I wish I had all the time in the world to be able to provide you with healthy tips and recipes, but I don't. Instead, I would love to recommend some of my very favorite health blogs, restaurants and products. Some of the links below are affiliate links. However, I would never refer them to you unless I feel strongly about how awesome they are. In fact, I am very picky when it comes to my health. Every recommendation on this list took a lot of researching and taste-testing to call it My Favorite.
My Favorite Health Blogs
Mark’s Daily Apple
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, knows more about the unprocessed, whole-food-eating paleo diet than Mark Sisson. He preaches the caveman way of living, which I know seems off-putting at first (especially if you’re a woman), but once you start reading his posts about eating, moving and playing like our ancestors, you realize how much this way of life makes sense.
Nom Nom Paleo
This is, by far and away, the most comprehensive Paleo recipe blog out there. Michelle Tam is exhaustive in her recipe creations – from the detail in instruction on how to cook Paleo, to the beautiful step-by-step pictures she provides along the way. I dare you to try to find a recipe that she HASN'T covered. If you're thinking about trying Paleo and you like to cook, Michelle is your go-to girl.
I’ve never seen anybody more enthusiastic about healthy cooking and baking than Monique. She seems to jump off the computer screen when I read her posts. I am pretty discerning about who I sign up to receive weekly emails, but as soon as I tried her flourless chocolate chip chickpea blondies, I knew I was hooked.
Oh She Glows
You can always depend on Angela for new and exciting recipes on a weekly basis. She has a great writing voice – intelligent and informative, but never talks more than she has to. This is my go-to place for vegan recipes.
Beth’s blog is a new discovery for me, but I’m really liking what I see so far. Like me, she is not defined by one type of diet; instead she embraces whole, local, healthy foods. Like Mark, she does her research. Her posts are usually backed up with the benefits behind the food.
My Favorite Healthy Chicago Restaurants
If you're somebody like me (health conscious, gluten-free, paleo-ish), you're used to walking into a restaurant expecting limited choices. mEAT Chicago is the first time I've ever wanted EVERYTHING on the menu. I beg of you to go to this place and support its business so more of them open around Chicago. There are currently two locations – one in Gold Coast and one in Lakeview. They only serve cage and hormone-free meat and wild caught seafood. They serve you kale chips FOR FREE the moment you sit down. Oh yeah, and they have THIS BEAUTY, which I was so inspired by that I tried to recreate it. Go to mEAT. You'll thank me later.
Blind Faith Café
I liked it so much, I wrote a review on it!
I discovered Chicago Raw a very long time ago when they first appeared at the French Market in Ogilvie Station. Founded by two women who strongly believe in the raw way of life (and have the glowing skin to prove it), have created a buzz in Chicago. They will serve you foods that you never thought would be possible to eat raw – burritos, lasagna, pizza. Even if raw isn't your thing, I encourage you to try it once. I'm so incredibly proud of them because they have finally opened up a stand alone store at 51 W. Huron.
Grange Hall Burger Barn
I passed this place a million times before my boyfriend (who loves a good burger) and I finally decided to walk in one day. From the outside, it literally looks like a barn smack dab in the middle of Randolph street in the West Loop. I'm not a huge burger girl, but I was so intrigued by the look of the place, that I was excited to give it a try. And I am so glad I did. It was not what I was expecting at all. Of course they serve a lot of burgers. But they are all grass-fed. They also have an incredible Veggie Burger (hand-made with wild rice and veggies), really fresh local ingredients, and a drink menu that will make you want to turn your Sunday lunch into Sunday Funday (we didn't because we were on our Detox at the time 🙂
Vegetarian and vegan comfort food that I discovered when I first moved to Wicker Park. They have a lovely beer garden in the back, and a really laid-back environment.
Karyn’s On Green
This is what I call high class vegetarian. Karyn's is a Chicago health guru. She has somewhat of a mini empire consisting of restaurants, meal plans, products, books and consulting. Just walking into Karyn's On Green is a beautiful experience in itself. With its high ceilings, beautifully-plated dishes and kind servers, I felt like I had been to the spa just from eating there (I swear they pump extra oxygen into the air). But unfortunately, it's not the kind of place I can afford to eat at regularly.
Kramer’s Health Food
I liked it so much, I wrote a review on it!
Native Foods Cafe
I never thought I'd see the day that a vegan restaurant became a chain – especially in Chicago. But it has happened with Native Foods Cafe. And it's a huge hit. Every time I've been here, it is packed to the rim, and it's not a small place. Great lemonade, great desserts, and very very extensive menu (think Cheesecake Factory for vegetarians).
Whole Foods Café
I liked it so much, I wrote a review on it!
My Favorite Health Products (Food And Beauty)
Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil
I feel the same way about coconut oil that Jeremy Gray (aka Vince Vaughn) feels about maple syrup in Wedding Crashers.
I happen to know everything there is to know about maple syrup! I love maple syrup. I love maple syrup on pancakes. I love it on pizza. And I take maple syrup and put a little bit in my hair when I've had a rough week. What do you think holds it up, slick?
I literally use coconut oil on everything. My food, my body, and yes, my hair. I’m sure you’ve noticed the rising popularity of the coconut and I couldn’t be more on board. Coconut oil has healed my KP better than dozens of expensive over the counter and prescription products I have tried. It also works as a better deep conditioner for my dry, split-ended, course hair than countless deep conditioner products I have bought throughout the years that are 10 X more expensive. Just try it once. Swear to God it will change your life.
Note: I linked to the Nutiva brand because that's the one that I have found to be the best quality, but since I know it can get expensive, Trader Joe's also has their own brand that is much more affordable.
I have blogged about these before because I love them so much, and I don’t think they get enough love. In fact, I can’t even find them at my Whole Foods anymore. The only place I can get them is Mariano’s. And I’m not going to lie. They are expensive for granola bars (about $6/box of 6). But I’ve never found a bar that is so low in sugar, high in fiber, high in protein and soooo satisfying. I eat them at the end of my work day and before the gym and they hit the spot every time.
Go Raw Flax Snacks
I try to avoid chips and processed food as much as possible. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t have mad cravings for something a little salty and crunchy, especially when I'm working. The Go Raw brand has become my new desk companion. They are raw, organic, seed-based, crunchy, filling goodness. I've tried the Spirulina Chips, Pizza Chips and Ginger Snaps and I love them all for different reasons (sweet vs. savory). I will warn you: they are expensive. But I only need a four or five to keep me satisfied and quench my craving. (And believe me, if they were chips or crackers, it would take me way more than that).
Home Spa Essential Oils
I have never been more confident that natural medicine works until I tried Home Spa’s products. When former ballet dancer and massage therapist Sarah Charles realized the potential for healing oils to help the body heal itself, she threw herself in the science of aromatherapy and became a certified aromatherapy practitioner and eventually opened up her own home business – Home Spa. For every ache and ailment I have (sleep problems, muscle aches, colds, anxiety, wrinkles, cuts and scrapes), Sarah can explain in detail how to improve it with aromatherapy.
These raw food bars have become pretty mainstream now (which makes me very happy). They are one of the few easily available snack bars that are completely vegan, raw, gluten-free, and soy-free (with the exception of the chocolate chip varieties). They are tasty and easy on my stomach.
To me, low sugar health foods are real finds because they are very hard to come by. Greek yogurt is one of the biggest offenders of taking something good for you and overloading it with sugar. Fortunately, I have discovered Siggi’s Yogurt. In a perfect world, I would always get plain yogurt and add my own fruit. But let’s be honest, we don’t all have time for that. Siggi’s has an incredibly rich flavor, without the added sweetness. I feel like I’m really indulging every time I dip into one.