RPM Steak – Paleo Date Night Review

I’ve mentioned previously that we don’t go out to eat all that often anymore.  It’s difficult to find restaurants with gluten free, paleo options that we trust.  This weekend, though, we had an amazing dining experience at RPM Steak right here in Chicago.  Winner, winner, grass fed meat dinner!

RPM Steak has been quite the hot spot since it opened last year.  Co owners Bill and Guiliana Rancic have created a beautiful dining venue in the heart of River North that is attracting foodies, celebrities and even President Obama who dined there last October.  If you want to get a table on a weekend, you can expect to wait months for a reservation.  On a whim, I searched on open table Saturday afternoon. An 8:30pm table for 2 popped up  – WHAT?!  Before I knew it, we were dressed in our finest impromptu date night attire and an uber taxi was whisking us up Dearborn.

The restaurant itself is beautiful.  It’s has an open concept, but the darker colors and wood tones keep it comfortable, yet swanky.  If you’ve been to RPM Italian, it’s almost the inverse of their bright white, but just as sleek.  They were running slightly behind, so we headed to the four-sided open bar. There are booths that flank three sides and people sitting and standing about 2 rows deep all around the bar.  It was crowded, but does that matter when you’re there to be IN the scene?  I didn’t think so.  We ordered a glass each of the Sonoma County, CA Complicated Chardonnay to start.  The bar area started to thin out a tiny bit when our table was ready around 9pm.

Find the Hidden Red Shoe - It's Good Luck!

Find the Hidden Red Shoe – It’s Good Luck!

We sat down and were presented with the gluten free menus (which I requested in the reservation). There is really not that much difference with the regular menu as their gluten free menu is huge and impressive.  We were then greeted by our AMAZING server, Chrissy (or Krissy?  sorry!) who told us she is Celiac and we can rest assured that they take gluten free seriously.  Chrissy then sent over one of their five sommeliers to help us navigate the extremely extensive wine list.  Once that order of business was complete, we turned our attention back to the dinner menu.  We decided on:

Appetizers

  • Oysters:  Sourced from the west coast – you get 6 for $18.  These were some of the best oysters I’ve had.  They come topped with a very light sort of ceviche relish that included jalapeno, cucumber, lemon and lime juice.  I would go back and just order these with a glass of champs!
  • Thick cut bacon:  Chrissy told us this dish is life changing and she was right.  It had a nice sweet maple glaze and in a way, it reminded me of french toast – it was that thick!
RPM Thick Cut Maple Bacon

Apps from Heaven

 

Main Course

  • 20 oz. Grass Fed Bone in Ribeye (sourced from Slagel Farms):  Even though there is a bone in it, this steak is HUGE!  I thought Chuck would definitely be bringing some home, but he powered through and ate the whole thing.  I had a bite and it was seasoned perfectly and very juicy.  He also ordered the butter and bone marrow sauce to complement it.
  • 8 oz. Grass Fed Bison Filet (sourced from High Plains):  I expect bison to be leaner than other meats and it was, but was still full of flavor and tender.  This was a generous, thick cut portion and as much as I wanted to finish it, I did have to give Chuck my last few bites (which he ate on top of his 20 oz. without a problem 🙂 )

Sides

  • Hen of the Woods Mushrooms:  You don’t often see these on a menu and they are Chuck’s favorite mushroom, so we had to get them.  They had a delicious woody flavor, as you’d expect, and were just divine.  The serving dish didn’t move far from Chuck’s setting and I had to strategically grab some while he was busy chewing.
  • Roasted Cauliflower:  Sounds boring, but it’s one of our staple, cruciferous vegetables.  This was like no cauli I’ve had before.  The roasted florets were very soft and came in a very light tomato type of sauce with lime.  Sounds odd, but it worked really well.

RPM Steak hit it out of the park for us on all counts:  food (with bonafide paleo options), service and ambience.  It is also a bonus that it is part of the Lettuce Entertain You group of restaurants.  We had some gift cards that we were able to use which softens the blow when the check comes.  It is spendy, but it is worth checking out.  Don’t forget to request Chrissy as your server – she is the best! Thank you RPM Steak for an awesome date night!

Holiday Wrap Up

Despite contrary sentiments I noticed on Facebook, I was quite sad to see the end of 2014.  For us it was a great year – one of strength, stability, growth and success.  Perhaps most importantly, we felt healthy and strong, committed and comfortable with our paleo lifestyle.  On the flip side, we’re looking forward to carrying this into 2015 and making this year just as great.

The holidays were the perfect time for us to unwind, relax and hang out with family and friends.  There’s not much that can compete with sleeping in, mom’s (paleo) cookies and dad’s fresh squeezed oj 🙂  Did we keep it paleo through all the parties and travel? Duh, totes. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite things and what we ate.

Santa knows us pretty well.  These are a few of the awesome gifts we think you should know about:

  • Mala Beads: These are beautiful, handcrafted pieces.  I got the Strengthening Agate Mala for its ability to ground and balance emotion as well as its healing properties
  • Mascara: This is my go to mascara that is gluten free
  • Salad Spinner: This has saved me loads of time in the lettuce washing department
  • Cast Iron Skillet: We’ve literally used this every day since we got it
  • Smart Wool Socks: Amazing, comfortable and feet don’t get sweaty or cold.  We also love the Defeet brand.

As for food, we don’t travel light.  We ordered groceries ahead of time from www.doortodoororganics.com and www.freshpicks.com.  We packed the car with the food, a box of our spices and even a crockpot.  Here’s what we feasted on:

  • Christmas Eve: Paleo Chili from Against All Grain cookbook.
  • Christmas Day: Eggs*, Bacon, Avocado and Fed and Fit’s Blueberry Scones.*  Grass Fed Pot Roast, Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies and Paleo Pumpkin Pie.  For the pie, I used this crust and this filling.
  • The next 2 days were spent in Peoria, where we ate leftover scones, more avocados, salads and veggies. We also had a new pot of Chili and some Grass Fed Italian Beef (Thanks Dave!)  We went out to eat one night where we ordered burgers with no buns and a side salad.  Chuck also finished off the rest of our cookies on the drive down when I fell asleep!  We had some backup larabars, renola and almond butter if we needed it.

*I have a sensitivity to eggs so I don’t eat them.  My accommodating mom made the scones by substituting one banana for the egg and they turned out amazing!

We hope you had a wonderful holiday as well.  Happy New Year!!

New Years Day

New Years Day Selfie at the University Club of Chicago

 

Surprise! Chef Josh “Live” – Kitchfix in our Kitch

Before we were Paleo, we’d eat out or order food at least 5 nights of the week. These days it is a big deal if we go out once or twice a month. There is so much involved in going out now like researching menus ahead of time, worrying about cross contamination and hoping the wait staff truly knows what dietary restrictions mean. Now that we cook so often, we’ve really honed our skills. Because we use high quality ingredients, we often find that we prefer our own food to a restaurant. In spite of all of this, Chuck said we were going out to dinner on my birthday last month. He wouldn’t give me any details, but assured me it was completely Paleo compliant. We are very strict with diet so I was really curious and excited.

I came home after work and patiently waited for him to finish a real estate showing in our building so we could head out. I was sitting at our kitchen island drinking a cup of bone broth when he got back. Then, I noticed that Chef Josh Katt was walking in behind him. I recognized him as the chef behind Kitchfix, a service that delivers pre-made food including Paleo friendly options. We order from them every single week and had met Josh before. “Weird” I thought, “was his showing with Josh Katt?!” That’s when Josh said “Hey! I’m going to be cooking for you tonight!” Shut the front door! This was totally a dream come true. You cavemen and women know that preparing Paleo meals day after day can get tedious and laborious. I’ve always wanted someone to just come over and cook me dinner without having to worry about any part of it. Chuck hit this one out of the park! After freaking out, I swapped my dress for comfy clothes and my bone broth for red wine. Although Josh said we could sit at the table and he’d serve us, we opted to remain at the island. That way we could all talk together and watch him create a 3 course masterpiece. He pulled out tons of ingredients that he brought and started cooking. It was amazing. Our menu consisted of:

First Course – Seared scallops with chorizo and bacon crumbles

CJK First Course

Second Course – Lamb chops, brussel sprouts, micro-greens and a perfectly spicy sauce

CJK Main Course

Third Course – Pumpkin crème brulee in a pumpkin garnished with strawberries, pomegranate, diced apple and bacon.

CJK Pumpkin Creme Brulee_

Chef Josh also left us with a box of their Kitchfix cookies (delicious!) and gave us some of their Kitchfix Paleo granola (which you can find at many Mariano’s grocery stores around the city!) Thank you, Chuck, for making my birthday so special and for always knowing just what I want (or need). Thank you, Chef Josh, for taking the time to cook for us. Your food is amazing and we had the best night!

For those of you who live in the Chicago area and want to try Kitchfix yourself, here is our referral link.

We’d love to know what you think!

Cuckoo for Coco-Jack

This is one of the things you never knew you needed.  My particular story started in the Whole Foods produce area.  I saw a girl comparing two of those white coconuts, one in each hand, and I couldn’t help but ask what she was doing.  She nicely explained that they are young coconuts, full of coconut water.  They are pricey at $2.99, so she was trying to figure out which was heavier to get the best value.  Packaged coconut water is more expensive and there are always concerns with additives or BPA in the packaging. A fresh coconut seems like a great way to get coconut water directly from the source, right?  Well, after trying to hack one open with a cleaver, I can see how the packaged stuff has its place and its price.  Is fresh coconut water worth a trip to the emergency room?  Hmmmm, I pondered this but still continued to open coconuts the only way I knew how… brute force.  I must admit, there is something primal and fun about my method.  But, there was an increasingly worried look on Rene’s face every time I assured her that I knew what I was doing.  That encouraged me to scour YouTube for a better solution.  That, friends, is the day I found Coco-Jack.  I ordered one up for myself and also got one for my dad (makes a great gift!).  The Coco-Jack is simply amazing.  Why the heck didn’t I think of this?  It’s cool, works perfectly and has made opening young coconuts a super fun spectacle of wonderment.  The Coco-Jack is simple.  Basically, it is a mallet and a leverage device.  You hammer the circular part of the device into the top of the coconut and push down on the handle part.  The leverage pops the top of the coconut into a little round lid.  You can go Gilligan’s Island style and pop in a straw the top or, for you sophisticates, pour the coconut water into the wine glass of your choice.  I’ve been getting about 2 cups of water out of each coconut.  I saved the best part for last… They also came up with a little scooper tool that lets you get all the coconut meat out without smashing the shell open.  Again, genius idea!  I was pretty pumped about this, so I contacted Coco-Jack.  They were nice enough to provide a Coco-Jack discount code for our readers.

Use code “MePaleo” at check out and get a whopping 10% off of your purchase!

Here are some technique videos for your viewing pleasure.  This thing is great!  Cheers!

Getting Jacked

Getting Jacked

Do Celebrities Eat Gluten?

Those of you that know me know I’m a sucker for celebrity gossip.  To Chuck’s dismay, I love shows like The Real Housewives and The Bachelor. I like to catch up on my Hollywood friends by perusing entertainment sites online during my daily train commutes.  Today, I came across an article from Harley Pasternak: Is It Good to Go Gluten Free?  http://greatideas.people.com/2014/05/28/gluten-free-diet-harley-pasternak/

I’ve got to say that this article totally pissed me off.  Now, I get it…it’s a short blurb of an article and it’s probably not meant to elicit thought-provoking, intellectual scientific discussion.  I’m sure they’ve got to keep things fairly superficial for our small, entertainment focused minds.  There’s my problem.  You don’t introduce a topic that is both controversial and important like this one, fill it with mis-information and then end it with a flimsy sentence saying:  “But before we throw money after potentially unnecessary gluten-free alternatives, let’s let the scientific community investigate further!”

I want my fellow celebrity stalkers to know this is not good advice!! Don’t wait for that – there is a ton of information out there already.  There are so many things I disagree with in this short, shallow article.  But, I’ll just cut to the chase.  One sentence in the article said: “Researchers found that the subjects reported worsening of their symptoms with all of the diets, including the gluten-free diets.”  You can’t eat gluten one day and then not eat it the next day expecting symptoms to go away.  You also have to address other items that can be working against you (toxins, sleep patterns and a host of others that are topics for another blog). The best way to test for gluten (or any other food sensitivity) is through an elimination diet.  You have to eliminate the food from your diet COMPLETELY for at least 30 days (many people do longer) and then re-introduce it again to see if it causes any symptoms.   I would highly recommend cutting out gluten and never re-introducing it, though, as I believe it is the worst.  Why?  Keep reading for my references…..I just have a few more quick thoughts to get off my chest first!

I’m not a doctor or the world’s most prominent gluten expert, but Harley isn’t either.  I don’t have a famous television show to carry my message, but I do have this blog and I do have first-hand experience. I think it would be awesome if everyone gave up gluten (and a host of other terrible foods) and went Paleo.  The results for me have been nothing short of exceptional.  Yes, I had a compelling reason to try it out.  But, many others (some of whom we’ve featured on this blog) have done it and haven’t looked back because the change in the way you feel is so great!  Do I expect that everyone will live this way – no.  Do I hate my friends that eat gluten – of course not.  Do I want you to stop reading People magazine?  Don’t be silly.  Do I hope you try it out and get educated on the topic from some place other than entertainment mags?  Totes Magotes!! 

Here are some of my celebrities that I follow specifically addressing the topic of Gluten:
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2011/11/why-grains-are-bad.html  (by the way, she IS a scientist!)
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-grains-are-unhealthy/#axzz33VFwT2Ak
http://robbwolf.com/2014/05/16/gluten-intolerance-exist/

Of course, check out anything having to do with my personal hero, Dr. Terry Wahls:
http://terrywahls.com/

Happy Anniversary

It is our ONE year anniversary of going Paleo!!  When I stop to actually think about it, it’s so hard to comprehend how many changes we’ve made.  What a difference a year truly makes:

Jan 5 2013:  I heard the doctor say: “Based on all the tests we’ve run, the results are indicative of MS.”  I heard it, but didn’t comprehend it.  I just wanted so badly to get out of the hospital after being there for 3 days.  I wanted to be alone to figure this out for myself.  Unfortunately, I had 3 more days to go.

Jan 26 2013:  I figured it out.  Rather, I had a game plan.  I was going Paleo and not starting MS drugs.  I poured over information from Dr. Wahl’s and others and knew this was the path for me.  Chuck agreed and we become gluten, grain, dairy, soy, processed food free.

Feb 1 2013:  Paleo flu hits me HARD.  Google it.  I’m in the bathroom at work unable to move because I feel so sick.  Chuck has to drive to the burbs to pick me up and take me home.  I spend the rest of the weekend in bed with zero energy, feeling sick to my stomach.  I’m questioning my chosen path.  I recover a few days later, but am still on quite the adjustment period.  This lasts for a good month.

Mar 2013:  I start to adjust and get the hang of Paleo living.  I am still experiencing MS symptoms in my legs, feet and back but, they are finally subsiding.  I’ve been going to work this whole time, but am now comfortable enough to go out socially.  I went back to yoga at the end of the month which meant the world to me.

May 2013:  I’m working with my chiropractor/ wellness doctor.  I’m eating good, taking the right supplements and feeling great.  I’m feeling normal again.  We start doing all kinds of weird stuff like skin brushing, making bone broth, eliminating toxins from our household and eating grass fed gelatin.

Aug 2013:  Trip to Napa.  Feeling awesome.  We drink some wine.  Chuck proudly parades around in his first speedo.

Sep 2013:  I do a 6 week ‘cleanse’.  It’s basically an even stricter version of Paleo.  I’ve reduced alcohol greatly and when I do drink, it’s red wine only.  But, I’m completely alcohol free during this time.  Chuck wanted this cleanse to be over as much as I did.  Maybe I was moody?

Dec 2013:  First MRI since diagnosis.  I absolutely dreaded it.  Ok, I had a glass of champagne to celebrate when it was over.  Chuck starts doing yoga and loves it!  He also starts doing more weird stuff like oil pulling (google it).

Jan 2014:  Doctor calls with results of MRI.  No new lesions and existing ones have diminished.  I have proof and validation that I’m doing the right thing for me.  Paleo has truly changed my life.

TODAY (January 31 2014):  Feeling incredible.  Yes, sometimes there are still minor symptoms.  For the most part though, I feel better than ever.  We are both full of energy, we sleep soundly and we eat amazing Paleo food.  Chuck has lost 35 lbs and his blood pressure is the lowest it’s ever been.  It was a process, but a worthwhile one.  For anyone starting out, know that it doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.  From my perspective, it’s absolutely worth it.  Ok, we might have a glass of wine tonight.

Cheers – Happy Anniversary!