beans and cilantro. So simple, yet so tasty and perfect to fuel up after an intense workout. I also really enjoyed their new line of fresh, cold-pressed juices. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with any of the options to help you refuel in a healthy way after a great workout. Now, who is ready to join me for a class?

Floriole

Floriole

Floriole– Sometimes there are places that you have heard great things about, but just never had the chance to make it to. Floriole was one of those places for me. Luckily, I finally got to cross it off my list. One awesome event this Lincoln Park bakery offers is called the ‘Sunday Supper Series’, where a three-course dinner is offered one Sunday out of the month. I was super lucky to get to try out “Friendsgiving” for the month of November and was seriously blown away. We started off with a delicious squash soup, followed by a winter root vegetable gratin, mushroom cornbread muffin and fresh Brussels sprout salad (turkey was offered up for the meat-eaters) and finished up with a choice of gingerbread pumpkin tart or pecan pie cake. I mean, doesn’t that all sound unbelievable? It was. I can’t wait to see the menu for the December supper as I’m sure I will be going back.

 

Please Note: While I was invited to visit these establishments, all opinions are my own.