A recap of my amazing trip to Chicago, IL and the NOW Foods Immersion trip in celebration of NOW’s 50th Anniversary!
My trip to Chicago, IL was sponsored by NOW Foods. I decided to extended the trip and Michael flew up to meet me and we explored the city for a few more days. All opinions expressed (as always) are my own. I only partner with brands I trust and personally recommend – thank you for your support in helping make Eat the Gains possible!
NOW Foods Influencer Immersion
Last month I had the wonderful opportunity to be invited to NOW Food’s Influencer Immersion trip to celebrate their 50th anniversary. I love trips like this because you get to meet the people behind the brand and get to know their company personally. If you aren’t familiar with NOW Foods, they are a leader in natural product manufacturing and produce things from supplements, sports nutrition, vitamins, essential oils, natural foods, and even beauty and health. If you need some kind of supplement, natural food product, and anything health related, I’m pretty sure they have you covered!
I flew in on Thursday afternoon and a car picked my friend Leslie and I up and we headed to Bloomingdale, IL which is about 25 miles outside the city. After we relaxed some and I met up with Dana and Ellie, we headed to our first event at a Cooking Skills Academy!! We were greeted by the CEO Jim Emme and Dan Richard, the son of the founder of NOW. We learned about the company, the history, the products, and what their brand entails.
We then had a protein donut demo (they were delish) and were broken up into teams for an Iron Chef challenge. The rules were we had to use one of NOW’s products and anything else that was in the kitchen. My team created a Mediterranean style poke bowl and got 3rd place (out of 5 teams)! The night ended with a delicious dinner that was gluten, dairy, and grain free.
The next morning started off with a fun HIIT style workout followed up by a make-your-own smoothie bar and a presentation about sports nutrition. I definitely learned a few things that I might be trying out once my marathon training starts! After we showered and got ready for the day, we headed for a plant tour!
The facility was absolutely ginormous and filled with so much high quality equipment. When a company opens up their doors and not only lets you meet their team, but then lets you take a tour of their factory, showing you everything from ingredient arrivals, testing, packaging, and more, it really means something. NOW Foods goes above and beyond (even beyond FDA requirements) to test their products before, during, and after manufacturing to make sure they are up to their standards and they are putting out the highest quality for consumers.
The trip ended with an epic lunch catered by Whole Foods, a presentation on essential oils plus a DIY essential oil bath soak and cleaning spray, and a sound bath lead by Leslie. It was a great way to end an amazing trip. I headed back into the city with Ellie where I would meet Michael at our AirBnB.
By the way, people talk about Austin traffic being bad, it’s not even something to complain about compared to Chicago traffic. I think it took us 2 hours to go like 35 miles?! YIKES.
Exploring Chicago, IL!
After a whirlwind of 24 hours I was exhausted to say the least, but Chicago was waiting to be explored! I met up with Michael who was at our AirBnB in Andersonville. We choose to stay in Andersonville as it is a little north of downtown (about 5 miles) and was a little more quiet, but still had a city feel. We are so happy we picked there (thanks for the help Ellie!!) because it was full of so many things to do in walking distance. Our AirBnB was a 1 bedroom suite with a small kitchen area (no room for cooking) and a bathroom. It was super cute! We didn’t need much as we weren’t planning on spending too much time there. It was super reasonable for the location as well.
After I recomposed myself, we walked to Vincent for some drinks and snacks. It was such a cute space and would be perfect for date night! I don’t remember the drink I got but I remember liking it, but I do remember the snacks! We got the homemade pork rinds which were amazing and the bartender hooked us up with some shoestring fries (and shots!). Nothing like a little hospitality. I would definitely go back here to try their full menu
After that we walked to Little Bad Wolf for their epic burger and it did not disappoint! It’s a casual bar with upscale food and an extensive bar list. Michael got the burger and I got tacos and baos and we also split the mussels. Everything was delish and the drinks we had were good too. I was a little intoxicated at this point and pretty tired so we headed home to rest up for a day of exploring. No pictures of food were taken – what a bad food blogger 😜
The next morning we started off bright and early. We got ready and then walked to m. henry for breakfast. I found this place on Yelp I believe and it was awesome! I got a killer omelet, Michael got druken eggs with homemade black bean cakes and chorizo, and we split a pancake. I saw people with the french toast and it looked insane!! It wasn’t gluten free, but if you don’t have a gluten intolerance, I would recommend it for a treat.
We then took an Uber and headed downtown. By the way, all Ubers were 50% that whole weekend which was amazing for us! It was so cheap to go everywhere. We hit up the Bean first and that was pretty neat to see. We snagged some pictures and then walked along Michigan Avenue.
Next up we did a artitexture boat tour on the river and the lake with Wendella. I highly recommend doing this! I’m not one for architecture, but our guide was awesome and it was such a cool way to see the city. There are a lot of amazing buildings with interesting history behind them in Chicago. The weather was a little colder than anticipated, but we made the best of it.
After that we walked down Michigan Ave some more, did a little shopping, hit up the John Hancock Center. Rumor has it there are some spectacular views of the city from there and people are right! We had a drink (a very expensive one) and headed out. If you are a female, make sure you check out the bathroom – the best view is from there!
The shopping on Michigan Ave is mostly tourist or bigger name brands. It’s cool to walk around and see it, but it wasn’t much that interested me to buy. It’s still a fun experience though!
We walked around some more and hit up a few Chicago staples that we couldn’t not try. We hit up Portillo’s for a Chicago style hot dog and Al’s Beef for Chicago style Italian beef sandwich. Michael did most of the eating, but I did try them both. I have to say, I wasn’t really impressed with the Italian beef – it didn’t really do anything for me. But it’s worth trying if that is your thing! The hot dog was a hot dog except with a few extra toppings. But my fiancé sure does look good eating it 🙂
We then met Michael’s friend for a glass of wine in Logan Square which is a super neighborhood. After that we headed home, recomposed, and ventured out for some Chicago style pizza at Lou Malnati’s. Hate to break it y’all, but def wasn’t impressed with deep dish pizza. I felt like I was just eating cheese. And once it got cold, it was cold melted cheese. To each their own though! And I totally forgot to snag a picture of it ha!
The next day the weather was horrible. In the 40s and it started pouring rain, but that didn’t stop us! We walked to a coffee shop down the road to get turmeric lattes to rejuvenate. After that we headed to Middle Eastern Bakery and Grocery for lunch and to shop around. They had so many bulk spices I snagged a few to bring home. And the lunch was amazing!! So much food. The hummus was some of the best I’ve ever had – it was so creamy. Definitely recommend checking them out.
After that we needed some dessert and headed to Defloured, a gluten free bakery. Michael snagged some candy bar potato chip bar craziness, I got a caramel oat bar, and we got a zucchini bread to split. Everything looked so good, it was hard to pick!
Before we headed to the airport we hit up Humboldt House which was recommended by Lee from America. It’s a cute feminist shop with local goods ranging from clothes, home decor, jewelry, and even some crystals. I picked up some jewelry and we got a cool planter pouch thing for a cactus at home. I could spend a lot of money in that store, but luckily Michael stopped me haha.
Well that concludes our Chicago, IL trip! As you can see, we tried to fit in as much as possible in the little amount of time we had there. We ha so much fun and I can’t wait to come back!
Let me know if you’ve been and if you have any recommendations for next time we go!
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