As the year winds down (2018, where the heck did you go?), it’s only natural that we start to think about new beginnings too. And sure, you could wait until January 1 to think about your big goals — but starting a little earlier gives you all the time you need to visualize what you want to create for yourself and nail down the strategies you’ll take to get there. Ready to formalize your big, scary aspirations for 2019? Here’s a handy DIY guide to smart goal setting!

This guest post is adapted from one that was originally featured on aSweatLife.com.

Smart goal setting 101: open your notebook.

Yes, we’re going old school pen-and-paper for this smart goal setting session. We’re big fans of the tactile and visual elements of this exercise. The way you set up your paper gives you freedom within a clear structure to write out your thoughts in a concise way.

A DIY guide to smart goal setting with aSweatLife

Photo courtesy of aSweatLife

Do this:

  • Draw a line down the middle of the paper and write “vision” on the left and “goals” on the right.
  • Underneath the goals side of the page, divide it into three sections – they’ll be for your one-year, five-year and ten-year goals.
  • Finally, under each yearly increment, write down “career,” “personal,” and “health.” You’ll eventually come up with a goal categorized underneath each of these umbrellas.

Start with a vision.

Close your eyes and imagine your ideal day ten years from now. Like, the absolute best day ever, where everything goes perfectly and you’re able to do all your favorite activities — regardless of schedules, transportation, and hours in a day.

There is no right or wrong way to create a ten-year vision. It might be a stream of consciousness, words that provoke feeling, song lyrics that describe how you feel or a full walk-through of your day from start to finish. The more specific, the better. Go through your ideal day, and do it more than once to pick up on more nuances each time that you can use for better specificity.

Do this:

  • Close your eyes, picture your perfect day in 10 years and get creative as you write it down.
  • This process will set you up for the “goals” side of your paper in the right column. After envisioning a perfect day ten years from now, ask yourself, “How do I get there?”.

Formalize a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.

The BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is a goal so big that you aren’t sure if you can even attain it.

During this time, let go of any constraining thought processes. For example, don’t limit yourself to thinking that your goal has to be work-related or that it has to be 100 percent attainable. This goal doesn’t have to work right off the bat — in fact, not having it work is a part of the process, as is going back to the drawing board and re-evaluating your thinking after the next few steps.

Do this:

  • Write down your BHAGs underneath the ten-year goal section. You might have one or two (but no more than two) goals for each category – career, personal and health. It might scare you to write them down, but do it anyway.
  • Give it an exact date. The idea is to go big and take yourself seriously about it at the same time.
  • Write in the present tense, i.e. “In ten years, I am living in Colorado as a ski instructor for Aspen Snowmass.”

Work backwards from your BHAG.

By slowly taking steps back, you’ll have career, personal and health goals for a specific date in 2019 looking you in the face. These set you up with actionable goals to work towards versus ambiguous New Year’s resolutions like “I’m going to eat healthier foods this year.” This specific way of goal setting brings purpose and sense to those well thought-out sentences.

Do this:

  • Take a step back now and ask, “What’s a mid-level step to get to that goal?”
  • Still think as specifically as possible to create your five-year goals with another end date on them in 2024.
  • Finally, ask “What needs to happen in the next 365 days to make that five-year goal happen?”

Related: breaking your big goals down into smaller goals should help to prevent burnout, but what if it happens? Here are some easy tips for getting back to your baseline and recovering from burnout. 

The best (and worst) part?

These goals are meant to be displayed where others can see them – and can hold you accountable.

Here’s the cool part – the part that’s hard for a lot of us to wrap our heads around. If your goals change, that’s fine. Decide to shift your focus? Cool. Your vision changes drastically? No problem. Update your goal plan accordingly and re-post. Just because you write it down doesn’t mean you’ve signed your life away. You’ve just given yourself some daily direction to cut through the clutter and go after what you want.

Do this:

  • Put your vision and goals up somewhere and be proud to look at them daily.
  • Let others see your goals too! They’ll be able to encourage you, ask for updates, and hold you accountable.
  • If your vision or your goals change, update your goals on the display, and re-evaluate your next steps.

Now what?

The question isn’t whether or not you can do it — you’ve just practiced smart goal setting and created a space where you can do it. Your big, hairy, audacious goal shouldn’t feel quite so scary anymore. Share your goals with your friends and family so they hold you accountable in the coming year, and talk excitedly about your goals (and the mini-goals you have to tackle first) to anyone who asks you about New Year’s resolutions. You’re on your way to doing something amazing, something exciting, something that 99 percent of people won’t be brave enough to go after — shout that from the rooftops and go crush that goal.

Post written by FFC contributor, aSweatLife.

Want to learn more about aSweatLife? Head to aSweatLife.com for tips, tricks & more health/wellness content!

Believe it or not, swimsuit season is just around the corner! But don’t let that deter you from soaking up all the warmer months have to offer – it just comes down to moderation. There are choices you can make in any social situation so you can indulge responsibly and enjoy upcoming social gatherings like weddings, picnics and parties without overdoing it or feeling left out.

Bringing the treats? You can control what options are available. I’ve created a list of the 4 best Lakeview bakeries that include some “not so bad” options for when you need balance, and “bad” options because hey, if you’re going to treat yourself, you may as well do it right!

Vanille Patisserie

Photo courtesy of Vanille Patisserie.

Vanille is a classic French patisserie with an astounding selection of pastries, cookies and desserts perfect for the holidays or your next special occasion. They have several individual pastries too, so you don’t have to worry about leftovers; just get exactly how many servings you need.

When it comes to a special occasion, though, if you are going to be bad… do it well. The Royal (pictured here) is a delightfully sinful chocolate mousse on top of a crisp caramel streusel base with a layer of hazelnut dacquoise. If you want just a little sweet decadence but don’t want to wreck your nutrition for the day, try one of their 15 seasonal flavors of macarons. One macaron has under 120 calories on average.

Bittersweet Pastry Shop

Bittersweet is a European bakery AND cafe so you can get sinful pastries (like one of their amazing layered cakes) etc, but you can also get a healthy lunch of fresh salad, sandwiches and soups full of hearty vegetables that are updated weekly so all items are at the peak of freshness. The Turkey Reuben is a popular choice on fresh marbled rye – leaner than a traditional reuben that would have the added fat of corned beef.

Related: in the area? Check out these healthy lunch spots in Boystown while you’re up this way!

Dinkle’s Bakery

Dinkle's Stollen Best Bakeries in Chicago

Photo courtesy of Dinkle’s Bakery.

Like Bittersweet, Dinkel’s Bakery is one of the best bakeries (of the German variety) that also has a cafe. Indulge in a little history lesson by trying their famous stollen. The delicious flavor starts with a pure, hand-shaped butter dough, which surrounds a buttercream filling, almonds, cashews and fruit soaked overnight in rum and brandy. It is then glazed in melted butter and lightly dusted with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. The recipe is from the 1800’s but they perfected it in the 20’s right here in Chicago and serve it all year round.

Need something a little more sustainable? Head to Dinkel’s for a healthy breakfast – choose a dish like the Veggie Baker’s Sunrise, which includes cage-free eggs, sharp white cheddar, avocado, spinach and pesto all on root bread.

 

La Boulangerie

Last, but not least, is La Boulangerie, another bakery AND cafe (French bakery, that is). They have some of the best tarts around — another great item to bring to a festive brunch or dinner. The Chocolate Passion Fruit Caramel Tart is an absolutely sinful indulgence – if you’re going to give into temptation, make sure it’s worth it! (It is.)

They also have the less guilt-inducing option of 8+ flavors of macarons (always a good choice when being bad but trying to stay good). Their savory crepes are one of the best things you can grab for lunch or breakfast. Since La Boulangerie has a traveling food truck, you can actually get these fresh meals on the go all over the city! The website updates the locations on a regular basis, – check if they will be in your area.

Have a favorite or see one we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Post written by FFC East Lakeview Membership Director Julia Groves.

 

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When it comes to eating lunch in Chicago, there is NO shortage of options. Trust us. But like the saying goes, moderation is key – we can’t always be indulging.

On the flipside, though, we know it can sometimes be tough to eat nutritiously, but also feel full. Being physically and mentally satiated starts with the types of food we put into our bodies.

We’ve rounded up the 3 best healthy AND delicious lunch spots in Boystown that offer well-priced options with fantastic service that will appeal to a wide audience. Check them out and let us know how you like them!

11 Degree North – 824 W. Belmont Ave

Not only is 11 Degree North perfect for your morning pick-me-up, this café has several different grab and go or sit and eat options to excite your taste buds ranging from gluten-free flat bread “arepas” and biscuits and bagels stuffed with all types of protein-rich options to sandwiches and smoothies.

My personal favorite? The Caribbean Chicken Sandwich – it comes with grilled chicken, cheese, bacon, pineapple and avocado served on a pretzel bun. Okay, so it might not be the healthiest option, but it’ll be sure to brighten things up on a cold, windy Chicago afternoon!

Related: the best weekend brunch spots in Lakeview.

Azteca Grill – 847 W. Belmont Ave

This is your one-stop shop for all your taco and burrito needs. (And late-night snacks!) The menu offers a wide selection that is sure to please almost any palate. The Azteca De Oro is my go-to order; this burrito comes with a choice of ground beef, chicken, pork “pastor”, pork carnitas or fajita veggies, rice, black beans, cheddar-jack cheese, guacamole, sour cream and Pico de Gallo. The protein-heavy yet light fillings will keep you energized all day long!

Chicago Diner – 3411 N. Halsted St.

Think “old-school” diner but with a “new-school” menu. Opened in 1983, the Chicago Diner specializes in creative vegetarian and vegan options that are sure to take you outside your comfort zone. Like we said, though, balance is key – go for the healthy options but stay for the dessert! Their pies and cakes are sure to impress.

Post written by FFC membership representative Kyle Souther-Bruno.

About Kyle

Kyle Souther-Bruno at FFC ChicagoKyle recently moved up to Chicago from Austin, Texas. He joins the FFC Boystown team with a background in digital marketing, VIP event planning and was a VIP event planning consultant for four years before his current position with FFC! To set up a complimentary VIP member experience at FFC, email Kyle at ksoutherbruno@ffc.com!

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One hour of torture or 35 minutes of effective work? When it comes to working out, slogging it out on the treadmill is not my idea of a great workout. As a professional soccer player, I do enough running as it is. I personally never recommend running as cardio unless you genuinely enjoy it.

However, lifting weights is imperative! Lifting actually keeps your metabolism running all day and night, hence burning more calories. Burning calories when you’re not even working out? Uh, YES! I promise it is not as hard as you think.

Think big muscle groups, then small muscle groups. Most women tell me lifting will make them too buff. Come on now, don’t be afraid of a little muscle definition! Here’s how to do it right.

Every person can define their version of sexy through the different areas of the gym. My kind of sexy starts with upper body lifting, then lower body lifting on a different day. You don’t want to do too much and get so sore you don’t want to come back to the gym.

Related: why weight training is more effective for fat loss.

Work Smart, Not Hard

Make sure you have a plan when heading to the gym so you can use your time most efficiently. One of my preferred upper body workouts consists of flat presses (working chest muscles), single hand rows (working the back), weighted curls (working the biceps) and bench dips to work the triceps. It really is that simple. I also pay a lot of attention to my abs (I have a personal “ab artist” I work with) to get summer ready!

The Secret Sauce

Once you finish your upper body lift, slip into the sauna (following gym protocol for sauna usage) for 5 minutes and kick start that metabolism, sweat out those toxins and clear your skin for the week! I live by the benefits of sauna treatments!

Post written by FFC Contributor Samantha Johnson.

Samantha Johnson Chicago Red Stars Professional Soccer Player

 

About Samantha

Samantha Johnson is a professional athlete who currently places for the Chicago Red Stars National Women’s Soccer League team as a defender. You can follow along with her on social media on Instagram and Twitter or on her website. You can also follow along with the Chicago Red Stars on InstagramFacebook & Twitter!

Photo courtesy of Samantha Johnson via Instagram.

 

 

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Sunlight, fresh air, the city skyline – an outdoor workout sounds kind of like a vacation, doesn’t it? We promise your indoor spin bike won’t get offended if you ditch the gym and head outdoors during your next workout.

Check out these reasons to feel the breeze on your face and get outside!

Bonus: looking for an opportunity to do so? Check out Windy City Sweatout – an annual 90-minute spin class appropriate for all fitness levels featuring high-energy instructors from FFC, heart-pumping music (plus hits from Windy City Smokeout’s featured artists), and an AMAZING cause to fund ALS spearheaded by Augie’s Quest. Stay tuned for more information on dates!

Improved Mood

Feeling blue? Go green! Just five minutes of exercise in a “green space” like a park can boost mood and self-esteem, according to UK researchers. Bonus: Go blue, too! The biggest mental health booster was found when the “green space” contained a lake or a river.

Related: speaking of mood – nutrition can help you regulate it. Check out these tips!

Natural Caffeine 

Swap your morning cup of joe for a sunny sweat session. A study from the University of Rochester found that just 20 minutes outside can have the same pick-me-up effect as a cup of coffee. Put that $4 toward a new pair of running shoes!

A Free Dose of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for bone health, cancer prevention, hormonal problems and a strong immune system. Now get this – exercising in the great outdoors is an easy way to get your Vitamin D … for free. Experts suggest 10 minutes of unprotected sun three times a week. Just make sure to apply that sunscreen at minute 11!

Habit-Forming Boost

If you want to see physical results, consistency is the key. And an outdoor workout might just make that easier! A 2011 survey found that outdoor exercisers “declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date” than those who only worked out inside.

The Perfect Playlist

Not sure what to spin to? Check out this curated list of country-centric songs (featuring hits from featured artists at the Windy City Smokeout) that will get you in the mood, covering everything from warm-up to that last hill and even the cooldown!

  • Kip Moore – “Somethin’ Bout a Truck” – an interesting twist and rhythm for a warm up song…
  • Jake Owen – “Good Company” or “8 Second Ride” – both good for a buildup for some tough hill climbs with lots of resistance!
  • Lee Brice – “Hard to Love” – perfect chorus for some sprints!
  • Eli Young – “Salt Water Gospel” – great song to keep the speed going!
  • Luke Combs – “When it rains, it pours” – more hills climbs…
  • Steve Moakler – “Love Drunk” – cooldown time!

Post written by FFC contributor Augie’s Quest.

 

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Now that happy hour is legal in the city of Chicago again (yes, there used to be restrictions on the happiest hours of the day in the past), we thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of the best happy hours in West Loop for you to check out the next time you’re in this neck of the woods.

Since this Chicago neighborhood is such a foodie hotspot, it was tough to narrow the list down to just a few. Don’t worry, we’ve got something to appeal to everyone’s tastes—and for almost every day of the week. Cheers!

Tuesdays: WestEnd – 1326 W. Madison St.

Specials: $10 salad or wrap and wine glass combo from 5:00–8:00 p.m.

Don’t derail your healthy efforts mid-week—just head over to WestEnd for a salad or wrap and wine combo. For just $10 you can get a full meal AND enjoy the health benefits of a glass of wine (of which we hear there are many!)

Thursdays: Carnivale – 702 W. Fulton Market

Specials: $4 Sofie, Matilda, Pepe Nero, Summertime, and Honkers bottles from 5:00–7:30 p.m.

If you want to get active while you imbibe, head over to Carnivale on Thursday nights. Not only do they have great eats and drinks, they also offer a complimentary dance class from 7:00–8:00 p.m. covering styles such as Samba, Salsa, Bachata, Cha-Cha, and the Merengue!

 

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Fridays: Nellcote – 833 W. Randolph St.

Specials: Get a beer and a 10-inch pizza for $10 from 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Pizza and beer always go well together. However, we’ll bet you haven’t seen anything like this pizza—French- inspired, fancy and also delicious! Go for the classic Margherita or try the Organic Sunnyside Up option for some added variety.

Saturdays: New Line Tavern – 201 N. Clinton St.

Specials: $4 Jameson, $4 Green Line, Bottom Up Wit and Alpha King drafts, $4.50 Wine glasses, and more

It’s not always easy to find drink deals on the weekends, but New Line Tavern has you covered with a number of different craft beer and wine options. They also offer a great menu of popular bar bites like sliders—not to mention the Bratwurst slider option—and wings. (If you’re looking for something lighter, they’ve got plenty of great salads, too!)

Sundays: Bar Takito – 201 N. Morgan St.

Specials: Brunch from 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., $3 tacos & $2 Tecate

Sunday is still part of the weekend, isn’t it? Save as you savor Latin American small plates like street-style tacos, ceviche and papas fritas. On top of Tecate, this spot also serves delicious margaritas and palomas.

Did we forget your favorite restaurant or bar? Comment and let us know your other favorite happy hours in West Loop!

This post was written by an FFC contributor.

The stretch of Halsted Street in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood (from Belmont to Grace), affectionately referred to as Boystown, has some of the best bars and nightclubs geared for the LGBT community (and great brunch spots nearby, like these!). Check out this list of best bars in Boystown we put together!

Roscoe’s – 3356 N. Halsted St.

Dancing and drag shows are the highlight of this bar. A staple of Boystown, this is the place to experience the best of RuPaul’s Drag Race in person. The DJ in the back dance floor always cranks out dance hits to get you and your friends moving on weekends. Don’t forget to check out the daily pitcher specials!

Sidetrack – 3349 N. Halsted St.

Known for Broadway showtune sing-a-longs on Sunday and Monday evenings, this spacious hang-out bar has lots of areas to chat with friends or meet new people, including a rooftop deck. They have a large selection of frozen cocktails and five large bar areas to ensure you never have to wait too long for a drink.

Replay Beer and Bourbon – 3439 N. Halsted St.

Beer, bourbon and video games! What more can you can say? This bar really plays up the 90s nostalgia to creates a great space for hanging out and socializing. The back patio bar area is a huge hit in the summer months! Choose from 20 beers on tap and a large selection of fine bourbons to imbibe while playing one of the many vintage arcade games, most of which are free to play.

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The North End – 3733 N. Halsted St.

At the far north end of Boystown, lies a hidden gem of a sports bar. Not only can you watch your Chicago teams compete on giant flat screens, but they have pool tables and darts too. From the Super Bowl to the playoffs for hockey, basketball and baseball, this bar is a great place to join the crowd and watch the big games.

Elixir Lounge – 3452 N. Halsted St.

Known for their craft cocktails, this small but finely appointed bar makes the perfect place to have a more elegant night out. The staff of down-to-earth bartenders will help you select from their large menu of classic and signature cocktails and specialty martinis. And the intimate setting makes for great conversation as you sip on one of their more top-shelf drinks.

Wood Restaurant – 3335 N. Halsted St.

This upscale restaurant is definitely not your traditional bar for Boystown, but the friendly bar staff and the wine and cocktail menu make it must for this list. They have some of the best mixologists in not only the neighborhood, but in all of Chicago. And it doesn’t hurt that you can also have an amazing meal from an award winning chef here too.

After a long, cold Chicago winter, it’s time to heat things up with someone special by your side. While heading to the beach or for drinks on a rooftop are always great go-to options for an outdoor date, Barbie Adler, president and founder of Selective Search, recommends the following active summer date spots in Chicago to kick your experience up a notch.

Yoga at Lincoln Park Zoo

Take in views of the city skyline and connect with nature at Lincoln Park Zoo. Learn the basics of yoga in a quiet yet intimate group setting. Not only will this bring positive vibes to your date, but also is the perfect segue to brunch or a trip to your favorite coffee shop!

SUP Paddleboarding on Lake Michigan

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) offers a unique experience on Lake Michigan at night. Engage in some friendly (or flirty) competition to see who can paddle and balance the longest while taking in new views of the city. Don’t miss the Navy Pier fireworks from your floating “blanket”! Get comfortable on the water as the sun is going down, then take in the scene as darkness falls and the fireworks go off.

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Urban Kayaks Down the Chicago River

Urban Kayaks provides a new level of adventure in downtown Chicago with the most scenic route available. Kayak down the Chicago River while learning about the history of some of Chicago’s most famous buildings. Or take a night tour and watch the weekend fireworks from your own private kayak on Lake Michigan!

Bike Tours Through Chicago’s Neighborhoods

Think you’ve mastered the bike trails of Chicago? Bobby’s Bike Hike gives you an opportunity to ride through different neighborhoods of Chicago while also learning about its history and culture. Choose from a variety of different unique tours including Bikes, Bites and Brews or Southside Gangster. To spark some extra romance, try an evening bike tour with views of the sunset over the city along with skyline fireworks (Memorial Day through Labor Day.)

While the summer months may be short, these active outdoor date spots in Chicago will let you take advantage of all of the outdoor fun this city has to offer (and lead to even better date nights in by the fire in the winter!)

 Post written by FFC Affiliate, Selective Search.

About Selective Search

Need help finding your summer love in Chicago? The matchmakers of Selective Search will lead you to new adventures with your better half – check out their complimentary affiliate program!

Selective Search Founder and President Barbie Adler is an expert on dating and relationships who has consulted on national dating-related television programs and appeared in Forbes, Fortune, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and on CNN. In 2000, she left a successful career as a high-level executive recruiter and founded Selective Search to provide North America with its first fully offline, confidential, and customized executive matchmaking firm. Her goal is to combine her experience recruiting top talent with her passion for helping busy, successful, single men and women find a committed loving relationship.

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice a well-deserved night out just because it can wreak havoc on your diet! However, it can be tough to find those delicious AND healthy restaurants when you want to dine out. Have no fear, we’ve compiled a list of some of the hottest hangouts in the area; check out these 5 healthy restaurants in Lincoln Park!

Summer House – 1954 N. Halsted St.

Escape the winter blues and find yourself on the beach! Well, not quite, but this California-style American restaurant is like a beach house transplanted from its sister restaurant in Santa Monica.

The wood-fired grill cooks up menu items spotlighting seasonal, locally-sourced products. Check out the bakery counter on your way out for pastries, muffins and Lettuce Entertain You chef and partner Jeff Mahin’s famous cookies.

Healthy menu items that catch this RD’s eye:

  • Roasted Beets with Grapefruit Aioli
  • Wood Grilled Mahi-Mahi Tacos with Guacamole
  • Quinoa and Forbidden Black Rice Bowl with Green Curry and Local Veggies

BOKA – 1729 N. Halsted St.

If you have a special occasion coming up, consider this Michelin Star winning gem. Cozy up in a booth and enjoy the eclectic decor while enjoying beautifully executed dishes and craft cocktails.

Healthy menu items that catch this RD’s eye:

  • Heirloom Carrots with Pistachio, Amaranth and Smoked Goat Cheese
  • Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Pears and Sunflower Seeds
  • Coffee and Hazelnut Whole Milk Ice Cream

 

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Blue Door Farm Stand – 2010 N. Halsted St.

This farm-to-table café and artisan’s market, named for Oprah’s former Indiana property, prides itself on featuring fresh, seasonal food and drinks from local farms and farmers’ markets, including Chicago favorites Harvest Juicery and Bow Truss Coffee Roasters.

In addition to offering a catering service, the Blue Door Farm Stand can accommodate private events, offers takeout and local delivery. Lactose intolerant? You can order almond milk in your latte.

Healthy menu items that catch this RD’s eye:

  • Sweet Potato Hummus
  • Baked Parmesan Kale Chips
  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing

Related: how a plant-based diet helped this group exercise instructor and personal chef overcome food addiction.

Café Ba-Ba-Reeba – 2024 N. Halsted St.

You don’t have to leave your kids at home when you go to “Chicago’s Original Tapas Bar.” They have a children’s menu, as well as a complete gluten-free menu, including dessert. On Tuesdays take advantage of half-off Spanish wines, or half-priced craft cocktails on Mondays.

Menu items that catch this RD’s eye:

  • House Marinated Spanish Olives
  • Wood Oven Roasted Veggies with Toasted Pine Nuts
  • Seared Sea Scallops with Leeks and Torched Oranges

Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen – 1625 N. Halsted St.

This inexpensive BYOB place has something for everyone, including vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free options.

Some health-conscious plates to consider:

  • Lentil Soup
  • Grilled Veggies with Curry Sauce
  • Falafel Plate with Hummus and Tahini Sauce

So look for these items which won’t undo all of your hard, healthy work because social health plays a role in your overall wellness too!

*Note: All menu items subject to change

Post written by FFC contributor.

 

While a rigorous workout at FFC West Loop can leave you feeling energized and content, dining out in the area shouldn’t make you nervous about derailing your healthy eating habits. After all, getting out and enjoying a meal (or a happy hour once in a while, like these nearby spots) not made in your own kitchen is an event to be celebrated! Check out these healthy restaurants in West Loop that will offer something for everyone – no matter what type of cuisine you prefer!

Greek Islands (Mediterranean) – 200 S. Halsted St.

The “Mediterranean Diet” is widely considered to be one of the healthiest diets around, focusing on high consumption of vegetables, nuts, oils, legumes, fish and whole grains, and low consumption of red meat, dairy products and processed foods. At Greek restaurants like this one, opt for vegetable or seafood dishes, and steer clear of the fried foods, red meats and cream sauces.

Healthy suggestions:

  • Broiled seafood shish kabob
  • Vegetarian plate
  • Fresh whole fish

Haymarket Pub & Brewery (American/Pub) – 737 W. Randolph St.

Pub fare can be tricky when you’re watching what you eat, but that doesn’t mean it’s off limits. While you should probably skip the bun, pass on the fried foods and stay away from pizza, you still have many options to choose from for a tasty yet healthy meal.

Healthy suggestions:

  • Pear salad
  • Vegan chili
  • Grilled chicken breast – No bun
  • Diner-style burger – No bun, 1 patty only

 

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Jaipur (Indian) – 847 W. Randolph St.

Bread, rice, ghee (clarified butter) and cheese are staples in most Indian cuisine, and it can be tricky to see past them to the healthier options. Avoid the fried samosas, paneer (cheese) and malai (cream), go easy on the rice and help yourself to dal (lentils), lean meats, and of course, plenty of vegetables.

Healthy suggestions:

  • Tandoori chicken
  • Mahi tikka
  • Dal makahani
  • Navrattan korma

Sushi Dokku (Japanese) – 823 W. Randolph St.

Traditional Japanese cuisine centers on fresh fish, tofu and vegetables, but more and more these days we’re seeing tempura, mayonnaise-based “spicy” sauces, cream cheese and even fried foods making their way onto the menu. In addition to these, many restaurants offer a wide variety of noodle and rice dishes to choose from, which can be overloaded with refined carbohydrates and sodium. If you’re looking for a lighter meal, opting for the more traditional fare is recommended.

Healthy suggestions:

  • Cucumber and spiced tofu salad
  • Nigiri or sashimi
  • Northern California maki roll
  • Ecuador maki roll (hold the wasabi mayo)

Viaggio Ristorante & Lounge (Italian) – 1330 W. Madison St.

When you think of Italian food, what comes to mind other than pasta, cheese, pasta, tomatoes and… More pasta? While most Italian menus feature more pasta dishes than anything else, there are indeed other options if you’re willing to branch out. If you are looking for a pasta fix, I suggest splitting an entree-sized portion with a friend or loved one, and avoiding heavy cream sauces.

Healthy suggestions:

  • Salmon over mixed greens
  • Chicken Viaggio
  • Pappardelle shrimp and broccollini – Share it or box up half to go!

*Note: All menu items subject to change

Did we miss one of your favorite spots? Let us know in the comments!

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