Chet and I have traveled quite a bit over the past year. Of course there are the dinners at Culinary Dropout in Scottsdale, Arizona that do not make the “healthy” list, but overall, we have done a much better job of choosing our indulgences wisely and making better choices while on the road. Last summer we visited both Toronto and Chicago. I had learned about two healthy options that were on my “travel bucket list.” Mind you, Kuma’s Corner is also on the Chicago bucket list, so don’t think that the list is all healthy! I am not that virtuous. I was so happy with both of these stops that I will visit them next time we travel too. The FRESH cookbooks are also on my wish list!
In June, we visited Toronto with friends. It is a good midpoint between Michigan and the Finger Lakes and we made plans to meet our friends Shay and Ben there with Michigan friends, Carrie, Jason, Sheryl and Mike. It was a great weekend! Chet and I went a day earlier than the rest of the Michigan cohort and I got to visit Fresh, a restaurant that I have drooled over on the blog Oh She Glows multiple times. Chet discovered that he likes quinoa. Well, he likes PUFFED quinoa as a breading for something fried, but it is a step.
We had the Quinoa Onion Rings with Avocado-Chipotle dipping sauce. These were fabulous! The onion rings are made from scratch with breadcrumbs and puffed quinoa. We bought some puffed quinoa after this visit and I TRIED to bread something with it. It was less than successful to say the least! FRESH has several cookbooks out and they are all on my wish list. I think I will order whichever one has the recipe for the onion rings in it first! Even though this was fried, the fact that Chet ate quinoa willingly and liked it was HUGE. Many of my friends will agree with this!
Chet was on a smoothie and juicing kick at that time, so he opted to order a smoothie instead of an entree of lunch. I can’t remember which smoothie he ordered, but it looked delicious and he sipped it while I had one of the best meatless meals I have ever had.
I ordered the Tangled Thai Salad with “Fresh Salad Topper” (puffed quinoa, goji berries, currants, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds and sea salt) and Crispy Tofu Cubes. This salad included shredded carrot and yellow beets, jicama, napa cabbage, chopped peanuts, cilantro, cucumber and peanut lime dressing. It. was. un. believably. de. licious. I spent the rest of the weekend in Toronto searching for a reasonably priced spiral vegetable slicer! I am still in the market for one if you have any recommendations. Just for the record, I am an omnivore. I enjoy meat but only buy it from known sources, avoid CAFOs and buy sustainable seafood. The cost and logistics of doing this have made me enjoy meatless meals more and more. I love this and have welcomed the change in my diet. I see myself eating less animal protein in the future, but don’t see myself becoming a vegetarian or a vegan. (sorry, Mare but keep trying!) This salad could make me rethink that statement, but for now, I stand by it!
I loved FRESH. I loved the convenience, there are several locations in Toronto. I loved the atmosphere. It was clean and fun and busy. If I lived and worked in Toronto, I could see myself eating there often. FRESH has several cookbooks. I will own them!
In July, we visited Chicago. Chet’s nephew visited us from Pennsylvania and we took him to Chicago for a weekend. We had a great time. We visited Evanston and saw my nephew Paul, went to the Lego Store and the American Girl Store. Cody is still recovering from us making him go to the American Girl Store! We went to a Cub’s game. One of the highlights of our weekend (for me at least) was a trip to The Protein Bar. I had found out about this chain online and was eager to check it out. I have to say that Uncle Chet and Cody were NOT as excited as me about this little gem. Cody had a brownie (at least it was a high protein brownie) and Chet once again opted for a smoothie. I had the Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bowl and loved every minute of it! I took the leftovers to our hotel room and ate it the next day. It was just as good cold (or maybe even better?) the next day. Again, it was so nice to find a healthy and convenient choice in Chicago. It wasn’t far from our hotel either!
Everything was delicious
Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bowl.
I may need to recreate the bowl. It had warm quinoa, shredded carrots, celery, blue cheese, chicken, scallions and LOTS of hot sauce! I will use Frank’s Red Hot when I try to make it.
2012 was a good year with some very good travels. We are getting better at finding these healthy places to pick up a quick meal and before we venture out again, I will hit google and my RSS feed full of foodblogs to find more. If you ever find yourself in Toronto, please check out Fresh and in Chicago, please check out The Protein Bar. You won’t regret it!