Work Out for Free!

Thanks to the Chicago Park District, you can start your 2011 off right.  Work out for FREE January 2nd-9th at all Chicago Park District Fitness Centers.

The Chicago Park District has over 70 fitness center located across the city that feature state-of-the art equipment and a variety of fitness classes!  To find a location in your neighborhood click here.

Watch the video below to learn more!

Do you workout at a Chicago Park District Fitness Center? Share your experience and comment below.


Eating Cheap and Healthy

Groceries can be expensive.  Especially when shopping for  healthy foods. Most think that it is cheaper to purchase process, refined foods or even fast food (think $1 meals at McDonald’s) that nutritious, wholesome options.  So what can we do to save money but still eat healthy?

Tips to eat cheap and healthy

  • Plan ahead: look in your frig and cabinets before you go to the store so you don’t buy something you already have.  Also, think of meals for the week and shop off those menus.
  • Eat a snack before you shop: we have all done it, shopped hungry and ended up buying more than what you need because it looked good at the time. 
  • Sign up for saver cards: most major grocery stores have discount cards and you really can save money with them.  Shop smart and purchase items on sale.
  • Watch your portions: eating the correct portion size saves on food amounts thus saves you money. 
  • Cut out on buying the “extras”: this includes items with no nutritional value, pop, baked goods, etc.  They aren’t healthy and just add to your budget and waist line.
  • Buy produce in season: foods in season are priced to sell.  Produce in the off-season can cost 10x the amount as in season.  Cheap produce in Chicago: farmer’s markets,  and Stanley’s (1558 N. Elston).
  • Bring your lunch to work: you can save an average of $30 a week if you bring your own lunch.  Make more for dinner and bring the leftovers to lunch the next day.
  • Cook with frozen, dried or canned foods: they are less expensive than fresh and are equally nutritional.  Make sure to rinse canned goods for they are usually stored in a liquid that adds calories.
  • Substitute protein sources: vegetarian options are often cheaper.  Eggs, beans and tofu are priced lower than healthy/lean cuts of meat.
  • Think smart about meats: usually it is cheaper to roast a whole chicken and cut it up yourself than paying a butcher to do it.  Purchase smaller portions of meats and look for lean cuts like “loin” or “round”.
  • Buy generic: all food manufactures have to meet the same standards so a Jewel brand is created the same as the name brand. Read the food label to make sure they compare nutritionally.
  • Buy in bulk: Sam’s and Costco can save you money.  Just make sure you are smart and actually use the items you purchase.
  • Grow a garden: plant your own produce when you can (weather permitting) and save on buying your own.

 The Good News? Eating healthier foods can actually save you money, according to a 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The researchers found that when families went on weight loss diets, they not only lost weight but reduced their food budgets (WebMD).  So shop right and right!

Resources to eat cheap and healthy in Chicago

  • Stanley’s (1558 N. Elston) cheap produce (tip: buy what you will eat within the next few days.  In my experience produce goes bad fast from Stanley’s but it is totally worth the price if you plan accordingly.
  • Costco or Sam’s Club (various locations) offers food in bulk and has healthy choices.
  • Farmer’s Markets (outdoor until Oct. 31st)

All in a Day-Summer’s Best Finds

All in a Day:  Summer’s Best Finds

Chicago during the summer is something to behold.  The city has defrosted from the winter’s deep freeze which, as any native Chicagoan knows, lasts until approximately mid-June.  Ok, I may be exaggerating slightly, but the long winters we have here really mean that we milk everything we can from the summer months- am I right?

The only problem is that sometimes the activities that we’re bombarded with during the summer aren’t exactly the…healthiest.  Beer gardens, anyone?  10¢ buffalo wings?  Don’t mind if I do!  Chicago is a town that can, at times, revolve around drink specials and greasy pub fare for cheap.  For those of us on a budget (don’t lie to me, friends- I see you out there looking at me from across the interweb, nodding sheepishly) these deals are easy and tempting.  And they’re great to take advantage of- once and a while.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with the fact that during the past few years these temptations have become all too commonplace in my routine.  So I’ve set out to find things around town that are either cheap or free and won’t bust my waistline and- dare I say- make me feel good instead of hungover?

This Saturday, with the sun shining and my sneaks strapped on my feet I did just that.  First up was the Lincoln Park Farmers Market.

Lucky for me, the market is only about a mile from where I live.  So, I ran there!  Walking in the summer is definitely the way to go.  It’s free and you don’t have to worry about parking (which is scarce around the farmers market, let me tell you).  The farmers market is fun (there are bands) and you can always find something new and exciting to try!  I found these cool peaches:

And bought this bread:

That turned into pretty rockin’ French toast:

Later, I took advantage of the street festivals that are abundant around this time of the year.  I hit up Summer on Southport for some concerts and revelry.

Now,  street festivals can very quickly turn into indulgent ventures thanks to the plethora of beer tents and fried food, BUT- there are good options, too!  Here are my tips:

1.  Don’t go with the intention of eating and drinking. Think of street fests as a way to hear fun music and enjoy a nice day!

2. If there are games or free samples, take advantage. At Summer on Southport, there were tons of tents set up giving away free stuff- and most of it was health conscious!  There was a Kashi tent, an Ocean Spray tent:

And my favorite: a Clif Z bar booth!  These kid-sized versions of Clif bars in flavors like Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Brownie are totally organic and I love them.  I’m aware that I’m an adult and these are meant for kids, but they’re so good!  I beelined for the booth and the sweet girl working at it threw a ton of free samples in my bag!

She was officially my favorite person of the day.   After eating one of my samples, we listened to some bands play and enjoyed the great atmosphere and warm weather.

The grand total for the day:  $12! And it wasn’t difficult!

I had a great day, took advantage of the city, walked a lot (and even ran a little!) and my head hit the pillow that night knowing that I had made the most of my day without blowing a ton of cash.

Megan is a 20-something professional who lives in Chicago and blogs about her daily adventures in healthy living on her Blog Braise The Roof.  After graduating college in 2006, she moved back to the city and has been navigating the choppy waters of balancing having fun with friends, enjoying a beer (or two) and staying active ever since!  She hopes that through her blog other young people will see that it is possible to live well on a budget and still have fun.

The RAW Truth

The RAW Truth – Add Some Energy to Your Diet!

By Amanda Skrip 

Increased energy, weight loss, and overall improved health are all common claims of adopting a raw food diet.  Sounds pretty good, right?  The truth is the benefits of a raw foods diet extends well beyond these promises.  While I am far from being considered a ‘raw foodie’ I make a point to have raw foods several times a day, and can say, with confidence, this simple act has been truly transformative:  I’m not sluggish in the morning, have little interest in sweets and desserts, and have more energy than I did when I was 17!

The basic premise of raw foods lies in understanding cooking temperature.  It is believed that heating food (above 116 degrees) destroys enzymes that assist in digestion and absorption of food.  There is also the notion that cooking destroys the energy and ‘life force’ inherent in whole foods.  So, to reap the most benefits of adding in raw foods, say goodbye to any processed or chemicalized foods that you might currently indulge in, and bulk up on raw fruits, veggies, sprouted grains, nuts and seeds. 

Not sure you can do it?  Read on for my simple tips to integrate raw foods into your diet that will be as tasty as they are effective. I’ve even included a favorite kale salad recipe.  For more recipes, tips, and instruction, I will be teaching a cooking class featuring Simple + Fresh Raw Food Creations on Thursday, August 21 at Whole Foods – Halsted.  Mention Healthy in Chicago when signing up and receive a $10 discount! 

1- Drink Green:  Breakfast is often the easiest time for people to load up on natural energizing fruits.  I love suggesting nutrient dense smoothies to clients.  The busiest people and pickiest eaters can all find ways to add lots of nutrition to blended drinks without sacrificing flavor.  My number one tip?  Add raw, leafy greens to your smoothies.  Kale, spinach, chard, lettuce, parsley and cabbage are all all loaded with folic acid, iron, and calcium, and when mixed with your favorite fruits, the flavor is virtually undetected.  Toss in pineapple or papaya for an extra enzyme boost.

2 – Power Salads:  Many people already consume raw vegetables in salads.  Too add extra oomph, throw away your iceberg wedges and pre-washed bagged greens and trade up for hearty and healthy greens.  I love finely shredding and marinating lacinato kale with lemon, olive oil, and salt to soften and infuse flavor.  Collard greens, bok choy, and napa cabbage also work well.  Check out the kale salad recipe I’ve provided below. 

3- Super Snacks: The truth is, that many of us do not have the time or patience for the soaking, sprouting, and/or dehydrating that is commonly called for in raw food preparation.  I love stocking up on goji berries, sprouted seeds, and raw sweet snacks at the health food store.  Kai Foods makes a delicious sprouted sunflower seed mix, Two Moms in the Raw granola is insanely delicious, and I could eat an entire bag of Goraw Original Super Cookies

Amanda Skrip is a natural foods chef and wellness consultant in Chicago.  If you are interested in achieving optimal health, visit, for recipes, upcoming classes, and current promotions.  Mention Healthy in Chicago to receive a complimentary consultation to discuss how you can achieve your nutrition and wellness goals.

Raw Kale Salad with Avocado and Goji Berries


This is a raw recipe that is so simple to prepare and so satisfying to eat.  The lemon juice ‘cooks’ the greens, making them tender and tasty.   For best results, allow the marinade to work its magic for a few hours before enjoying.  Pack the salad in the morning and bring it to work for a fresh, cleanse-friendly lunch.


1 small bunch kale (lacinato preferred)

½ avocado, cubed

1 T goji berries

1 lemon

2 T olive oil

¼ tsp sea salt

Chiffonade the kale (cut into very thin strips) and place in a medium mixing bowl.  Place avocado and goji berries atop.  Squeeze lemon over mixture and add olive oil and salt.  Using clean hands, gently ‘massage’ the mixture.  Taste, and adjust seasonings to preference.  Enjoy!

Burn fat and lifts-Have you tried it yet?

This morning, I had the privilege of starting off my day with a  Barre Bee Fit class and let me tell you, I am already feeling it! 

Barre Bee Fit is the newest barre-based workout studios to hit Chicago and Healthy In Chicago welcomes this new addition.  Why?  Because not only is the workout phenomenal, the atmosphere and energy in the studio is amazing.  Are you a person who gets nervous about trying something new?  Haven’t worked out in a while?  Feel insecure because you may not have the hottest workout attire?  None of this matters at Barre Bee Fit.  The instructors are welcoming, personable and the classes small, so you don’t feel intimated by what you are doing or where you are. 

Jillian, part founder and fab instructor, started class today with a cardio warm up and then progressed to strengthen training.  However, this was a different kind of strength training.  According to Jillian, using small isometric movements, each individual muscle group is targeted and worked to the point of overload.  With intermitted cardio bursts, to burn more calories, Jillian took us through more isometric movements as well as barre and yoga stretches ending the class with core work.  We did feel the burn for the full hour!

Why do this class?  According to Barre Bee Fit’s owners, Barre Bee Fit’s systematic approach burns fat and lifts and lengthens the body to yield quick noticeable results that we all want to see.  It can change the way your body functions and looks.  It is also very reasonably priced.  For just $125 a month, you get unlimited classes.  If you go 3 times a week, that is only $10 a class!  They also offer student and industry discounts, or pay as you go!  The studio itself is very clean.  Jillian, a self-professed germ freak, and her team of insructors (shout out to Michelle!)makes sure mats and equipment are wiped down between each class.   Parking is free if go you in the morning and it is conveniently located for anyone to go before or after work.  They also cap their class sizes so you actually have your own space to practice!  The only down we saw is that the studio doesn’t have showers.  However even with its intensity, we didn’t sweat much, and they keep it very cold in the workout room.

Bottom line:  Barre Bee Fit is Healthy In Chicago approved and recommended.  Not only is it a great workout, but the studio and instructors are unpretentious, personable and knowledgable.  A big plus, the classes are affordable!

Healthy In Chicago readers-Try a class!  Enter promo code 435 when you register and workout for FREE.

You are also invited to Barre Bee Fit’s launch party tomorrow at English from 6-9pm. 

$10 donation gets you 2 free drinks and another FREE class at Barre Bee Fit.  Even better, your donation goes to the Bright Pink charity.

To read more about Barre Bee Fit click here.

FIT Lincoln Park

Healthy In Chicago readers are INVITED!

Fit Lincoln Park Neighborhood Appreciation Day-July 1st

To thank Chicago for its warm reception, Fit Lincoln Park (1963 N. Halsted), will offer FREE

  • 30-minute personal training sessions,
  •  fitness consultations,
  • ultrasound body assessments,
  • group fitness previews,
  • chair massages,
  • prizes, giveaways and discounts

Call FIT Lincoln Park to schedule your FREE sessions for the day! 312-929-2395

Monday, July 4th 7pm

You are invited to FIT Lincoln Park’s Fourth of July party with music, food and cocktails.

Fit Lincoln Park is Chicago’s only indoor/outdoor personal training and group fitness studio. Pay only for the services you use. There are no enrollment costs and no monthly membership fees…ever! With no contracts you can stop wasting money and start making progress. Fit Lincoln Park’s professionally certified trainers and instructors offer fresh styles of programming and more than 25 group fitness classes each week

AntiGravity/Fly Yoga

What is Fly Yoga or AntiGravity Yoga?

According to i.d. Gym’s website, “Fly Yoga is a unique yoga experience using specialized hammocks that enable your spirit to reach new limits.” 

While in class, one is suspended from silk hammocks while practicing traditional yoga poses along with Pilates, dance and strength-conditioning exercises.  Think Pink’s performance at the Grammy’s or Cirque Du Soleil. 
Healthy in Chicago had the opportunity to take a Fly Yoga class this week and not only was it a workout, but it was FUN!  This class is for all fitness levels, and incorporates yoga, Pilates, stretching, dance, strength training and acrobatics.  You execute traditional yoga poses like warrior, but push yourself further into the pose using the silk hammock.  You also can, if you are comfortable, hang and twirl upside down! 
Benefits of Fly Yoga/AntiGravity Yoga
  • Decompress tight joints, relieving pressure while aligning the vertebrae of the spine
  • Perform advanced yoga inversions without neck or back compressions
  • Hold challenging yoga postures longer and in correct alignment
  • Stretch further with less strain
  • Create better body awareness while increasing overall agility

Where You Can Take a Class

Sources: i.d Gym, Timeout Chicago, AntiGravity Yoga