Loving the Windy City and Cantaloupe, Peach and Strawberry Smoothies

Chicago-head

The other weekend my best friend and I went to Chicago for the first time. We had heard so much about the architecture, the food and the lively music scene. Since Chicago is only a one and a half hour flight from Toronto, it is an easy place to visit for a long weekend.

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We took in the architecture by taking a boat cruise offered by the Architectural Society. I strongly suggest one of these cruises since the tour runs through the city along the river and features evidence of the historic transformation of Chicago from its rebirth after a major fire burned it to the ground in 1871. The city planners have done a wonderful job of protecting the river front by ensuring that all new buildings and renovations feature a river walk area that meets their standards.

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A visit to The Art Institute of Chicago was a great way to spend the afternoon taking in the contemporary art and photography exhibits.

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When not touring the river front area, we found great places to eat that could accommodate my friend’s gluten-free, vegan diet and still provide a great variety for my tastes. One place that I really loved was Eataly, a gourmet Italian food experience that was like Disneyland for food lovers. The large space is filled with a variety of delicacies from Italy from wines to pasta and wood fired pizzas. There are 9 mini restaurants nestled in between each department of this store. Since they were able to accommodate my friend’s diet, we had lunch there twice. I understand that there is also and Eataly in New York City and that they might be opening one in Toronto. I cannot wait.

Another thing that is well worth doing is taking in some of the local music scene. We went to a local club called Kingston Mines to hear blues bands one night. This low-key, earthy bar hosts 2 acts per night and rotates sets between two different rooms until 5 AM. It is really worth the short drive from downtown to see these talented blues artists.

Chicago-Bean

We also saw Motown the Musical as part of the Broadway in Chicago line up. The musical revue acts out the history of the Motown music scene from the beginning to the 25th anniversary. It was a great evening filled with the music made famous by groups like the Temptations, the Supremes and the Jackson 5.

We tried to see as much of Chicago as we could fit into a long weekend so like most tourists, we made sure that we visited the famous Bean in Millenium Park. It is difficult to really see a city in four days, but my first impression was that I would like to go back and see more of this lively place.

After a weekend of food and wine and fun I though I should get back to my healthy diet at home. A great way to help get back on track is to drink smoothies for breakfast or lunch. This smoothie recipe is really light and fresh while also being very healthy.

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Cantaloupe, Peach and Strawberry Smoothie

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup cantaloupe, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, without stems
2 cups chopped peaches, peeled
1 cup coconut water
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1-2 tbsp. honey, to your taste

Directions:
Blend the cantaloupe into a juice.
Add the strawberries, peaches, coconut water and lime juice.
Blend again until smooth and frothy.
Add honey to sweeten to your desired level of sweetness.

Recipe modified from Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris

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Prosciutto and Melon Pasta Salad

I have spent the last week continuing on this journey of developing a healthier lifestyle. On Friday I did my longest bike ride ever and lived to tell the tale. We traveled down to the beach bike trail and along the trail to Toronto’s Historic Distillery District. After enjoying a hot chocolate at Balzac’s Coffee Roasters and a chocolate truffle at Soma Chocolatemaker we headed back. I know what you are thinking; how does chocolate fit into this healthy lifestyle? I am a firm believer that dark chocolate can be a healthy treat if enjoyed in moderation. Believe me having only one chocolate truffle from this artisanal chocolatemaker is extreme moderation. They have the most amazing chocolate in town.

http://www.somachocolate.com

In addition to this 22km ride, I have kept up my walking and my Zumba workouts. I am so pleased with how good I am feeling and how much energy I have. I am also thrilled that I can get into clothes that have not fit for the past few years.

It is amazing what a positive impact this change has had on me. In spite of a bumpy start with a bike accident a few weeks ago,  I am feeling great. I feel more alert and less stressed. I spend less time watching life on TV and more time living it. I am just happy to be alive.

I have kept to a healthy diet filled with salads, vegetables, protein and light dinners. This has inspired me to find new and interesting salad recipes like this Prosciutto and Melon Pasta Salad. You can substitute the farfalle with gluten-free pasta if you prefer.

Ingredients

8 oz. uncooked farfalle pasta
1 ½ tbsp. lime juice
1 ½ tbsp. white wine vinegar
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 glove garlic, finely chopped
2 ½ tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup baby arugula
¼ cup diced cantaloupe
¼ cup shallots, thinly sliced
2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 2 inch strips
1 oz. shaved Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; cool to room temperature.

Combine juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic in a bowl, mix until well blended.

Combine cooked pasta, arugula, cantaloupe, shallots and prosciutto in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad, toss, top with cheese shavings and serve.

Recipe modified from Cooking Light 12