Thank you all so much for the mommy love yesterday. She really is something, huh? And don’t forget to celebrate your own moms, particularly those that run/stay fit, with my Mother’s Day Running Mom Gift Giveaway!
This past week, I got the chance to try some really great healthy eating options (and to share them with one of my favorite people, Erin and then both her and Erica!) Healthy eating during the workday and then finding a way to indulge just the right amount at night (or otherwise, lol) can be really difficult in today’s world, regardless of your occupation. This is made even more difficult when you add, oh, I don’t know, the stipulation that food have flavor as well as nutrition, that it be for a halfway decent price, and that it not be prepackaged and rote. And if you have other dietary restrictions? Good luck.
I’ve spoken on the topic before. I’ll spare you more of this. Today, I wanted to introduce you to two new healthy eating options, one for lunch (in Chicago) and one for dessert (anywhere!). And, even better, both of these purveyors offer gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and vegetarian options!
Fresha Place is a new lunch restaurant that opened recently in the downtown Loop Chicago. Though previously a larger lunch and dinner joint in Geneva, the owners relocated to loop for a different pace of life and change of scenery. They have pared down the menu and are concentrating on delivering healthy, flavorful, and housemade dishes to the hungry office crowds! Homemade sauces, locally sourced ingredients, and fun flavors in a selection of wraps, salads, quinoa bowls, and flatbreads, all under 550 calories.
What I got:
I wanted to try a few things, so I got the Island BBQ Flatbread (Chicken, bacon, pineapple, cheddar cheese, bbq sauce on thing flatbread crust) and the sweet and spicy chicken salad bowl (dressing on side). The side salad (that comes with the flatbread and that I totally forgot was coming, haha) came with the cilantro lime vinaigrette, which I loved.
The pizza was a combo of a bbq chicken and a Hawaiian pizza, and I loved it! Similar size to a personal California Pizza Kitchen pizza, and deeeelicious. Flavors were well balanced–salty, sweet, savory–and the crust wasn’t as thin as many might expect–much more of a flatbread thickness, but with a really great crust. LOVED it.
The Sweet and Spicy Chicken Salad was a LEGIT size. Fresh lettuce, really delicious chicken–I was very surprised!–mung beans, carrots, edamame, and wontons. Not a difficult salad, as it were, but I loved how fresh everything tasted. There was none of that greasy or been-sitting-all-day taste about it. And again, the portions were substantial.
Erin got the Baja Chicken Quinoa bowl, and we were both surprised and pleased that it also included some lettuce in it as well–some nice crispy and crunch in there! Another substantial portion, no disappointments there!
What I Liked:
- The fact that just about everything could be made gluten free or vegetarian (I am assuming with chickpeas).
- The fact that it didn’t taste like something that had been plopped out of a bag/freezer/jar and served to you. The ingredients were straightforward but seasoned, flavored (and balanced), and fresh. The dressing were fantastic–I especially liked the cilantro dressing (it wasn’t super cilantro-y, but just was fresh and delightful).
- No grease or film (you know what I am talking about).
- The food wasn’t over complicated and were perfect for lunch. Healthy, fresh, and bold in the right places.
- 5 different types of hot sauces for you to add, lol.
My Suggestions for their growth:
- They need to have some sides options for purchase beyond the chips (healthier choices than most), fruit, and Skinny Cow clusters. The flatbreads come with a lovely little salad that would be the perfect accompaniment to the wraps. A soup option would also be great! We were also brainstorming things like baked sweet potato fries or tabouli or the like.
- Other protein options that chicken and chickpeas (I know that they are working on this).
- A few more flavor options/combos. Just some general menu expansion.
A great fast casual restaurant that would be perfect for a healthy lunch or catering place. I’m excited to see how they grow! And that flatbread is definitely something to return for!
Daiya Cheezecake Launch
All of Daiya Food’s products are dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free, and are some of the best melting faux cheeses on the market. I was first introduced to Daiya via Whole Food’s hot bar pizzas in NYC–I will never forget how surprised I was by the actual pull-apartyness of the cheese! We know that I’m not a big cheese person in general, but if you are going to go cheese, it better have legs and stretch (melty cheese is pretty darn amazing, amIright?). Daiya has recently released its first dessert product line, and where better to start than with the ultimate decadent dairy- and gluten-filled dessert: Cheesecake!
Along with being not a huge cheese person, I am not a huge cheesecake person. But Daiya might have converted me! Maybe I’m not a regular cheesecake person, like I don’t care for cow’s milk, or white bread. Who knows. All I know is that I was totally digging these Daiya Cheezecakes!
I loved the set up of the party: there was a caricature artist, passed apps (also by Daiya and feature their other products), drink pairings, and even an instagram frame and photobooth. The Daiya folks kept it light and celebratory and just fun–eat, drink, be merry!
Each station had its own display and a coordinating beverage or toppings. Here is what we sampled!
All are dairy/gluten/soy free and . The cheezecakes come frozen, and then you thaw them. Serving sizes are 1/4 of the round, and they are rich and flavorful enough that such a size would be sufficient. The crust is fantastic–you would never know that they were gluten free! All but the chocolate flavor have graham cracker crust, the chocolate has a chocolate crust. The texture of the cheezecake body itself is light, fluffy, and silky smooth. I liked that they tasted a little lighter, more whipped, and less HEAVY than the standard cheesecakes.
Strawberry Cheezecake (with rose sparkling wine or prosecco with a raspberry)
I was a little apprehensive about this as you never know how cloying sweet a strawberry cream dessert will be. But it was delightful. Like a strawberry mousse yogurt with a little tang to it, tempered by the graham. Would be perfect with cocoa nibs!
New York Cheezecake (with candy and fruit toppings!)
This was the one that I assumed I would like the least, but I actually was COMPLETELY wrong! I thought it was fantastic with all of the toppings. I loved the texture and flavor even more than a traditional cheesecake–just enough without going overboard, but right on point with the flavor.
Chocolate Cheezecake (with Pinot Noir)
OOOOOH. Think chocolate mousse with a chocolate graham crust. A little went a long way, but I wanted to lick the darn plate. This would be amazing with something to balance out the chocolateyness–like raspberries or strawberries, or a touch of cayenne!. Or more wine.
Key Lime Cheezecake (with Pellegrino)
We saved this one for last, and this was the one that I was most excited about. I LOVE Key Lime Pie. LOVE it. But I never have it because of, well, #Crohns. Gimme. If you are GF and or dairy free but love key lime pie–> YOU NEED THIS. Didn’t disappoint at all.
The new Daiya Cheezecakes are in the freezer aisle at Whole Foods right now, so check them out! Oh, and I might be including some coupons in my giveaway…..
Do you like cheesecake? Which flavor looks best to you?
What would suggest that Fresha add to the menu? What is your favorite vegetarian protein substitute?