7 Kitchen Tools that Will Cut Your Cooking Time in Half

Do you avoid cooking because of the prep time? Avoid no more. Here is the list of kitchen tools I use to speed up the cooking process. In many cases, the total time will decrease by 50 percent. Cook away, Chef!!!!

Instant-pot-personal-trainer-chicago.jpg

Instant Pot


Personal Trainer Wisdom: The Instant Pot is basically a crock pot with pressure cooker attributes. Like a Crock Pot, you can simply throw an array of ingredients into the pot and cook with little extra work. The big difference: The Instant Pot only takes a fraction of the cooking time. Your 8-hour Crock Pot simmer will turn into a 20-minute pressure-cooked phenomenon. Either method will save you time from constant stirring stoveside. You may use the Instant Pot to sautee onions and garlic prior to cooking your stew, soup, or chili as well (which also saves cleanup time-less dishes). 

mandoline-slicer-personal-training-chicago.jpeg

PL8 Professional Mandoline (Food Slicer)


Personal Trainer Wisdom: With 4 cutting options (thick slice, thin slice, julienne and waffle) and 4 adjustable thickness settings for each cutting option, you will save time perfecting your slice and adding more shape to your life! 

best-apple-slicer-personal-trainer.jpg

Apple Slicer


Personal Trainer Wisdom: You can core and section fruits in one swift motion (8 wedges all at the same time). Less mess and time. “But it only saves you 30-60 seconds, Michael,” you say. Tell that to my screaming 2-year old son, Preston….

collapsible-salad-spinner-personal-training-chicago.jpg

Collapsible Salad Spinner


Personal Trainer Wisdom: As described on Bed, Bath, & Beyond, “This salad spinner is so versatile as it expands for use as a large salad spinner and collapses in an instant for easy storage. Its high velocity pull-cord mechanism dries your fruits or veggies quickly and efficiently.” Sold! Not enough? I also use the spinner to evenly coat a dressing or citrus onto my veggies. Essentially, you’re spinning away the excess while coating each piece of nutritarian goodness. Perfection! 

stick-mixer-personal-trainer-chicago.jpg

Stick Mixer


Personal Trainer Wisdom: I typically avoided recipes that required pureeing because of the food processor cleanup. With the stick mixer, you can quickly and easily puree a soup in the same pot you cooked it in. It’s lightweight and a quick wash compared to the many parts of the food processor or blender. 

kale-stripper-personal-training.jpg

Kale Slicer


Personal Trainer Wisdom: This kale slicer is more of a kale destemmer than anything else. It makes pulling the leaves off the stem one easy swoop (a big convenience when using several stems in your recipe). 

oxo-vegetable-chopper-personal-trainer.jpg

OXO Vegetable Chopper


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Many of my personal training clients will avoid cooking because of the preparation (especially the chopping). Although you need to slice an apple, onion, or green pepper in thirds, this chopper will make the remainder of your chop a breeze. Simply place the thick slices under the stainless steel blades and press down. Easy to dump into your dish and easy to clean. 

Photo Credit:
Photo 1: williams-sonoma .com–Life may never be the same with the Instantpot.
Photo 2: mighty ape .co.nz– PL8 Professional Mandoline (food slicer)
Photo 3: kitchenettejen .com–Apple Slicer
Photo 4: blogtemplates. Info—Collapsible Salad Spinner
Photo 5: promotion. com–Stick Mixer
Photo 6: target. Com—Kale Slicer
Photo 7: crate and barrel .com– OXO Vegetable Chopper

 

4 Ways You Are Undermining Your Health Efforts

Having trouble achieving your health and fitness goals? You may find the biggest obstacle within yourself….and here’s what it might be:

Using the phrases “I can’t”, “I won’t”, or “I don’t”.


Personal Trainer Wisdom: After 14 years of personal training and nearly 18000 hours of one-on-one sessions, I find that this factor determines one’s sustainable success more than any other (and it makes sense). Consider the language: The very nature of these phrases are negative and self-limiting. Is one truly open to the change that he needs to make or is he only willing to do something as long as it doesn’t compromise his wants? “I won’t cook.” “I can’t possibly make this change.” “I don’t workout.” Hard-line phrases that express unwillingness to determine and consider what one must really do to reach success. Even though the verbal resistance may sit at the tip of the tongue, the alternative phrases, “How can I make this work?” or “Let’s examine the possible solutions”, are positive options that might open new doors to one’s well-being.

Haven’t established a routine.


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Long-term sustainable change relies on a foundation of routine and habit. While a quick fix to lose 30 lbs in 3 months is enticing, it will soon be part of a never-ending life cycle. Most fasts, pills, and detoxes serve an impulsive need and rarely establish the structure needed to maintain the weight loss. The strongest habit has been reinforced daily for a 30-day stretch. It has become part of a new normal operating on autopilot at times. The further the habit is from a day-to-day routine the longer it needs reinforcement (45-60 days). Lack of this focus will most certainly lead to short-term change and a return to the prior normal that led to poor health.

Lack of distinction between “wants” and “needs”.


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Unfortunately, the grammar school curriculum lacks the necessary lessons on the physical, mental, and emotional selves. Children (and adults) are left to haphazard self-discovery and assessment as well as, often, misguided mentors. Essentially, students are never taught how to recognize their true needs and are left to figure it out on their own over a lifetime. With the barrage of mix messages, seeking optimal personal health is a confusing and frustrating journey. All of this might change, though, with the simple question “Why do I feel this way?” It is the first step of awareness - An examination of the underlying influence on behavior and its physical manifestation. With guided investigation and testing, true needs can be identified while no longer depending on haphazard guesses related to wants.

Unwilling to accept what needs to be changed and the necessary steps to change it.


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Although awareness is an important first step in change, acceptance is necessary before adaptation takes place. Is one willing to accept a current state of being (healthy or not, it is what it is) and the needed approach to redefine health? Surprisingly, acceptance is the roadblock for most. Without accepting a current state and the necessary path, doubt, frustration, and insecurities will unravel the new efforts It may emotionally steer the adaptive process in the wrong direction and stunt it as a whole.

Photo Credit:
brbible .com–Is the answer to change sitting in front or inside of you?

 

Quick Diet Guide to Losing Weight

Here is the quick weight loss guide I share with my personal training clients to steer their new dietary choices:

Baseline Intent (Philosophy)

Eat nutrient dense foods. If you make any change in your diet, this is it. Filler foods are sooooooo 1984. You’re better than that. “Eat with intent” is your new mantra! If you’re hungry, feed your engine with something meaningful!

Inflammation and Deficiency

Inflammation

Healthline says (reviewed by Seunggu Han, MD): “Inflammation refers to your body’s process of fighting against things that harm it, such as infections, injuries, and toxins, in an attempt to heal itself. When something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system. This response includes the release of antibodies and proteins, as well as increased blood flow to the damaged area. The whole process usually lasts for a few hours or days in the case of acute inflammation. Chronic inflammation happens when this response lingers, leaving your body in a constant state of alert. Over time, chronic inflammation may have a negative impact on your tissues and organs. Some research suggests that chronic inflammation could also play a role in a range of conditions, from cancer to asthma.”

Inflammatory Foods

- Grains including whole grains or all-bran products (breads, crackers, rice, cereals, etc.)
- Processed foods (products with additives and preservatives; genetically modified foods; or anything else not in its whole, natural form)
- Dairy (butter, milk, and cheese processed from animals)
- Alcohol
- Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Animal protein with high levels of saturated fat (red meat, pork, wild game, etc.)

If I don’t eat those inflammatory foods, then….

- If you need fiber, substitute grains for beans or dark leafy greens.
- If you need calcium or vitamin d, substitute dairy for dark leafy greens.
- If you need antioxidants, substitute red wine for grapes.
- If you need protein, substitute the protein supplement shake for lean meat, eggs, fish, nuts, etc. Please note that the plant-based option is the least inflammatory in most bodies.

Deficiency

The body is made up of 2 main systems, core and peripheral. The core system is the engine, and it has very specific demands to maintain of state of homeostasis (the perfect balance of being in terms of effectiveness and efficiency). The peripheral system handles the adaptive software to manage behaviors, compensations, toxins, or compromises of our natural processes and operation of our biological clock. It helps the body manage periods of fasting and stress and day-to-day physical hacks. It can also help the employee assigned to the midnight shift adapt her biological clock to meet her basic needs….even if it's beyond ideal. It’s important to note that just because the body can adapt, it doesn’t mean it’s sustainable or ideal. The body will always try to steer you back to its original processes. Long story, short: Yes, you can survive on periods without food but consider how the body may compensate (and it may not help your health goals).

Starved or Stuffed

You never want to starve (can lead to the compensating, deficient state described above) or stuffed (your body may hold onto more than it needs or convert even the extra good stuff into fat, triglycerides, etc.

Specific Food Approach

General Guidelines

- Daily caloric range: 1200-1500 calories (you must determine the healthiest amount for you).
- Meal caloric range: 3-500 calories
- Meals per day: 3-4 every 3-5 hours (allow enough time for proper digestion and absorption)

Simple Plate Ratio

Use this breakdown for every meal, small meal, snack, or what my 20-month old son, Preston calls “snat”.
- 45-55% Plant Nutrients/Vegetables (dark green, starchy, red/orange, etc.)
- 25-40% Protein (lean white meat, fish, soy, eggs, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.)
- 25% Fiber (beans, legumes, fruit, seeds, vegetables, etc.)
*****Although I haven't specifically mentioned it, you should still be mindful of the number of good fats (nuts, avocado, olive oil, etc.) in your diet, too. You shouldn't exceed 15% in any given meal unless deemed necessary.

Biological Clock and Circadian Rhythm

Your body wants to be an efficient machine that operates on autopilot. Most of the time it depends on its biological clock - a blend of natural and reinforced forces. With this being said, you can train your body to efficiently release a flood of hormones to help you utilize the fuel you feed it at the same times each day. You already did this in grade school when you ate lunch at 11:37 every day and still felt the hunger pangs at the same time over your summer break. The principle also applies to your efficient recovery while you sleep each night. Your body will naturally wake you slowly over the course of 3 hours prior to your waking time. Going to bed at the same time every night will reinforce this habit and wake you without an alarm clock at the same time as well!

Photo Credit:
Taste of Home .com–Is this the plate ratio that will help you lose weight?

 

4 Quick Meals for Weight Loss (Only a 12 Minute Prep)

One of the reasons why my personal training clients avoid eating healthy is the usual time required to cook. With the Instant Pot, cooking at home is no longer a task. My wife, Sammy, and I recently tested several recipes and found 4 great ones (with some changes) to help you lose weight.

 

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Feel free to substitute any 1 lb of meat with 2 cups of beans, quinoa, or lentils. Also, sauté the onions and garlic in the Instant Pot first if you have the extra 3-5 minutes.

 

**********************************

 

INSTANT POT GROUND TURKEY LENTIL CHILI

INSTANT POT GROUND TURKEY LENTIL CHILI

INSTANT POT GROUND TURKEY LENTIL CHILI

 

INGREDIENTS

1 lb ground turkey

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 minced garlic cloves

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup dry green lentils

2 cups vegetable broth or water

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes

1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp pepper

 

-Turn your Instant Pot onto “saute.” Brown the ground turkey. Add in the diced onions, garlic, tomato paste, and salt and cook until meat is browned and onions are soft and translucent.

-Add in the lentils, water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, green chiles, chili powder, cumin, and pepper.

-Cover the Instant Pot and turn it to “manual,” set the timer to 13 minutes. Make sure the valve is set to “sealing.”

-When the timer beeps let it sit for 10 minutes and then slowly release the pressure by moving the valve to “venting.”

-Remove the lid and ladle the chili into bowls. We topped ours with some diced green onions.

 

Source: https://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/instant-pot-ground-turkey-lentil-chili       

 

***********************************

 

HEALTHY INSTANT POT CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP

HEALTHY INSTANT POT CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP

HEALTHY INSTANT POT CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP

 

INGREDIENTS

½ cup of minced onion

½ tsp minced garlic

1 lb asparagus, ends, and tips snapped off

3 cups of cauliflower florets

3 cups of vegetable broth

1 tsp thyme

1” strip lemon peel

1 bay leaf

1/8 tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp onion powder

½ tsp salt

1/8 tsp cardamom

1/8 tsp ginger

¼ cup white wine

1 cup of coconut milk

1/8 tsp white pepper

Shaved almonds (topping)

Hemp seeds (topping)

 

-Add the onion, garlic, asparagus (expect for the tips), cauliflower, vegetable broth, thyme, lemon peel, bay leaf, onion powder, salt, cardamom, ginger, white wine, coconut milk, white pepper and mix well.

-Place the asparagus tips in a foil packet and place on top of the asparagus mixture.

-Put the lid on and make sure the steam release handle is set to sealing, or closed; change to the manual setting on high and set the time for 2 minutes.

-Carefully move the pressure valve to steam release handle and release the pressure manually. Set the foil packet aside for serving. Discard the bay leaf and lemon peel.

-For the blender, transfer the cooked asparagus and cauliflower mixture to your blender along with nutmeg. Blend until smooth and season with more salt and pepper to taste.

-Serve topped with the asparagus tips and sprinkles of shaved almonds and hemp seeds.

 

Source: Adapted from the book The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for your Instant Pot

 

***********************************

 

INSTANT POT FIRE-ROASTED BEAN STEW

INSTANT POT FIRE-ROASTED BEAN STEW

INSTANT POT FIRE-ROASTED BEAN STEW

 

INGREDIENTS

2 cups of soaked (or drained from a can) white (or cannellini) beans

2 cups of soaked (or drained from a can) kidney beans

1 large onion, diced

1 (15 oz) can organic fire-roasted tomatoes, diced and undrained

1 cup of vegetable broth

¼ cup dried parsley

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp black pepper

3 cups baby carrots

3 cups cubed sweet potatoes (1-2 medium)

2 cups chopped celery (about 4 stalks)

2 cups sliced white button mushrooms

1 tbsp minced garlic (or 5 garlic cloves chopped or thinly sliced)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste

3 tbsp hemp seeds

 

-Place all of the ingredients in the pressure cooker.

-Place the lid on the cooker and make sure the pressure knob is in the SEALING position. Using the display panel, select the MANUAL function high pressure, and use the +/- buttons until the display reads 20 minutes.

-When the cooker beeps to let you know it’s finished, switch the pressure knob from the SEALING to the VENTING position, administering a quick release. Use caution while the steam escapes—it’s hot.

-Open the cooker and stir everything in the pot, adjust salt to taste.

 

Source: Adapted from the recipe “Fire-Roasted Beef Stew” in the book Instant Loss Cookbook

 

***********************************

 

INSTANT POT TUSCAN SHREDDED CHICKEN STEW

INSTANT POT TUSCAN SHREDDED CHICKEN STEW

INSTANT POT TUSCAN SHREDDED CHICKEN STEW

 

INGREDIENTS

1 lb chicken breasts

2 cans white (or cannellini) beans

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, sliced

1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes, undrained

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp salt

1 tsp white or black pepper

1 cup white wine

1 tsp minced garlic

3 cups diced red potatoes

1 cup diced zucchini without skin

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp Italian seasoning

 

-Place all of the ingredients in the pressure cooker.

-Place the lid on the cooker and make sure the pressure knob is in the SEALING position. Using the display panel, select the MANUAL function high pressure, and use the +/- buttons until the display reads 12 minutes.

-When the cooker beeps to let you know it’s finished, switch the pressure knob from the SEALING to the VENTING position, administering a quick release. Use caution while the steam escapes—it’s hot.

-Open the cooker and stir everything in the pot, adjust salt to taste.

 

The Detailed Itinerary You NEED for a Long Birthday Weekend in Mexico City

I now know that Mexico City, home to 23 million people, is the best-kept secret in the Americas. Rich with architecture, public art, and an incredible culinary scene, Sammy and I won’t wait long to take another long weekend trip south (only a 4-hour direct flight from Chicago!). Under Spanish rule for nearly 250 years, you clearly see the European influence throughout the city. While you must be mindful of any city you visit, we felt completely safe exploring the vibrant and interesting neighborhoods of Polanco, Roma, and Centro Historico. Here is our itinerary for my recent birthday trip:

General Itinerary

Airfare: About a 4-hour direct flight that left Chicago at 8:35 pm and arrived in Mexico City at 1:50 pm. Flights ranged from $500-600 for direct, roundtrip flights. We’ve spent $450 roundtrip for nearly the same flight to San Francisco. 
17th: Fly to Mexico City from Chicago, Arrival and the Centro Historico Neighborhood
18th: Bike Tour, Cocktails Overlooking the Ruins, and the Polanco Neighborhood
19th: Cooking Class, Castillo de Chapultepec, and the Roma Neighborhood
20th: Shop in the market and fly to Chicago from Mexico City (2:40)

Sprint International Call Settings

Samsung Galaxy Phones

Go to settings, click on connections, click on mobile networks, click data roaming, turn off all domestic roaming (voice, text, and data), turn on all international roaming (voice, text, and data). We’ll receive a welcome message when we arrive. 

Money Overseas

Charles Schwab Brokerage Checking Account

Transfer cash for free ATM withdrawls and no transaction fees. 

Credit Cards

Bring the Chase Sapphire, Mileage Plus Explorer (20% off on-flight purchases), and Chase Business Ink for no transaction fees. 

Currency

1 USD = 19.16 Pesos: Think about $5 USD for every $100 Pesos. Overall, dining is cheaper in Mexico City. Most experiences are 20-30% less than Chicago after a 15% tip (sometimes as high as 40% less expensive for a meal). A few of the historic sites were free or only as high as $10 USD.

Traveling Throughout the City

Although we could’ve taken public transportation (bus or train) throughout the city, we always chose Uber…which was a reliable, safe, and cheap option. With this being said, be prepared for a 15-43 minute ride to a neighboring area. I’ve never witnessed more traffic in a city (sorry Manhatten). With this being said, though, we enjoyed the ample time to look at the public murals, sculptures, and parks along the way. The fare is still cheap (USD 5-10) for this length of time, and you avoid taking the chance on the cabs (avoid the pink cabs). I highly encourage to plan your trip with a neighborhood for the day in mind (to minimize back and forth travel time). Walking is also an option, but you must know the adjoining neighborhoods and stick to the busy streets to be safe.

Our lovely, artistic Mexico City Airbnb

Our lovely, artistic Mexico City Airbnb

Where We Stayed

17-20th: Mexico City (Centro Historico Neighborhood)

Airbnb Listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/17924711?guests=1&adults=1 
Check-in: 3:00 pm
Check-out: 1:00 pm
-Directions: Uber was an easy, cheap, and safe option to Dirk’s Airbnb (20-30 minute ride for $8-10 USD). 
-About the Airbnb: The apartment consists of 3 private rooms and 2 terraces in this vintage Mexico City home. We enjoyed the privacy and quiet of interior designer, Dirk-Jan Kinet’s trendy upstairs apartment. The space was a true reminder of why we stay in Airbnb homes across the world. The unique design inspired us to begin transforming our home, and the hospitality was unmatched (sorry hotels). On our first day, Dirk’s partner, Jose Luis, gave us an informative 2-hour walking tour of the historic area with a sneak peek into the local life and bountiful suggestions. Of course, we couldn’t resist sipping the complimentary bottle of sparkling wine left in our new home later that night! Without a doubt, this Airbnb enhanced our experience in our first visit to Mexico City.

Airbnb Mexico City

Airbnb Mexico City

Airbnb Mexico City

Airbnb Mexico City

Centro Historico Neighborhood in Mexico City

Centro Historico Neighborhood in Mexico City

Day 1: Arrival and the Centro Historico Neighborhood

Since we arrived early afternoon, we didn’t book any tours. We started our journey with an espresso from Café Jekemir and a tour from our host around the Centro Historico neighborhood…the city center for government buildings, a public square, cathedrals, pyramid ruins, historic buildings, and hidden restaurants. After seeing the Mexican military remove the national flag in Zocalo Square at 6 pm, we ventured over to Azul Historico. From the outside, the historic building gives very little insight into the gastronomic experience floating in the air inside. As we entered, it opened into a closed courtyard of dining tables among a forest of trees. This famed restaurant typically featured chefs from different regions of Mexico and, that night, we met the various tastes of Veracruz. After indulging in traditional cuisine that included tortilla soup, the shrimp and mackerel ceviche Rojo mixto, and the mouthwatering empipianadas rellenas de minilla dishes, we explored the city streets and found performers practicing traditional Aztec dances in an unassuming area. Night one: Check! 

Catedral Metropolitana in Mexico City

Catedral Metropolitana in Mexico City

Centro Historico/Centro/Alameda Central Sites

-Alameda Central (visited) 
-Palacio de Bellas Artes (check out the top floors, walked by) 
-Catedral Metropolitana (visited) 
-The Zocalo (where the marathon began in the 1968 Olympics, visited) 
-Palacio Nacional (walked by) 
-Museo del Templo Mayor (visited) 
-Gran hotel de la Ciudad de Mexico (incredible interiors featured in a James Bond movie, will visit next time) 
-Palacio de Carreos de Mexico (will visit next time) 
-Museo National de Arte
-La Ciudadela Centro Artesanal (market for artisan crafts and more) 

Azul Historico Restaurant Mexico City

Azul Historico Restaurant Mexico City

Azul Historico Restaurant Mexico City

Azul Historico Restaurant Mexico City

Centro Historico/Centro/Alameda Central Restaurants and Bars

-Azul Historico (Make reservations) 
-Puntarena (Beautiful courtyard restaurant in the same building as Azul Restaurante, great breakfast)
-El Mayor (Beautiful rooftop views of the ruins near Zocalo) -Café Jekemir (coffee) 
-Bar la Opera (tequila, will visit next time) 
-Miralto (amazing rooftop views, will visit next time) 
-Casino Espanol (checked out an event…perhaps we weren’t on the list 😊, will visit next time) 
-El Cardenal (lunch) 
-Nonsolo Mx (traditional Mexican) 
-Maison Kayser (pastries) 
-Hosteria “La Bota”
-Café de Tacuba
-Tio Pepe (historic bar) 
-Beer La Bota (late night bar)

Puntarena Restaurant Mexico City

Puntarena Restaurant Mexico City

Bike Tour Mexico City

Bike Tour Mexico City

Day 2: Bike Tour, Cocktails Overlooking the Ruins, and the Polanco Neighborhood

What do you do in Mexico City if you’re a personal trainer? Sign up for a bike tour, of course! With the tour starting at 10 am, we had time to eat chilaquiles in Puntarena’s open-air courtyard nearby, though (don’t tell my personal training clients). The grassy wall with a tricycle created a memorable backdrop for our breakfast. Considering the amount of traffic in Mexico City (the most we have ever witnessed in a city), we needed to jump in an Uber for our 24-minute ride to the Polanco neighborhood after a time-pressed meal (assume it could take 13-43 minutes to drive to any neighborhood). Upon our arrival, we jumped on our bikes and began our private tour of the city. From Polanco and back, we traced Mexico City’s history across many neighborhoods and documented the Spanish and French influence on its architecture, public sculptures, and art. The city was a far cry from the rural Mexican style we envisioned. After 250 years of Spanish rule, you clearly see the European influence on every neighborhood (especially the Centro Historico). 

By the tour’s end, we covered most of the historic sites and parks in the nearby neighborhoods and stopped in a traditional taco stand to indulge in Roma’s authentic cuisine. Feeling parched, we took an Uber to the terrace restaurant, El Mayor, in the Centro Historico. While enjoying the 70-degree weather, we sipped margaritas and look over the Aztec pyramid ruins. To cap our night, we enjoyed a drink at Unica before our reservation in the celebrated traditional Mexican restaurant with a modern finish, Dulce Patria.

Reforma Street Mexico City

Reforma Street Mexico City

Polanco Sites

-Mexico City Bike Tours (http://mexicobiketour.com.mx/): $38pp, 4-4.5 hours, includes a tour of the Polanco, Centro Historico, and Roma neighborhoods (and everything in between) and a taco stop -A walk through the beautiful tree-lined streets looking at the mansions
-Castillo de Chapultepec and the Museo Nacional de Historia (Castle on the hill looking down on the French-inspired street, Reforma) 
-Bosque de Chapultepec (one of the biggest parks in Latin America) 

Castillo de Chapultepec Mexico City

Castillo de Chapultepec Mexico City

Inside the Castillo de Chapultepec Mexico City

Inside the Castillo de Chapultepec Mexico City

Dulce Patria Restaurant Mexico City

Dulce Patria Restaurant Mexico City

Polanco Restaurants and Bars

-Pujol (book reservation 2-3 months in advance, one of the top 5 restaurants in the world, will visit next time)
-Dulce Patria (a modern twist on traditional Mexican dishes, restaurant design is very simple with an 80’s flare, book reservation 1 month in advance)
-Quintonil (book reservation 2 months in advance, one of the top 5 restaurants in Mexico City, will visit next time)
-Jules Basement (speakeasy, will visit next time) 
-Unica Restaurant (neat place for a drink, too) 
-Contramar (seafood restaurant, will visit next time)

Cooking Class: Mexico City

Cooking Class: Mexico City

Cooking Class: Mexico City

Cooking Class: Mexico City

Day 3: Cooking Class, Castillo de Chapultepec, and the Roma Neighborhood

With no time for breakfast, we went straight to our cooking class at 9 am in Roma’s Aura Authentic. Luckily, our chef-teacher, Graciela, already had breakfast in mind for us. Before preparing homemade salsa, a zucchini salad, tortillas from scratch, white mole, and cornbread, we ventured out to a local market for ingredients. On the way, we stopped at a delicious corner quesadilla stand to taste a familiar dish in a not-so-familiar way (quesadillas in Mexico City are made without cheese and filled with a variety of ingredients including squash blossom and cactus). After learning about the differences between peppers of various regions, we capped our first meal with Oaxaca worms, grasshoppers, and flying worms (and, yes, we did taste each and they tasted good). Once we returned to the kitchen, we began preparing our master feast that finished with a traditional birthday song and a candle on cornbread. 

With daylight hours to spare, Sammy and I Ubered to Latin America’s biggest park, Chapultepec. During our visit to the Castillo de Chapultepec, we hired a docent to explain its history. Soon after, we returned to Roma for Italian cuisine at Rosetta and a night of cocktails in the same area. 

Parque Mexico

Parque Mexico

Roma Sites

-Aura Authentic Cook Class (https://www.auramexcooking.com/cooking-classes): $75pp, 4.5-5 hours, includes a morning market tour, meal, and drinks -Plaza Rio de Janeiro
-Parque Mexico
-Templo San Francisco Javier and Plaza Romita

Rosetta Restaurant Mexico City

Rosetta Restaurant Mexico City

Roma Restaurants and Bars

-Rosetta Restaurant (excellent Italian restaurant, booked reservations 1 month in advance) 
-Sabrinos (great breakfast, will visit next time) 
-Contramar (seafood restaurant, will visit next time) 
-Licoreria Limantour (recently ranked on “The World’s 50 Best Bars” for cocktails) 
-Maison Artemisia (bar, will visit next time) 
-Cardinal (coffee) 
-Maximo Bistrot Local (excellent French restaurant, booked reservations 2 months in advance, will visit next time)