Here in Chicago I do a lot of photography work for restaurants — I love food so getting to shoot killer dishes for my job is literally a dream come true. Plus, I get the opportunity to try so many new and interesting things I never would have thought to order otherwise (like BBQ Octopus, Sweet Potato Cocktails, and killer Vegan Caesar Salads).
It’s an exciting and incredible job that fills me with so much passion and inspiration.
The downside is that I eat A LOT. Like a lot, a lot. And often in a really irregular and unbalanced way (no proper distribution of healthy vitamins and macros here).
So this year I’m challenging myself to balance what I eat more WITHOUT denying myself the incredible food innovations Chicago has to offer (seriously, in terms of price and quality, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better foodie mecca in the States than Chicago).
One of the first things I’ve done to clean up my diet is to really focus on what I eat when I’m not eating out. I’ve cleaned out the fridge, thrown away the remaining Christmas cookies I’ve been hoarding in the freezer, and restocked with plenty of fresh produce and Perrier (one of my 5 daily essentials).
Snacking has always been my downfall — if I grab a bag of potato chips, I have a really hard time NOT devouring the entire bag. So I have to be careful what I stock for snacks around the house — high sodium, high carb options used to be my go-to in college but now I know I need to be snacking on foods that fuel my life, not drag it down.
That’s when I discovered Lush Gourmet Artisan Snack Mixes! Lush Gourmet is a Kalamazoo-based nut company that’s gourmet AND healthy AND run by a mid-twenties female entrepreneur who is seriously one of the most inspiring women I’ve yet met on this blogging journey.
I met Lush Gourmet owner Bisera through our mutual friend Soraya and ever since taking my first crunchy bite of her blends I’ve been hooked. Seriously her Rose & Pink Peppercorn Almonds are LIFE-CHANGING!
So when she asked if I’d like to try out her brand new snack mixes I couldn’t say yes fast enough. No preservatives? Nothing artificial? Organic everywhere? And gourmet deliciousness? Hello, happy small-batch snacking! Lush Gourmet currently has three snack mixes and while they’re all spectacularly delicious (and so much more healthy than the M&M-laced trail mixes I lived on before), my favorite has to be the Third Coast blend. Delicious coconut orange peel almonds (one of Lush’s signatures), pepitas, walnuts, mangoes, and raisins? I mean come on — this is one seriously delicious combination! I’m a sucker for pepitas in anything (also known as pumpkin seeds) and the bright flavors combined with the nuts feels so unique and unlike any other snack mix I’ve tried. Plus it’s made by a friend who seriously knows flavors so you can practically taste the love in every bite. For those of you who suffer from serious chocolate-cravings and are looking to satisfy the need in a healthier way, there’s Lush’s True North blend. Dark cocoa chili peanuts (OMG so good), pecans, banana chips, Michigan cherries, and coconut chips.
The dark cocoa chili peanuts give this blend a sweet, chocolate-y flavor which is balanced by the natural sweetness of the bananas and cherries and the toasty, buttery flavor of the coconut.
Indulgent like a chocolate dessert but with a lot more healthy goodness!
And for those of you who crave Asian-flavors NON-STOP (ahem, my Hubby), there’s the Two Six Nine blend.Salt & pepper peanuts mixed with spicy wasabi peas, sesame sticks, sunflower seeds, almonds, and cashews. This blend feels like a spicy, gourmet bar mix (and would be perfect to serve next to some funky cocktails at your next party).
Looking to up your snacking game? Lush Gourmet’s new Artisan Mixes are seriously delicious, addicting, and unique. Plus they’re made by an incredible woman entrepreneur who KNOWS gourmet nuts inside and out.
Small batch snacking from a small business never tasted so good!
And if you’re on the go, Lush Gourmet offers a huge range of mini-snack bags so you can stay healthy whenever, wherever too. 2016 is starting to look like one deliciously healthy year!