Healthy

Green Peas – Avo-Kale Salad Gives Me Peace

by Franklin on December 12, 2015

Being a food blogger and lover of food, I put some bad things in my body. All those times I ate cheesy, bacon-y goodness, it sometimes takes a toll. Maybe it’s time to eat a little cleaner and better. All those processed meats might be bad for us — delicious, but not the healthiest of foods. I’ve been on a health kick lately and the time has come where one must eat salads for once. At Green Peas, the menu was fresh and clean and really felt at peace with the healthy choices you were making.

The kale salad was fresh and quite healthy. The artichoke and tomato gave the salad a nice lift and the bits of chicken was a life saver. The hero of this salad was the cascade of avocado on top. The mix of avocado and the kale was perfect. Sipping on the freshly squeezed orange juice gave this wholesome and healthy the sweetness it needed. A bit tart for my taste, but still great nonetheless.

Green Peas in Culver City was a nice change in my normal carnivorous diet. Their menu has a lot of vegan options as well. My blog posts and restaurant choices can use more of these kinds of spots. More greens and vegetables — Less melty cheese and perfectly crusted proteins. Maybe not, but more of this can’t be a bad thing.

Green Peas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

{ 0 comments }

Cafe Gratitude – Vegans are People Too

by Franklin on February 6, 2015

Super Bowl is a day of feasting, and not in the sense of a holiday meal, but in a snacking and binge eating sense. We Americans put down nearly 30 million pounds of chips and over a billion chicken wings. A single chicken can only make four pieces of chicken wings — that calculates to 250 million chickens. Not to mention all of the avocados, burgers, pizzas, beer, nuts, pretzels, nachos, hot dogs, and whatever people eat on Super Bowl Sunday, its a lot of food.

Sometimes putting the Doritos down and putting something good in your body is refreshing. Cafe Gratitude is just what you need after a gorge fest of junk food — vegan/raw. Their food is clean, healthy, and at least for me, something I will rarely eat or enjoy. Ultimately, for a vegan meal, I thought it was great but not something I’d switch over to.

The “COMMUNITY” was a warm dip of spinach and baby artichoke. The choice of toasted gluten-free buckwheat crackers was a poor one as the crackers were just terrible. I mean, a vegan would probably love them, but the taste, texture and smell was something I wasn’t used to. The crostini bread was a little more what I was used to. The spinach and artichoke dip was healthy. No globs of cheese or mayo — just good and healthy veggies and some kind of vegan cream sauce. It was guiltless and somewhat tasty.

The “VIVACIOUS” were baked kale chips. These were more my kind of vegan snack. The baked kale was very crisp and one would think they were fried in oil. They had good texture and taste, especially dipping in the choice of garlic tahini, cashew nacho cheese, or creamy salsa verde dipping sauces.

The “BOUNTIFUL” was a baked gluten-free pasta. I guess it was the closes thing to mac and cheese. Their quinoa shells were crisp and almost crunchy. The roasted eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, and spinach gave the dish a lot of needed flavor. The almond basil bechamel was not creamy, but gave it enough sauciness to keep me interested — and the Brazilian nut parmesan gave the fake dish of mac and cheese seem cheesy. This was a great rendition of a classic mac and cheese, and though it was all vegan, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

The “AWESOME” was an eggplant parmesan panini. The Herb-cornmeal crusted eggplant was tasty and hearty. The absence of meat was almost forgotten. The grilled panini bread soaked up the marinara sauce and the cashew ricotta really tasted cheesy. The addition of tomatoes, Brazil nut parmesan, arugula, and basil gave the sandwich a lot of flavor and depth. A side of country style potatoes made this a very fulfilling dish. It was the least vegan of all of them, so I guess that makes sense.

I never wanted meat more than during this meal. I hardly often eat vegan, but when I do, I feel a little better about myself. After a binge of potato chips and ribs and chicken wings, sometimes, this kind of healthy stuff is needed. I don’t foresee myself eating vegan anytime soon, but if so, I suppose Cafe Gratitude can do me right.

Cafe Gratitude on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

Urban Plates – Farm to Pate on a Budget

by Franklin on July 24, 2014

Urban Pates in Irvine is a game changer. Their “farm to plate, and won’t break the bank” concept is simple and appealing. You get fresh ingredients inside their fresh and delicious plates, and it’s all within your budget.

I really like the grilled wild ono Niçoise salad. It had green beans, organic egg, organic tomatoes, potatoes, capers, marinated olives, and a mustard/champagne vinaigrette. The grilled Ono was seared nicely and had a great flavor. It was clean, meaty and delicious. The mustard champagne vinaigrette was perfect in this salad. The capers gave a nice salty flavor and seasoned the fish nicely.

Once I saw steak, I had to order it. It looked so juicy and medium rare. The seasoned natural beef was precook end, and had a uniquely red hue to it, like almost too red. It was cooked perfectly! The red in the beef wasn’t raw, but a perfectly cooked medium rare. I ordered this with Mac and cheese and Brussels sprouts. The Mac and cheese was superb, your standard creamy and cheesy Mac and cheese. The Brussels sprouts were tasty too. Beef and Brussels sprouts sure a great combination. The Brussels sprouts was cooked with bacon, and gave the vegetables so much good flavor. The trio, beef, Mac, and Brussels sprouts was such a classic combination.

We ordered the quinoa and sweet peas salad on the side to just balance the beef and rich flavors out. I liked the crisp from the sweet peas and enjoyed the bite from the quinoa. It was fresh and brightened everything we ate. It made for a great palate cleanser.

We ended things with a chocolate chip cookie. It was just there sitting near the checkout station. It Was nothing special, but a pretty good chocolate chip cookie nonetheless. Eating healthy at times is overlooked because it either tastes “healthy” or it’s too expensive to eat healthy. UP really balances the two nicely. The interior is relaxing with earthy tones and architecture. The cafeteria style ordering is efficient and convenient. Orange County, you have done well.

Urban Plates on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

Some days, you just have to treat your body good. As a food blogger, I eat some gut busting, heart unfriendly meals. Fried pork belly this, carbo-rich that, and anything fried, laden with butter, sugar, and Nutella is the name of the game for a food blogger. Sometimes, you have to treat your body right. The Veggie Grill offers some awesome vegetarian dishes as well as salads. The extra needed healthy foods really regenerated my digestion and rejuvenated my body. For a moment, I thought to myself that I can eat like this every day. Eating healthy is important indeed, and The Veggie Grill makes it a little easier to handle.

Kale has been a huge part of my healthy diet these days. Back in the day, it was only good for food decor, but now is considered a super healthy food. The All Hail Kale salad was wonderfully zesty and flavorful. It included marinated kale, quinoa, red cabbage slaw, corn salsa, and agave-roasted walnuts. I switched out the ginger papaya vinaigrette for the lemon vinaigrette. I am not a fan of sweet dressings at all. The lemon vinaigrette was fresh and the flavors popped. The bitter greens and the acidic flavors melded together to great a healthy dish.

For some, there is no substitution for beef. At The Veggie Grill, substitution is the only option. As a natural carnivore myself, eating the boca protein “beef” in the All-American Stack burger was a shocker. I know it wasn’t meat, but it really tasted like beef. If someone had to make a meat substitute to be the closest thing to meat, this would be it. It just had the consistency just right and flavor. Topped on this gorgeous burger, it really didn’t feel like it was missing anything. Topped with grilled veggie steak, pickles, lettuce, tomato, crispy onion rings, and thousand island dressing, the “burger” tasted quite like the real thing. With the addition of sweet potato fries, nothing was missing. I know having fried onion rings and fried sweet potato isn’t quite the healthy meal you were looking for, but come on. Compare that to a full on fatty beef patty, and this is quite healthy.

The Veggie Grill is probably my go to healthy joint. It has some great options for meat lovers like me. The salads are on point and always offers a fresh option for everyone. They even have protein style bowls and entree plates as well. This is indeed a perfect place for a vegetarian looking for some meat.

Veggie Grill on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

Tender Greens (Culver City) – A Healthy Eye Opener

by Franklin on February 23, 2014

Eating healthy is a choice, and a good one at that. As someone who eats fairly unhealthy, I have a tendency to stay away from places such as Tender Greens. How wrong was I to think like this? Tender Greens really opened my eyes. Not only can healthy food taste good, but also makes me feel good. The farm to table concept is amazing to me. Eating something that was locally sourced, and picked or harvested less that 24 hours ago is exciting. This truly was an eye opening experience. I may never be able to eat another store bought vegetable again.

The harvest salad was so fresh and delicious. If I ate this everyday, I would be fit and healthy. This citrus salad had cara cara oranges, oro blanco kumquats, shaved fennel, candied pecans, goat Gouda cheese, tender greens, frisee, golden balsamic vinaigrette. The best part of this salad was the cara cara oranges and kumquats. They gave this salad such a brightness and clean taste. It literally opened my eyes after eating it. I guess I was a bit tired and just wanted to something to revive me, and this was it. The citrus really popped, and wasn’t overbearingly sour. It had a nice sweet note with hits of citrus, and went great with the salty, yet tangy goat Gouda cheese. Bites from the tender greens, fennel, and frisee were fresh and the candied pecans gave a nice crunch. I liked how this salad wasn’t drenched in dressing. It had a nice light coating of the golden balsamic. The true flavor came through not from the dressing, but the quality ingredients.

I’ll admit. Not all of the stuff I ordered was healthy. I ordered the mac and cheese because I am a sucker for it. I loved it as a child in the blue box, and I love it now as an adult. Tender Green’s mac and cheese was simple. They used seashell pasta — and it was cooked so perfectly al dente. Each bite had a nice chew and mouth feel. The cheese sauce wasn’t overpowering — quite subtle actually. The bits of herb breadcrumbs had just enough crunch and gave the dish some dimension.

Another not so healthy thing was the savory tart. I liked how this one was all vegetarian, yet it tasted meaty and delicious. The tart crust was better than most. It had a nice flakey texture, but not too messy. Inside were yams, mushrooms, carrot, and cauliflower. A total plus was that the cauliflower was totally masked from the other ingredients. As you may already know, I hate cauliflower. The whole package was nice as each bite was a savory mash of everything nice. Think quiche, without the eggs, instead with a whole lot of roasted veggies.

Tender Greens really opened my eyes. Eating healthy doesn’t mean disgusting quinoa salads with no flavor. The balance and flavors of all of the ingredients together really stand out. The farm to table concept is here to stay, and something I want to look into and explore more of. It looks like salads will make more appearances on my plate.

Tender Greens on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

Crossroads – A Rant by a Voracious Carnivore

by Franklin on July 22, 2013

Have you ever been tricked by a restaurant? I have. Many times actually. Though I wouldn’t say Crossroads, the all vegan Mediterranean restaurant duped me, I felt like I did. (I don’t have anything against those who are vegan, or those who have dietary needs of gluten free foods. I don’t want to offend anyone here, but this is more of my issue. I mean, if you are a vegan, I guess this is just the post for you. Trust me, there aren’t lots of posts like this for you. Anyways, back to my rant.) Not only was their Dine LA menu wrong online, but I had no idea going in that the restaurant was all vegan. I guess the latter part of that rant was my fault, but man oh man was I surprised. My logic was, a 5 course meal for $25 — that was a legit deal. To my surprise, they only offered a 4 course, and all were vegan dishes and portioned out smaller than normal. Honestly, I had reservation to The Spice Table, and blew it off for Crossroads — a lot more of a drive, but at the time, I thought it was worth it. The next night, I went to The Spice Table and my angst was all gone.

First course:
I love kale, and this kale salad was good, but I wish I had more of it. Just because it’s Dine LA, doesn’t mean you can just give a taste. I like that the pine nuts gave a good crunch and currants gave some sweetness. With a lemon thyme vinaigrette, the salad was very intense. Each bite gave you a little shock and woke you up.

The Pee wee potato salad was interesting. The Haricot Verts were crunchy and baby arugula gave it depth. The whole grain mustard was a good addition, but the tarragon vinaigrette was too obscure for me. I guess they needed to impart flavor somehow.

With the appetizers being so small, by appetite just grew exponentially. If they aren’t going to give me a 5 course meal, I guess I was going to have to make it that way. We ordered the artichoke oysters which were off the Dine LA menu. These were kind of cool to look at and cleverly plated. The artichoke acted as the oyster shell. A fried oyster mushroom sat on op of artichoke puree and a yellow tomato béarnaise sauce. On top sat kelp caviar. I mean, the whole thing looked better than it tasted, but it was interesting to see how the chef creatively created something oyster-like without any.

2nd Course
The wood roasted okra was my favorite of all the things I ate that night. First off, I want to say that okra is actually my top 5 worst vegetables on my list. However, the way they prepared it was magical. It had a nice crunch to it and the sweetness from the calabrese peppers and tart from pickled ramps and Spanish sherry vinegar was an amazing mixture. The crunch from the Marcona almonds finished everything off.

The spiced chickpeas was a bit uninspired. The oven dried tomatoes and parsley had a nice spice to it. I liked the garlic whip on top of the dish. It was creamy and had lots of flavor, and the spice was an added kick that helped as much as it could. At the end of the day though, I felt like I was eating tomato sauce mixed in with chickpeas. This needed cheese or some kind of cream sauce, which I guess is not allowed.

3rd Course
I don’t know how Pappardelle Bolognese is on the menu at a Mediterranean restaurant, but it is, randomly. The 3ish noodles of pappardelle were chewy and over cooked. The bolognese was just tomato sauce. That is all.

The scaloppini piccata was pretty good for being meatless. The picatta was a dredged and fried slices of protein “meat.” The piccata was zesty and flavorful. The caper and lemon sauce mixture was a bit too sour, but the creamy sauce and the meatless meat was a good combination. Again though, this was the main dish, but there was too little of it.

4th Course
The chocolate ganache tartlet was surprisingly awesome. I like eating the mildly sweet spiced caramel popcorn on top. The mascarpone and chocolate went nicely together. The tarlet with the chocolate ganache was rich and imparted deep flavor.

Their sorbet was also good. The cucumber lime made a nice balance of not too sweet flavors. The cucumber essence really shined in this sorbet. The candied watermelon rind on top was subtly sweet and delicious.

At the end of the day, I can’t be mad. Though they did switch up the menu last minute, I chose the restaurant on my own. The restaurant inside is exquisite — classy chic with a bit of comfortable. The servers and staff were all nice, though it was a little slow that night. Honestly, this may be a rant from a voracious meat lover, but any vegan or anyone staying away from gluten could appreciate this restaurant. This just wasn’t for me.

Crossroads on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

You pull up into Alicia’s parking lot and you immediately as yourself, “there’s a restaurant here”? I know it seems like the last place for a restaurant. Among some random businesses and factories sits a quaint restaurant serving up some great breakfast items and sandwiches. Alicia’s is a down to earth restaurant cafe. More along the lines of Panera Bread, the feeling you get inside the place is “Grandma’s Kitchen”. Whatever you order, it makes you feel good inside — it just tastes fresh and delicious and you don’t feel guilty afterwards.

Their signature sandwich, and one of my favorites is the pink cloud. It is a turkey sandwich that is whiped up with a mix of cream cheese and cranberry. The cream cheese and cranberry mix makes a pink like shmeer, thus forming, pink cloud. The taste is so familiar and clean — the turkey is of the highest quality, and mixed in the the cream cheese and cranberries give it that Thanksgiving essence. Every turkey sandwich should have this concoction of cream cheese and cranberry mix — a perfect turkey sandwich.

I typically do not enjoy tuna sandwiches. Tuna should always be eaten as a steak or better yet, raw. The tuna sandwich to me is a bit boring, and actually, a bit too fishy for me. Alicia’s though, it wasn’t fishy at all. The tuna was clean tasting and wasn’t mayo heavy — a good thing! My favorite topping of all time on a sandwich is sprouts. The sprouts went well with the tuna salad and the addition of pickles was a life saver. As far as tuna sandwiches go, it was decent — decent enough for a tuna sandwich hater like me to enjoy.

I had a walnut strawberry salad with vinaigrette to share. There’s nothing tastier and of course healthier than having a fresh salad with your sandwich. Potato chips are boring and greasy — salads are the way to go. Their walnut strawberry salad was refreshing and perfectly balanced. The vinaigrette wasn’t too sweet, but had the perfect acidity. The red onions and walnuts with the strawberry made for a nice complex flavor and texture — delicious!

The best part about ordering a sandwich at Alicia’s is that you get free treats! For dessert, you don’t get to pick and choose, but we got a whole variety of cookies and tarts. Not a fan a lemon anything in desserts, their lemon tart might have been my favorite. The brownie was chocolaty and addicting and their while chocolate macadamia cookie was near perfect. My all time favorite cookie, the snicker doodle was definitely my favorite. It was chewy and butter and of course, sugary. Alicia’s could might as well be a bakery of desserts, and business would be booming.

Alicia’s is a bit hard to find. Hidden in the “business” center, blended with all of the offices nearby, Alicia’s is definitely a gem. Most of their items are simple and healthy with an affordable feel. The service is friendly and down to earth. Nothing about Alicia’s is pretentious. I always come back when I want something down to earth that’s a little different — and by different, I mean something you wouldn’t expect. They pack the perfect to-go sandwich sack lunches. In the brown back, you get your pink cloud, an apple for health, and cookies like mom makes. This is definitely the sack lunch you wish you had as a kid. Whoever you are Alicia, your kids are lucky.

Alicia's Cookery on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

I know, it is hot as heck out there. Despite Korean myth, the fans are on at night and I did not die. AC in the car is always on, and summer isn’t leaving without a fight. Thank goodness we have beaches. Gosh I love the beach. The people, the relax atmosphere, and the smell of the sea just makes me happy. And we all can’t forget that the beach is always like 10 degrees cooler than the city. Walking around Manhattan Beach, the Orange County beach of L.A., I couldn’t help but notice the growth of restaurants and eateries around here. One in particular, Lemonade, was an eye catcher. The bright colors and the casual/cafeteria style of everything made this a unique spot. Lemonade’s food and the interior design goes well hand in hand – It is fresh, vibrant and well, all that equals to something delicious and healthy. Usually healthy means bland, but they do a good job using fresh ingredients to make their dishes flavorful.

My favorite was probably the tandoori chicken. With chunks of mango, yogurt, coconut, and tamarind, the dish was sweet. The coconut flavor is prevalent in the dish and worked well with the tandoori chicken. More sweet than savory, the dish isn’t for everyone, though most would probably appreciate the different flavors. This is a must order if you are a tropical fruits kind of person.

The watermelon radish was unique. Never having tried watermelon radish before, I was intrigued. Filled with ahi tuna, snap peas, and sesame it was a healthy side. The snap from the peas and radish worked well with the tuna. The tender meat and the crunchy veggies made for a nice texture contrast.

The arugula salad was amazing. The mission figs and the blue cheese played nicely together as usual. The asparagus gave it a nice crunch to the dish. I am a sucker for blue cheese, and this was probably the reason it was my favorite of the bunch.

The orecchiette pasta was probably the least favorite of them all. The goat cheese was nice as was the asparagus. There was nothing special or unique about this dish, and this was probably the least healthiest of the bunch. The flavors didn’t really pop.

At Lemonade, one must get lemonade right? Not really, but it is pretty hard to resist. It’s like walking into a Porto’s and not ordering a dozen cheese rolls. That just doesn’t happen. I opted for the blood orange and ginger guava. The blood orange was a bit sweet as was the ginger guava. The sourness of the blood orange made it seem even sweeter. The ginger guava had a nice mellow flavor. I tried samples of the watermelon rosemary and cucumber mint — those were quite refreshing as well. Whichever flavor you get, it is sure to quench your thirst and keep you alive in this heat wave.

Filled with pastries and hot stews and roasts, they have almost anything that you would want in a nice hearty meal. Though I didn’t quite get the relation of the lemonade, pastries, cold dishes and hot pot dishes, everything seemed like it was made from the freshest ingredients. When I think of lemonade, I think of something refreshing and fresh. I guess all of their menu items translate into that exact motif. Everything is good eats without the guilt.

Lemonade on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

Newport Beach, CA is like something out of a movie.  It’s the place of the rich and fabulous.  Nice cars and homes, and of course the beach are what comes to mind.  Healthy living is what I think of next, as Orange County is a big fan of eating healthy.  True Food Kitchen couldn’t have chosen a more perfect location inside Fashion Island —  they serve up healthy organic food that is so fresh, you would swear they have a farm in the back.

I followed some of the recommendations and tried their kale salad. The kale salad was mixed with lemon juice and topped with Parmesan cheese.  For a vegetable so bitter, it was very refreshing.  I could taste the healthy.

The ahi sliders were tasty with the wasabi mayo.  The sweet potato hash was a bit cold and I did not really enjoy them. Other than that, the sliders were great!  Fish should always be eaten fresh, especially when cooked rare.  The fish was as fresh as can be and the taste really shined through.

The spaghetti squash casserole was bland — in other words, it was super healthy.  The melted fresh mozzarella was really the best part about it.  Adding some pepper really bring the flavors out a lot better.

I was in the mood for some raw fish and ordered the sashimi salad as well.  The Hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi was thinly sliced for the salad and topped with radishes, pea shoots, jicama and yuzu sauce.  This was by far the best thing here.  Yeah it was a salad, but it was sashimi, my favorite thing.

We even ordered a fruit drink from the juice bar.  It was a mix of coconut water, organic juice and pineapple.  It was very refreshing — I wanted to try all of their juices.

Everything was so fresh and clean.  I can honestly say this was the healthiest and freshest meal I ever had in my life.  True Food Kitchen really hones in on the health factor of eating.  The open kitchen and open juice bar area is really refreshing when you enter.  Expect a wait during peak hours, this place gets busy fast.  If I ever overindulge myself with fried everything, a trip to True Food Kitchen will be my detox.

True Food Kitchen on Urbanspoon

{ 1 comment }

Every meal should be sensible and delicious.  Perfect portions, rounded out flavors, and a little bit of everything should be included. At Tranquil Tea Lounge, all that is possible.   This place is something good for you.  No sodas or french fries here.  Sensible sandwiches and salads.  Tea too — all different kinds.

Upon entering this eatery, you can’t help but notice the earthy colors and calming decor — Nothing loud or colorful to make your brain hurt. Looks something like a lobby of a relaxing day spa. They even had a mini store selling books and tea accessories.  Everything just flowed together and this was how their food was.  The word “cohesive” comes to mind.

The roast beef sandwich is my favorite sandwich here.  The Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and red onion are really good in it.  The best part was the jalapeno cream cheese spread. Even the bread was amazing — kalamata olive bread.  The toasted bread made it really crunchy, holding all of the warm goodness inside.  The whole thing was perfectly pressed in a panini and the inside was so gooey.  By far, this is definitely one of my favorite sandwiches.

The salad they give on the side was a perfect accompaniment for the sandwich.  The fresh green had a citrus vinaigrette and was topped with feta cheese. The dressing was subtle and not over powering.  The natural flavors of the vegetables really shined in the salad — quite refreshing.

For dessert?  A white chocolate lavender scone. It was huge!  Sipping on my Matcha Genmaicha green tea really went well with the scone.  It was such a perfect finish.  The tea’s matcha, sencha, and toasted rice flavors were really subtle.  This was true relaxation.  Sipping on tea, having good conversation, and letting the food digest really had me satisfied.

It was such a memorable meal.  The aura of the restaurant and the tastes of the food really helped me to be relaxed.  I was satisfied beyond words. Not the humongous burger and fries and soda and ice cream and etc. satisfied either.  It was a delicious meal, sensible portions, and all the flavors melded so well together.  I can definitely find peace after a hectic day at Tranquil Tea Lounge.

Tranquil Tea Lounge on Urbanspoon

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 0 comments }