22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Main Street Bistro

Happy Wednesday, friends! It’s been awhile. As always, life has been busy. Busy, full, and oh so good. You have a well-timed thunderstorm/tornado warning to thank for this break in my crazy schedule- thanks nature! I have so many things that I cannot wait to share with you all, so many posts I’m behind on (seriously- SO MANY), but one thing at a time-this warning isn’t going to last forever! I do want to acknowledge, for those of you keeping track- my 30th birthday has come and gone. It was amazing, and I’ll tell you all about it soon, and where I’m at with the list. But before we get to that, I have some things to catch you up on…

Let’s back track to January. I started 2017 off with a much-needed and long awaited trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana to see my sister, Kaylee. Kaylee had moved to Fort Wayne the year before, but I was just now getting the chance to go see her. I’m not a huge fan of solo road trips, especially of that length, but I packed up my car on a Friday afternoon, swung by Atomic Coffee Bar to get my iced Nutty Professor for the road, and alternated between belting “Hamilton” and listening to an audiobook for my drive. I arrived at Kaylee’s just in time for dinner (homemade mini pizzas-yum!), some much needed tv watching, and half snuggles with her cat, Luna. Half snuggles are about as good as it gets with her.

We had a very full Saturday planned, mostly revolving around food and coffee. Would you expect anything less? Though it’s not the place I’m blogging about, I do need to give a shout-out to Dash-In, the place we had lunch. Rather than me telling you, let me show you. (And then tell you, because it’s me.)

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Mmmk, please look at this gorgeous food. A pesto artichoke grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. I don’t think I’d ever been so excited about a sandwich and soup in my life. Apologies to anyone who had to hear me say “this has ruined all other food for me” over and over.

Anywho, the main event of our day was me getting to meet Kaylee’s boyfriend, Brian. I’d heard a ton about Brian and had said hi on FaceTime before, but that was it. Kaylee planned for us to eat dinner together at one of her favorite spots, Main Street Bistro. We met Brian there, and settled in for a night of uncomfortable questions and silent judging. Just kidding- Brian and I hit it off, and spoiler alert, he passed the sister test. All good there. 🙂

The atmosphere at Main Street was super cute! It’s very trendy inside. The lights were dimmed, and although there were a lot of people there, it wasn’t overly loud.

Now, I typically don’t order a drink when I’m out, but I was on vacation, so I settled on this blue martini that tasted like a Sweet Tart. Or I think it did…this was five months ago.

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Our waiter was absolutely delightful, and gave us some recommendations. He brought us some fresh bread and-wait for it- butter with MAPLE SYRUP. I’m not kidding. I’m really not kidding. While we gracefully stuffed our faces, I perused the menu.

I narrowed down to a few things. Then, I remembered I was due for a new blogging restaurant and chose the prosciutto wrapped scallops. Now, I’m not a seafood fan. I’ve developed a fondness for shrimp, but that’s really it. The scallops didn’t sound particularly appetizing, but I was all about trying something new, and that blue martini reinforced that all my decisions were good ones, so clearly, scallops. Scallops and french onion soup.

We visited for a bit, continued to eat the best damn bread on the planet, and then our food arrived. Everyone was pretty pleased with their choices.

Ok, so we need to talk about these scallops. Well first, the french onion soup was delightful! Loved it, would definitely eat it again. But the scallops were…I’m not sure what I was expecting, but that wasn’t it. The texture was BAD and that was pretty much all there was to it. Scallops can join the ranks of tomatoes and bananas- things that make me gag. I did power through two of them, but I made Brian eat the last one. The pasta underneath was good, and I love prosciutto. But the scallops? NAH.

Overall, it was a great dinner- awesome company, mostly wonderful food, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I would definitely go back…except Main Street closed shortly after my trip and is reopening as something else. Sad. But, I had a great time with Kaylee, enjoyed meeting Brian, and learned that butter with maple syrup is GENIUS.

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Well, the warning has expired, and I am falling asleep, so I better call it a night. More fun adventure stories to come soon…stay tuned!

Until next time,

xoxo

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Blue Iguana

Three posts in a week?! Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’ve not gone crazy. I am sick though. Adult sick days are the absolute worst. I’m laying on the couch, trying to drink tea and take it easy, when I notice how much the floor needs vacuuming. And I need to dust. And the ceiling fan is dirty. And before I know it, I’m ten seconds from deep cleaning the entire house. But, I remind myself I’m sick and need to rest, and settle in for a season and a half of “How I Met Your Mother” instead. This has been happening about every hour, for the entire day. Resting is hard.

So, this post is actually from August…oops. It did get mentioned in my Milltown Coffee post, but today, you get to hear about the whole experience. I’ve been wanting to visit Blue Iguana for a really long time. As you know, I love Mexican food a whole lot, and I also love LeClaire, where Blue Iguana is located, so it was a win-win situation. I was also due for a date with Travis and Kristin (Bryan’s brother and sister-in-law, and my good friends) so I met up with them and Bryan and Seth at the end of August for dinner and blog fun.

We had a short wait outside when we arrived, which was fine, because I got to officially meet Finn, Travis and Kristin’s baby. After several minutes of cooing and gushing over his cuteness, we were seated inside. The waitress gave us our menus, and I immediately started to gorge on chips and salsa. I’m not kidding; I could eat chips and salsa daily for the rest of my life, and never get tired of it. In between fistfuls of chips, I perused the menu and asked for everyone’s opinions on what I should order. After shooting down Travis’s suggestion to order the lengua (HELL NO), I settled on the flautas.

Our food arrived and it was BEAUTIFUL. Since it was 5 months ago, I can’t remember exactly what everyone ordered, but three of us got the flautas. The other two? No idea, but here it is:

The food was outstanding! My only complaint was that there wasn’t more…

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Seriously. I could have eaten those flautas for days. When we finished up, Bryan ordered both of us horchata to go. (Mexican rice milk, in case you didn’t know what it was.)

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That was fantastic too! Considering we went for dinner and my bill was around $15, I thought it was pretty affordable. I will definitely be going back to Blue Iguana. It was absolutely delicious, the service was great, and the company was even better.

Until next time,

xoxo

 

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Milltown Coffee

Hi beautiful people! It’s been awhile. Actually, it’s been two months and four days since I last blogged. A lot has happened in that time. Typically, I apologize for my absence, but today, I won’t. I’ve been busy with life, and I count that as a wonderful thing. Don’t worry, I’ve got lots to share, but in the interest of keeping this shorter than “Order of the Phoenix,” I’ll break up all the excitement. So for now, welcome back. Snuggle in. Here we go.

Two months and one week ago, I went out for dinner with Bryan, Seth,  Bryan’s brother and sister-in-law, Travis and Kristin, and their new baby Finley. We actually went out to dinner specifically for my blog that night (you’ll hear about that in another post!) and afterwards, went back to Travis and Kristin’s and made googly eyes at Finn for several hours. I’m not kidding- it was amazing.

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What a nugget.

Anywho, at some point in between snuggling this cutie and making faces at him from across the room, Bryan, Kristin, Travis and I formed a book club. Right? RIGHT?! Now, I’ve only been in one other book club. It was me and Elizabeth, and no one else showed up to our first meeting, so we drank coffee, didn’t talk about what we read, and giggled a whole bunch. Basically, a typical day for us. I digress.

So, “The Best Book Club There Ever Was!” was born. And guys…I suck at book club already! We had our first meeting yesterday and guess who was the procrastinator of all procrastinators? This kid. I’m not kidding; we met at 3:00 and I finished the book shortly after 10:00am. I read over 250 pages in less than 24 hours. I deserve a medal.  Had it not been for Bryan’s threats to kick me out of the club, or the promise of delicious coffee, I may not have made it.

I arrived at Milltown Coffee at 3:00 on the dot, which is an accomplishment for me, because I’m pretty reliably 5-7 minutes late for everything. I was really excited that we were meeting there, because I’d never been, and we all know how much I love/obsess over/can’t function without coffee. I walked in with Travis and Kristin, and I don’t know. I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting from Milltown, but this wasn’t it…this was much, much better.

It was so cute! And classy! And cozy! I didn’t get a picture of it, but we ended up sitting by the fireplace on a couch and two armchairs. COZY. Now, as a reminder, I had to order something I wouldn’t normally, so I went with a caramel latte (I usually don’t do hot drinks) and an apple cinnamon scone. I don’t usually order food with my coffee, but I wasn’t sure how long we’d be discussing our book, so I figured, why not? My total was around $8, which seemed fairly in-line with other local coffee shops. The service was prompt, the staff was friendly, and did I mention the shop was cozy? I actually suggested that Milltown needed a blanket rental service at one point- I totally would have partaken. Anyway, my scone and drink arrived, and they were pretty…

Pretty delicious! (Ok, ok…I might be running on fumes right now- still adjusting to Daylight Savings.) Overall, I was really impressed with Milltown! I really liked my drink and I would definitely order the scone again too. I will definitely be going back  soon. 🙂

Well, I better get to bed…thanks for checking back in with me and the list! Stay tuned for more adventures from the last two months.

Until next time,

xoxo

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Taste of Belgium

Happy Monday, friends! I have a gift for you to chase away the Monday blues…TWO BLOG POSTS IN ONE DAY! Yes, you read that right! I’ve been working my butt off on my list, and have lots of fun things to share, so, why not?!  I’m also currently trapped at my house while my car gets a recalled part replaced, so I have all the time in the world! Now, this post is actually a bit of a bonus. I’ve kept on track with my “new restaurant going” but I was in Ohio two weeks ago for a wedding  and I couldn’t not write about that, especially since it was my first time in Cincinnati! Get ready to “ooh and aww” over this adorable brunch spot, and drool all over the food…I definitely did.

So, two weeks ago, my amazing friend, Danielle, got married to one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, Brad. Danielle and I met about five years ago through Ria, and after bonding in Bahrain and probably setting a record with our marathon FaceTime sessions, the rest is history. 🙂 I was incredibly excited for the wedding and the trip itself; I was supposed to visit them two years ago, but ended up with the stomach flu, so it was that much better being able to spend time with them during such a special weekend. The wedding was beautiful, Danielle was GORGEOUS, and every single detail was perfect. I never wanted to leave. (Also, I was only going to share 3-4 pictures, but I couldn’t decide…so here you go.)

 

Now, Danielle and I have had a little bit of bad luck when it comes to restaurants. A few Christmases ago, we met up in Chicago for a weekend. We ate at this great Mexican place that makes the guacamole fresh at your table. It was DELICIOUS and so much fun, until the restaurant filled up with smoke and we were all rushed out of the building. If you can believe this, the SAME THING happened in Ohio. I arrived on a Thursday afternoon. We drove to town, got pedicures, and met her parents for dinner at the restaurant next to the hotel. I was not three bites into my chicken pot pie when the manager ran in, and told us we all needed to evacuate the building because the roof was on fire! The next day, I was still mourning the loss of my pot pie, when Danielle suggested brunch at a place called “Taste of Belgium.” Danielle had mentioned it to me on the phone the week earlier, and I was excited to try it. Although I’m *still* not a huge breakfast fan, I was ready to try something new.

I am not kidding when I say this is probably the cutest place I’ve ever eaten. Seriously.

I was OBSESSED with the wall art, which changed every few seconds via a projection system. I actually made everyone sit and wait for the waffle pictures to pop up again so I could take a picture. Anyway, there was a little bit of a wait, so I had plenty of time to scan the menu. Everything sounded good, but Danielle and Brad told me I had to try the chicken and waffles, which is definitely not something I would normally order, so that’s what I went with. I also had my eye on the Beer Cheese, which came with homemade soft pretzels, so when Brad asked if anyone wanted to share, I was happy to volunteer as tribute. While we waited for the food, I took a bunch of photos, and enjoyed the open air- there is a garage-style door on one side of the restaurant, which was open while we ate. Although it was lightly raining, the cool breeze was a nice addition to a great brunch. Our pretzels and beer cheese arrived, and I’ll be honest…I was so hungry and so excited that I forgot to take pictures. I’ll just say this: it was the best beer cheese/pretzel combo I’ve ever had in my life. The cheese had a hint of raspberry- genius! The appetizer was gone in less than 5 minutes. A few minutes later, our food arrived…

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Please just take a second, and stare at this plate. Yes. It was as good as it looks. Actually, it was better than it looked, if that was even possible. The hot and sweet combo of the syrup and hot sauce was perfect. The salad was a nice addition, and brought the whole meal together. I gave it a valiant effort, but I wasn’t able to eat the whole thing. (I was pretty sad about it.) If you’re ever in Cincy, I HIGHLY recommend this place.. I’d go back in a heartbeat. The atmosphere was great, the food was insane, and even though they were busy, the wait staff was very attentive. 5 stars for Taste of Belgium, and 5 stars to everyone that watched me tear into this meal as though I hadn’t eaten in a week.

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Honestly, I could gush about that place, and the trip itself, for another 1,000 words, but I’ll keep that to myself. 🙂 I hope you all enjoy your Monday, and get ready for round two soon…

Until next time,

xoxo

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Cool Beanz Coffeehouse

HELLO FRIENDS! It’s been a long two months, but I am back! What have I been doing and what have I been up to? Here’s a (semi) quick update before I jump in to the list…

  1. I directed a show! As I mentioned before my hiatus, I got the opportunity to direct “Charlotte’s Web” at Davenport North. It was a WONDERFUL experience- I spent 7 weeks in the theater, got to work with some amazing kids, and learned so much. I’m on a short break now, but will start choreographing not one, but TWO musicals in January! More details soon. 🙂

2.  I got to spend two wonderful holidays with my family! Though both trips were fast, it was so nice to have time with everyone…and also to slow down for a bit, and do a whole lot of nothing.

3. I’ve gotten to do some awesome things at the Museum! I’m in the process of getting some (much needed) new volunteer software, ordering 13 costumes for our exhibit gallery for my staff to wear, working a ton of fun events, and coming up with new ideas I want to try, left and right. I’m really getting into my groove with my job, and am having a lot of fun!

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Working at the Holiday Jammie Jam with Caroline

4. I was accepted into Hogwarts! Try to remain calm.

 

And…that’s been the last 8 weeks! You’re all caught up- yay!

So, I actually visited my “new restaurant” in October, but in true Steph fashion, you’re hearing about it now. Oh well. I wanted to finish blocking my show, and needed a quiet place to do it. I’d been wanting to try Cool Beanz for years, but it’s on the other side of the river, so I’m not over there much. I decided to make a special trip that day, just to try it out. It was a cold rainy Monday, so it was a perfect coffee day. I got to Cool Beanz a little after 10am. I was running to get out of the rain, but I stopped to take a few pictures.

It was SO cute, and very cozy! There were quite a few people there, but only one person in line. I was glad I had looked at the menu ahead of time- it takes me forever to decide! When it was my turn, I ordered an iced “Quad”- a latte with butterscotch, chocolate, vanilla, and cherry. I asked the barista about it, and he said people either loved it or hated it. That made me nervous, but I went ahead with my order and got a chocolate muffin too. I don’t remember exactly how much I paid, but I do remember that it was in line with Starbucks. I found a table right by the cash register, and waited while they made my drink and warmed up the muffin. They were really fast, and brought both to my table.

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The muffin was DIVINE. Seriously…I ate it in three bites. No shame. My drink was good, but not something I’d order again. My coffee taste has shifted a lot in the last year, and I prefer drinks that aren’t quite as sweet. But, I’d definitely like to go back and try something else. The service was great, the environment was warm and friendly, and although it was busy, I was able to focus and get a crap ton of blocking done! Yay for me!

Since this post was so late, I’m going to do another new restaurant soon. Be on the lookout for that, as well as more regular posts! I’ve been working on my goals for 2016 and they all center around self-care and happiness. Blogging makes me happy, so I’m planning to do a lot more of it…and also, I’ve got less than 15 months left to finish my list and I’ve got a LONG way to go…

Until next time,

xoxo

22. Go to a New Restaurant Every 3 months: Mulkey’s

Happy August, friends! Is it bad that I am ready for fall? I’m sooooo ready for fall. You all know the drill: pumpkin spice chais, cardigans, scarves, pumpkin spice chais…it’s time. It’s going to be my first fall since 2006 that I won’t be going to dance class, though. Part of me is so crazy excited, and the other part of me is…not sure. Having my nights free is something I haven’t experienced since elementary school. I can’t wait to see my friends during the week, eat dinner at a normal time, and go to bed at 8 if I want to. But, I know I’m going to miss my dancers like crazy. I know I’ll still see them, but they were such a HUGE part of my life…it’s going to be quite a change, that’s for sure.

One thing I am looking forward to is the continuation of “Tuesday Date Night” with Bryan. For the last few summers, Bryan and I have a standing date on Tuesday nights. It’s one of my favorite things ever, and I’m always sad when we have to end them in September. But, not anymore! A few weeks ago, Bryan agreed to help me work on my list by going somewhere I hadn’t been before for dinner: Mulkey’s in Rock Island! Now, I have to admit that I did go there once: on Pi Day this year, Bryan and I scoured the QC for pie that wasn’t from Village Inn. We ended up at Mulkey’s and I got a piece of the most delicious chocolate meringue pie to go. Yum. But, I’ve never officially eaten AT Mulkey’s, so we went.

Now, I’ve got a soft spot for little diners. When I was little, my family would visit my great-grandma and we would always go out to eat at this little diner that had the best food ever. Whether it actually did or my 7 year old brain just thought it did, I’ll never know. I digress…well, not really. Mulkey’s is the cutest little diner ever.

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Before I had left work that day, one of my work friends had asked my plans for the evening. When I told him I was going to Mulkey’s, he laughed and said to have fun eating with all the old people…he was right. Bryan and I sat down at a booth in the back, and we were easily the youngest people there by thirty years. Our waitress came over right away to take our drink orders, and I wanted to hug her. I love waitresses at diners. They’re so nice and sweet and just take the best care of you. I perused the menu for something I wouldn’t normally order. I asked Bryan what he was getting, and he told me the turkey reuben. So, I ordered it, too. I’ve never had a reuben before. I’ve never had rye bread, sauerkraut, or Thousand Island dressing. This was a big deal.

Our cottage cheese came out first. (You can order cottage cheese at a diner! COTTAGE CHEESE!) Then, our reubens and onion rings came out. I was nervous, and asked Bryan to document the moment. (Which I immediately regretted…I am NOT cute when I eat!)

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The verdict? It was amazing!!! I loved every part of it. I ate every last bite on my plate, and then ordered chocolate cream pie to go. It was a wonderful experience! Great food, excellent service, and my meal plus pie was under $12. I will definitely be going back to Mulkey’s, hopefully soon. I rounded out the night by eating my delicious pie, watching “How I Met Your Mother” with Bryan, and snuggling my bff, Foxy.

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I am starting to run out of ideas for new places to go in the QC, so please share below your favorite hot spots!

Until next time,

xoxo

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: The Healthy Hub

Hey friends! I am having a perfect Sunday night. It’s raining, chilly enough for me to curl up under a blanket, Stella and Charlee are extra cuddly, I had an awesome dinner (homemade chicken parm with couscous, warm bread, and a caesar salad), and I’m listening to “How I Met Your Mother” reruns while I blog. I wish I could freeze time and do this all week. It’s officially my “end of the year marathon.” Preschool graduation is 11 days away, recital is 20 days away, I have graduation gifts/recital gifts/end of the year gifts to purchase, all while I attempt to maintain my sanity and not let the impending season finale of “Scandal” stress me out. I feel more at ease this year than I usually do, but it’s still a lot to cram into a short amount of time. Wish me luck.

So, if you’re keeping track, I’m a little late on this post. (Are you really surprised?) I do have a good reason…which I’ll get to. Patience. 🙂 Anyway, I’ve been struggling to choose a new restaurant lately, because I’m content with all my usual spots. Except when I’m at work. There are several places to eat by the Museum, but nothing that I want to have on a regular basis. I used to always get Mexican, but my take-out has been cold the last two times I’ve ordered. There is a good pizza place and a Culver’s, but when I want something light, my choices are pretty limited. A few months ago, my dancers told me about a shake place across the street. All I knew was that they made healthy shakes and they were good. So, two weeks ago, I decided to try it out. It was a Wednesday morning and I had a bunch of errands to run, so I figured I’d grab a shake for breakfast. Now, let me start by saying, I was feeling a little “off” when I woke up. That will be important later.

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I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The inside of the shop was pretty sparse. There were two ladies working, and three people inside getting shakes. I felt weird whipping out my phone to take pictures inside, so…I didn’t. They have a counter where you order your shake. Across from that is a small seating area. There is also a small counter with various teas. The back half of the shop is multi-purpose. They offer classes back there, from nutrition education to Zumba. Anyway, I walked up to the counter and told the lady I didn’t know what I was doing. Thankfully, she didn’t laugh, but talked me through what to do. She said that their tagline is “fast food for the healthy person” and that all their shakes have 23 different vitamins and nutrients. There are about 40 different kinds of shakes, broken into categories like “chocolate” and “cookie.” But before I got to that, she gave me a shot of aloe juice. Normally, I would have been super skeptical (I mean, it’s ALOE), but one of my friends recently started drinking aloe to help with stomach issues, so I didn’t think twice. The aloe had a hint of mango, and it was delicious! The lady behind the counter also told me that aloe is great for your hair and skin. Then, she gave me a slip of paper to place my order on. Each shake comes with a 16 oz hot or cold tea. There are 4 choices, and I opted for a cold raspberry tea. She said the tea is 5 calories, but burns 80 in your system. I’m on board with that! She told me a lot of other things about the tea, aloe juice, and shakes, but I’m gonna be honest…I don’t remember anything else that she said. Anyway, I’m a little picky about tea, but it was delicious! I had a hard time choosing a shake, so I asked the lady to decide for me. She told me to get their #25- “P’s Brownie Batter.” She also suggested I get natural peanut butter in it. Now, I don’t normally let other people choose my order, but since it’s something I don’t do, I decide to go with it for the list’s sake.

The lady gave me a cup to get my tea while she made my shake. It was very fast, probably two minutes tops. I saw that she was using protein powder, which I’ve never had before. I was impressed with the tea at that point, and couldn’t wait to try the shake. My total was $6.75, which I thought was reasonable, given the size of the shake and the tea, and that I was getting a shake AND tea!

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Several more people had come in, and were immediately greeted. Everyone was very cheerful and friendly; the shop definitely had a very positive atmosphere. I could tell that most of the people were regulars, which gave me hope that my shake would be delicious. I thanked the lady, and left. Once I was in the safety of my car, I took a sip of the shake. It was UNBELIEVABLE. It tasted just like brownie batter! I ran my errands and drank my tea and my shake. They were insanely good.

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But, by the time I got home and finished both drinks, I felt awful. My stomach was really crampy, and I really wanted to lay down. Also, I was still hungry. One of my dance girls had mentioned that the shakes were a meal replacement, but I definitely wasn’t feeling that way. I felt awful for a few hours, and I was NOT happy about it. The shake was really good, and I had planned to go back, but not if it made me sick. But, I wouldn’t be blogging about it if the shake made me sick, would I? That’s the reason this post is late… I decided to give The Healthy Hub another chance, just to be sure. I went back this past Friday on my way home from work. I got the same tea and the same shake, and they were both just as delicious as the first time. This time, no upset stomach and I was full afterwards. I’m not sure what happened the first time…I do sometimes have a sensitive stomach in the morning, so I’m wondering if that’s why I felt bad. Regardless, I’m a fan of The Healthy Hub. The drinks are delicious, the price is reasonable, and the people are so nice. While I don’t plan to go often (I don’t love to drink my meals), I’m glad that I have a healthy option for lunch when I’m at work.

Quad Citians, have you tried The Healthy Hub? What did you think? Has anyone else had experience with healthy shakes? I’d love to hear about it! Tell me about it below!

xoxo