Chicago’s First Ever Plant-Based Vegan Food Tour!

Join Chicago natives Natassia and Noelle on an exploration of Chicago’s vibrant vegan scene. Centered in Chicago’s River North/Gold Coast neighborhoods, you’ll be introduced to some of your hosts’ personal favorites, hand picked to demonstrate the quality and variety of plant-based offerings in Chicago.

You’ll eat your way through 6 tasty stops, each location showcasing an appetizer, entree, or dessert carefully selected from their menu. Portions will be “tapas style” so that you can taste all that the tour has to offer. This tour is great for getting together with friends, showing off the city to out-of-town guests, or celebrating a special occasion.

Come join us as we explore one of the most beautiful cities around!

FAQs here!

Book a tour date here!

And for more information on future tours, reach out to us @ veggieluvchicago@gmail.com!

 



Your Guides

Natassia and Noelle share a passion for food, positive vibes and all things healthy!

image (2)Natassia turned to a plant-based diet back in 2010 in response to health concerns and hasn’t looked back. She has a certification in Plant-based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (a program created by her favorite doctor 🙂 ).  While searching for tasty and healthy options as a newly minted vegan, she founded www.veggieluvparadise.com. It has since become a passport of places, dishes, tips and recipes of things she loves.  Turns out, others like it too and she has quickly gained a following.  Click here to check out Natassia’s Instagram, a fun resource of awesome veggieness.

image (3)Noelle has a love for cooking, food, entertaining and style.  She became vegan November 1st, 2015 (World Vegan Day – talk about divinely guided!), and quickly noticed the difference in her weight, skin and life (she stopped needing deodorant and all the little bumps on the back of her arms disappeared – healing from the inside out, right?! 🙂 ).  Six months later, she decided to take her health a step further and do a total body cleanse.  This made her severe 17+ year gluten allergy “disappear” and her mom had her cataract and arthritis “disappear”.  To learn how she is helping others, please click here.

Chicago Vegan Tours FAQs

Who is this for?

  • Whether you’re vegan, pescatarian or carnivore, all dietary styles are welcome! These vegan dishes are selected to please all palettes
  • For those wanting to explore tasty and healthy options, ranging from sit down restaurants to fast casual
  • For the food tourist, looking for more than just hot dogs and deep dish pizza
  • For those looking to discover a new way to navigate menus, wherever you go out to eat
  • For those who love eating healthy and want to connect with others who share the same passion!

What to bring?

  • It’s a walking tour, so wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather! The tour will take place regardless of the elements, so bring an umbrella, coat, gloves, sunglasses or boots as needed. 
  • Money/Credit Cards for any additional purchases you wish to make at the stops.
  • Excitement and openness!  The tour is designed for a group of no more than 12 people, so all can connect and mingle with fellow food adventurers.
  • Your appetite! 😉

What are the specifics?

  • Each stop will include a tasting portion of the restaurants’ most popular (and tastiest!) dish(es).    
  • Tours occur on Saturdays/Sundays starting at 2pm.
  • A total tour duration of approximately 3 hours.
  • Tours will include a total walking distance of 3/4 of a mile.
  • Ticket price will cover all tastings.
  • Once you register, you will receive an email with the meeting location (by, at the very latest, the day before your tour).
  • Tour is limited to 12 guests.
  • Tour cost – $65

What if I have food allergies?

  • We will do our best to accommodate any food allergies, but we cannot guarantee options at every location.  Please contact us five days in advance with any allergies or specific needs.  

What if I need to cancel/reschedule?

  • Cancellation policy – we totally understand things come up – tours are non-refundable however feel free to email us if you’d like to reschedule.
  • Reschedule policy – we are more than happy to try and accommodate tour date changes. Please email us no later than two weeks before your tour to request a change.
  • Late policy – if you are running late, please email us as soon as possible. We will keep you updated, but the tour will start promptly at 2pm.

Recipe: Best Beet Burger Ever!

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I have to share this with you. In the recent months, I’ve been obsessing over beet burgers, thanks to Ground Control 😉 They make an awesome beet burger! And I have, for the absolute longest, been testing out ingredients, trying to put together a really, really great recipe… One that has the best of everything — healthy, tasty, hearty and more. This recipe has it all. Add a little red onion on top and you’re good to go! AND/OR, some melted Chao (yumm…), cilantro or avocado (to die for!). Hope that you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 large red beets (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (not cooked)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown rice crips cereal (rice crispy-like cereal)
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1/4 cup dates, chopped into small pieces.
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 flax egg
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook’n the beets – Heat the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in foil and roast for about 50 to 60 minutes (until fork tender). Set aside to cool.
  2. Cook’n the rice – Bring a 2-quart pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add rice. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until it’s a bit beyond al dente. About 35 to 40 minutes.
  3. Sauté’n the onions – Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a bit of salt. Cook until golden brown and charred around the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in cider vinegar. Continue to simmer until the cider has evaporated and the pan is nearly dry again. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Process’n the oats – oats in food processor until reduced to a fine flour. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
    veggieluvDrain and rinse one of the cans of beans -and transfer the beans to the food processor. Scatter the dates on top. Pulse in bursts until the beans are roughly chopped. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse the second can of beans and add the whole beans to the mixing bowl.
  5. Grate’n the roasted beets – Scrape the skins off the cooled roasted beets with the edge of a spoon. Grate the peeled beets on the largest holes of a grater. Transfer the beet gratings to a strainer set over sink. Press and squeeze the gratings to remove as much liquid as possible from the beets (or save juice for other fun recipe). Combine’n the veggie burger mix – Transfer the squeezed beets, cooked rice, and sautéed onions to the bowl with the beans. Sprinkle the olive oil, brown mustard, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, and thyme over the top of the mixture. Mix all the ingredients until combined. Taste the mixture and add salt, pepper to taste. Finally, add the oatmeal flour, cereal and flax egg and mix until you no longer see any dry oatmeal or flax egg.
  6. Refrigerate’n the burger mix for 2 hours, or up to 3 days – Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the mixture to a refrigerator container, and refrigerate. Best case burger scenario, let it sit in the frig overnight.
  7. Shape’n the burgers – When ready to cook the burgers, first shape them into burgers. Scoop up about a scant cup of the burger mixture and shape it between your palms into a thick patty the size of your hamburger buns. You should end up with about 6 large patties.
  8. Cook’n the burgers – Heat a skillet over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to completely coat the bottom of the pan.
    Cook the patties for 2 minutes on each side. Should see a nice crust. Then cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 4 more minutes until the patties are warmed through.

Take the ‘Veg of Allegiance’ with Top Chef Host, Padma Lakshmi!

When Padma Lakshmi isn’t hosting the super popular, Emmy award-winning cooking competition show, Bravo’s Top Chef, she is eating plant-based diet – for her health, the environment and her pocket. She has teamed up with the Morningstar Farms brand to promote the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. I support this entirely. It is a friendly way for anyone to incorporate a more balanced diet into their lives. So Pledge! – One meal, two meals, twenty-one meals a week. It’s up to you. Check out her interview [Video: Padma Lakshmi and Morningstar Farms Present the Pledge] and also the ‘Veg of Allegiance’ video below with more details on ‘The Pledge’!

padma

 

Chicago Restaurant Week 2015 – Vegan Style

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Chicago Restaurant Week is back! And boy, do plant-based foodies have options this year! And not just options at the vegetarian/vegan specific restaurants. A whooping 60+ restaurants for plant-based folks to enjoy (and restaurants with such culinary diversity)! How can I not get excited about this?! And don’t forget, when calling to make a reservation, mention your interest in the vegan option and ask what they’ll be serving too — since they are special prix fixe menus. 🙂 Check out the many, many choices with links below! Cheers to exploring what the great city of Chicago has to offer us plant lovers! 

  1. Adamus [American] Contemporary Loop Lunch | Dinner Menu
  2. aria [American] Loop Lunch | Dinner Menu
  3. ARTango Bistro [Latin] Lakeview Dinner Menu
  4. Benny’s Chop House  [Steakhouse] River North Lunch Menu
  5. Bistrot Zinc [French] Gold Coast Dinner Menu
  6. Blackbird Restaurant [American] West Loop Lunch Menu
  7. Bread & Wine [American Contemporary] Irving Park Dinner Menu
  8. The Bristol [American] Bucktown/Wicker Park Dinner Menu
  9. Cantina Laredo [Mexican] River North Lunch | Dinner Menu
  10. Chez Moi [French] Lincoln Park Dinner Menu
  11. Club Lago Restaurant [Italian] River North Lunch | Dinner Menu
  12. de cero – HELLO TACOS [Mexican] West Loop Lunch | Dinner Menu
  13. Demure Ethiopian Restaurant [African] Uptown Lunch | Dinner Menu
  14. Eataly [Italian] River North Lunch | Dinner Menu
  15. Embeya [Asian Fusion] West Loop Lunch | Dinner Menu
  16. Flight 112 [Wine Bar] West Suburbs Dinner Menu
  17. Formento’s [American] West Loop Dinner Menu
  18. Francesca’s Bryn Mawr [Italian Edgewater Lunch | Dinner Menu
  19. Francesca’s on Chestnut [Italian] Gold Coast Lunch | Dinner Menu
  20. Francesca’s on Taylor [Italian] Little Italy/University Village Lunch | Dinner Menu
  21. Gaylord India Restaurant [Indian] Magnificent Mile Lunch | Dinner Menu
  22. Geja’s Café [Fondue] Lincoln Park Dinner Menu
  23. Green Zebra [Vegetarian/Vegan] West Town Dinner Menu
  24. The Happ Inn [American] North Suburbs Lunch | Dinner Menu
  25. Homestead On The Roof [American Contemporary] West Town Dinner Menu
  26. The Indian Garden Restaurant [Indian] Streeterville Lunch | Dinner Menu
  27. IPO [American] Loop Dinner Menu
  28. Knife&Tine [American] Lincoln Park Lunch | Dinner Menu
  29. Las Tablas Colombian Steakhouse [Latin] Lakeview Lunch | Dinner Menu
  30. Le Colonial Restaurant [Vietnamese] Gold Coast Lunch | Dinner Menu
  31. Macello Ristorante [Italian] West Loop Lunch | Dinner Menu
  32. Mariano’s Bucktown [Eclectic] Bucktown/Wicker Park Lunch Menu
  33. Mariano’s Lakeshore East [Eclectic] Loop Lunch Menu
  34. Mariano’s Ravenswood [Eclectic] Lincoln Square/Ravenswood Lunch Menu
  35. Mariano’s South Loop [Eclectic] South Loop Lunch Menu
  36. Mariano’s West Loop] [Eclectic] West Loop Lunch Menu
  37. The Metropolitan Club [American] Contemporary Loop Dinner Menu
  38. Mia Francesca [Italian] Lakeview Lunch | Dinner Menu
  39. nana [Latin] Bridgeport Lunch | Dinner Menu
  40. Nia Mediterranean [Mediterranean] West Loop Lunch | Dinner Menu
  41. Oceanique Restaurant [Seafood] North Suburbs Dinner Menu
  42. Odyssey Cruises [American] Streeterville Dinner Menu
  43. Osteria La Madia [Italian] River North Lunch | Dinner Menu
  44. Parrot Cage Restaurant [American Contemporary] South Shore Dinner Menu
  45. PROSECCO [Italian] River North Lunch | Dinner Menu
  46. Red Door [GastroTavern/Pub] Bucktown/Wicker Park Dinner Menu
  47. Riccardo Trattoria [Italian] Lincoln Park Dinner Menu
  48. Roka Akor Steak & Sushi [Steakhouse] River North Lunch | Dinner Menu
  49. Saigon Sisters [Vietnamese] West Loop Dinner Menu
  50. Sam and Harry’s Steakhouse [Steakhouse] Northwest Suburbs Lunch | Dinner Menu
  51. Sapori Trattoria [Italian] Lincoln Park Dinner Menu
  52. Seasons 52 [American Contemporary] River North Lunch | Dinner Menu
  53. Shula’s Steak House [Steakhouse] Streeterville Dinner Menu
  54. The Signature Room at the 95th [American] Magnificent Mile Dinner Menu
  55. Tozi Korean BBQ Restaurant [Korean] Bucktown/Wicker Park Lunch | Dinner Menu
  56. Trenchermen [American] Contemporary Bucktown/Wicker Park Dinner Menu
  57. Unite Urban Grill [Steakhouse] West Town Dinner Menu
  58. Vermilion [Latin] River North Lunch | Dinner Menu
  59. Viand Bar & Kitchen [American] Streeterville Lunch | Dinner Menu
  60. Vie American [Contemporary] Southwest Suburbs Dinner Menu
  61. Vivere – Italian Village Restaurants, Inc. [Italian] Loop Lunch | Dinner Menu
  62. Vivo Restaurant [Italian] West Loop Lunch | Dinner Menu
  63. Whitney’s Café [American] South Suburbs Lunch | Dinner Menu
  64. The Winchester [American] Bucktown/Wicker Park Lunch | Dinner Menu
  65. Wood Restaurant [American] Contemporary Lakeview Dinner Menu
  66. Yoshi’s Cafe [Eclectic] Lakeview Dinner Menu

Bill Nye the Science Guy! And His ‘Eye’ on the Controversial Topic — GMO Foods

Bill Nye! Boy! Growing up, I remember how excited I was to watch his show every week. And he still exists! 😉 Now, with a different show — “Eyes of Nye” — educating young kids just as he has for 20 years! But the information on this video is not only relevant to the youngsters, it is relevant to everyone. He breaks down the GMO (genetically modified organisms) debate in his amazingly fun and thorough way! Check it out!

The Best Guide to Finding Fresh, Organic Produce (during the bitter cold, winter months…)

Organic
Hi All! Whether we like it or not, winter is in full-effect. 😉 I cannot believe that we find ourselves in December! December!! How fast does time fly?! Better yet, how fast did this year fly by?! We are just weeks away from 2015. Wowza! I recently ran across an excellent quote for December…this being the last month of the year… “You have one month to finish the book of 2014. Make the last chapter the best one yet.” Pretty powerful, right?! Let’s make December a great one!
In efforts to continue eating healthy and fresh (which can be pretty difficult when the cold weather hits us), as well as continuing a diet free of the ‘not-so-great’ pesticides, processed foods and GMOs, I discovered this really amazing link (Your Guide to Obtaining Fresh, Organic Produce in The Middle of Winter). Easy guide to finding produce in the winter (right now!) and it does not have to be expensive nor difficult. And not all fruits and veggies need to be organic — anyone know about the clean 15?? This guide is the best! Hope that you enjoy! 🙂

Recipe: The Optimum Breakfast Cookie

cookies6

It seems like I am forever on-the-go…primarily Monday-Friday. Getting out the door can be a bit of a chore, especially if making the extra effort to eat something nutritious. And as a mother of a 11 month old who is breastfeeding, consuming the adequate amount of vitamins and minerals is essential. These cookies definitely became my solution. I eat 2 every single morning. They have boosted my energy and I feel balanced and ready-to-go when I arrive at work. I’ve forgotten to throw them in my bag on a couple of occasions and was super bummed, as they’ve now become a huge part of my morning ritual. 🙂 Hope that you enjoy them as much as I do! Cheers!

cookies71

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 cups of regular oats, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups of brown rice flour (can substitute with oat flour for that extra boost)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 dashes of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of almond butter
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 3.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of cranberries
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup of coconut flakes
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a large bowl, add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg – MIX
  3. Add in maple syrup, almond milk, canola, vanilla – MIX
  4. Add walnuts, almond butter, oats, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes (stir batter after adding each individual ingredient)
  5. Take about 2 tbsp of dough, make a ball, and then flatten with fingers. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let sit on for 2 minutes before placing onto a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes.

Recipe: Vegan Hummingbird Cake

I absolutely love hummingbird cake. The banana, pineapple, cinnamon, walnuts…this is a delectable treat! I first fell in love after a visit to my favorite donut shop, Do-rite Donuts. Don’t let the inconspicuous location fool you…if you ask me, they have some of the best donuts in Chicago. And for us vegan folk, they have one vegan option every single day. Can’t beat that!

doritelogo

doriteselection

**always check the top left, the vegan option is there!

So, after my exposure to their mouthwatering, tasty, vegan hummingbird donut, the search was on! I wanted more! Had to take a crack at this recipe. So, I google’d “hummingbird cake” and found a few vegan cake options. Score! After a little bit of tweaking, I think that I’ve mastered this dessert. Thanks Do-rite! Hope that you enjoy!

Hummingbirdcake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 3 cups coconut flour (all-purpose flour is an option too)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 flax “eggs” (3 Tablespoons flaxseed meal + 9 Tablespoons warm water)
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil (canola oil is an option)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 – 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, do not drain
  • 4 bananas

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two – 9 x 2 inch round cake pans.
  2. Chop walnuts finely (as desired)
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon
  4. In a small bowl, mix the flaxseed meal and water and set aside for 3-5 minutes
  5. In another large bowl, mash bananas. Mix in the flax “eggs”, oil, vanilla extract, pineapple and chopped walnuts
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until combined
  7. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

2 Tbsp. “butter”, room temperature
8 ounces Tofutti cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

In the bowl, beat the “butter” and cream cheese, on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until smooth. Add the vanilla extract.

Assembly:

Place one cake, top side down, onto your platter. Spread with about a third of the frosting. Gently place the other cake layer, top of cake facing up, onto the frosting, and spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate cake for a hour for frosting to set.

courtesy of and adapted by  — www.singerskitchen.com

Enjoy!