The Act Of Trying + Breakfast Potato Bowl

Easy-Breakfast-Potatoes

On my way to a lunch meeting, I got into my cab and the driver yelled “Something smells good!” I thought he was talking about the chili in my bag, so I started explaining the ingredients and he interrupted me and said “No, I meant you”. Well, thank you. Va Va Voom. He recognized the patchouli in the scent I was wearing and started telling me about how it was one of his favorite scents and that he had picked it in the Himalayan Mountains. Which lead him to tell me how he incorporated it into his Buddhist life.

But then he paused, retracted his previous statement, and said, “What I meant to say is that I am trying to be Buddhist”. For over 40 years, he’s been trying. He explained to me that he’s not perfect, so the best he could do is try. Which leaves room for error. And means that he has the space to work on things. I admit, I got a little misty-eyed listening to him. I had never heard someone explain the act of trying so well.

It made me think about how we get caught up on labels when it comes to how we eat. I’m Vegan. I’m Paleo. I’m Raw. And then when we go off course and eat cheese or grains or something cooked above a certain temperature – and we feel we’ve failed. Somehow we are not longer that “thing” that we said we were. And it feels really bad.

Easy-Vegan-Breakfast

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We need to give ourselves more room to f’ up. We need that space to not be perfect and know that it’s ok. We need to recognize that when it comes to eating healthier, the act of trying is better than not doing anything at all. So this week, do your best to avoid words like “cheat” or “I’m bad at” and instead replace those thoughts with a little love. Try to remember that if you’re being conscious of your decisions (whether they are “good” or “bad”) that you in fact are trying. Pobody’s nerfect.

Speaking of…a “perfect” breakfast might be a beautiful green smoothie with greens and seeds and magical herbs. But I drink A LOT of smoothies, and sometimes I want a big bowl of hot breakfast that isn’t oatmeal topped with some chia concoction. And this is my answer! It’s super easy to make and you can really throw any veggies in here and still have a winner. Avocado and hot sauce isn’t mandatory, but when does avocado and hot sauce not make things better?

{ Breakfast Potato Bowl }

2 medium-sized potatoes (I like red), cut into cubes
1 orange, red, or green pepper, diced
1/2 an onion, diced
2 cups spinach, torn apart
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup black beans
2 tablespoons oil of your choice
Dash of paprika
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat a cast iron skillet or large pan to medium heat. Add oil. When pan is really hot, add potatoes and cover. Cook for 10 minutes until potatoes begin to soften. Add pepper, onion, garlic,  spinach, salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook for another 10-15 minutes until onions and peppers are soft and potatoes are cooked through. Add black beans and cook for another few minutes.

Serve immediately. Top with avocado, sprouts, hot sauce, or green salsa. Go wild!

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Howdy Partner! Honey Butter Fried Chicken Is A New OPP Partner!

Vegan-Sandwich-Chicago

A fried chicken place? YES! A fried chicken place. Honey Butter Fried Chicken is a new OPP partner!

I first met HBFC’s owner Christine Cikowski at Kelly Purkey’s For Reals Meals. I was actually a little nervous that she was coming to the lunch. I thought she might think that my mission was way not up her alley. But just the opposite happened. She asked how she could get involved. I was so inspired by her openness and innovative attitude towards food that I couldn’t wait to partner with her. And I had always wanted to eat something at her restaurant…it’s pretty popular here in Chicago and has gotten a lot of national media attention too.

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Vegan-Onion-Ring-Sandwich

Their first OPPing dish is an Onion Ring Sandwich with Smokey Paprika Hummus, Pea Tendrils, and Roasted Red Peppers on a Ciabatta Bun. Now, I know what you’re thinking…um, onion rings aren’t healthy. Well, I’m for sure not saying you ought to eat onion rings everyday. Just like you wouldn’t eat fried chicken everyday (or maybe you do and you know there’s no judging here). It’s indulgent. Maybe it’s a special treat. But the point is that it’s an option. It’s a plant-based option at a fried chicken place. A crazy good option too! I ate mine sans bun and was licking every last drop of the smokey paprika hummus I could find.

They also have a roasted sweet potato side that is full on plant too. Not to mention an outdoor patio with boozy cocktails and very cold beer. Thanks so much to Christine and her team for making this happen! Couldn’t be more grateful. Check out more on Honey Butter Fried Chicken their hours on the OPP restaurant page.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken  •  3361 N. Elston Avenue , Chicago  •   honeybutter.com

*What restaurant do you want to see get planticized and become an OPP partner? Tell me in the comments!*

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I Love You Easy Açaí Bowls

Acai-Bowl-Recipe

Remember a few years back when açaí hit the US? It was everywhere. In juices, vodkas, spirits, powders…and diet pills. Those damn diet pills. I never f’d with them, but that didn’t keep them from f’ing with my credit card. I had a whole bunch of fraudulent charges for açaí diet pills that I for sure never bought. From then on, I hated any mention of that poor little purple berry.

But a couple of weeks ago, I was in Puerto Rico and fell in love with açaí bowls! The hotel I was staying out was pretty far outside of Old San Juan, so the veggie pickings were a little slim. But I did some research and found this cool health food store that had Kombucha and specialized in açaí bowls. Pretty desperate for a mound of fruits or veggies, I went for one and the rest is history. As soon as I landed back home (not exaggerating, as soon as I landed), I figured out where to grab some açaí to make my own.

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Acai-Berry-Recipe

When you’re buying your açaí, make sure to check the labels! The major brand that’s sold at Whole Foods adds soy as a filler, and I’m not into that. But I found one called Amafruits – and it’s 100% berry. Check out their site and see where you can find some near you. Or just order from them online!

{ Açaí Bowl }

2 sleeves frozen açaí (I like Amafruits)
1/2 cup coconut water or milk (depending how creamy you want it)
Handful of greens (I used spinach)
Handful of berries (I used blackberries)
A few leaves of mint
Toppings of your choice: granola, shredded coconut, brown rice crisps, chia, hemp seeds, fruit, cocoa, spirulina

Blend your frozen açaí with your coconut water or milk until it starts to break down. Depending on your blender strength, this might take a little work. Add your greens, berries, and mint. Blend away until you reach a sorbet consistency. Add more water or milk if needed. Remove from blender and top with your toppings. Dig in!

OPP Notes: 
I added greens to mine because I like to get in greens wherever I can – but you don’t have to. Mix in more fruit to make it sweeter or add some almond butter and cocoa.

I joked about the açaí being everywhere, but it does have great health benefits. It’s very, very low in sugar, has lots of antioxidants, and has more protein than an egg (I got this information from Dr. Oz and I believe him).

HOMEWORK TIME:
Is there a food in your life that you have a bad association with? Maybe you’ve tried a green once (prepared in a not-so-good way) and now you stay away from it. Or you think you don’t like peas just because a mean girl threw them at you in middle school. In the next few days, try one of those foods you think you don’t like and see what you think! Over time, our palettes (and attitudes) can change.

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Run With Me! A (Very) Beginner’s Guide To Running

How-To-Start-Running

My first running outfit, by the way.

Remember when you had do sprints in gym class and were supposed to make it to the finish line in under 30 seconds? And if you didn’t, you had to start all over? And remember that annoying girl who never made it in 30 seconds and forced you to run them again? Well, that girl was me. And I’m sorry about that.

Running is something I’ve never felt confident about but have always wanted to be great at. And I’ve tried over the years. Kinda. I’d jump on the treadmill from time to time and stop after a minute because I was exhausted and really self-conscious about my technique. But when I found out about this new thyroid thing I have, I felt more determined than ever to work harder on my health. So…I decided to learn how to run. But I wasn’t exactly sure where to start.

And then two weeks ago, I saw a Runner’s World magazine at the airport and, without hesitating, I bought it. The cover had a callout for a guide for beginner runners. And that was enough to reel me in. The day after I bought the magazine, I saw a friend on the street and told her what I was doing. She was on her way to buy running shoes, because she wanted to learn to run too! So now we’re doing the plan together. It’s made it so much easier having a buddy – especially a buddy that’s a beginner like me. We don’t live close to one another, so we check-in via email or quick texts.

Wanna run with us?! Don’t be scared. This guide starts with a lot of walking. And I needed the walking part to get started. It’s also designed for people who are already working out at least 3-5 times a week. If you aren’t there yet, no problem! Start walking a bit more and then start the guide. Share it with a friend so you can do it together.

Download the running guide to get started!

**If you’re already a runner and don’t need the guide, share this post with a friend. And pretty soon, maybe you’ll be running together. And if you decide to join me, please make sure to post a comment or shoot me an email to let me know. I’m so excited to start our virtual OPP Running Club! 

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For Reals Meals hosted by Dean Renaud & Jourdan Fairchild (Southern Blonde Edition)

Jourdan-Fairchild-Dean-Renaud

When I arrived at the latest For Reals Meals lunch, I found out the hosts hadn’t have the best weeks ever. The company Jourdan worked for (Daily Candy) was closing and Dean found out that her sweet-ass design studio (where the lunch was held) had been bought and she was moving out. But like true southern women, they didn’t let it phase them and hosted with giant smiles on their faces (it also didn’t hurt they were serving huge glasses of fizzy lemon-gin champagne punch). The table they created was green gone wild, with big planty centerpieces and DIY mossy fun. It was a stunner.

Both Jourdan and Dean are from Kentucky. They grew up not too far from one another, but didn’t meet until last year in Chicago. Neither one of them grew up on anything close to a plant-based diet. Dean said that when she asked her mom for help with some recipes and told her she couldn’t use any butter, she reacted with shock and disbelief. But Dean and Jourdan were up for the challenge and seriously wowed us all with their menu (like, seriously WOWED):

Limoncello-soaked fruit salad (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, mint)
Garlic-leek gritcakes w/ Mama’s green tomato relish
Cream of zucchini soup w/sourdough croutons
Toasted farro & kale salad (w/pistachios and raisins, dried blueberries, currants)
Derby Pie (raw) with strawberries

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Their guests included Kasey Mennie, Lauren Adel, and Carolina Mariana Rodriguez. Kasey is the Science Education Coordinator at the Field Museum in Chicago and filled us in on the all the secret relics hidden below the museum (we’re all scheming now to get a private tour). Lauren is a stylist/event guru and works all over the country doing her thing. And Carolina. Oh Carolina. She’s the reason why all of these photos are so incredible. She showed up with her camera (that’s what photographers do) and offered to shoot the lunch for this post – and I couldn’t be more grateful!

Spring-Party

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This lunch was one of my favorite meals I’ve had in a long time. Not just because Jourdan and Dean figured out how to make a plant-based Derby Pie…but because of how special the hosts and guests were. When’s the last time you sat down with a group of people you’ve never met before and then just talked for hours? It’s rare. Try it! In the next few weeks, invite a handful of people that you don’t really know very well and share a meal together. It might be scary at first, even a little intimidating. But I’m telling you, magical things start to happen. Inspired conversations and new friendships…just don’t forget the fizzy lemon-gin punch.

To see more Dean: Check out her event planning and interior design company South Social & Home and then follow her on Instagram for her design-drooly posts.

To see more Jourdan: Check out Jourdan’s site Fair Share for DIY crafts and cool finds and then follow her on Instagram for puppy love and inspiring adventures. BONUS! Jourdan gives the DIY guide to making the mossy placemats on her site!

PS: Thanks again to Carolina for shooting all these photo! You can see lots more of Carolina’s work here.

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