When in Chicago... Eat!
June is already half-way over… Isn’t that insane? Blows my mind. Summer is fleeting and it has just started! That’s always the case though. We fill our summers with good times with good people, making it pass in the blink of an eye.This past weekend, Justin and I visited his sister, Courtney, and we celebrated her 30th birthday! We had such a great time! We shared many gut-busting laughs, introspective conversations, serious dance moves, and, most importantly, we shared some darn good food.
We left work early Thursday afternoon and were on the road by 4 pm. We made it to Chicago just in time for an Ethiopian family style dinner at Demera Ethiopian Restaurant. I had never tried Ethiopian food before this night, but I am so glad I was able to try it. It was so good. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.If you haven’t had Ethiopian before, its super flavorful and it's definitely an experience. A traditional Ethiopian meal involves spicy (not like hot spicy) meats and veggies on a huge platter. Ethiopian allows you to get a little messy because you don’t use utensils. Instead, you use this crepe-like bread called Injera as the vehicle to get the food into your mouth. It’s such a fun and unique experience, but most importantly it is freakin delish. If you haven’t tried an Ethiopian meal, 10/10 recommend.
Friday for lunch, we decided to try a little place called Eataly. Eataly is an Italian market that sells all sorts of delicious provisions, wines, tasty treats and more. Just to clarify, Eataly is not a ‘little place’. It is a very large, two-story Italian market that not only sells food, but serves food. There are 9 restaurants within Eataly, and they serve tradition Italian meals, snacks, and desserts.Roaming the isles of Eataly was like roaming the isles of heaven, and I was a kid in a candy store! It was so fun browsing through and array of cheeses, meats, wines, produce, chocolate, pasta, the list goes on. After exploring all of our food options, we sat right in the middle of the market, in the restaurant called La Piazza.The menu was perfect for our group of five. It had a plethora of charcuterie, cheeses, and pizza choices, perfect for sharing. So we ordered a large charcuterie board, obviously, burrata, and the Tricolore Chicaghese pizza. OH MAH GAH, it was so freaking good. Just amazing. We got 8 different meats and cheese, the creamiest burrata, and seriously delish pizza. I was in heaven. To top it all off, we got a bottle of Rose and tiramisu gelato for dessert. Can you say YUM! If you are in Chicago, I definitely recommend that you find your way to Eataly.After drinks at a beach bar, we headed back to get ready for dinner and a night out! We headed to a cool gastropub called Billy Sunday. It was a great meal will great drinks. It was a small plates joint, so we got a bunch of plates to pass, including the Duck Rillette, Roasted Asparagus, and Tartare Oscar. For dessert, it was the Strawberry Rhubarb Butter Cake. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. After dinner we headed off to party hardy at Matilda-Baby Atlas, which was an awesome bar with some, ehem, awesome decor.
Saturday was beach day. We grabbed hotdogs for breakfast at the local hotdog joint and headed to the beach! After the beach, we headed to Trader Joe's, grabbed ingredients for stuffed portabello mushrooms, and headed back for cheese, salami, old fashioneds, and good ol' euchre. Courtney and I whipped up some dinner while the guys grilled some steak (cause why not) and it was such a great night!Sunday morning, we hit the road for Detroit. It was a long day, but we made it safe and sound. We had an excellent time overall and I can't wait to go back for our next adventure!
Turning a corner
While I was in Chicago, I was no holds barred. I had no rules for eating other than eat what I want. It was so amazing and freeing. And honestly, I didn't even eat any bad food, just food that I don't normally eat on a regular basis. All of the food I had was high quality food, so I felt pretty good the whole weekend.Flashback to two years ago, I would have felt so guilty for eating anything off plan, which was anything flavorful and yummy, to be honest. It sucked. I was unhappy when I was on plan, and I was unhappy when I was off plan. It was no way to live! You can read more about this part of my journey here.I was also an all or nothing kinda gal two years ago. If I got off plan, I got way off plan and it was really hard to get back on. A weekend in Chicago meant bingeing on deep dish pizza and lots of JUNK. Coming back from that, I would continue the binge, because I was already in to deep.But this time around was different. I ate foods that I don't normally eat, but I didn't gorge myself in deep dish. I indulged in some tiramisu gelato and strawberry rhubarb butter cake, but I didn't scarf it down and go for seconds. I was able to enjoy any food I wanted, without over-eating. I had no restrictions, but was still able to forgo foods that I didn't really want. I was fully practicing my food freedom and that's exactly what it was. Freedom.Coming back from this trip, I had no doubt that I could get back on track with paleo-ish, nutrient dense lifestyle. I feel so at peace with myself and am so proud for allowing myself to enjoy my time in Chicago and not worry about every damn bite I put in my mouth. I have reached the point in my journey where eating a diet full of whole, nutrient dense, delicious foods is so easy for me. I can stray from the path knowing that I will always end up where I need to be, which is a place of health and happiness.I hope that you find that place in your journey, because trusting yourself and your body is an amazing thing. My wish for you is that it brings you the joy it brings me!