National Nutrition Month: My Favorite Healthy Tips to Get Ready for Spring

I am going to be honest with you guys. Last year I lost the baby weight and somewhere towards the end of the year, I gained some of it back. I didn’t feel comfortable, my skin wasn’t the best and my confidence was low. I made it a 2018 goal to get my health back on track.

Since January, I have been working out consistently, eating better, and I feel like myself again. I have started taking Smarty Pants vitamins (you can find them at Whole Foods or here) and have made adjustments to my diet. I wanted to share of things I have been doing with you and maybe help you get ready for those warmer months. 🙂


The Barre Code– This gym and I go way back. I started with them when there was only one studio and it was actually called “Barre Bee Fit”. Now, they have studios all over Chicago, and in fact, the country. The classes got me ready for my wedding and have helped me stay in shape, but I slacked off after I had my son. 2017 wasn’t the year of exercise for me. I rejoined and I am so glad I did. I forgot how much I loved it. Everyone is so friendly and supportive, no matter your fitness level. Barre Code offers cardio, strength and restoration classes.  My favorite is TBC- Total Body Conditioning. It is strength, cardio, and HARD, but so rewarding.

Image result for barrecode imagesI think my favorite part are the challenges they encourage everyone to participate in. Every few months, they do a challenge for prizes, raffles, etc. Right now, I started their annual Spring it On, which is 15 out of 21 classes. Difficult, but gets you ready for spring. The next challenge is SPF (Strength Power Fuel), starting in June. I am already excited to participate in that one.

Definitely check it out if your elliptical workouts are starting to bore you!

(Side note- I am not sponsored in any way! I genuinely love it and see such great benefits)

Home Workouts

1. I started these online workout classes when I couldn’t make it to a class or the gym in January. You wouldn’t think they are challenging, but they really are! They definitely get raise your heart rate and you work up a sweat for sure. My husband still does them every morning (he’s an early bird) and it has helped him also get back into shape.

It’s perfect when babies are asleep or you don’t have time to make it to the gym. They range from 15-35 minutes:

2. This is going to sound obvious, but sometimes, cleaning the house while Noah sleeps is a workout for me! I make sure I track my steps and I can get thousands. I put on a good playlist (warning, it’s very pop) and get my heart rate.

  1. “1, 2, 3” — Sofia Reyes (featuring Jason Derulo and De La Ghetto)
  2. “Single Ladies” — Beyonce
  3. “Anaconda” — Nicki Minaj
  4. “Low” — Juicy J (featuring Nicki Minaj, Lil Bibby and Young Thug)
  5. “On to the Next One” — Jay Z
  6. “Mi Gente” — J. Balvin and Willy William (featuring Beyonce)
  7. “Roar” — Katy Perry
  8. “Get Me Bodied” — Beyonce
  9. “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself” — Jess Glynne
  10. “Work B**ch” — Britney Spears


Snacking is one of my biggest areas I need to improve. My snacks always seem to end in meals (sigh). All about portion control. Here are some I like:

  • Saffron Road Chickpeas (you can find them at Whole Foods or here).- I have a slight addiction to chickpeas, so these are perfect.Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas, Chipotle, 6 Ounce
  • Kirkland Almond Butter on a rice cake with a banana and chia seeds
  • Bark Thins- I like these because it satisfies a sweet tooth, but uses a few, simple ingredients, Non-GMO Project Verified and there are so many different kinds. Click here for more all the flavors.
  • String Cheese- I have one almost everyday
  • Turkey and cheese rolls ups- I like Hillshire Naturals turkey from Costco


  1. Salads– I have one every Monday. I like that you can add whatever you want! My go-tos are corn, chickpeas, avocado, tomato and feta cheese. I am not a huge salad dressing person, but I use olive oil and McCormick Salad Seasoning. I am obsessed with it. Once you use, there is no need for dressing.

2. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Serves 2-4


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (3 to 4 medium sweet potatoes), peeled and sliced into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

Spicy black beans

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ⅓ cup water
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Top with avocado, guacamole, feta cheese or salsa

  1. Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Using foil, line the baking sheet. Toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil, cayenne and salt. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway, until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  2. Prepare the black beans: Warm the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the cumin and chili powder and cook for about 30 seconds while stirring. Pour in the beans and water. Stir, cover and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and use a potato masher or a fork to mash up at least half of the beans. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and cover until you’re ready to serve.
  4. Add your toppings and serve with warm tortillas!
  5. Enjoy!

3. Sweet Potato, Beans and Avocado


Serves 2-4

  • 1 small onion
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1-inch chunks
  • Chicken Broth (I use 1 tsp of Better than Bouillon found at Costco)
  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 1/2 can corn
  • 1 packet of Sazon Goya- I use these.
  • Avocado


  1. Cook the sweet potatoes first in the chicken broth for 10-12 minutes with the onion
  2. Add corn, beans, and Goya
  3. Stir occasionally until sweet potato and beans are tender
  4. During this time, cook your egg. (I like a runny egg)
  5. Add your avocado
  6. Enjoy!

Some extra tips:

  • Add cottage cheese to your eggs! It makes them fluffy and gives your extra protein
  • SLEEP! I always eat better with 8 or more hours (I actually can’t function on less than 7)
  • Add fruit to your water! I like lemons.
  • Go for a walk! Track your steps. You get a lot of steps just running errands.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful! They have definitely helped me get back in shape and ready for spring.

Until next time,





Recipe: My MIL’s Puerto Rican Rice

Every family has their recipe’s that have been passed down. One that everyone fights over the last bite during the holidays. This recipe is that dish. My MIL makes the best Puerto Rican rice, no matter how many times I have tried to replicate it. It’s fluffy, so much flavor and filled with “love”, as she says.

When I first started dating my husband, I have never had it and now, I don’t think I could live without it during our family gatherings. It’s that good. Although, it has never been written down, this past weekend, I was finally able to get an approximation of what makes it so good.

If you make it, I’d love to see it! It’s such dish that is near and dear to me. Enjoy!

MIL Puerto Rican rice recipe

  • 1 TBSP of Sofrito (Goya is the best)
  • 1 cup of white rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 4 oz can of regular or Spanish style tomato sauce
  • 1 can of gandules (pigeon peas)
  • 1 package of Sazón Goya
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-4 TBSP of Manzanilla olives
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic or garlic powder
  1. Heat oil in pan
  2. Add sofrito and spread through pan, until hot
  3. Add garlic/garlic powder and Sazon Goya and mix until hot
  4. Add rice, tomato sauce, water, gandules, olives, and bay leaf and mix very well
  5. Bring water to a boil and turn down to medium and cover
  6. Keep covered!! And allow rice to cook for 15 minutes and then turn once
  7. Keep cooking until all liquid is evaporated and rice is cooked
  8. Occasionally stirring it or “fluffing” the rice
  9. Enjoy!

Until next time,


A Family Friendly St. Patrick’s Day: Events and Activities for Everyone

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, there are lot’s of events and activities happening, many involving over indulging in some adult beverages and creating some fuzzy memories. But just because you have a family now doesn’t mean the fun can stop. There are a ton of family friendly activities happening and even ones that involve green beer just for you parents. Yes parents, you deserve a green beer or two.


Old St. Patrick’s Church: St. Patrick’s Day Civic Celebration– If you are looking for other ways to celebrate the day, attend mass at Old St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Chicago’s West Loop. The Old St. Patrick’s concert choir will be accompanied by The Sheila Tully Irish Stepdancers, and the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band, keeping the festive spirit going throughout the day. Highly recommended to get there early.

Saturday, March. 17, 9 .m. (doors open at 7 a.m.)
Old St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, 700 W. Adams St., West Loop

NY Kids Club– Celebrate with your little ones for a St. Patrick’s Day Party during a supervised open play in their state-of-the-art gym. We have been here a few times since they recently opened and really enjoyed the space. They have a more gymnastic based equipment like a mini-trampoline and balance beam. There will also be Irish sing-alongs and open art. The festivities include pizza for children and hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine for adults. Families will also receive party favors on their way out.

Friday, March 16th, 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM ,
Chicago – Lincoln Park NY Kids Club
Tickets $48 per child

St. Patrick’s Festival at the Irish American Heritage – Following the downtown parade, head over to the Irish American Heritage Center on the Northwest side. The family-oriented annual event will include traditional and contemporary Irish music, Irish step dance performances, food and drink, children’s activities and an arts-and-crafts fair with an Irish flair.

Saturday, March 17th, 1 p.m.-midnight
Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave., Irving Park
Tickets are $15/adults, or $12 for advance purchase if bought by the end of the day on March. 15; free for ages 11 & under

Northwest Irish Parade- The Northwest Irish Organization (NWSI) kicks off its 15th annual parade to celebrate all things Irish. This is probably the most manageable parade with a family compared to the downtown and southside parades. With over 100 parade group participants and 2,500 people marching, it is an hour and a half for the whole family.

The after Party will take place at Immaculate Conception Elementary School Recreation Center from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Tickets for the after party include dinner and drinks for kids and adults. There will be corned beef, entertainment, face painting, balloon magic and raffles.

Sunday, March 11th, noon
Begins at 6634 W. Raven

After party 1:00- 5:00 pm
Immaculate Conception Recreation Center 7271 W. Talcott Ave
Tickets: $10.00/12 and over, $5.00/children under 12. Drink Wristband (optional) $5.00 -21 years & older only (includes beer & wine)

Hard Rock Cafe– Need somewhere to go after the downtown parade? Hard Rock is having their 10th annual GET SHAMROCKED! This all ages event starts at 10:00 AM.  You can head in Cafe or out in the heated tent for all the festivities. There will be Live Music by The Hat Guys & The Shannon Rovers along with green beer, Irish grub and jello shots and more.

#GetShamROCKED! Happy #stpatricksday #Chicago!

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63 West Ontario, Chicago, IL 60654
$5 dollar suggested donation to the Hard Rock Heals Foundation


Krispy Kreme-  In the mood for doughnuts? What about green doughnuts?! Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is joining the St. Patrick’s Day celebration’s and serving green doughnuts for two days for the first time ever!

Krispy Kreme is bringing back its “O’riginal” Glazed Doughnut on Friday and Saturday,
March 16-17, at Chicagoland’s Krispy Kreme shops located at 17815 South Halsted Street
in Homewood and 9150 South Western Avenue in Evergreen Park. The O’riginal Glazed Doughnut is specially formulated with green dough and glazed hot in traditional Krispy Kreme fashion.

Definitely perfect for those little ones with a serious sweet tooth in your family!

Krispy Kreme doughnuts serving green doughnuts for St. Patrick's Day

Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant- Named one of the “Top Ten Irish Pubs in the World” by Irish of the Welcomes magazine, Chief O’Neill’s is very authentic and also, family friendly. In fact, we celebrate many special occasions here my family including their father’s day bruch. They have several family friendly activities going on all weekend like their Little Leprechaun Family Breakfast Feast (8am – 11:30am). 

The chief….

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Saturday Parade Day 3/17/18   OPENING 7AM

Little Leprechaun Family Breakfast Feast (8am – 11:30am)

    • Buffet breakfast for adults and kids featuring Irish and American breakfast favorites; Bacon, Sausage, Corned Beef Hash, French Toast, Waffles, Irish Cheddar Scrambled Eggs, Breakfast Potato Casserole, Eggs Benedict, Scrambled Eggs, Breads, Fresh platters and more…..
    • Live traditional Irish music
    • Complimentary tin whistle lesson with the Irish Music School of Chicago at 9am for all kids ages 6 – 12. Bring your own whistle (Key of D) buy one for $10 or borrow one of ours! Pre-registration required at
    • Face painting and balloon animals
    • Free Irish Dance lessons 10am, kids 3 to 10yr with The Trinity Academy of Irish Dance
    • An appearance by St. Patrick himself at 10am
    • And much more!

3471 N. Elston Ave., Avondale
Breakfast Food Service, Adults $15, Kids 10 and under $12

Legno Chicago– Although you wouldn’t think an Italian restaurant would have much for St. Patrick’s Day, but this Portage Park gem is joining the party. Legno is an Italian gastropub located in what Parent Magazine called, “the most family friendly neighborhood in the city”. They will be serving corned beef, shepard’s pie and have drink specials all day long.

4250 N. Central Avenue
Chicago, IL 60634

Lady Gregory’s – Lady Gregory’s Irish Bar & Restaurant in Andersonville  is one of our family’s favorite lunch spots. Named after the passionate Irish author, this charming wood-paneled pub focuses on farm-to-table, sustainable, local ingredients and authentic Irish fare. Try to secure a table in the cozy library with a fireplace. Start with the hard cider steamed mussels and move on to the classic fish and chips served with minty peas.

5260 N. Clark Street
Chicago IL 60640

773 271 5050

XO Marshmallow– This is not only dessert heaven, but kids love it! The space is fun and the marshmallows are delicious. They are serving Green River mint lemonade and pistachio marshmallow all month long.

6977 N Sheridan Rd.
Chicago, IL 60626


Celebrating at home? Here are some ways to enjoy the festivities at home with your family.

Gold Maze
Are you lucky enough to find the gold at the end of this maze? is here with learning games and educational activities just like this maze_gold. 

Crossword Clover 
Find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow as you practice your spelling with this fun crossword_clover printable. is here for you with more spelling and learning activities.

Popular Children’s Books

  1. How to Catch a Leprechaun

2. The Itsy Bitsy Leprachaun

3. Curious George- Happy St. Patrick’s Day

For the Adults

  1. St. Patrick’s Day Wine Labels

2. Photo Props

St Patrick's Photo Booth Props Irish Day Photo Props Tinksky Funny Creative Toy St. Patrick's Party Favors 34pcs

So however you are celebrating it, be safe and enjoy the day with your family!

Until next time,


My Lil’ Kicker: Soccer Lessons with Lil’Kickers

Soccer lessons at Lil' Kickers

Staying indoors all winter long with a toddler can be really, really boring. To help bare with the cold months, we started soccer lessons when Noah was 20 months and we LOVE it. The program is designed to help develop children’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills while providing physical exercise. They promote players who are good sports and good teammates, on and off the field. The coaches are very encouraging, always high-fiving, and players get stamps at the end of each lesson (my son’s favorite part). My favorite part? Noah get’s to get channel some of his energy all while having a positive learning experience. It is a 50 minute lesson with an adult, but at the age of 3, a parent is no longer required.

Ages: 18 months – 9 years
Classes: Weekday & Weekend
Spring Session: Mar 19th – Jun 17th

You can book a free trial class using this link.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

(TheChicagoGoodLife is a partner of Lil’Kickers)

Family Sunday Funday

(Updated March 6th, 2018)

My little family likes to brunch out. A lot. We like to try new places and turn it into a Sunday Funday (although, it is a toned down version now with a two year old) We had so much fun this past weekend for brunch at Warehouse Pizzeria in Lincoln Park . Their breakfast pizza is one of my favorites! Another delicious brunch pizza is Home Slice (I personally like it better than their regular pizza).

My Brunch Squad sweatshirt is from Old Navy last year, but you can find a similar version here (including some fun kid shirts).

If you are looking for some kid friendly spots, you can find them here at Top 5 Kid-Friendly Brunch Spots.




Until next time,


A Stroll down Southport Corridor (adults only)

The Southport Corridor may be known for strollers, moms and boutiques, but recently, there has been a surge in places for adults to play. So ditch those strollers, grab a glass of wine, and take a peek into some adult friendly places popping up on the Southport Corridor.

Coda Di Volpe-  Boasting Southern Italian fare like pizza, steak and seafood, they are most known for their Neapolitan pizza that comes with a side scissors to cut your own slices. Chef Thompson brings his own flair with a seasonal menu, house-cured meats, along with a contemporary vibe that all creates a great spot on Southport.

Coda has a great wine list (award winning in fact) and a creative cocktail menu.  As for starters, my absolute favorite appetizer is the goat cheese with beets appetizer (I am not sure this is on the menu anymore, sigh…) and the pork & prosciutto Meatballs.

How’s your Friday night looking? #chicago #tailofthefox

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Goat Cheese and Beets Appetizer

Next, pizza! The Funghi and Diavolo pizza are both delicious, but really, they all look fantastic.  Thompson crafts traditional VPN-certified Neapolitan pizzas served with authentic pizza shears that adds an element of fun to the dining experience.

Next up, pasta. All the pastas are made in-house and available gluten free upon request. A stand out dish is the Trombette Trapanese made with Coda’s fennel sausage, tomato, almond, garlic, and basil. It’s also just beautiful to look at.

They are also now serve brunch on the weekend. It’s perfect for date night or a night out with the ladies.

Ella Elli- The newest addition to the 4 star restaurant group, is the wine bar, Ella Elli. This sexy, romantic spot is so swanky, I felt like I had been transported downtown to a fancy hotel in River North. The over sized lanterns, fireplace and couches, make for THE perfect date night spot.

We love Fridays! Stop in for a drink at the bar before we fill up! 📸: @nadia.ryan

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 The wine list is extensive, but Pinot Noir Rose by Willamette Valley really paired nicely with our cheese board.  We also tried the creamy mushroom toast with creme faiche and thyme, this would make me come back. Everything is presented beautifully and our server paired everything really well with our wine.


Ella Elli

They have pizza great for sharing, pasta and burgers. The burger is supposed to be outstanding, as well as their brunch menu  When I visited, we shared the charcuterie  and toasts, which really can be a meal in itself. Next time, the burger is on my list.

@Eater_Chicago named our pizzas as some of the hottest in Chicago!! Have you tried them yet?

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If you need a date night, Ella Elli should absolutely be on your list.

Tied House– Just opening in February 2018, this is brand new on Southport. The reviews are rolling in and everything about Tied House has been outstanding.

Schubas Tavern has been around for three decades, and now there is a new addition  with the opening of Tied House, the owners’ new restaurant next door. The modern architecture and the courtyard that separates the restaurant from Schubas with a giant outdoor fireplace just dazzles from the inside and out.

Schubas will continue to have the same menu, Tied House’s chef, Debbie Gold (who happens to be  James Beard Award-winning chef) to create her own menu, including short rib, crudo, porridge with beets and house made ice cream.

Tied House will be perfect for pre and post concerts and is a great addition to the area looking for more “adult” friendly dining.

With so many options now on Southport, there is really something for everyone.

Until next time.



National Margarita Day (but that could be any day really…)

Margaritas are one of my favorite cocktails

If you know anything about me, I enjoy two kinds of drinks: a glass of Cabernet and a margarita with salt.  But margaritas can be overly sweet, watered down, or just really, really bad. Whether it is Cinco de Mayo or a warm day in Chicago, a margarita is the perfect cocktail to sip on. To help you get your buzz on,  I have rounded up a few of my favorite marg’s around the city.

Big Star– This might be the most obvious choice, but their margaritas are really tasty. Either by the pitcher or glass, I prefer the Big Star mezcal rather than the Classic. The classic is made with blanco tequila, which doesn’t give the smoky taste I prefer like the Big Star. They have an amazing patio and it’s perfect for the warmer Chicago months, and of course, let’s not forget their tacos.

Masa Azul– This Logan Square Mexican and cocktail bar is a little gem that might have the best margaritas in the city. Seriously. Their margaritas are that good. With almost 20 cocktail options to choose from, all ranging from $6- $12 dollars, lots of tacos (lots of vegetarian options), this is my top 5 favorite Mexican places in Chicago. This is a bold statement, considering my husband’s discerning taste. With such a variety of options, there might be a margarita for everyone.


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The two margaritas I recommend are the Prickly Pear and Where there is smoke. This has mezcal joven with a Serrano Chile. Smoky with a little spice.  Pair it with their guacamole = perfect meal.

Crio Bar and Restaurant– Located in West Lincoln park on Clybourn Avenue, this Latin American gastropub has some really flavorful margaritas, great empanadas and drink specials throughout the week. On Tuesdays, Margaritas are only $6 dollars.

New Guava Margarita 🙌🏽 it's so refreshing, already had 10 😜

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$6 margaritas for Lunch and Dinner 😜 #happytuesday #tacotuesday

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I have two go-to drinks here. First, the hibiscus marg is a delicious combination of sweet and spicy.  Second, they have a version of a Moscow mule, made with mezcal, which is really good. Plus, for all you instagrammers, the mural and flower wall make a great photo opportunity.

Del Toro– Located in Pilsen, this little gem is always packed and always worth the wait. The tacos are delicious, but the margaritas is make me coming back. My favorite is the  jalapeno margarita.  It literally comes with a flaming jalapeno which is not only entertaining, it makes for fun experience. It was also delicious – which is a double plus.

These are just a few places, but Chicago is full of so many amazing places to grab a margarita. I’d love to hear your go-to places!

Until next time…