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Hands down the best yogurt on the shelf

September 11th, 2014 No Comments

Greek Pastures Yogurt

 

Flying through the Whole Foods in NYC, I did a 180 when I spotted my FAVORITE yogurt on the shelf.  ”Greek Pastures” used to be “Atlanta Fresh” so to my knowledge it was only sold there.  Until now!!!! Thankfully when I got back to Los Angeles, my little cups of protein were also stocked up in my local Whole Foods.

Besides tasting like dessert, they’re a healthy choice for  snack:

  • Made in small batches from grass-fed cows
  • 130 calories + 15 g of Protein + 11g of sugar per cup
  • The fresh berries are stewed in just a touch of sugar so there’s no “syrup”

I mix in a little plain yogurt so it’s not so sweet and increases protein.  Raw almonds add crunch and good fat.

My favorite of the flavors is the mixed berry.  Port wine and cherries I’ll eat for dessert :)  Unfortunately they no longer seem to be making Vanilla or Plain or Low-Fat….Check out their website for more info and locations.

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The key to the perfect smoothie

September 5th, 2014 No Comments

smoothie with protein

Ideally a smoothie is packed with nutrients, satisfies our hunger, and tastes great.  So…how do we go about making that happen?  Well, taste is a matter of…taste.  I tend to think if you add a little banana it will be manageable.  In this post, I’m focusing on the other two parts.  However, should you make the smoothie above, I can assure you it’s yummy.

As we learned years ago, each meal and snack needs to have the same number of protein, carbs, and fat to fill us up and keep our metabolism in gear.  (Click here to read about figuring out portions) For my body and activity level that’s:

  • 20-30g of protein
  • 25g carbs
  • 7-10 g of fat
  • About 250-300 calories total

After a workout, we need to get this in our body within 45 minutes.  Honestly, the sooner the better.  It’s also important we feed our body with protein it can easily absorb and dispatch to our muscles asap. A smoothie is our best option!

So let’s break down my smoothie:

Protein: Grass-fed organic whey is 20g of protein. If you ‘re dairy free, look for pea protein and avoid soy.

Carbs:  1/3 of a banana (9g carbs and potassium), a few frozen blueberries (10g carbs and antioxidants), and 1/2 pack of sugar-free Acai (superfood with 2g carbs, 2.5g fat).

Fat: 1/5 Avocado is 4g fat.

You need the fat to satiate your hunger.  It also slows down your digestion so your body has time to absorb the nutrients.  Since I’m incorporating two handfuls of spinach (one veggie serving for the day), I use avocado as my fat source.  Besides the fact it makes the drink super smooth, avocado has also been proven to help your body absorb 200-400% more of the nutrients in vegetables.  Another option is a dollop of coconut oil or flax seed oil.  (I try to stay away from nut butters because I eat almond butter and nuts throughout the day.  They’re really hard to digest and high in calories.)

Now that the nutritional portion is taken care of, I can add on things like glutamine or Philosophie  superfood powders which taste so good on their own.

Vega Protein Performance Pack

If I’m on the run and can’t get home to make a smoothie, I take a Vega Sports Protein Performance pack and a bottle and shake it up with cold water.  Don’t worry, it tastes great!

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You don’t need pasta when you can make veggie noodles so easily

August 7th, 2014 No Comments

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Here’s my rule of thumb with pasta:  only eat it when it’s made by hand, that day, in legit Italian restaurants.  In other words, the flour noodle (usually Parpardelle for me) has to be WORTH IT!  Same rule applies for bread. 

Last night, Kitty Ball (yes, that’s a nickname), invited me over for Spaghetti Bolognese.  Since she’s Paleo, I knew dinner would exclude gluten and be totally healthy.  I’ve posted her delicious paleo BBQ sauce in the past.  Everything she makes is hearty so you never realize how healthy it is.

Now, let me back track for a second: A year ago I had dinner party and served Raw Zuchinni Ribbons with Almond Pesto which I make using a mandolin to slice the veggie thin. Kitty was at that dinner party.  Months later, I posted my hand-cut raw zucchini noodle bolognese.

Now, as my BFF, Kitty knows I get kick out of kitchen gadgets.  When she busted out this guy, I flew out of my seat to investigate!

So…if I put two and two together…

That crazy cat just had to one-up my little ribbons with her fun spiral noodles!

Paderno World Cuisine Spiral Noodles

 

Obviously I’m kidding :)

Overall, I don’t know if the spiral noodles are “better,” per se, but I like the presentation.  The thicker spiral noodle  holds up better under the meat sauce.

If you’re asking my first question, “How much is it?” you’ll like the answer: $36 on Amazon.

You need about 3/4 zucchini per person.  I prefer the green ones.  Kitty takes the skin off and sweats them in the oven.  I prefer to leave the nutrient-dense skin on and eat them raw.  They will soften if you put a warm sauce on top.

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I’m praying for Saint Martha

July 17th, 2014 No Comments

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Martha, the patron saint of cooks and servants, was known to have had the company of Jesus in her home and served him meals on several occasions.  In my mind, her food must have tasted heavenly.  I mean, the man came back for more! As for the modern Saint Martha, her dishes only appear to be divine.  Their flavor unfortunately is lacking.

But, let me explain to you why I think this little nook tucked away in a Koreatown strip mall will draw a righteous foodie crowd.

When you see the pictures and the presentation, you’ll understand that the people who work here take so much pride in creating and serving what they believe to be THE BEST. 

If they hear their critics cry, they will create better food.  It’s only been open a month.  So much time to grow!

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When you walk in, you are greeted by the #CooksAndServants themselves at this open kitchen.  Chef Nick Erven (of The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel and Tart) has gathered a band of heavily-bearded brothers that are too focused to be friendly.  That was not quite as jarring as the BLAZING light behind the counter that would unfortunately flood into the dining room.

Most people don’t care as much about atmosphere if they are going to be served phenomenal food.  I’ll capitulate to that every so often.  But if I don’t like my experience in the restaurant, my focus is disturbed.

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I didn’t get an exact count, but there are probably about 18 tables in the whole place.  I LOVE spots like this.  Instantly I thought about one of my favorite NYC Greenwich Villages cafes: The Little Owl.  You have to wait for at least an hour, that is, if they had availability at all!  Here, the eating area is close quarters and the tables seem small by LA dining standards.  No matter for most foodies though.  If it’s good, we’ll sit wherever.

After about a minute of looking around, I sighed.  As there are no windows, the lighting would stay exactly the same all night.  If that’s the case AND the kitchen light leaks into the dining space, they should really turn down the lights.  That’s an easy fix!

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The wine list is IMPRESSIVE.  Fifty wines from all over the world by the glass that you can order by the Taste, Glass, Piche, or Bottle so you can pair accordingly with the course.  Prices vary as much as the flavor profiles.  My waitress was properly educated and more than happy to discuss our preferences and bring samples.

As for the food….

We were instructed to order in courses and share what came out.  The menu lists the main ingredients of each dish which doesn’t prepare you for what is about to be served.

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Oh my goodness, the presentation was breathtaking.  I would have never guessed raw panacotta and tomatoes could be so beautiful!  Unfortunately my excitement for the dish diminished instantly after one bite….The amuse bouche of melon and flowers with a honey drizzle was so much more fun.  How could that be?!!!  Let me try another bite, this time with squash. The flowers were surprisingly tasty.  But still, overall terribly bland.  Ugh. I dared not ask for salt because I didn’t want to insult the bearded boys who had put so much effort into this.

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The grilled octopus that the waitress raved about “being crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside” was not, although thankfully tender (a feat in itself). And…it tasted like a salt lick.  Even my companion gaged.  As for the rice….Perhaps rice usually isn’t prepared like risotto because the grain gets too sticky instead of smooth.

Third plate’s a charm?

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Nope.  The “Summer Corn” was not the sweet white juicy kernels I as expecting.  This baby corn was covered in flowers, radish, crispy chicken skin, and a seasoning that tasted like Cheetos.  (I’m undecided whether that’s a good or a bad thing.)

At this point, I’ll be honest, we paid the bill and left.  What should have been a farm-to-table roller coaster ride was a more like a float down the sleepy river.  After an hour of nibbling, I was STARVING.

Like I said when I began this story, I’m hopeful for them.  Koreatown is booming and cool kids LOVE hideaways like this.  The whole experience drew my mind to Uchi in Austin, one of the best restaurants in the country.  Saint Martha has the same vision, passion, and soul to be a stand out, desirable farm-to-table like Uchi with Japanese.

Saint Martha 740 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 387-2300

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If I’m going to eat spinach instead of drink it

July 10th, 2014 No Comments

bon appétit spinach salad

 

These days the only way I’ll take my spinach is in a glass, either as part of a smoothie or juice blend.  Then I ran across this salad recipe in bon appetit.  Now I’m reconsidering and might even be motivated to have a little dinner party.  (If you’ve been gone for a while I’m single and on some sort of cooking strike.)

Spinach Salad with Crispy Onions and Dates

Via bon appétit June 2014

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Fresh spinach
  • bag of dates
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 lime juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated lime zest
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

  1. Blend 2 pitted dates, 1/3 cup veggie oil, 1 tsp lime zest, 1/4 cup lime juice in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup veggie oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat and sautee shallots until crispy. About 5-7 min.  Remove from pan and place on a paper towel.
  3. Chop 3/4 cup of dates.
  4. Toss it together!
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How to revive sweaty lettuce

May 29th, 2014 No Comments

Mixed baby lettuces from the farmers’ market make my MY FAVORITE salad.No matter if I grab just arugula or an herbal blend, the flavor in each leaf is so prominent I feel like my salad is a treat instead of torture.  Even if it’s just the lettuce in the bowl.

Now with the summer heat settling in, my problem is getting the lettuce home without it sweating in the bag.  Thankfully the farmer I buy it from had a great solution!

  1. Buy your lettuce last
  2. Hold the bag by the corners and swing it around away from you so it puffs up like a ballon. Tie it off.  This way the lettuce won’t get smushed by heavy veggies.  (I also place it on top of everything else.)
  3. When you get home, open the bag and wipe out any condensation with a paper towel.  Then press a paper towel flat onto one side of the bag.
  4. Swing the bag around and tie it off again.  Place it in the fridge on the top shelf.

You’ll find it regains some of its crispness and will keep for several days!

CLICK HERE for some of my favorite salad recipes and quick tricks.

Storing fresh lettuce

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Westside LA welcomes two new restaurants

April 25th, 2014 No Comments

Living in Santa Monica, I really don’t have a TON of restaurant options west of 26th street and north of Wilshire.  On a regular basis, you’ll find me at:

  • Rustic Canyon (best seasonal f-t-t on the westside)
  • R+D kitchen (I call it my “Cheers bar”)
  • Hillstone
  • Kreation (healthy Persian and juice bar)
  • Milo + Olive (casual pizza)
  • FarmShop (seasonal delicious f-t-t)
  • Mercado (light Mexican)
  • BluePlate Taco (best Tex-Mex)
  • Fig (Best Happy Hour: 50% off from 5-6pm.  In the Fairmont Hotel)
  • Marmalade (Diner meets deli on Montana)
  • Toscana (Italian restaurant with “fun” westside bar scene)
  • Villetta (hand-crafted Italian that is often worth the expense)
  • Via Veneta (small, special occasion, authentic Italian on Main Street)

That covers Santa Monica and Brentwood. Please note Sawtelle and Venice are not included on this list. Thankfully in the last month we’ve had two new restaurants open and I love them both!

Art’s Table

Art's Table Santa Monica

On the corner of Montana and 10th Street, the old Babalou was totally renovated to be a modern, rustic wine bar and gastropub of sorts.  A month or so ago, the doors opened and the “tired of the same old food” neighborhood flocked into Art’s Table named after Art Verge, a Santa Monica local historian and business man, also father to Mark Verge (founder of Westside Rentals).  My gratitude goes to chef Mark Middleman who gives character to a very safe menu of  American classics.  They’re known for the burger, kale salad, and veggie sides.  You won’t recognize many of the wines, which I have found to be a good thing. Dinner is busy and you’ll see a line around the block for brunch.

Sloppy Joe Fries

Sloppy Joe Fries

Kale Salad

Kale Salad

Art's Table Burger

More pics on their instagram @ArtsTableSM.

Adoteca

Adoteca Brentwood

In the coming weeks, my peeps at Villetta and Toscana will discover they have some serious competition for best Italian fare with Adoteca on the block.  Literally all three are in Brentwood a stone’s throw from each other. When I saw this picture on Adoteca’s homepage, there was no question where our group was going for dinner. Adoteca scallops   It was no surprise the Michelin starred chef Antonio Mure and front of house manager Paolo Cesaro from Ado in Venice are the duo behind Adoteca.  Every dish delivered on our expectations.  Unfortunately, as a measure of etiquette, I kept my phone in my purse so I don’t have pictures to post. If you go, we all  insist you order the beet pasta with a quail bolognese.  It was hands down the fan favorite along with the creme brûlée.

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Delicious Dish: Steamed Sea Bass with a Citrus Soy Sauce

March 13th, 2014 No Comments

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Amongst my friends, it’s a joke how terrible I am at food photography, mediocre at plating, yet despite it all and the mess in the kitchen I’m a pretty solid as a cook.  So you’ll have to go with me on this one.  It’s amazing.

Sea Bass with Citrus and Soy

via Epicurious (published in Bon Apetit Magazine March 2002)

  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice**
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons oriental sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 6-ounce sea bass fillets

** I had the juice bar at Whole Foods juice a whole pineapple.  OR I’ve use lemon juice mixed with a little agave.

Mix first 6 ingredients in 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Add fish; turn to coat. Chill 2 hours, turning fish occasionally.

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Place steamer rack in large skillet. Arrange fish on rack. Pour marinade into skillet under rack and bring to boil. Cover skillet and steam fish until just opaque in center, about 8 minutes. Transfer fish to plates. Remove steamer rack from skillet. Boil marinade until reduced enough to coat spoon, about 6 minutes; spoon over fish. Top with green onions (optional).

I usually top it with oranges.  Here I’ve paired it with green beans sautéed in toasted sesame seed oil, quinoa with cilantro, and SoCal sunset.  Doesn’t get much better in my book :)

Sunset in venice, ca

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