Pomegranate power

With changing seasons comes changing flavors. That means seasonal fruit and veggies that taste amazingly fresh and can be enjoyed at their peak flavor. Today I am highlighting the pomegranate, which are extra special this time of year, at least in NY! This beautiful fruit, with its deep purple-red color, is packed full of nutrients. At first glance, you may wonder how exactly this fruit can be enjoyed. When it’s cut open in half, the fruit reveals bead-like red seeds known as “arils” and this is where much of the flavor is revealed! The arils contain tiny, edible seeds in their center, while the outside is packed with a sweet, tangy juice that bursts with each bite. How can I better describe this? Eating a spoonful of these pomegranate seeds is a little similar to eating gushers (remember those!?), except smaller and a little crunchier from the seeds. I find it so satisfying to eat the arils this way straight from a bowl because of the crunchy juiciness!

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These seeds can be topped onto salads, oatmeal, and I was just thinking chocolate ice cream would be fantastic too! The pomegranate can also be juiced, although I have not tried this method yet, but I know it would be delicious. If you are lucky to find it, some farmers markets and grocery stores will have the pomegranate seeds already pre-packaged and ready to buy and enjoy (as pictured above). That’s how I typically buy them and all the work is done for you! Grab a spoon, take a bite, and thank me later!

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Pomegranates contain vitamins C and K, folate (a B-vitamin), is an excellent source of fiber, and polyphenols. All excellent things for our health! Eventually I would like to break down what these amazing vitamins and nutrients do for our bodies, but that will be for a separate post. If you haven’t tried pomegranates yet, definitely give them a go! I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to pomegranates. Enjoy!=]

What I ate in Chicago

I just recently came back from a fantastic trip in Chicago. It was my first time there, so obviously I had to try some deep dish pizza! I tried two different places while there and definitely favored one over the other. Here is everything I ate while in Chicago!

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The most delicious Thai iced tea to go with my Thai food dinner on my first night in Chicago

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NOMZ

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A quick breakfast before a full day of walking in Downtown Chicago

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A cocktail with this view? Yes, please!

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This is me being “healthy”, balancing out my day before a night of delicious pizza!

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Deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s, this pizza is called The Malnati Chicago Classic

So Lou Malnati’s was my first deep dish pizza stop! Something I learned about Chicago is that it’s all about the crust. My pizza (pictured above) was a butter crust, complete with sausage, sauce, and plenty of cheese. The butter crust was both soft and crispy and did not disappoint! It wasn’t until I tried the second pizza place that I realized that the crust can be prepared differently (more on that below). My pizza was a “personal pizza” size. There was also a small, medium, and large option. The personal pizza size is made to be enough for one, the small for two, and so on. I have to be honest though and say that after eating my pizza, I was still hungry! I finished it, and immediately wished I had ordered the “small”. I had been walking for hours all day throughout the city and was REALLY ready for this meal when I arrived at the restaurant! I left happy, but still a little hungry and made sure to remember to be more aware of the pizza size options at the restaurant I tried the next day.

Fast forward to the next day, I was excited to try Gino’s East. I opted to have an appetizer while waiting for my pizza since it takes about 45 minutes to an hour for deep dish pizza to be prepared, not matter where you go.

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Crispy, caramelized Brussels sprouts

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Deep dish pizza a la Gino’s East and my personal fave. This pizza is called the Gino’s Supreme. THE REAL DEAL RIGHT HERE

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Cheesy, saucy goodness!

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Gino’s East really hit it out of the ballpark for me! The crust is made from a corn meal crust, something my server told me about. I was intrigued by this as I had never heard of anything like it, but let me just say, this was one of the best pizzas I had ever eaten! The corn meal crust was flaky, cooked to perfection, and complemented so well with the rest of the pizza! My pizza had pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. Also, the sauce is put on top of the pizza, so the cheese doesn’t burn! The cheese was melted perfectly under the sauce and the sauce itself was delicious. Every bite was better than the last. I was a happy camper.As you can see from the above picture, the pizza was more than enough for me! It was a size small, as there was only small, medium, and large on the menu. No personal pizza size. It was way bigger than the previous night’s personal pizza. The perfect amount for this hungry girl. Still, I definitely couldn’t eat the whole thing and thought to myself that I would have probably been able to eat the entire thing the night before!

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Pizza, you have defeated me!

All in all, an amazing deep dish pizza experience. I’m happy that I got to experience two different styles of deep dish pizza since I had no idea what I was getting myself into from the start! I hope you enjoyed the photos! To finish off, below is my final meal I had in Chicago the next day before heading off to the airport to go back to New York.

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Banana Nutella Crepe

Chicago, thanks for a good time!=]

Enjoy this, not that

Here are a couple of switches I make in the “sweets department” when it comes to making better choices. I definitely prefer sweets over salty, so if I can switch out a particular item for something better and still enjoy it, I’m all in. I’ll explain a little after I show you each sweet.

ENJOY THIS

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NOT THAT

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I love gummies! Gummy bears, gummy worms, sour patch watermelons. Yum! I can easily eat that entire bag of gummy bears. However, at 140 calories/serving and 18g of sugar/serving (there are 3.5 servings in this small bag of bears), that’s well over 60g of sugar! That is WAY more added sugar than anyone needs. When I tried the Trader Joe’s Scandinavian Swimmers, I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious they were AND at the ingredients list. These guys are soft, chewy gummy candies in sea life shapes that taste even better than the gummy bears. They are definitely more chewy than a typical gummy, but not sticky. The best part? The ingredients have way less junk! Fruit and vegetable extracts are used for the coloring, such as carrot, pumpkin, and black currant, as well as spirulina. The sugar content is pretty high up there still (at 27g/serving, more than the bears). However, there are 9 servings in each bag, the gummies are larger in size, and I feel more satisfied with a handful of these rather than the tiny gummy bears. It’s perfect when I’m craving candy, but don’t want to feel too guilty over. I’m really happy I discovered these!

ENJOY THIS 

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NOT THAT

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I’m not going to lie, I still use Aunt Jemima from time to time when eating pancakes or waffles. When I’m being mindful of what I’m eating though, I will reach for the 100% pure maple syrup. The interesting part is that both of these items have nearly the same nutritional information. Actually, the pure maple syrup has more grams of sugar per serving!

The difference lies in what is actually being put inside our bodies. On the back of the Aunt Jemima syrup bottle, there are 10 ingredients listed. Among them is high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, and preservatives (ingredients added to make the shelf life of the item longer). The pure maple syrup has no ingredient list, because it is simply pure maple syrup! That’s it! Nothing added, nothing taken away. It is what it is. So although these are both sugary food items that make our breakfast taste delicious, one has naturally occurring sugars while the other has a whole list of things added to make it sweet. I eat the pure maple syrup knowing that I’m eating something in its natural state and I feel satisfied with that.

Those are a couple of switches I do to maintain a more balanced lifestyle. Hope you enjoyed and feel free to share your switches too! xoxo Vanessa