Over Spring Break I took another day trip with my mom to Schaumburg, Illinois. I was on the hunt for a graduation dress, and we thought Woodfield Mall would have a lot more options than the malls here. My mom grew up in the Chicago suburbs, so it is always fun for her to be in that area and relive a lot of those old memories. We left around 7:30am, but first made that essential stop at Starbucks for some coffee for the ride down! I made sure to pack some healthy snacks for the morning, since I am a grazer and eat every 3 hours or so. I chose my favorite kind of apple, Honeycrisp, almond butter, and some Somersaults (love these, check them out, http://www.somersaultsnackco.com)
We shopped around for a couple hours at various stores, and I kept having to remind myself that my main priority was to find a dress and only a dress! So easy to get side-tracked when shopping! The last thing I need is more clothes….but yet I do! Well, I don’t need them, I just want them. Anyways, after a couple of hours with no luck, we were getting hungry and decided to grab some lunch. We went to one of my favorite spots ever, The Protein Bar. Sadly, there aren’t any Protein Bars in Wisconsin, but they are all over the Chicago area, so I definitely wanted to make that our lunch stop.
I normally order the Spinach & Pesto bowl, which is quinoa, chicken, spinach, basil pesto and parmesan, but this time decided to switch things up. My mom is in love with their chicken and quinoa chili, so she went for that right away. I eventually decided to go with the Healthy Parm bowl. The Healthy Parm had quinoa, chicken, house-made marinara and parmesan. I was a little hesitant at first because when you know you really like something, and you don’t get it very often, you kind of hate to change it up. Especially since you always run the risk of not liking your new pick. But I ventured out and thankfully I ended up being extremely happy with my choice! The Healthy Parm was hearty, warm, and definitely hit the spot. The house made marinara sauce was amazing, and had such a rich and pure tomato taste to it. I love that everything is clean at the Protein Bar, and there aren’t any added ingredients hidden in the dish that you don’t know about. They have many options, whether it is their bowls, chili or soups, salads, or burritos. If you are ever in Illinois or any other area where they have The Protein Bar, I would highly suggest checking it out and grabbing yourself a delicious and healthy meal! But wait! I am not done with our Protein Bar visit. My mom’s and my all time FAVORITE thing to get at The Protein Bar is their Millennium Perk blended drink. It is out of this world delicious and a nice treat at the end of a meal. It has chocolate protein, espresso protein, almond milk, their homemade cocoa malt. You can choose what type of protein you want as well, which is a nice option to have. We slurped down our drinks in no time, and headed out for more shopping.
As we were driving, I spotted the huge Crate & Barrel store and insisted we go in. A little detour from the dress shopping, but I love this store and it can be so fun to just look around! They had so many pretty Spring and Summer displays up, and I wanted to buy everything. I kept imagining all these things in my future home someday. Of course I was also imagining the cute & fun parties I would have in my backyard, with light and delicious appetizers, cocktails, wine and the best dishware for that season. As I looked at the 4th of July setup, I imagined having a 4th of July party, grilling out with friends, sipping on some cocktails, mingling with everyone while running back and forth into the kitchen to grab some small bites for the guests. Ok, back to reality Kelli, you’re in Crate & Barrel. I left with some decorative napkins, a mug, and some plates. I could have done a lot more damage though.
After Crate & Barrel we headed back to the mall. Unfortunately even after looking at a few more stores, I still had no luck. I did get a couple of tops though…oops. Around 5:30, we headed for our dinner destination. For over a year now I have wanted to go to the famous Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. I first found out about Lou Malnati’s after it was featured on the Food Network channel’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay. I am a Food Network junkie, Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives being one of my favorites. I own all of the DDD books, and every time I’m in an area where he featured a spot, I like to make sure I go there. I was really looking forward to this pizzzzzza! There are numerous locations, but we decided to go the one in Buffalo Grove, where my mom lived before they moved to Arlington Heights, IL and also where my Grandpa was the first village President, back when there were only 20 families living there. Think about living in an area where only 20 families live…crazy! But that didn’t last long, the village has obviously flourished and grown over the years. It was fun watching my Mom and how excited she got about the memories she had there.
Once we were seated at Lou’s, we shared a bowl of clam chowder (didn’t want to fill up too much for the pizza!), which we both decided was the best clam chowder we have ever had. Then we ordered two personal pizzas to share, one a thin crust with peppers and spinach, and the other a deep dish with sausage. I was really excited to try these pizzas that I had heard so much about, and it felt like it took a lifetime to get to the table haha! Both pizzas ended up being fabulous. The thin crust was crisp and light, and the deep dish had such a flavorful sauce and gooey, melt-in-your-mouth cheese. The only thing I will say is that next time I definitely wouldn’t order a deep dish in a personal size. It didn’t really seem like it was a much of a deep dish pizza, at least compared to the larger ones that we saw at other tables. I’m assuming it is probably hard to make a deep dish that small. However, the personal size was not short on taste! Well , my tum was full and very satisfied and I was definitely tired from shopping all day, so it was time to head back home! I was disappointed I didn’t find the perfect dress for graduation, but at least the food part of the trip was successful, right? I was so glad I got to spend the day with my mom and do something different, while she also got to go back and enjoy the areas where she grew up. Spring Break was a great time to do some fun day trips and change it up from the usual. Can’t wait to do another, hopefully sometime soon!