Remember the 8 Chicago Food Events You Don’t Want to Miss post from earlier this summer? Well, one of the recommended events, the BeHealthful Retreat, took place last weekend and our very own Karen Schroeder had the privilege of attending and reviewing the event!
Although complimentary admission was provided to the following event, all views and opinions expressed on this blog belong entirely to the author based on personal experience.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the BeHealthful team for inviting Eat Chic Chicago to attend the 2nd Annual 2015 BeHealthful Retreat. I was fortunate enough to share this experience with a close friend and colleague of mine, Catherine Borkowski, RD, LDN. The Zhou B Art Center, where the event was held, is a true diamond in the rough. With plenty of character oozing from the exposed-brick walls and high ceilings, being surrounded by thought-provoking art work really heightened the experience. As two passionate dietitians that live and breathe wellness, we were delighted to see an itinerary that was jammed-packed full of exercise classes, interesting panel discussions and a slew of vendors to grab some yummy and healthy treats. If fact, there was so much to choose from, that a few overlaps of talks and exercise classes prevented us from attending as much as what we would have liked. If only we could be in two places at once!
We chose to start out the day with a yoga class led by the lovely Soren Buchanan in a spacious art gallery. The space filled up quickly, but there were plenty of complimentary yoga mats to go around. As a yoga teacher myself, I found this class to be energizing and fun, especially when you can strike a yoga pose in front of a grandiose painting. Bonus!
After feeling refreshed from our morning yoga session, we weaved our way through the vendors on the first floor and enjoyed sampling a variety of complimentary goodies offered by representatives from healthy dining places scattered about the Chicago-land area. As a dietitian, it is wonderful to see so many health-conscious establishments popping up all over the city, making it convenient for the busy corporate crowd to grab a healthy lunch! A few of our sample favorites included a crunchy all-natural granola from Snap Kitchen, a smooth green juice from Fruve’ Express Juicery, and a fancy truffle potato salad from Marinello Tartufi, LLC, that would have anyone sneaking back for seconds. We appreciated that Snap Kitchen has a registered dietitian on staff, Emily Erickson, RDN, LD, who was a delight to connect with at this event. Other honorable mentions would include Native Foods Café, Kitchfix and Sprig.
Overall, the majority of food offerings were wholesome and healthful, however there were a few indulgences to stay mindful of. To ensure that we did not break the caloric bank, we skipped the pastry booth. But some indulgences were a little less obvious. For example, although the “Hummus Plus” product looked appealing at face value as it advertised 28 grams of protein on the front of the package, this was a good lesson that consumers should always flip the package over to look at the whole picture. My eyes got big as I investigated the nutrition facts panel of each flavor option and found up to 1350 mg of sodium and 31 grams of fat per serving! This is a prime example that supports the simple and important principle of eating unprocessed food whenever possible.
The “holistic oasis” upstairs had twice as many wellness vendors to mingle with ranging from massage therapists, chiropractors, beauticians, and even an animal communicator! The terms retreat and oasis paint a picture of a calm, serene space, which wasn’t necessarily the case. The second floor was rather loud buzzing with energetic people, which got to be a bit overwhelming. We quickly realized that you had to be pretty determined to get a complimentary massage as there were understandably way more attendees that wanted them than there were massage therapists. However, it was well worth the wait to enjoy a stress-relieving 10 minute chair massage from the Chicago Institute of Natural Health, which helped balance out the frenzy that was going on around us.
After feeling rejuvenated from our massages, we capped off the day by listening to the “Breaking the Detox Stigma: How you can cleanse your body with foods and how to do it the safe way” talk. The panel included two Dietitians, an Ayurvedic Practitioner and a Corporate Lifestyle and Wellness Consultant. It was interesting to get different perspectives on topics ranging from essential oils, daily detox methods, hydration, juicing, herbs, and the lymphatic system. Catherine and I both agreed that Jessica Dogert, RD of Fitness Formula Clubs was a standout as she elegantly answered each question by painting a clear picture that was informative and insightful.
Overall, this successful event offered an opportunity to network with a variety of health and wellness professionals, while providing an effortless way to keep up with the ever-changing food landscape of Chicago. I’m grateful to have expanded my list of healthy places to refer my clients to and visit myself!
Would I go back again next year? Absolutely.