The Anti-Salad

Sometimes salad gets so boring and predictable.  Been there done that.  Enter the ANTI-SALAD.

I have an allergy to ground corn, and a gluten-free preference, which makes Mexican food so much less fun than it used to be.  Last spring, on a retreat in Chacala, Mexico, I stumbled upon tacos using jicama instead of tortillas.  Genius!   Playing around with ingredients in my fridge I assembled this bad boy:

Tuna Poke Jicama Tacos

 

 

 

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Here’s what’s stacked up:

  • jicama, sliced into 1/4′ rounds
  • guacamole
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • red cabbage
  • tuna poke
  • green onions
  • cilantro
  • shredded carrot
  • squeeze of lime

I love these tacos because they deliver all your veggies, are low in calories, they’re more fun to eat, and surprisingly filling.  (BTW, I don’t have tuna poke on hand all the time, but my dad had just caught some which I had over-seasoned, so the fresh veggies really offset the saltiness of the tuna.  A good quality Asian market may stock poke, but if you have fresh tuna, it’s super easy.)  Jicama tacos or tostadas are zesty, fresh, crunchy and bright, just like a salad, but, not.

The culinary combinations are infinite.  Thai marinated grilled chicken with pickled red cabbage, drizzled with David Chang’s fish sauce vinaigrette.  Pollo asado over refried black beans with salsa fresca and pickled red onion.   Baba ghanoush topped with za’atar spice, cucumbers slices and roast cauliflower.   Yogurt underneath a crisp veggie burger, topped with fresh herbs, a squeeze of citrus and you’re done.   I had a great time just playing in the kitchen with a brand new canvas.

What combo would you most like to try?

 

Gluten-free Black Bean Brownie Bites

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I’m a big believer in having your cake and eating it too.  I love healthy food that doesn’t taste so darn healthy.  These flourless black bean brownies are fudgy, low in sugar and decadent, all while providing fiber, iron, antioxidants and magnesium.  IN A BROWNIE, PEOPLE!

I am blessed to have girlfriends who plan amazing get-togethers on the regular, all I have to do is show up with a dessert like this (and wine) and we’re all set.  These make the perfect indulgent, yet guilt-free treat.  Read more

Sunflower Butter Granola

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There’s a certain gluten free peanut butter granola that I can’t get enough of.  I love it with chocolate almond milk as a late night indulgence, or over greek yogurt with chia seeds and fruit for breakfast.  The only problem is, it costs around $6 a bag, which categorizes it as a luxury grocery item for me, making my inner penny-pincher clench just a little every time I buy it.

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After making the Minimalist Baker’s banana bread granola this weekend and seeing how easy it was, I set out to recreate my favorite luxury snack.  Read more

Classic Banana Pudding- gluten-free & vegan

On the first rainy day here in Los Angeles in months it only felt right to spend Sunday afternoon baking in the kitchen.  Truth be told, I’ve still got my eating pants on from Thanksgiving, and a million reasons to hit the gym hard, but as a guest at two feasts this year and host of none, my fridge is sadly, leftover-free.

I’m vegan-curious, and (mostly) gluten-free, but at a recent lunch with my tribe, I had a dessert that I can’t stop thinking about: Banana Pudding.  A southern classic from K’s nana.  It got me thinking about creating a gluten-free and vegan version.  As we officially enter the season of desserts, wouldn’t a less guilty and allergy-friendly option be great?  Here’s the recipe from my rainy day research, which if I do say so myself, is pretty darn delectable.

Classic Banana Pudding

Step one: whip up some gluten-free vanilla wafers, inspired by GFJules’ recipe:

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Urban Garden

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1.  I love food

2.  Because of aforementioned love for food, I try to eat healthy.

3.  If I’m gonna eat healthy, it’s gotta be tasty.  Non-negotiable.  Zero tolerance for cardboard or fake lo-cal substitutions.

Billed as a “modern Lebanese kitchen” Urban Garden is my newest find, fulfilling all requirements, serving up vegan, gluten-free, organic options for a fast, casual, and very tasty lunch, that won’t leave me needing a nap.  Created by the team behind the Bowery, ingredients are locally-sourced, high quality and authentic to Chef Abou-Daoud’s family recipes.

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#EatPeruLove Episode 2: Soul Food

 

With just a night in Lima before heading into the Amazon rainforest, I had one singular objective.  To. Eat. My. Face. Off.  I knew the upcoming retreat included fasting and vegetarianism and probably wouldn’t be much of a culinary indulgence, so with less than 24 hours to gobble up Lima, I went big and took a friend’s recommendation, booking a table for the tasting menu at Astrid Y Gastón.

Food is art.  Like great theater, or a sculpture that brings tears to my eyes, or dancing, food stirs my soul and makes me feel alive.  Pull up a chair and indulge with me!

Chef, The Line Hotel & POT

Chef, The Line Hotel & POT

It’s a Roy Choi kind of week!  I’ve long been a fan of the L.A. son’s cuisine, from Kogi, to Chego to A-Frame and Sunny Spot, and this week, I got to try his newest restaurant, POT at the Line Hotel.

Roy and his team consistently deliver on details and cool, creating spaces you want to see and be seen in.   And the Line Hotel sure is a pretty one.

 

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Roy’s next restaurant, Commissary opens later this year, and will occupy this greenhouse on the rooftop deck, smack in the middle of K-town overlooking Wilshire Blvd.

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The Line Hotel’s pool: a sure bet to be a mid-town hot spot this summer.

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The Perfect Bite: a culinary obsession

Years ago, I worked in Tampa, and sadly, I can only remember Waffle House and eating fried chicken on a tour bus. However on a recent trip, my foodie crew and I found a gem in Edison Food and Drink Lab.

The décor is hip industrial, reminiscent of a chemistry lab, but achieves comfort and warmth. When we arrived, I knew the two guys composing a photo by lighting a plate of burrata with their phones, was a good sign. Foodie kindred spirits.


APPETIZERS

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The potato encrusted oysters were crispy, creamy, tangy and sweet. Our server instructed us to pour the dill pickle nectar under the oyster over the top. Mouthgasm. (the kitchen made us a gluten free version, too.)

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Mom-guilt in Mexico

It sounded like such a good idea at the time.  My BFF had lost her father last year and we had planned to go on a yoga retreat to Mexico this spring when she finally had a little time for herself.  Well, spring had sprung and our flight was just around the corner.  That’s when the panic struck.

All the reasons why I shouldn’t go swirled in my head.  What if something happened to my son?  I haven’t worked enough this year to earn a vacation.   This is way too indulgent.  I like my life. I don’t feel tired.  I don’t need an escape.  What if I miss out on that one job that catapults my income for the entire year?  On and on and on.

I tried to sit with the discomfort.  Honor your commitment.  Honor yourself.  Try something new.  Relax.  It will all be fine.  Maybe better than fine.  And don’t forget….it’s already been paid for.

The BFF called me the day before we left.  “How are you feeling about this trip?” she tentatively asked.  I admitted to secretly hoping  I would get a job which would give me total permission to come halfway through the retreat.  She felt the same.  We agreed that it felt like too long to be away from our kids.  The mom guilt had got us.  And bad.

We cut our trip short by two nights.  A couple hundred dollars in change fees (ouch!) later, we left for Mexico.

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EatPeruLove Episode 1: The Arrival

Welcome to Lima, Peru!   I had one night in Lima before heading to the rainforest for the retreat.  International travel always does the spirit good.  After checking into the hotel and a quick nap, my friend M and I set off to take in what we could with one day in Lima.

First things first, let’s eat!  We walked over to Larcomar, a giant, open air mall overlooking the bay.  Maybe I was jet-lagged and tired, maybe I expected something different, maybe we shouldn’t have started off in such a tourist draw….but to me, Larcomar felt awfully like any mall at any beach, actually a LOT like Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.   Winding past American chain restaurants blaring American pop music, we settled into a small Peruvian cafe with an ocean view for a small bite and some maté de coca.  (tea made from coca leaves, the same plant that cocaine is made from…a very mild stimulant, equivalent to coffee.  wheeee!)

I was starving for some real food and could have gone to town on this menu, but with dinner reservations at the highly recommended Astrid y Gastón only hours away, we decided on a couple small plates.

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First up: Tiradito!  Fresh, citrus-y and bright, this was the perfect first dish in Lima.  Peruvian corn, yam, aji amarillo and raw fish soaked in lime, this woke up our palate.

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Next came Causa Limeña, a cold, layered appetizer made of mashed yellow potatoes, cooked tuna, and onions garnished with avocado and boiled egg in a creamy tomato sauce.  Popular in the summer months, but still delicious on a cloudy, cool day, it was light, filling and reassured me that we were in fact in Peru, not just any old mall by the beach.  With local food in our bellies and fortified by the maté de coca, we were ready to take in the city.

*Special thanks for the lovely original musical stylings of David Woodward and Jan Melchior Maclaar.