5.23.2013

Dining Out Paleo: True Food Kitchen

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo 
 
Thursdays I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to a whole foods diet, opting for the freshest and most nutrient dense foods while avoiding grains, sugars, dairy, and soy to the best of my ability.  Unless informed otherwise, I always assume that the restaurant uses vegetable/canola oils for cooking.

The time I spent studying massage therapy in Santa Monica was when my interest in holistic health and wellness really kicked into high gear.  My classes of course focused on technique and routine, but there were a few teachers that really put an emphasis on whole-body health and alternative methods to healing.  My fire was lit and that began my on-going quest to learn more about the impact of the foods we eat, the chemicals we ingest, and even pharmaceutical necessity on our bodies and well-being.  I had no idea the depth and expanse of the meaning behind whole-body health, even Paleo, and just how endless getting back to the basics could really be.

One day after hours and hours of grueling anatomy study, we were treated to a video featuring Dr. Andrew Weil.  Dr. Weil is an educator, writer, and the founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.  He is an advocate for holistic health and integrative medicine, combining alternative methods with conventional medicine for the best possible outcome.  I loved his philosophy, his demeanor, and the information he had to share.  

Almost a year and a half later, I was perusing through the "foodie" feeds on my Pulse App and read a review for True Food Kitchen in Santa Monica.  The restaurant focuses on seasonal, fresh ingredients featured in globally-inspired cuisine.  The menu includes offerings for a range of dietary preferences and has a hearty selection for even the most particular eater.  The best part is that True Food Kitchen is a collaborative effort between Fox Restaurant Concepts from Arizona... and Dr. Weil!  I immediately added True Food Kitchen to my 'to-do' list and phoned my favorite massage therapist (and fellow classmate) for a date down on the Westside.  How exciting to eat at a restaurant where the menu concept is prepared by an M.D. that truly understands the impact of food on our health!


True Food Kitchen sits on the edge of Santa Monica Place, bustling with high-end shoppers and beach bleached tourists.  The store front is large and bright and on this particular day there were tubs of fresh herbs arranged around the front waiting area. 




I started with an intriguing class of Kale Aid made with fresh juiced kale, apple, cucumber, celery, lemon, and ginger.  Everything on the refreshment menu sounded incredible and I want to come back just to hang out at the juice bar and make my way through the different selections.



It honestly tastes exactly as it looks and sounds.  Which I happened to love!  I am totally down with green leafy juice drinks and can't help but feel ten pounds lighter when I drink them.  Now if only my pants would get on the same page and help a sister out.  My dining partner enjoyed the Hangover Rx, sober as could be, and was also thoroughly pleased with her selection.

When it came down to menu options and meal preference, it is really easy to pick something that is comprised of whole foods, is gluten-free, or completely vegan.  The menu identifies each item by dietary preference and is well described if you are looking to avoid dairy, soy, or grains. 


I am a lazy vegetable eater at home more often than I care to admit, so I really like eating salads when I go out to eat.  I chose the Mediterranean Chopped Salad with free-range grilled chicken added on top.  The salad arrived beautifully arranged with cucumbers, olives (which I nixed), cherry tomatoes, quinoa (which I did not nix but easily could have), feta, Marcona almonds, and lemon oregano vinaigrette.



Bright, clean flavors.  Tender meat.  A balance of crunchy and smooth textures between the almonds, chicken, and the feta.  Overall, a very well put together salad and I felt amazing during and after I devoured the entire dish.  The portion size was perfect and I left completely satisfied for the remainder of the afternoon.  

When my friend and I were finished catching up, nibbling the last bites, and taking in the scenery inside of True Food Kitchen, I dragged her down to the beach so I could get my obligatory moment in the sand and water that I hardly see since I left the South Bay.  One quick splash of chilly Pacific water all over the front of my pants and it was time to head home.  I was well-fed, grounded with the earth, and feeling quite complete for the remainder of the day.  Can't wait to go back and do it all over again!





5.21.2013

Hot Dog! Bark in the Park at Dodger Stadium! Round 2

The first time Matt and I made an attempt to take the dogs to Dodger Stadium it turned out to be a ridiculously awesome time and we convinced ourselves afterwards that we would make a habit out of the slobbering, barking, hair-flying insanity.  And that was just the people in line for the AYCE ballpark food.

The afternoon of May 11 found the four of us leashing up and heading back down to Chavez Ravine to watch the Dodgers take on the Marlins and hopefully pull out of a disgusting last place losing streak.  The following is the random assortment of dog and baseball photos that I was able to capture with my phone in one hand and Volt in the other.  And now for your amusement...

The crowd of over 600 dogs and their owners makes its way onto the field.


We were among them.  Matt refused to smile because I was probably hollering at him to pose for the picture and he was preoccupied with ensuring Miss Ellie didn't eat the chihuahuas in her path.


I decided to up the challenge of behavior control and give him my dog that was more interested in hugging all the fellow parade participants.


Volt seemed extra interested in the A/V team hanging out in the Dodger's dugout.


We finally arrived at our seats and got settled in for the long nine innings ahead of us.


Miss Ellie insisted that the All-You-Can-Eat food selection included all SHE could eat, too.


Boy did they eat all they could. 


After their fill of Dodger dogs, popcorn, and nachos, it was nap time...


...waking up just in time to watch the final plays that led the Dodgers to the first win of the month!



High-fives, hugs, and big wet kisses filled the Right Field Pavilion.  Another successful evening of gluttony, puppy love, and baseball.  That's what I call Heaven and we didn't even have to travel to Iowa!







5.18.2013

Look At All The Healthies I Ate This Week! 18-May-2013

 Fermented foods.  Sauerkraut and kombucha tea.


Hot tea every morning.  I like to make a few different batches with varying flavors.  My most recent pitcher was a pouch of  Republic of Tea's Organic Turmeric Ginger and a bag of Traditional Medicinals Organic Raspberry Leaf.    


...with raw and unfiltered honey.  Full of enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. 


Pasture-raised eggs, uncured bacon, green chiles, a sweet potato buried underneath sprinkled with Penzeys Spices Turkish Seasoning, all topped with hearty glob of guacamole. If I could've fit some sauerkraut in the bowl, I would've.



I finally made a fresh batch of homemade mayonnaise after months and months of being too lazy to do so.  I am not a mayonnaise eater, but I could disgustingly eat this stuff straight out of the jar with a spoon.  Smooth, silky, nutty, garlicky.  And oh so good!  And it makes a perfect base for a whole slew of dressings and sauces...


...like for a Banh Mi salad.  Brimming with vegetables and flavorful pork, I have a hard time getting enough of this.  The layers of fresh, clean flavors are spectacular for warm (what feels like) summer backyard dinners with the hubby.


I've even started a few of my days with a hot mug of homemade bone broth...


...and a snack of cucumbers sprinkled with sea salt.


Blue Ribbon Country Captain Chicken from Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat.  I am such a huge curry fan and Matt is not, so I get excited when we have curry seasoned recipes for dinner... this is one he really enjoys.  Yay, Melissa Joulwan for awesome recipes!


Many many bowls of Turkish Chopped Salad, another recipe gem from The Clothes Make The Girl.


Green Chile Sausage Egg Muffins with slices of avocado.  I was way too hungry to try and make this picture look pretty.  Camera in left hand, fork in the right... y'all are just lucky I didn't get any drool on the lens.


Grilled grass-fed beef patties seasoned with Penzey's Spices BBQ3000, topped with my homemade mayo mixed with roasted green chiles.


Kind of annoying how easy it is once I get started again... and I have to force myself not to wonder why it took so long to get back at it.  Whatever the reason, feels good to eat clean again.






5.16.2013

Dining Out Paleo: Casey's Steaks & Barbecue

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo 
 
Thursdays I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to a whole foods diet, opting for the freshest and most nutrient dense foods while avoiding grains, sugars, dairy, and soy to the best of my ability.  Unless informed otherwise, I always assume that the restaurant uses vegetable/canola oils for cooking.

My favorite part of spring in the desert is all the gorgeous flowers!  After waking up to a beautiful display in our front yard, Matt and I ventured out to Ridgecrest, California to attend the annual Ridgecrest Desert Wildflower Festival.


We've had an extremely dry winter this year, so the festival was less flowery and more festivaly... craft vendors, artists, and park rangers handing out pamphlets on Death Valley and the supposedly spectacular drives.  I have heard Death Valley in the spring is one of the most striking things I will ever see.  I just keep forgetting to plan a trip far enough ahead as all the hotels and camp sites book up almost a year in advance.  Must be good.

After Matt and I were finished weaving our way through desert inspired pottery, paintings, and Avon sales ladies, it was time for lunch!  Along the main stretch of town, on North China Lake Boulevard, was a speckling of restaurants.  Matt eye-balled Casey's Steaks & Barbecue and that was where we stopped for mid-day chow.


I figured vegetables and fresh anythings might be difficult to come by, but at least I could get a solid helping of meat product.  As expected, the menu was full of burgers, sandwiches, rib options, tri-tip, pulled pork, and steaks.  There were even a few options for those folks that like chicken.  There were chef-cut vegetables and green salad available among the selections of side orders, but I decided I was in the mood for a big salad.  I ordered the Tri-Tip Salad - tender chunks of smoked Certified Angus Beef Tri-Tip served over fresh greens, carrots, tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, and croutons.  I 86-ed the croutons and waited eagerly with fork in hand for my salad to arrive.

I'm surprised the waiter didn't require a fork lift to deliver the backyard garden in a bowl to the table.  Casey's officially wins the award for having a Big Salad.


I tried to show some scale by setting my sunglasses next to the bowl, but this picture really doesn't do the size any justice.  Imagine going to an Italian restaurant and ordering an antipasto for the table.  This is the kind of bowl it would come in.  And here I am with this bowl, full of greens and cow, all to myself!  

Try as I might, I couldn't make it all the way through.  I thought I was hungry.  But half way down the bowl, I started to slow and what was left resembled a whole new portion of food.  So I did what any normal eater would do and requested a to-go box for what was going to be my dinner.  The salads at Casey's are certainly the best value item on the menu!  But, if Matt and I make our way back out to Ridgecrest again, I think I'll give the Flat Iron Steak a try with the side of salad and veggies. 

When lunch was finished and tightly tucked away under the seat of the truck, we were off on a little adventure to the Living Ghost Town of Randsburg, California.  Residential population of under 100, but extremely packed with visitors, off-roaders, motorcyclists, and tourists.  The one-ish mile road through town is straddled by antique shops, restaurants, and bars.  And the bars were crammed full when we passed by on this particular Saturday in March.  


The weather was all too perfect and I think most folks were out to enjoy a bike ride.  After our short visit through Randsburg and nearby Johannesburg, we made our way back home to enjoy our own display of flowers and the rest of my gargantuan salad!






  



5.14.2013

The Tuesday Take From a Functional Shopaholic

Tuesday is the day I spill my own little voice into the big crazy interweb vat of everyone else's opinions, sharing my favorite whatnots and whereabouts and why they are so dang awesome to me.

 Today's take: Prodyne Fruit Infusion 93-Ounce Natural Fruit Flavor Pitcher

I remember the old Weight Watchers days when women three times my age (I started way early like most young female slaves to the scale) would complain about getting their 8x8 dose of water.  8 cups, 8 times a day.  We were advised to add Crystal Light or buy the 0-Calorie flavored waters from Wal-Mart to make water drinking bearable.  Basically anything that was caffeine-free counted as "water." 

Gross.

I love water and have never really had a problem drinking it plain.  But I do appreciate a little variety sometimes.  I think spas and resorts have the flavored water system mastered.  And it's about as natural and pure as it is going to get.  No chemicals, no artificial flavor, just plain water that has been infused with fresh fruits and herbs.  I might be alone on this, but my favorite part about spa-ing is not the treatments I receive, but all the the goodies available... the swanky showers that simulate different tropical storms, the lavender or eucalyptus infused cold towels, and of course THE WATER INFUSIONS!  Water with pineapple, water with cucumber and mint, water with lemons, water with basil, even water with watermelon.

Unfortunately, spa time is relegated to special vacations with the hubby or visits from Mommy and I am normally stuck at home drinking plain old tap water with a chunk of lemon thrown into the glass. Snooze.  Until I stumbled across the Prodyne Fruit Infusion 93-Ounce Natural Fruit Flavor Pitcher.  Life has not been the same since.

You see that down there?  Those are blackberries and lemons.  Yeah.  It was like my own little resort day out here in the desert.  All that was missing was the cabana boy and the pool.  
 

I love this pitcher not just for making my own water exciting, but it is a very nice addition for family dinners and BBQs with friends.  It is incredibly easy to use and it can look kind of pretty sitting on the table.

When I'm in the mood for fruity flavored water, I unscrew the infuser column out of the lid of the pitcher and fill it with whatever happens to be in my fridge that might taste good.  I learned not to overfill it or stuff the fruit/herbs/etc. in there too tight or it becomes a little challenging to clean.


Then I reattach the infuser to the lid, fill the pitcher 3/4 of the way with filtered water to avoid spillage when I insert the fruit, and attach the lid.  I allow it to settle in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving to allow ample time for the flavors to mingle around and get super tasty.  And tasty they are!  Once the water level starts to get low, I just refill and allow the flavor to readjust.  After a few days, the fruit can start to look a little faded and funk and I'll usually empty the pitcher and start over. 

Relatively easy to clean.  Amazing tasting water.  And I like to pretend I'm fancy-fancy when my friends and family come over to visit.  If only those Weight Watchers ladies knew about this gem fifteen years ago!  The best part is that the recipe options are limitless.

Hmm... I wonder if this would be good for sangria... 93 ounces of sweet mouth-watering wine drink.  Sounds like a project to me!

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My Tuesday Takes are not sponsored.  I just happen to like "stuff" and like to spread the word about the quality "stuff" that makes me happy.  I do not receive money, goods, or services for my rants.  It would be kinda cool, but it isn't happening.  Just so y'all know.

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5.11.2013

Look At All The Healthies I Ate This Week! 11-May-2013

Fresh green salad lettuce mix...
 
 

Right out of the garden.

 
A Japanese sweet potato with 1 snack pack of Wholly Guacamole and a scoop of Farmhouse Culture live sauerkraut.  Yes, it is alive, and yes it is awesome!




A few little RAW snackins... raw as in minimal processing at low temperatures.  I have an obsession with my Hail Merry macaroons.  They are the best dessert snackies I have found.  Aaaaand they are Paleo.  Treats.  But still Paleo.  The Ginger Snaps were a new try this week, based on the recommendation from a Beachbody Fitness coach that I follow on Instagram.  Subliminal motivation!

 

Grubs.


Okay, just kidding about the grubs.  But I DID discover this little fart and a few of his friends hiding out under the lawn this week.  Matt, of course, received the obligatory phone call consisting of me screaming and gagging in a sad semblance of human communication skills.  According to the rest of the world, the larvae are quite nutritious.  Yeah, well, I couldn't care less.

BACON-WRAPPED GREEN BEAN BUNDLES!!! I have named these Pig & Twigs.  I started with this recipe and modified it to make it...well... better.  I used twice as much butter, three teaspoons of garlic powder, and NO sugar.  And they were AMAZING.  I am planning to try this with fresh minced garlic next time, though I'm afraid the garlic will probably burn.  I'll keep you posted.


Scrambled pasture-raised eggs with green chiles and uncured bacon, a regular ol' yam, more guacamole, and more sauerkraut.


Pasture-raised, uncured hot links.  I am completely in love the Fork In The Road meat products.  

They only use the highest quality meat — "heirloom pork, sustainably-raised beef and free-roaming chicken and turkey.  It comes from humanely raised animals that are bred for flavor and tenderness. They’re never given antibiotics, growth enhancers or added hormones, are fed an entirely vegetarian diet, and are allowed to do what comes naturally — roam freely and behave like, well, animals."  Beyond all of that... they just taste REALLY good.  No chemicals really means being able to taste the meat.  And it is oh, so delicious!



Threw a few thick slices of Vidalia onion on the grill and it was a meal!


And of course, a lot more salad with extra virgin olive oil and blackberry balsamic vinegar for dressing.


Want to know what I did not eat this week?  THIS:


It is LITERALLY bread.  In a can.  Bread in a can.  Who?  Who eats this?  Apparently a bunch of folks from Massachusetts and surrounding areas because the can claims it is New England's Finest.  Does that mean there are OTHER breads in a can?  That are not as good?  I hope I never have to find out.