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Healthy Reviews

Get ‘Local Foods’ All Year Long in Chicago

June 16, 2016


I love farmer’s markets. Come summer, you have this short window of opportunity to actually face the people who make your food. The farmers, the gardeners, the bakers and the artisans. They give you samples, they smile, they slip you a tomato on the house, and you can’t wait to go home and take a bite out of the freshest cucumber, peach, or blueberry you’ve had all year. Because it didn’t come from across the country, from some unknown source. It came from a nearby farm. And that makes all the difference.  

Living in Chicago, I have accepted this type of “grocery shopping” experience as a special occasion. Come Labor Day, it’s time to say goodbye to all your local foods.

Or so I thought. Until I discovered Local Foods.


Local Foods is not a grocery store. It’s a public market for local food open ALL YEAR LONG.


It has a sustainable whole-animal butcher shop, tons of local fruits and vegetables – each labeled by their farm and location, a café featuring all local produce and kombucha ON TAP.


You should have seen me on my first visit there. My head was spinning I was so excited. I actually finished shopping, loaded up my car, then upon further thought, went back in to pick up the rest of my groceries that I had originally intended on getting elsewhere.


I could go on forever about the place (and probably will in future posts, and definitely on my Instagram page), but I want to spend some time today telling you about the hidden gem of a butcher tucked inside Local Foods. Just like a Farmer's Market, you can't necessarily go to their website to find out everything you need to know. Your best bet is to ask the purveyors themselves. So that's what I did. Below you'll find everything you need to know about the coolest, healthiest, most delicious butcher shop in town. Exclusive to 🙂

Meet: The Butcher & Larder


On their website, this is how they explain who they are:

Chicago’s first sustainable whole-animal butcher shop, led by Rob Levitt and his crew, produces the best steaks, sausages, charcuterie and other meat goodies the Midwest has to offer.

But there's so much more to it than that. Here's my experience:

All of their beef, lamb, pork and chicken are pasture raised. This means that they are raised out on the pasture (grass), but some are also fed corn for added flavor. A rare, rare find (at least in the Midwest) from a grocery store. Even Whole Foods only has select options for grass-fed meat or pasture-raised chicken. I've written a past post about the importance of grass-fed here. But just know that what your food eats is just as important as what your food is. 

Just like a farmer’s market, you actually get to know where your meat is coming from! Upon special request from the nice people at Local Foods (thank you Michelle and Andrew!), they have provided me with the source of all their meat. 

Ladies and Gentleman, meet your meat…

La Pryor Farm Beef
Ottowa ,IL
**Pasture-raised and pasture grained**
Never treated with any hormones or antibiotics
Mark and Kristin Boe have developed their own breed of cattle – Fleckveih and Black Angus cross. The family grows non-GMO corn on their farm exclusively for feeding their animals. The corn is cracked and mixed with hay and set out in the pasture to give the animals a natural way to eat grain while roaming the pasture.

La Pryor Farm Pork
Ottowa, IL
**Pasture-raised and pasture-grained**
Never treated with any hormones or antibiotics
Mark and Kristin purchased a rare herd of old line Duroc hogs from a family in Texas. Crossing the breed with Hampshire, they have created a unique breed that has “Superior marbling and a flavor like no other.”

Gunthorp Farm
LaGrange, IN
**Day range on grass and clover pastures, supplemented with corn and soybeans**
Never treated with any hormones or antibiotics
Gunthorp Farms raises Cornish Cross chickens on pasture. They have forty-six acres with chickens in the growing season.  A farm in Goshen, Indiana raise the just-hatched chicks in a hatchery, then they spend their first 3-4 weeks of their lives in a brooding barn under Gunthorp family management. They are then moved out to pasture.

Ferndale Turkey Farm
Cannon Falls, MN
No antibiotics or artificial growth hormones
**Free-Range during warmer months**
No shortcuts. Dale Peterson and his wife, Fern, live by these words. With 75 years and three generations of farming, the Petersons take pride in growing turkeys the way their farm’s namesakes (and nature) intended.  Their well-loved animals are fed their natural diet of grains, vitamins and minerals from a local feed mill.

Viking Lamb
Morristown, IN
**Exclusively pasture-raised**
Never treated with any hormones or antibiotics
Viking lamb raises wonderful lambs for meat, but a majority of their focus is specializing their breed and selling them to other farmers.


Because it’s a whole animal butcher, you can get ANY part of the animal. Meaning for crazies like me, I can easily get liver, sweetbreads and heart (GREAT fertility foods, more on that later). But even for the less crazies, it means unusual and custom cuts of meat, along with super decadent options like bone marrow, pates and homemade bone broths.


Did you ever watch the Brady Bunch growing up? Remember Sam the butcher? Alice’s bestie (well, with benefits ;). They’re like the 21st century version of him. Ask them anything about the meat, where it came from, what is a mortadella (Italian sausage made of finely ground pork and rich spices like pepper and pistacios)? They won’t make you feel stupid AT ALL. Plus, they encourage you to call ahead of time with special requests. For example, things like chicken liver and heart (don’t get grossed out; it’s really good for you) are not always readily available. But they will be if you just give them a heads up. 

Overall, this place just gives me happy vibes every time I go. From the bright and sunshiny setting, to the delicious samples handed out by passionate vendors, to the always-smiling bag man at checkout. This is my new happy place, and if you live in the area, I hope it can be yours too.

Local Foods
1427 W. Willow, Chicago, 60642
phone: 312.432.6575
butcher: 312-583-7263 x122

Open Everyday
Weekdays 11am-8pm
Weekends 9am-6pm


Like what you read today? See those cute little social shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

Can't get enough of all this healthy stuff? Then sign up for the newsletter where it says "Enter Your Email" at the top of this page. Too much of a commitment? That's cool. I also have a sweet Facebook page, deep-thoughted Twitter page, food-pornish Instagram handle, and recipe-filled Pinterest page.

Much Love,


p.s. I did NOT get paid to write this post. I just have a lot of love for this place and want as many people to shop and eat local as possible. 


Healthy Reviews

Grange Hall Burger Bar Review + Why Grass-Fed?

September 2, 2015

GrangeHallBurger_healthystaceyI recently met a new friend through Instagram. She had a simple question for me – what are my best healthiest restaurant recommendations in Chicago? 

I racked my brain, challenged to give her the best answers I could, and at the top of my list, was the last place you’d expect: Grange Hall Burger Bar.

A burger bar?
Yeah. A burger bar. But not just any burger bar.

Chicago’s only Farm To Table Burger Bar dedicated to wholesome Grass-Fed beef, Free-Range turkey and local farm fruits and vegetables.

There aren’t many places in Chi-town that guarantee you a grass-fed, grass-finished burger, served alongside fresh ingredients that were literally picked from a Michigan farm just for your plate with an affordable menu.

Yeah. Grange Hall is where it's at. And it’s where I ended up only a few days after my Instagram friend asked if I’d like to join her on one of my recommendations.

And I am SO glad that I did. Because this was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. I’m not sure if that has more to do with the amazing company I had (she’s traveling America for 6 months writing city guides, she has an awesome food blog, and she loves talking good digestion just as much as I do), or the super fresh, super flavorful, super real food at Grange Hall.

But before I get into any of that, let’s start with why. (Thank you, Simon Sinek).

Why grass-fed? Why grass-finished? Why do I care?


Grass-Fed. You may have heard the word being thrown around on restaurant menus or at the butcher counter at your grocery store.  And all you know is that it means MORE EXPENSIVE. If you’re not necessarily an animal lover, you most likely have no problem turning it down for the much less expensive, conventionally raised meat.

As always, I am not here to tell you to stop eating what you’ve been eating. If you’re even at the produce section of the grocery store buying real food to cook at home, then you’re already doing better than most. But I do want to point out a few facts that might make you reconsider your meat choices – at least every once in awhile.

Grass-Fed Meat Means…

  • Cows (and goats and lamb) were meant to eat green, leafy, natural plants, not grain.
  • When cattle eat grain their fat contains a higher amount of omega-6 fatty acids.
  • When cattle consume green leafy plants, as they were designed to do, their fat contains a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acid.
  • When we eat the cattle that ate the greens, our omega-6 to omega-3 ratio improves.
  • When we eat the cattle that the grains, our omega-6 to omega-3 levels are scewed, causing inflammation in our bodies.
  • An improved omega-6 to omega-3 ratio means decreased inflammation – a very good thing, as its the cause of numerous diseases or just general discomfort, as I’ve posted about before.
  • Many grocers label cattle "Grass-Fed" that they still feed grain right before slaughter to fatten them up (AKA Grass-Fed, Grain-Finished). Although a better choice, this kind of defeats the purpose and eliminates the benefits of every point above. Duh.

In short – you are what you eat. If you’re going through all the steps to eat your veggies, stay away from gluten and grains, reduce anti-inflammatory foods, and eat organic when you can, then you should make sure that your food is doing the same. And even if you’re not doing all of those things, eating grass-fed is a good place to start.

Just like butter, meat IS NOT BAD FOR YOU. It’s just the foods that ol' Bessie is eating and the hormones that she's pumping that are. If you're looking for some suggestions for where you can get your grass-fed meat, email me. I'm working on collecting a list together to post on this blog.

Okay, back to Grange Hall. As I was saying, every single lamb, beef and turkey burger is humanely raised and grass-fed. And the result is something mind-blowingly good.

What I Ate


I ordered the same thing I always order: The Michelle Burger. AKA, any burger of your choice atop the seasonal salad. Gluten-free buns are available. But why would I do that when my salad is made of locally-grown and incredibly fresh lettuce, strawberries, blueberry, snow peas, carrots and asparagus? Not to mention the homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing and candied pecans that pair perfectly with a bite of lamb (my burger of choice).

The lamb burger (topped with roasted red pepper sauce, arugula, feta and pickled artichoke) was, unfortunately, only available for the season (and I believe as of this posting, will be gone). But I’m sure they will replace it with something equally as delicious.

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere is so welcoming. It’s literally housed in a barn (well, a barn-like building) on uber trendy Randolph Street. Open up the cute red door to find vintage wallpaper, quilted fabric and lots of cute little antique thingamabobs. Everybody – from the girls at the host stand to the always-smiley and knowledgeable waitresses – is so genuinely nice. I get the feeling the staff doesn’t just “work” there; they believe in what the owner is providing to the community. A real farm-to-table, know-where-my-food-came-from experience in the middle of downtown Chicago.

The Owner

The owner, Angela Lee, also just happens to be a farmer as well. OF COURSE SHE IS. She owns White Horse Farm in Southwest Michigan where her Grandpa and Grandma raise 100 head of grass-fed Black Angus cattle, along with hogs and chickens for their family needs. Besides the meat, there are also plenty of blueberries, apples, asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and more. Thus the fantastic pie selection and seasonally-based salads and burger toppings. Angela literally drops off the goods at Grange Hall kitchen. So when she says those infamous buzz words, “Farm-to-Table," she really means it.

If you live in Chicago, or are considering paying Chicago a visit, I highly, highly recommend Grange Hall.

The Details

The Website

The Menu

The Address:
844 West Randolph Street
Chicago, Illinois 60607

The Digits:

Unsolicited Life Lesson

If you've ever thought to yourself,

That girl's/guy's Instagram feed is so cool. I wonder what they'd be like to hang out with?

I would say, Why not connect with them? You never know what amazing experience can come out of it. (Hi @andjelkaj! Safe travels, my friend. Till we eat again).

Much Love,


Like what you read today? Think somebody else would like Grange Hall Burger Bar or want to know more about Grass-Fed meat? See those cute little social shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

Can't get enough of all this healthy stuff? Then sign up for the newsletter where it says "Enter Your Email" at the top of this page. Too much of a commitment? That's cool. I also have a sweet Facebook page, deep-thoughted Twitter page, food-pornish Instagram handle, and recipe-filled Pinterest page.

Healthy Body

Too Many Nuts! Too Many Nuts! + Lemondamia Zest Mahi Mahi Recipe

May 12, 2015

I used to have a nasty habit of eating exactly the same thing every single day. At about 9:05 AM, I would bust out my Ziploc bag of dry roasted, unsalted almonds, and happily crunch one by one at my desk. For about 3 years straight, there was very rarely a day that I skipped this ritual. Why should I? I was proud of my healthy, but oh-so-easy snack. 

The only problem is – nuts aren't as good for my body as I'd like them to be. As protein-packed as they are, they are not something I should have been eating every single day. For one, nuts in big handfuls (as some like to eat them) can easily add up in fat and calories if you're somebody who is trying to watch your weight. But more importantly (I think), is the fact that too many nuts can really work a number on your digestion. 


Nuts are high in inflammatory Omega-6 and low in anti-inflammatory Omega-3.


Omega-3 and omega-6 are known as “essential” fatty acids because the body can’t produce them itself. You want Omega-6 in your diet. But you want it to be about even with your Omega-3 intake. However, with the standard American diet, Omega-6 is available in spades (they are in our “vegetable” oils like soybean, corn, peanut, sunflower, grain-fed animal fat, and a ton of processed, packaged food); while Omega-3 is a lot harder to come by (wild fish, grassfed meats, flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts). So many of us are extremely unbalanced in this ratio, putting all of our eggs in the pro-inflammatory Omega-6 basket. 

Here is a breakdown of the Omega-6 content in a handful of nuts (see what I did there?):

Walnuts – 9.5 g 

Almonds – 4.36 g

Cashews – 2.6 g

Macadamias – 0.5 g

Brazil nuts – 7.2 g

Hazelnuts – 2.7 g

Pistachio – 4.1 g

Pine nuts – 11.6 g

Pecans – 5.8 g

As you can see, some of our most popular healthy nuts are very high in Omega-6.

On the other hand, the shining star of this list is surprisingly the Macadamia Nut. Funny thing is, the macadamia nut is probably the one nut I avoided the most because I had heard how terribly high it was in fat (Oh! The horror!). But it turns out, that high fat content holds numerous health-benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.

  • 100 g of macadamia provides 23% of daily-recommended levels of dietary fiber. And BONUS, the nuts carry no cholesterol.
  • They're gluten-free. Whoop. Whoop. 
  • Excellent source of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc.
  • Rich in many important B-complex vitamins that are vital for metabolic functions. 
  • They contain small amounts of vitamin-A, and vitamin E. Both fat-soluble vitamins that serve to protect cell membranes and DNA damage from harmful oxygen-free radicals.*

So you get the picture? Yes, nuts are good. They have a lot of benefits. And they are responsible for heavenly things like Sunflower Butter, Cashew Cream Sauce and Almond Milk Smoothies. But you really don't want to overdo them. If you're going to love on them, err more towards the ones with the lower Omega-6 levels like Macadamia Nuts, Cashews and Pistachios.

I can say from personal experience that as soon as I lowered my nut consumption to a couple times a week – and switched over to macadamias and cashews – I noticed that the scratchy swollen feeling in my throat (inflammation) that I'd always get mid-morning soon after my almond snack had disappeared. Coincidence? I don't think so. But that's just my opinion. 

Enough talk. Let's eat. Here's a beautiful new recipe I like to call Lemondamia Lemondamia Mahi Mahi – so nice, I named it twice! 

Lemondamia Lemondamia Mahi Mahi Recipe



  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup of macadamia nuts, chopped up tiny
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 pieces of Mahi Mahi 


  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Place your Mahi filets on an oiled-up baking sheet with slots (for the broiler).
  3. Season the filets with S&P.
  4. Chop up macadamia nuts into tiny pieces (or pulse them to a course texture in your food processor). Put them in a small bowl.
  5. Take a grater to your lemon to collect your zest in the same bowl as the macadamia nuts.
  6. Mix together with a small dash of S&P.
  7. Rub your Mahi Mahi with coconut oil.
  8. Sprinkle your Lemondamia Zest on top.
  9. Broil in the oven for 8-10 minutes. 
  10. Voila! You fancy, huh? 



Healthy Body

The Proper Post Workout Meal + Orange Monster Smoothie

January 30, 2015

Working out is hard to do. I’ve been doing it since I was in the 7th grade (6 am volleyball practice!) and I still question my routine.

Is it long enough? Too long? What is the best ratio of cardio to strength? Can I work the same muscle two days in a row? How many crunches DOES IT TAKE to get a six pack?

Good news is I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough this year. I think I’ve finally figured out the answer to what works best for me.

My success story? Weight lifting. Yeah, I said it. Metal-bar-bell-strict-lifting-low-squating weight lifting. I absolutely love it. I've never been so strong in my life. And never been happier with my body. My thighs and butt are toned (without being bulky), my butt actually exists (it used to just be a flattened extension of my upper thigh), my abs are tighter than they ever have been (in all my years of endless crunching), and my energy is as high as a kite (I actually look forward to my morning workout). Insert proud beach picture here –>

But enough about my workout. This is a food blog. Which is why I just had to tell you that one of the best adjustments I have made to my workout has been in my Post Workout Meal. No matter how hard you workout, what you eat matters more than anything. ESPECIALLY AFTER YOUR WORKOUT.

Here are the three things I’ve come to know about post workout meals through lots and lots of research, my personal trainer’s advice, and my own experience and success with it.

  1. Timing Matters.
  2. What you eat (and don’t eat) matters.
  3. Where it came from matters.

Let me explain.

1. TIMING: I eat immediately after my workout (i.e. 30 minutes or less).
I am trying to build muscle. Not lose weight. Because of this, I try to eat immediately after my workout. You want to take advantage of absorbing the nutrients immediately to repair muscle tissue.

2. WHAT I EAT: I eat a combination of high protein and little carb.
You need protein to restore muscle tissue. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash and plantains replenish your glycogen stores for muscle growth and increased energy. Although you need carbs, too many will cause an insulin spike so don't go overboard on the sweet potatoes.

I eat VERY LITTLE fat and sugar.
Fat slows down your digestion and inhibits the absorption of protein. Sugar (even the natural kind in fruit), can only be metabolized by your liver. You didn't workout your liver silly; you worked out your muscles. Muscle tissue eats glycogen (that's where those carbs come in).

3. WHERE IT CAME FROM: I eat a whole protein source (or as close as I can get to one).
Protein powder is convenient. But where the protein in your powder came from matters just as much as where the chicken in your dinner came from. Ideally, you want a whole protein source so that you are absorbing as many nutrients as possible and as little hormones and chemicals as possible. There are a handful of protein powders that have gone out of their way to produce antibiotic-free, grass-fed and low in sugar products that I have tried and loved (Tera’s Whey, Amazing Meal, RAW protein).

But I’ve recently discovered an even better source of whole protein that is just as convenient as protein powder: Gelatin.

But this isn’t Bill Cosby’s gelatin (weird how that reference has a creepy meaning now). This is real, unprocessed gelatin from grass-fed cows. It comes in powder form just like protein powder. But its benefits are much greater. Gelatin helps your body repair quicker, helps repair small tears in cartilage, eases stiff joints and helps build muscle. Because I have so much to say about this stuff, I am already working on a follow up post, starring gelatin. So I'll explain more about this super nutrient later (also great for hair, skin and nails). 

Now, for what you've been waiting for… 

What exactly fits into this perfect formula??

THE ORANGE MONSTER SMOOTHIE. Gelatin to build and repair muscles. Sweet potato or pumpkin to restore glycogen. And cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and TURMERIC are all anti-inflammatory spices that will relieve muscle and joint pain and keep your stomach flat. BOOM. It's all there.



  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree OR 1 cup of cooked sweet potato
  • 1 cup of coconut water
  • ½ cup of ice
  • 2 tablespoons gelatin – I strongly recommend Great Lakes OR serving of your favorite vanilla protein powder (try to stick to hormone-free and grassfed)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Splash of coconut milk (for taste)
  • Drizzle of honey (if you really need a sweetener, but try to refrain from adding sugar)
  • Spices*

    • 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger/pre-chopped ginger/real ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (see this post for why it's awesome)
    • Dash of nutmeg

*Note: Substitute pumpkin pie spice for all of the above spices to save a little time


  1. Have an awesome workout and imagine the delicious smoothie waiting at the end of the tunnel.
  2. Immediately after, toss all above ingredients in a NutriBullet or your blender of choice and power up until it’s smooth as cream.
  3. Stick a straw in it and drink immediately.
  4. Do a happy dance.

As always, thanks for listening to me rave and rant. Keep in mind, this workout and this Post Workout Meal is what works FOR ME. If you're not doing a lot of strength training, it may not work for you. Either way though, it's all good stuff.