CHEW Chicago

I had the unique opportunity yesterday to take a walking wellness tour through Lincoln Park (the north side of the city).  If someone told you that you would get to visit some of your favorite places while enjoying a farmer’s market, shopping, sampling, and learning about health and wellness in your city, wouldn’t you do it?  Exactly!  They had me at frozen yogurt and Lululemon.  One of the Ya Ya’s discovered this tour run by CHEW (Complete Healthy Education & Wellness, Inc.) that is available on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting at the Green Market in Chicago.  The 6 of us ladies have had the date on the calendar for months.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I was excited to spend a beautiful day downtown with the girls.

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My mom and I drove down into the city.  After a quick stop at Starbucks, we met up with the ladies and Jessica, our tour guide, at the Green Market.  They were easy to spot with their bright orange goodie bags.

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There were six of us Ya Ya’s and 7 others in our group.  Jessica is a health coach with a focus on holistic nutrition.  She has been doing these tours for 3 years.  The tour lasts 3-4 hours, and we walked almost 3.5 miles.  Unfortunately, the yoga instructor had to cancel last minute, so we did not get to do yoga in park.  Although it would have been fun, we were so busy, we hardly missed it.

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Jessica introduced us to Tiny Greens Organic Farm.  They grow and sell baby micro-greens that are nutrient powerhouses.  Micro-greens boast 50-200 times more nutrition than their seeds or mature plants.  We were able to sample some of plants that are harvested before they are fully grown.  I was surprised how flavorful they were and bought an ounce of the snow peas to take home.

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They also make their own wheat grass and non-GMO tofu.

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We had a little time to explore the market.  The produce looked so fresh and amazing.  I  recognized a booth whose whole wheat flour came in my CSA a few weeks ago.  After sampling a delicious tomato and wheatberry salad, my mom and I bought some of their wheatberries to share.

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We met back up at the start of the market and headed out for a 1 mile ‘brisk’ walk to our next stop, Starfruit.  Starfruit is local to Chicago.  It’s a frozen yogurt place who uses the probiotic rich Lifeway Keifer to make it’s frozen treats.  We got to sample a few different flavors and their chocolate cheese spread (it tastes much better than it sounds).

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Of all the flavors we tried, I liked the original the best and then the pomegranate.  Delish!  The next stop was Lululemon.  Did you know that Lululemon actively supports the community with free yoga in the park and that the employees are encouraged to set personal and health goals that are posted throughout the store?  Neither did I!  This store was the first in Illinois and it is also the biggest.  I was thankful to have some Bday gift certificates and I bought myself a pair of running shorts and a headband.

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Lulu is in a temporary space as they remodel their original store.  I always think of them as a yoga store, but they really support running as well.  The girl paying next to me was also training for the Chicago marathon.  A little more walking and we found ourselves at LUSH.  A funny story about LUSH is that I discovered the store in Australia a few years back.  I came home excited about this new store but so sad that it was ‘foreign’ when my best friend pointed out that we had one right here in Chicago.  I was slightly embarrassed and we like to laugh about it now.  We got a hand treatment at LUSH using their exfoliating scrub and Dream Cream.  Let me tell you, my skin felt so soft and amazing when we left.

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At this point a few people seemed to disappear as we strolled around the corner to FIT Lincoln Park for a 20 minute boot camp.  FIT is a boutique gym with a fabulous outdoor area and a focus on small classes and personal training.  It makes me so sad that I don’t live in the city because I would love a gym like this!  Like Lululemon, they also have classes in the park.

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One of FIT’s owners took us through ~20 minutes of push ups, planks, sit ups, and a few other total body toners.  We were constantly moving with very little rest and used only our body weight for resistance. I was surprised how quickly I worked up a sweat (and I definitely felt my abs this morning).

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After our mini workout, everyone seemed to reappear at our next stop Karyn’s Raw.  Karyn Calabrese is well known as a leader in holistic health in Chicago.  I won’t go into too much detail about here, but it is totally worth it to check out her websites.  She has three restaurants in Chicago.  I have been to Karyn’s Cooked a few times…it is fabulous, and I’ve always wanted to check out Karyn’s Raw.  She has a café and a restaurant and everything on the menu is RAW.  Although I don’t see a raw diet in my immediate future, I have been curious about this movement.

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Jessica talked to us about superfoods.  Some, like chia seeds, I was familiar with and others, like camu camu, I had never heard off.  We also got a sample of Karyn’s green smoothie made with her green meal.  This is a smoothie that Karyn drinks every day.  Some people thought it was too sweet (there was apple juice and banana), but I thought it was delicious!

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Our second to last stop was Peeled.  This juice and smoothie bar creates everything in house (even their coconut water).  We were able to sample their Watermelon juice and Strawberry Letter smoothie.

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We also sampled the Ginger Shot…I think my mom missed the explanation about the cayenne ingredient…

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Our last stop was just across the street at the third largest Whole Foods in the world!  We talked about the healthy food index and Jessica again stressed the importance of getting greens in your diet.  WF is one of my favorite places and this huge store carried some fun things that my local store did not, like the grind-your-own cashew butter.  My mom and I shopped around a bit enjoying the unique food options and of course the samples.

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Look at this beautiful view from the back porch of the store.

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After a long day of walking, shopping, and sampling, my mom and I strolled back to the car with a bag full of goodies.  The CHEW tour was super fun and informative and I always have a fabulous time with the Ya Ya’s!  We walked past Peeled again, so my mom and I stopped to use our CHEW coupon to enjoy their Rapper’s Delight Smoothie.  It was refreshing and flavorful and perfect to sip on as we headed back to the burbs.  If you live near Chicago, I highly recommend the CHEW wellness tour!  If you’re not in Chicago, seek out a similar tour or just get together with friends and create your own!

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