Music Monday: Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!  I know everyone is probably out there firing up the barbecue, mixing that potato salad and making a mad dash to the store for more booze, so here’s a quick #MotivationMonday update!

Today’s #MondayMotivation playlist has a patriotic theme, so I encourage you to jump on your bike, get out there for a run or go do something active even if it’s just for a little bit to celebrate FREEDOM.

Fourth of July  - North and Red - Lurie Cancer Survivors’ Celebration 5k 2016
Lurie Cancer Survivors’ Celebration 5k, June 2016

Last year I ran my first 5k run.  This year I ran two in the span of a few weeks and even shaved off 2 minutes on my time!

Fourth of July - North and Red - Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation 5k Run 2016
Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation 5k Run, June 2016

I’m 6 weeks away from doing my first sprint triathlon and every day counts.  I’ll be bustin’ a move to these jams today and I hope you get out there and do something to burn off all those weekend calories too!

M - Signature - Meghan Phillipp - North and Red

Music Monday: For the Anti-Valentine’s Folks & V-Day Singles

I am not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.  I am actually a bit of a bah humbugger when it comes to lovey dovey holidays even though deep down I am a hopeless romantic.

So, in honor of my anti-valentine’s day tendencies, this list is suitable for breakups, feeling empowered, and just plain owning your singledom.  Even if you are with someone, but you just like being independent here’s a good way to rock out when you don’t get the flowers and chocolates that you wanted…. because at the end of the day #YouDoYou best.

M - Signature - Meghan Phillipp - North and Red

Chocolate Craving

Tis’ the season to drink and eat locally.  Here’s a few of my favorite places to indulge in the best chocolatey treats in Chicago!

Fannie May Candies
Fannie May was founded in Chicago on La Salle Street in 1920. Even though it was sold off to 1-800-Flowers in 2006, this candy store still carries on it’s traditions.

Photo Credit: Link

Fannie May’s trademarked sweets are some of the most popular in my family.  Pixies were my late grandpa’s favorite.  His face would light up and he’d always give me a very over-dramatized face to show his excitement to have one.  Trinidad’s are another Fannie May classic, which will be snatched up by my grandma this holiday season.

Photo Credit: Link

Fannie May has multiple locations in the Chicago area.  Check their website for a location near you or to order online.

Margie’s Candies
Margie’s is more than just candies, it’s an ice cream shop too! This holiday season is filled with cookies, candy and all things warm and fuzzy.  Which totally includes super shareable sundaes with loved ones right?

Photo Credit: Link

Even if you’re not stopping by to indulge in their ice cream treats, they have tons of hand-dipped candies and a variety of sweets to share at all your holiday gatherings.

Margie’s Candies has two locations in Chicago.
1813 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613
1960 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
Two words, liquid indulgence.  Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, has HOT CHOCOLATE in the name!  How could it not be amazing!?

Photo Credit: Link

Mindy’s isn’t just a great place to have dessert, there’s a great full menu that changes seasonally.  Mainstays, that will keep you warm and satisfied this winter are the burger and mac & cheese.

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is located at 1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647.  If you’re not local to Chicago, check out Mindy’s website to purchase hot chocolate mix and her book Cookie Love!  You’ll be able to recreate the whole experience at home.

Vosges Haut Chocolate
Vosges is distributed across the country and well-known for it’s unique combinations.  All the founder hand-picks flavors from around the globe, it’s original location in Lincoln Park is a delight, and worth a visit to sample the goods before you buy. Some of my favorites are the Barcelona Exotic Chocolate Bar and Bapchi’s Caramel Toffee. 

Photo Credit: Link

Vogses Haut Chocolate is located at 951 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614.  If you’re more interested in indulging from your couch, check out all their great gifts and treats online.


Music Monday: Ultimate Holiday Playlist

December 1st is a day away, so it’s time to hit play on the holiday tunes!  Christmas radio in Chicago has been available for weeks, but for me the 25 day countdown is when I press play:)

xmaspop25 illustration by zeina makky
photo cred: link

Here’s my ultimate holiday music list with over 16 hours of carols and holiday faves!  Follow the list on Spotify and stay updated when I add more tunes!  Cheers!



Starbucks Holiday Drinks: Decoded

If you’re like most people, your official healthy eating plan won’t be in affect till January.  With all the tempting holiday treats, I thought it’d be helpful to share some ordering tips for when you’re craving more than a dark roast coffee at Starbucks.

1. Size Matters.

From the right: sample, short (8 oz), tall (12 oz), grande (16 oz), venti (20 oz).

Starbucks employees are always happy to help you translate the size of your drink.  When picking a size, I’m going to suggest thinking about how to order in ounces.  If you were to have a can of soda, you’d have a 12 oz can, which translates to a tall in Starbucks lingo.  I’m sure you’re thinking, but I want more caffeine which is why I order a larger size.  Depending on the size you order, there may not actually be more caffeine. Here’s the breakdown of how much coffee is actually in your latte.

How many shots of espresso are in your latte?

Size Espress Shots
Short: 8 oz. 1
Tall: 12 oz. 1
Grande: 16 oz. 2
Venti: 20 oz. 2
*Iced Venti: 24 oz. 3

Please note: Iced Venti drinks have more shots, because the cup is larger, and ice dilutes the drink.

When you order a Venti Gingerbread Latte (GBL) with 2%, it’s 400 calories.  If you order the same drink as a Grande it’s 330 calories, which means you’re saving 70 calories but still getting the same amount of caffeine/coffee from two shots of espresso.

If you’re in need of a coffee boost, try ordering an extra shot of espresso, which adds more caffeine and coffee flavor to your drink without the added milk and sugar calories.  Try a triple grande (adds one shot to a grande size) or double tall (adds one shot to a tall size) and see if it gives you the boost you need!

2. Customize with milk.

photo cred: link

Did you know that the default at Starbucks is to make your drink with 2%?  If you prefer dairy, try nonfat instead of 2%.  A Grande Chestnut Praline Latte (CPL) made with 2% milk is 330 calories, but if you swap your milk for nonfat you save 50 calories. They offer soy and coconut milk as non dairy options, but if you’re looking for the lower cal version, go with coconut.  It’ll save you 40 calories in a Grande CPL if you go with coconut milk over soy.

In the end, milk is a preference and you should choose based on taste, nutrition, and dietary needs.  Besides, all the good stuff can be had in moderation.  So maybe you have nonfat or coconut milk holiday latte Monday-Friday, but on the weekends you order yourself that whole milk latte you crave.

3. With whip or no whip? That is the question.

photo cred: link

Whip cream comes automatically on most holiday beverages, which means an additional 80 calories is added to your drink no matter what size or milk you choose.

If you can’t live with out it, tell your barista to go easy on the whip (cuts it down to approx. 40-50 calories per serving) or just eliminate the whip (saving you 80-100 calories per serving). This is especially true if you order a holiday latte drink every day.  Save your whipped cream topped days for Mondays as a reward for getting to work on time, or as a treat for getting through the week on Fridays.

If you think about those added calories on a daily basis for 5 days, that’s an additional 400 calories for the week.  Those are calories you want to save for the inevitable holiday drinks you’ll have at the office happy hour!

4. Choose your holiday flavor!

Peppermint Mocha (PM)
What a treat! It’s like a Peppermint Patty in a cup!  But, how about all that sugar?  Most of the time, you’re drinking a Starbucks drink in the morning or as a pick me up in the afternoon, so you don’t want to crash the same way you would after a candy bar, right?  The peppermint mocha recipe is different than other drinks at Starbucks, because it’s made with two different flavor syrups–peppermint syrup and mocha syrup. In a tall peppermint mocha there’s 3 pumps of peppermint AND 3 pumps of mocha.  In other tall drinks there’s only 3 pumps of one flavor syrup.  Here’s my suggested amounts for reducing your sugar intake if you choose to order a PM (or WPM–Pepperimint White Mocha).  This way you can enjoy the flavor without as much guilt or the inevitable crash from all the sugar.

Size Starbucks  Measurements for the Peppermint Mocha Recipe My suggestion to have less sugar and calories
Short 2 Pumps Peppermint,
2 Pumps Mocha
1 Pump Peppermint,
1 Pump Mocha
Tall 3 Pumps Peppermint,
3 Pumps Mocha

2 Pumps Peppermint,
1 Pump Mocha

Grande 4 Pumps Peppermint,
4 Pumps Mocha
2 Pumps Peppermint,
2 Pumps Mocha
Venti 5 Pumps Peppermint,
5 Pumps Mocha
2 Pumps Peppermint,
2 Pumps Mocha

Please note: You can always reduce or add pumps to change it up.  ie: more pumps of peppermint if you like it more minty or less pumps of mocha to save more calories. 


Caramel Brulée Latte (CBL)
Inspired by creme brulée, Starbucks has managed to create a drink to taste much like the french dessert. The CBL is made with a sauce and not a syrup, making it a bit more rich in flavor and ultimately more sugar too.  So to curve the calorie intake, but get the flavor, try ordering it with only one or two pumps.  Consider skipping the whip cream or going easy on this one, because it’s already sweet.


Chestnut Praline Latte (CPL)
This nutty, roasty, toasty drink is in it’s second year on the roster of holiday faves at Starbucks.  What’s great about the CPL is that it’s one of the most low cal holiday drinks you can order, because it’s made with a syrup–Starbucks Chestnut Praline syrup. There’s still a good amount sugar in this drink with approximately 12 grams per pump. A Tall CPL has 3 pumps, but if you request only 1 pump you save calories and eliminate 26 grams of sugar.  There’s less sugar, less calories, but you can still enjoy the nutty holiday flavor!


Here’s a few more recipe combinations for healthier-ish holiday beverages! 


Ginger Bread Latte (GBL) Try it iced!  Perfect for when global warming kicks in for a few days!  This version is approximately 140 calories and vegan (made with soy milk)!  I like using soy as a base for iced drinks, because the soy milk Starbucks uses is vanilla flavored, so it’s already naturally sweet and you don’t need a lot of added sugar.

Iced Grande 1 pump Gingerbread Soy No Whip GBL

Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) 
Pumpkin is not just for fall, but a holiday drink for Thanksgiving and all season long! For an afternoon indulgence try a short (8 oz.) PSL for approximately 180 calories and indulge in that whip cream while you’re at it:)

Hot Short 1 Pump Pumpkin Spice 2% Milk W/ Whip PSL

Peppermint White Hot Chocolate (PWHC) 
You can order decaf for any latte drinks, but any of Starbucks mochas and white mochas can be coffee free and made as a hot chocolate.  If you’ve got a real sweet tooth, but want to curve your sugar intake try this lighter version of the Peppermint White Hot Chocolate with approximately 170 calories. 

Hot Tall 1 Pump White Mocha, 
1 Pump Peppermint,
No Vanilla
Nonfat No Whip PWHC

Note: Have your barista prepare your White Hot Chocolate drinks with no vanilla, because the White Mocha sauce used is much sweeter than the regular mocha sauce when ordering Starbucks traditional Hot Chocolate.

Egg Nog Latte (ENL) 
I’m not going to sugar coat anything about the ENL, it’s probably the worst thing you could possibly have as far as calories and fat in a drink at Starbucks.  However, as all drinks and eats this holiday season go… everything in moderation.

If you order a Grande ENL (default is with 2%) it’ll set you back 470 calories.  That’s practically a meal!  Let’s get real with your craving for egg nog by satisfying your thirst with a short nonfat version for 230 calories.  That’s a little more than half the calories and fat.  Takes you down from 20 grams of fat to 9 grams, while packing in 8 grams of protein!

Hot Short N/A Nonfat N/A ENL

Christmas Blend Brewed Coffee (BC)
Are you feeling overwhelmed by all this latte talk?  Are you just a coffee kinda gal or guy?  Feeling a bit bored with your Christmas Blend coffee?   Maybe adding a couple of pumps of gingerbread instead of your usual white sugar could give your holiday coffee a little pizazz!  Let’s go for it with a Venti coffee, add 2 pumps of gingerbread and a little half and half and you’re still gettin’ out of there under 100 calories and big holiday flavors!

Hot Venti 2 pumps Gingerbread 1 Ounce of Half & Half Xmas Blend BC

Joy Tea
If you’re not into any concoctions and just want to get straight to the good stuff, Joy Tea is one of my favorite limited edition teas from Starbucks.  This tea is blended with Black tea, jasmine green tea and oolong tea for a festive blend that is bold enough to stand on it’s own with no milk or sugar.  Although adding a little honey for those days you’re feeling a little under the weather is always a great idea!  Joy Tea calorie count without honey is 5 and with honey it’s 90.

Hot Grande N/A N/A 2 packets of honey Joy Tea

There’s so many versions of holiday drinks from Starbucks, I could go on for days.  If you need help or want to chat more about what to order at Starbucks, feel free to comment or drop me a line at I like to think of myself as the Holiday Barista Whisperer!  Cheers!


Photos were all courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

Please note: I am not a certified dietitian, I recommend consulting your doctor for any additional questions about any dietary restrictions you may have.  Sources I used to figure out calories, sugars and other nutritional information are:
Calorie Counter
My Fitness Pal
Spark People 

As a reminder, all opinions expressed in this post are my own and no content was sponsored.  I just LOVE Starbucks Holiday drinks and wanted to share! 

Recipe: Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Vegetables are totally overlooked at Thanksgiving.  I found that in order to grab people’s attention you have to add bacon!  Here’s my super easy way to make all the grownups at the table eat their greens with this delicious and easy way to make roasted brussel sprouts with bacon recipe.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Serves 3-4 sides, you can increase or decrease based on how many folks you’re serving.


  • 1 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Onion powder (optional)
  • 1/4 of a sweet onion diced
  • 5 bacon slices, cut into 1/2 – 1 inch pieces

Preheat the over at 400 degrees. Wash and dry your sprouts.


Cut the brussel sprout stems off and then cut into halves.


Place the Brussels sprouts evenly across a baking sheet or casserole dish.  Then spread the diced onion pieces across evenly as well, followed by your bacon pieces.  As far as a pan, whatever you have at home that is large enough to fit everything across so that they can bake is fine.  I’ve done it in a casserole dish and a baking sheet and it’s the same result.  I like to line the dish with foil, so that there’s less clean up on the pan, but it’s totally not necessary if you don’t have any.


Some folks recommend adding the oil and seasoning in a bowl first, but why clean another bowl?  Just pour the olive oil evenly across and make sure your hands are clean, and mix the vegetable bacon mix with the oil.


When it comes to the spices, I didn’t specify an amount, because it’s personal preference and it really depends on how big your sprouts are.  Use your best judgement to make sure that they are lightly coated, but not drenched in oil and spices.

If you like a little heat, you’re welcome to add a pinch of cayenne or chipotle pepper to spice things up.  I’m always generous with the salt, but keep in mind the bacon is also salty and will add flavor.  I add onion powder, because I think it brings out a different flavor in the sprouts, but it’s totally optional.  It’s also nice, if you know someone doesn’t like onions to eliminate the onions all together and just add the powder, because it’ll still get the flavor without overpowering.  Personally, I love roasted onions and think that the sweet onions add a nice balance.


Move this bad boy dish into the over for about 30-40 minutes and you’ve got a delish crowd pleaser for your holiday feast!

Note: I like my sprouts and bacon crispy, so the oven timing will all depend on your oven and your preference.


Another Note: For a veggie friendly version feel free to skip to bacon and add a little parmesan cheese after it comes out of the oven, still a great way to enjoy your veggies this holiday season!

Hope you all are preparing for a fantastic holiday season and I’d love to hear if you made this recipe or any other great spins you put on your vegetables!


First Slice Pie Cafe + Lill Street Art Center

With Thanksgiving and the holidays just around the corner, I thought it only appropriate to share one of my favorite cafes that also serves up some delish pies!


First Slice Pie Café is located in the heart of the Ravenswood community in the same building as the the Lillstreet Art Center. Being located at the art center makes it a truly a communal hang out for the neighborhood. You’ll find artists grabbing coffees and treats before going to their classes or working in the studio, or people like me who stop in for a coffee and lunch.  While you’re waiting for your delicious latte or sandwich, you can peruse the gallery shop where they feature local artists’ ceramics, jewelry and other items for sale.

First Slice - 3.19.2014

There are actually three locations, where you can access their full menu of pies and eats. I love their 70s salads, especially the curry chicken salad.  I know pies are what they are known for, but I’m also a big fan of their baked goods.  I’m a sucker for their flourless peanut butter cookie or kitchen sink cookie.   And you can forget the guilt on any treats you pick up here, because First Slice is all about giving back to the community and actually supports feeding the needy.

Chicken Curry Salad – to go!

This post would not be complete without mentioning the sweetest part… the pie. Baked fresh daily, they offer a wide variety of sweet and savory pies from their infamous coffee toffee to Michigan sour cherry.  You can grab a slice and eat there, take it to go or order a pie ahead for your Thanksgiving or holiday parties!  I’m with the crowds and I dig the coffee toffee, because it’s like grown up french silk with the slight bitterness from the coffee that comes through.  I’m not a huge fruit pie person, but their apple made me a changed person.  Just do it, whether it’s their traditional or the streusel version depending on the availability it’s a delight!


Check out one of their three locations for breakfast, lunch, dinner and those in between hours when you’re hankering for a treat!

First Slice Cafe at Lill Street: 4401 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago
First Slice Cafe at Ravenswood Manor: 4664 N Manor, Chicago
First Slice Cafe in Andersonville: 5357 N Ashland Ave, Chicago

If you’re in the market for a hostess gift or holiday gift idea they have lots of great stuff at the Lill Street gallery shop and also offer some cool holiday classes including how to make ornaments!  Check out their holiday open house coming up on December 14, 2015 here!

You can also find another article about First Slice written by me and more Chicago finds at Spotted by Locals: Chicago Edition.