March 28, 2020

Starbucks Reserve Roastery in previous Crate and Barrel flagship on Michigan Avenue

Did you know that Chicago currently has the largest Starbucks location in the world? The Seattle-based corporation took over the former Michigan Avenue flagship store of locally-owned Crate and Barrel November 2019.

The venue is five floors with 43,000 square feet of space. To ease traffic within the store, one can use stairs, escalators or elevators to shift between areas. And the crowds have indeed shown up. Opening week, people lined up outside in the cold waiting for admittance.

With the copper piping and modern coffee bar decor, this struck me as the Willy Wonka factory of coffee bars. Not only is this a coffee shop and retail outlet, but a cocktail bar with signature drinks devised by local bartenders and an Italian-style sandwich shop. Local art is featured along with very clean-lined modern furniture and decor.

I am not a coffee drinker, but if I were, I would take note that Starbucks touts its Reserve products to be of the rarest and best quality, often from single-origin coffee concerns.

When the hordes die down, you might want to grab a beverage or snack and watch the world go by from one of the many stylish levels at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Window seat preferably.

https://www.starbucksreserve.com/en-us/locations/chicago

EggLife Wraps without flour or dairy

Hurrah! I finally found a wrap without grain, gluten, flour or dairy that actually tastes good.

EggLife Wraps are rather like little tortillas and come in four different flavors, the plain original, Italian Style, Rye Style and Southwest Style.

The web site says they are 95% egg whites, only 30 calories apiece and contain only 1 gram of carbs and a decent 5 grams of protein.

I have filled them with turkey bacon, ground chicken, veggies, hummus and salsa. They make a good savory breakfast option or a quick and easy lunch. I pop them into my toaster oven or microwave briefly to warm them up, but they are ready to eat from the bag.

You will find EggLife Wraps in the refrigerated section of your grocery. The web site says Mariano’s, Jewel and Sunset Foods are carrying the product in the Chicago area. Be persistent because some clerks are not yet familiar with the product or where it might be hiding in the store.

https://egglifefoods.com/our-wraps/

Cece’s Veggie Co. Noodled

I was tempted to buy a spiralizer, a gizmo that cuts vegetables into long noodles akin to spaghetti but my accident rate with anything sharp dissuaded me.

Cece’s Veggie Company to the rescue. I purchased Organic Butternut Squash in the refrigerated section of my local Mariano’s grocery store, but I have also seen the product at Whole Foods.

You can eat the noodle-like veggies raw or sauté them for 4 to 6 minutes in a fry pan. For one version, I used my favorite spaghetti sauce on the sautéed noodles and hardly missed the usual pasta taste. A salad of meat and veggies with the raw noodles also made a very satisfying meal.

The Noodled section of the company features spiralized beets, sweet potatoes, yellow squash and zucchini as well as the butternut squash. Cece’s also sells riced veggies like cauliflower, broccoli and a medley of cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and green onions. Grillerz look like cottage fries and come in three varieties, carrots with white sweet potatoes, mixed sweet potatoes and summer squash with a garlic herb butter sauce included.

Business concerns continue to find surprising ways to feature vegetables and Cece’s Veggie Company is a big contender for top banana (okay, it’s a fruit). The company uses the tagline, “Simple but twisted.” But in a really good way.

Date Balls by Sonia’s Organics at Mariano’s

As someone who is always on the look-out for sugar-free snacks and desserts, I wanted to let you know about a product I just found at my local Mariano’s grocery store: Date Balls by Sonia’s Organics.

In a small 12 ounce plastic container found in the produce department, you will find 20 round balls made with organic Medjool dates, organic walnuts and rolled in organic shredded coconut. There is no dairy, gluten or added sugar so this food item is good for people with dietary restrictions.

The date balls are 100 calories per item so this is not a diet food however. In fact, the package proudly states “energy boost” because of the healthy fat and protein. Just one or two satisfies my sweet tooth craving and hunger.

Other versions include cocoa powder, seeds, organic raw honey or organic raw almonds. The products are distributed by Golden Foods of Bensenville, so locavores have an additional reason to be happy with Date Balls.

Gone Bananas for the Yonanas

When my friend, Dale first told me about his new food machine, the Yonanas, How had I never heard anything about this ingenious gizmo that makes soft serve out of frozen fruit?

After thawing your chosen fruit for 7 to 10 minutes, you place them in a spout that funnels them past a spinning wheel with tiny teeth. Out comes a frozen treat that can be made without dairy, soy, egg, gluten or sugar. I have also frozen coconut milk in an ice cube tray to blend into the fruit mixtures. I tried putting cacao powder in the machine, but found that the chocolate did not mix well. Adding the powder after the soft serve is made is a far better option for a chocolate version.

The recipes vary from banana-centric to sorbets with mango, citrus, berries, peaches, cherries, pineapple or any fruit you can freeze. The machine comes with a handy recipe booklet and the variations appear endless.. This will be a godsend dessert option for those with dietary restrictions.

Topping choices are endless from chopped nuts to liqueurs to shredded and toasted coconut flakes. Trader Joe’s sells desiccated raspberries which make a delicious tangy and crunchy mix-in.

The Classic machine is easily disassembled and cleaned and does not take up much shelf space. A larger model called the Yonanas Elite is also available. I found my product for $39.99 at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Pardon me while I turn on my Yonanas yet again.

yonanas.com

Lily’s Chocolate Bars, sugar-free

Here is a reprint and update of an article I wrote about this delicious and healthy treat.

I have a major jones for chocolate but the sweeteners contained in bars and chips send my blood sugar to the moon. Finally, I found a commercial chocolate that doesn’t cause that familiar sugar spike and ensuing dip. Lily’s Chocolate Bars and Lily’s Dark Chocolate Premium Baking Chips and Bark fill the bill.

Sweetness is provided by stevia and erythritol, supposedly safer sweeteners than aspartame or saccharin. Lily’s has come up with a recipe that balances healthy fats with sweetness, with all products being gluten-free and several dark chocolate flavors vegan as well.

Cynthia Nice started Lily’s Sweets in 2010 as a result of starting a sugar-free lifestyle. Diabetics and other health-conscious people have been enjoying these products ever since. Ingredients are non-GMO and harvested using Fair Trade practices to boot.

Now, the chocolate still has fat and caffeine, so this is not something you can eat like popcorn, but 60 little mini chips are 55 calories with 4 grams of fat and 5 carb grams.
Not bad for the occasional splurge.

Some the 70% Dark flavors include Blood Orange, Salted Almond and Sea Salt. There’s even an Extremely Dark with 85% Dark Chocolate. Over the holidays, someone served me a Lily’s Gingerbread Chocolate Bar, and let me tell you, I plan on keeping an eye out for that seasonal version next December.

Check out some of the delicious sounding sweet recipes at their site.

https://lilyssweets.com/