Healthy Reviews

Healthy Reviews

Fulton Market Farmer’s Market + Kale Blueberry Salad

August 25, 2015


My good friend Marta recently got back from visiting her family in Poland – where she was born and raised. She came back in a bit of a daze. I would too. The pace of life doesn’t just move slower. It comes to a screeching halt. Especially where she grew up. A town called Jedwabne.

The first day there she texts me a picture of homemade pierogi stuffed with blueberries. The blueberries, she says, are from large forests nearby. But Marta didn't pick them. She bought them from people who were selling them at the side of the road who had picked them. Apparently, fruit picking is all the rage in Poland. 

Later, it’s a homemade potato bake (kartoflanka). A super hearty and delicious dish made with bacon from the local butcher, eggs from the neighbor, and potatoes and onions grown in her aunt's backyard. 

Then later, homemade plum jam. Jam picked from an ENTIRE WALL of jams in her grandma's basement – along with pickled veggies and homemade meats. 

Everything she ate was not only homemade, but also grown in her grandmother’s garden. Or her aunt’s garden next door. There are only two restaurants in town because nobody ever eats out. There’s no such thing as “stocking up” at the grocery store for the week. Whatever they need for dinner that night, or breakfast that morning, they pick it up that day.

Of course, I’m living in a fantasy world if I think that I could have any of those luxuries living in downtown Chicago. Life just moves too fast here. But listening to her stories got me thinking…

 About the way I eat (incredibly fast, usually in front of a screen).

The way I cook (rushed, as if it was a chore).

The way I shop (stressed, at the packed parking-garaged city grocery stores).

Which is why this past weekend, I made it a priority to make my first trip to…DaDaDaDAAAAA:

The Farmer's Market!

Specifically, the Green City Farmer's Market in Fulton Market (West Loop whoop whoop).

Smart move on my part (insert back pat here). Because it was exactly what I was looking for. A slow-moving, real-people-engaging, mouth-watering, what-the-heck-is-that? experience. You want to see? Okay! If you insist.




All weekend I've been adding my finds to different dishes – from scrambled eggs made with free range eggs, farmer's onions and lobster mushrooms, to really vibrant and unbelievably fresh salads. And that's exactly where I'll leave you. With this Farmers-Markets-Make-Everything-Taste-Better salad.

Oh! But before I do, I'd like to challenge you – no DARE YOU – to go find a farmer's market in your area before summer is over. PLEASE! Just once. For me? It'll slow you down and make you appreciate your food more than you ever have. You'll get to experience produce that you didn't even know existed. And EVERYTHING tastes better and fresher and juicier, and did I say BETTER?? We can't all experience a little town in Poland like my friend, or have the time for homecooked meals from scratch. But we can get a little closer to our food, slow down and appreciate it all just a little more.

Kale Blueberry Salad Recipe


Salad Ingredients:

  • Kale
  • Sauteed Cabbage (in coconut oil)
  • Blueberries
  • Cremini Mushrooms
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of Bee Pollen – I get mine from here (Want a reminder about how awesome Bee Pollen is for your health? Read this post)

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Herbs De Provence – I get mine from the Spice House
  • Olive Oil


  1. To saute the cabbage, chop it up into tiny pieces, and saute it in coconut oil for about 10 minutes).
  2. Chop up all your ingredients. 
  3. Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients.
  4. Toss together.
  5. Smile cause you're so happy something that tastes so good is SO good for you.


Much Love,


Like what you read today? Think somebody else would like to learn about the Green City Farmer's Market or how to make an awesome salad? 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 Reviews

Raw Days and Grass-Fed Nights (Plus Clarke-Potle Beef Sauté Recipe)

January 15, 2015

A funny thing happened to me on the way home from a raw vegan restaurant the other day. I craved meat. BAD. Like the I’m-going-to-chew-this-gum-so-hard-in-hopes-that-it-will-taste-like-meat kind of bad. (it didn’t). I was stuck on the I-90 in the snow and all I could think about was a juicy piece of grass-fed steak.

My former vegan self (and possibly my Mom) is appalled right now. I grew up eating a mostly vegetarian diet with the exception of fish and the very occasional chicken. In college, I got intense and went vegan. For a good three years, I had a good thing going with tempeh, beans, and tofu. At the time, I believed it was the best possible thing I could do for my body. I had read the book Skinny Bitch and everything that the author said about our over-processed food made a lot of sense to me. And in some ways, it still does.

If you think about it, a paleo diet still follows a lot of the same principles of veganism – take the antibiotics and hormones out of your diet (commonly found in yogurt, milk, eggs, cheese and meat), and your body will look leaner and function better.

It’s just that I do that by being super cautious of the kinds of yogurt, milk, eggs, cheese and meat that I put in my body. And moreover, I don’t rely on packaged food. Even if it is labeled organic, gluten-free or vegan. Because at the end of the day, the best food is going to come from your own kitchen. Where you know exactly what you’re eating.

Now that I’ve introduced chicken, steak and bacon back into my life, my body is stronger and more resilient than it ever has been. I found that, on a vegan diet, I was always eating, never really satisfied. Part of me loved that. Because I could keep eating and not gain weight. But I realize now that there were parts of my body that was not being fed.

But my point is, I can still enjoy all of the health benefits of a raw vegan restaurant. Their juices are top notch, and they can do more things with vegetables, fruits and nuts than I ever imagined possible. I just have to recognize that, for me, it’s only part of what it means to eat a healthy diet.


This “No” menu is what I love about a vegan cafe. They HATE processed food. 

Pure Juice Cafe in the northwest suburbs of Arlington Heights is definitely a diamond in the rough. Okay, maybe not the rough. But it’s hard to find vegan, raw or organic on any menu in the burbs. Never mind a whole restaurant based off of it.

Pure Juice Café has a large selection of freshly pressed juices and smoothies. Each based off of what it can do for you rather than how it tastes (i.e. Healing Digest, Skin Repair, the Flu Shot). In addition, they have raw vegan desserts, raw food meals and snack options (including quite a few kid-friendly menu items). Of course they carry one of the best organic coffees in town – Intelligentsia, as well as organic teas and some pretty tasty hot elixirs.

The food menu is definitely secondary to the juice bar (I know. You’re thinking Duh. It’s called “Pure Juice Café”). But the raw places I’ve been to in the past can get pretty creative with their food (I once had the most amazing pizza at Raw Chicago. It was filling and flavorful and AWESOME). This place only features a couple of dishes every few days because they prepare them days in advance (raw food is one time consuming process). 

I had the Sampler Platter because there’s nothing I love more than trying  everything. This included a healthy portion of their Pure Raw Spaghetti, a cup of cashew cheese sauce, a side of Black Bean Quinoa Protein Powerhouse Salad, and a fun dessert – Mini Carrot Cake. 

Spaghetti: Zucchini Noodles, Raw Cashew Cheese Sauce, Signature Tomato “raisins” Quinoa: Quinoa, Black Beans, Cilantro, Lime Juice, Sea Salt, Red Onion, Bell Peppers, Cranberries, Pumpkin Seeds Carrot cake: I have no idea. But if I had to guess, I would say carrots.

Spaghetti: Zucchini Noodles, Raw Cashew Cheese Sauce, Signature Tomato “raisins” Quinoa: Quinoa, Black Beans, Cilantro, Lime Juice, Sea Salt, Red Onion, Bell Peppers, Cranberries, Pumpkin Seeds Carrot cake: I have no idea. But if I had to guess, I would say carrots.

My Raw Spaghetti was lacking in flavor a bit. But I loved the Cashew Cheese. So I asked the super sweet and informative café girl if I could have some salt and pepper and she gave me a whole other cup of cashew cheese, Himalayan salt shaker and a cup of fresh ground pepper. NICE. The rest of it was well-seasoned and tasty (especially the carrot cake thingy).

My favorite part was probably the treats that my friend surprised me with while I was in the bathroom. Chocolate and coconut macaroons, dark chocolate bark with fancy nuts, and the most delicious Hot Chocolate made with raw cacao and coconut milk (I know what you’re thinking – does Hot Chocolate count as raw?). 

I hung out for quite awhile after eating because my friend and I had a lot to talk about. But I must admit. I literally think my stomach growled at one point. Given, I had only had a smoothie and a Lara Bar earlier in the day. But growling after I just ate a sizable lunch? Unacceptable.

Like I said before, on my very long drive home, in traffic, in the snow, all I could think about was the grass-fed beef in the back of my car. I had gone grocery shopping earlier and bought it with the intention of doing a fancy dish for my boyfriend and me later in the week. Instead, I knew as soon as I came to a full stop on the highway right up against a semi – that meat was mine, TONIGHT.

But what to do with it…?

As somebody who has sworn off fast food, I have really come to love Chipotle. Maybe it’s the result of a documentary I watched on them revealing how they truly do as much as they can to keep their food whole, unprocessed, local and GMO-free. Not an easy thing to do when you’re competing against Dollar Menus and Five Dollar Foot Longs (Five dollar. Five dollar. Five dollar foot lonnngs). But they do it. And for somebody like me who doesn’t even know the meaning of inexpensive fast food, picking up dinner to go – that I can trust – is like healthy heaven.

Thus, I was inspired by my healthy Mexican friend and decided the only thing that would satisfy my meaty craving was a heaping helping of well-seasoned grass-fed bites, spinach, chopped avocado, organic tomatoes and mushrooms, sautéed in garlic and butter and topped with Siracha. Ahhhh. I call it CLARKE-POTLE. And it was the perfect dessert to my very raw day.


*In case you don’t know me, my last name is Clarke. Yeah, I’m that big headed.


  • Grass-fed beef (Jewel sells it already cut up into chunks)
  • Steak seasoning (My favorite is this Rub I got from a Farmer’s Market. It includes Organic: sea salt, pepper, garlic allspice, cinnamon, cloves and ginger)
  • Grass-fed Butter (Kerrygold is available in most stores)
  • Cup of Spinach
  • Handful of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic (or a teaspoon of already chopped garlic)
  • 1 organic tomato, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Coconut oil


  1. Heat a cast iron skillet on high heat.
  2. Add a tablespoon (or 2) of butter.
  3. Chop up all of your veggies while it’s heating up (you want it to get extra hot).
  4. Sprinkle some water on the pan. If the water jumps back, it’s ready. Your butter should be slightly browned.
  5. Place your beef bites on the hot skillet and let them lay as they land. You want to sear one side for 30-45 seconds (depending on how you like your meat), and then quickly flip them over and sear the other side for another 30-45 seconds (I burned my fingers multiple times doing this because I am stupid and forget that spatulas exist in the heat of the moment).
  6. Take the beef off the skillet otherwise they will continue to cook.
  7. Turn down the heat to medium and toss in your coconut oil.
  8. Once melted, add in your chopped garlic and mushrooms. Saute them for about 3-5 minutes until they shrink a bit.
  9. Toss in the rest of the veggies to lightly coat them with the coconut oil and the beef juices. Mix everything together by lightly tossing with a spatula. Turn the oven off after 30 seconds or so. You just want to heat it up a bit.
  10. Plate it up and eat it up!

Comments? Complaints? Very angry vegetarians? I would love to hear from you! Please comment on the post below. 

Healthy Reviews

Coffee Shop Review: Dollop Coffee

September 9, 2014


I am a little bit of a coffee shop whore. I absolutely love discovering new ones, especially the small-business-owned/one-location-only kind. As a writer, I can spend hours researching and typing away until day turns to night. I think of coffee shops as these little houses filled with cozy drinks, gourmet treats and patrons hard at work. With these high standards in mind, here’s what I thought of Dollop…

Dollop Coffee is in Streeterville.

Which pretty much guarantees it’s going to be a perfectly manicured establishment. I spent hours deciding on the menu (as usual), saddled up to the high benches with my half-caff whole milk steamer, and gazed outside the windows to watch the residents of the luxurious “The Streeter” apartment complex stroll in and out of their home in the middle of the day. Long story short, I would go back there in a heartbeat. But in case you want it, here’s the long story…

Decor: Modern, clean, light wood tables, light installation for sign, high ceilings. Reminds me of a place I would find in LA. 

Environment: Ideal for working. Tons of table space and outlets. Most people were there to work, not to talk. There was high benches all around the perimeters of the shop and plenty of short and tall tables in the middle to seat bigger groups. For those of you who like to get cozy, there were four cushiony chairs near the window. And for those of you who, like me, hate the AC and like to be outside as much as possible, there were six tables outside on their patio. 

Internet: Works great inside. But as soon as you go outside to the patio, you’re SOL.

Music: 90’s music: Seal, All 4 One, Offspring, Mariah Carey. LOVED every minute of it.

Coffee: I had a whole milk latte (ever since I realized that fat is good, I am experiencing a whole new world with creamy, rich, whole milk). It had the iconic latte flower design drizzled on the top and a strong taste. For the intense coffee connoisseurs (I’m talking to you Christie Russert), they feature four different types of ways you would want it prepared (drip vs. pore over vs. etc.). When the coffee is so good that it can speak for itself (no sugar, syrup or caramel necessary), then I know I have found a winner. 

A bathroom with a sense of humor. Or gender confusion. 


A bathroom with a sense of humor. Or gender confusion. 

Baristas: Hipster, but not in that rude-I’m-better-than-you way. Willing to help and be patient while you stand staring at the menu with mouth agape taking 18 minutes to decide on your drink.

Snacks: Gluten Free Bars (big fan of the minimally-processed, real-food ingredient GFB Brand), gourmet nuts from a brand in Boston (with flavors like hazelnut coconut and cinnamon almonds), pastries from a local Lincoln Park Bakery.

Food: Sandwiches, Bagel Sandwiches, Pies made in-house. There was not a lot in the realm of Gluten-free/Paleo diet so I have little to say about the food. Overall, I never expect too much from a coffee shop for food because I’d much rather them concentrate on good coffee and healthy snacks. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Healthy Reviews

The Weary Traveler

March 20, 2014
Roasted Veggie Salad, The Weary Traveler, Madison, WI

Roasted Veggie Salad, The Weary Traveler, Madison, WI

This beautiful plate you see before you contained the heartiest carrots, juiciest peppers, and most comforting sweet potatoes to ever hit my stomach. This is the Roasted Veggie Salad from the Weary Traveler Freehouse. A place that I, fittingly, traveled very far to dine.

My boyfriend and I had just spent our weekend in Merrimac, Wisconsin at Devil’s Head Resort.  It was two days full of fresh air, first attempts and hard falls. I was a snowboarding virgin so I had my fair share of wipeouts and bruises, along with a slight concussion (seriously). BUT I had a blast along the way.

The food, on the other hand, was another story. An outdated, no thrills getaway, Devil’s Head was not the healthy, fresh, farm-to-table resort I may have dreamed up in my head.

Breakfast was a buffet of iced pale-colored fruit, processed sausages and lukewarm eggs. Lunch was more processed sausages on white buns and microwave-ready soft pretzels. And dinner was our choice of overpriced, undercooked entrees, or pizza, with processed meat on top.

I say this with slight sarcasm and a willingness to call a major FIRST WORLD PROBLEM ALERT. But I felt like every cheesy, bread-y, meaty, salty, sugary bite was destroying my insides. My stomach felt unsettled, my energy, low. I couldn’t wait to get back home to steel cut oatmeal, kale salads and veggie burgers. I found new appreciation for the way I eat, to say the least.

Part of me hated myself for not being able to go with the flow and let loose for the weekend. Have I really become THAT GIRL who turns her nose up to food that doesn’t meet her standards? Yes, maybe a little. If I ever decide to go on a mission trip to Africa, I’ll most definitely be screwed. But another part of me just felt reinforced in my nutritional values. I love that I am so in tune with my health and my body that I can mentally and physically sense the difference it feels when I eat what’s right for it. 

When it was time to go home, we jumped on the chance to grab our lunch outside of unhealthy hell. Fortunately, Madison, Wisconsin was on the way. And I couldn’t have asked for a better pit stop. 

With its hipster vibe, co-op grocery store and long list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants, this college town reminded me a lot of my beloved Iowa City.

After a determined Yelp search for a healthy restaurant, we landed on The Weary Traveler. As soon as I saw that they kept Kombucha on tap, I knew we made the right choice.

Here’s a little preview of their menu.

I think normally I would have been a bit more explorative than the Grilled Veggie salad, but at that point, I was craving fresh produce so badly that a full plate of vegetables sounded like heaven.

My vibrant meal and freshly poured Kombucha came and went way too fast. But by the end, my body and mind was already on its way back to normal. It may sound crazy, but I literally felt my blood flow faster and skin plump up as I walked out that door.

Is it in my head or is it for real? Maybe a little of both. Either way, healthy food is my favorite.