Make Out Every Day? Yes, Please!!

I am sure you read this title and thought, okay…what on earth is this going to be about? Sorry folks, I am actually NOT going to talk about making out (which is fun, but that’s a whole other blog post!), this post is regarding a very cute and chic incognito cafe I happened upon while walking to a workout class in Culver City.

IMG_2496

Make Out is nestled in the heart of Culver City, in between the Archlight Culver City and the historic Culver Hotel. I say it is incognito because the location is rather small and it is easier to find walking by then to drive around looking for it. I was headed to a workout class, as I mentioned, and I was feeling rather tired and needed a pick me up. I walked into this cute little cafe hoping to find something caffeinated, and indeed I did, and much more.

IMG_2497

IMG_2500

Preceding this cafe was the raw/live food restaurant M.A.K.E, which was raw chef Matthew Kenney’s dining experience located on the top floor of Santa Monica Place until it closed in June of 2015. Make Out came along to cater to the growing demand of plant based whole foods and makes this type of food more accessible in an everyday setting. The name is supposed to align with “sexy” food.

I did not sample any of the actual sexy food at this cafe, but the desserts look heavenly. They have everything from raw cheesecakes, to macaroons and raw chocolate truffles. Raw sushi, flatbreads and wraps are included in their savory delights.

IMG_2463

IMG_2464

IMG_2465

IMG_2466

I guess I should get back to my point of needing a pre-workout pick me up. This cafe sells cold brew coffee or chai with different medicinal herbs added to it. A very cool, unique (and hipster, I admit) concept, however, I am intrigued.

While they have different juices, smoothies and kombuchas on tap, a smoothie with avocado and almond milk can be found at many juice/smoothie bars nowadays. Make Out has something very unique they call Latte Potions. So a person can chose, again, a chai or cold brewed coffee with coconut oil and coconut nectar or honey, and then there are six different potions you can choose from to add. Different coffees have different physical and emotional intentions based upon their names. There is the Make Out, Geek Out, Bliss Out, Work Out, Chill Out and Shroom Out.

I chose the Work Out. My coffee had Tocos, Eucommia Bark, Cordyceps and Astragalus in it. Some of you may be familiar with these herbs, but for those who are not, here is a short de-briefing…

Tocos-a very potent source of vitamin E, contributes to healthy skin and liver, Kosher and non-GMO, delicious in smoothies and desserts.

Eucommia Bark-used to treat lower body pain and weakness in the bones.

Cordycepsknown for strengthening the immune system, improving athletic performance, reducing the effects of aging.

Astragalus-is said to increase blood flow and speed up healing and fight bacteria, but there is not enough scientific evidence to determine its efficiency.

A few other herbs found in some of the other drinks…

He Shou Wu-a good source of iron, helps maintain strength and stability in the lower back and knees, promotes healthy aging process.

Pine Pollen-good for hormonal support, brain food, supports and detoxifies the liver and can be a natural aphrodisiac.

As for how much of these herbs is put into each coffee or chai, it is all mixed up into a potion (hence Latte Potions!) and the amounts are measured out and safe for consumption. You can get your drink iced or warm. I got mine warm, apparently if it is too hot it can destroy the effects of some of the herbs.

I downed my potion before I finished my walk to the class and I did feel revived and ready to get my workout going. At 7 dollars a coffee, I can honestly say this would be a once in awhile indulgence, but I suppose it is something anyone could try at home given the right tools (and you can buy most of these herbs online) and the desire.

A New “Do-It-Yourself” Protein Bar Recipe…All NATURAL Ingredients!

Hey there folks,

I am always looking for new food creations that are easy to take on the go. As a busy person who works out almost every day, I get hungry often. I have tried many protein bars, and MOST of them have WAY too many unnatural ingredients for my taste and/or just DO NOT agree with my stomach. If you have to eat a protein bar from the store on the run, the one I do like is Greens Plus protein bar, which does not contain any added sugar, salt, soy protein, hydrogenated oil, hard to pronounce chemicals or preservatives. The link here is from Amazon so you can see what the packaging looks like, but you are best off getting them at Trader Joes, as far as freshness is concerned.photo 1

However, if you are a nutrition nerd like myself and want to take the time to make you down protein bars, here is a recipe that is super delicious with ALL NATURAL ingredients. You can play around with what nuts or protein powder you chose to add to this bar. I personally chose my friend Sophie’s Philosophie Cacao Magic powder, because it actually tastes good and only has natural ingredients as well…check out her ingredient list…it’s solid.

Try these out and see what you think. Personally I think they also make a great night-time snack for those of us who snack in the evenings after dinner and want something sweet and chocolatey but don’t want to wreck our sleep or our bodies by eating too much junk before bed.

Delicious “Do-It Yourself” Protein Bar

1 cup of fresh dates, pitted

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup rolled oats (can use gluten-free ones or eliminate entirely if you desire)

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup chocolate protein powder of choice

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp . sea salt

Line a 9 by 5 inch pan with wax or parchment paper.

Put the dates in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes so they get soft.

While this is happening, put the nuts and oat in a food processor and process until they are finely chopped.

Take the dates out of the water and pat them dry. Then add them and all other ingredients to the food processor until everything is blended and sticks together. It may come out like a big ball of goo.

Place the mixture on the parchment/wax paper and use another piece of the parchment/wax paper to flatten the mixture and mold it into the pan.

Refrigerate for one hour. Then remove the mixture and cut it into individual bars. Refrigerate the ones you are not eating or even freeze them if you prefer.

Berry Topped Oat Nut Butter Pancake…You Know You Want It!!

I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to making my own breakfast, especially when I am in a hurry in the morning or have to be somewhere early and just don’t have time to make a fuss. My typical go to breakfast is a green juice/smoothie I make in my Vitamix every morning. I pour it into mason jars and take it with me. Sometimes if I know I have to go somewhere super early, I will make it the night before and have it ready to go for when I leave in the morning. photo 1

But like most people, I get bored of my routine and sometimes I want something heartier…like pancakes. Who doesn’t love pancakes? My love of pancake goes all the way back to childhood. I remember going to International House of Pancakes ( I think it was still called that back when I was little?) with my parents once in awhile, and my favorite thing was the buttermilk pancakes that they would make into a Mickey Mouse face…anyone remember those? They would do whipped cream and berries for the face?

Anyhow, times have changed…and pancakes are not considered healthy anymore…or are they? Of course if you end up at the Griddle on Sunset Boulevard , each pancake is the size of your head and usually covered in some sort of caramel and ice cream confection. So no, that is not going to work for a healthy lifestyle. Or the waffles at Beach 26 near Marina Del Rey smothered in peanut butter and chocolate sauce? Hmmm…not so much. Not to say that these indulgences should not be shared with a friend once in awhile, but I wanted to stay realistic and came up with something that you could legitimately eat every day if you wanted.

You could also put this pancake in tupperware and take it with you to work. I actually had a busy day when I created this and had to go somewhere right after I made this pancake. I didn’t want to waste it so I put it in tupperware and ate it about an hour later. It was fine. Though I do not recommend topping the pancake with frozen berries if you are taking it somewhere, because they will make the pancake very mushy. Put those in a separate tupperware if you want to have them.

This recipe is for one person, but you could definitely make it for two people. I also only made ONE big pancake, and you could make 2-4 small ones. Berries are optional, but I did like the added sweetness they gave the pancake. feel free to use fresh ones. When I created this I did not have any fresh ones in my refrigerator, so I used frozen.

Berry Topped Oat Nut Butter Pancake

non-stick cooking oil spray

1/4 to 1/2 cup of rolled oats

2 egg whites

1 tsp. coconut oil

1 heaping spoonful of almond butter ( you can use peanut to cashew butter if you desire)

1 tbsp. raw organic honey

cinnamon, if you desire

1/4 cup of fresh or frozen berries

Put all the ingredients, minus the berries and spray, into a high powered blender or food processor first and blend until the texture is batter-like.

Take a cooking skillet/saute pan and spray in with the non-stick cooking oil spray. Turn your stove on to a medium heat level ( you don’t want them to cook too fast or you may burn them!) and pour the batter on. The batter may be pretty thick so you might have to spoon it onto the pan. There is no set time for how long you cook the pancakes, I would say roughly 2 minutes on each side.

After the pancake is cooked, set it aside and add the berries. If you use frozen berries, heat them in the microwave or on the stove for about 1-2 minutes and the pour them over the top of the pancake.

How Do You Cook Your Vegetables?

As a dietitian, there is one thing you will never be able to argue with me about, and that is EATING YOUR VEGETABLES. We may be able to argue about how many carbohydrates you need a day, or whether or not a gluten-free diet is for you, but vegetables are where I draw the line.

Vegetables are among the healthiest foods out there. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals our bodies need for optimal performance and daily functioning. The more vegetables we eat on a daily basis, the more research shows we are lowering our risks for chronic diseases and cancers.

cook-veggies-sautee-550

So why aren’t more people eating their vegetables? Based on working with various clients and hearing numerous complaints on this matter, I can safely say one major reason is that people are unsure of how to cook/prepare vegetables properly.

For some, eating vegetables is a chore and the taste or texture is unappetizing…so they skip them. I am here to let you know, cooking vegetables does not have to be difficult and there are many simple ways to prepare delicious vegetable dishes you can consume daily at home!

Obviously one way to eat certain vegetables is raw. Carrots, celery, radishes, bell peppers and broccoli can all be tasty without cooking. Raw vegetables can be delicious with a little hummus, guacamole or greek yogurt for dipping. For some people who are not used to consuming that much fiber, eating a lot of raw vegetables can cause some intestinal discomfort. Unlike cooked vegetables, raw vegetables contain a specific type of fiber called cellulose. However, the body is not always capable of producing the enzyme needed to break down cellulose. As a result, the gastrointestinal system goes into overdrive to digest the vegetable, which can cause stomach pain and bloating for some people.

Steaming vegetables is one of the healthiest ways to cook them. Steamed vegetables are synonymous with healthy eating for good reason. Steaming cooks vegetables without submerging them in water, so they are more likely to retain vitamins and minerals. Unlike sautéing, steaming doesn’t require oil, so it’s a great way to prepare vegetables if you’re watching calories. The best vegetables for steaming include broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, zucchini, and other relatively tender vegetables. Once your vegetables are steamed, you can add spices to them, like ginger, lemon pepper or even a little sea salt. I like to add a few tablespoons of salsa to mine or a low sodium soy sauce like Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids.

Sautéing appears to be one of the more popular ways to cook vegetables, at least, amongst my clients.  Sautéed vegetables retain their vitamins and minerals, as well as taste and color. This method is best suited for tender vegetables, such as asparagus, baby artichokes, snow peas, sweet peppers, onions, and mushrooms. I see most people running to the olive oil when it comes to sauteing. Olive oil does have a low smoke point, meaning it will burn at a lower temperature than most other oils. YOU CAN saute with olive oil, but keep the temperature low and don’t saute for more than a few minutes. However, be open to other oils that might be better for sauteing, like grapeseed or coconut oil, two of my favorites. Grapeseed oil is very light with minimal flavor, which works well if you end up wanting to add sauces or more poignant spices to your dishes and don’t want too many flavors competing with eachother.

Stir-frying is very similar to sautéing, with two important differences. Stir-frying is done over very high heat, and the food is constantly stirred to prevent it from burning on the hot pan. Stir-frying is often done in a wok, the classic utensil of Chinese cooking. But you can also stir in a sauté pan, as long as the bottom is thick enough to distribute the high heat evenly.

While the definition of saute or fry lends itself to cooking with oil, I have clients question me, pointing out they are ” adding olive oil here, avocado here and sliced almonds here…maybe oil in my vegetables is too much?” I understand their concerns and I want to point out, along with steaming as being a non-oil cooking option,  vegetables can be sauteed or stir fried in low sodium chicken or vegetable broths. I have read articles about the broth drying out before the vegetables cook, but just last night I cooked swiss chard in a saute pan with only low sodium chicken broth (see below) and a touch of Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids and it turned out delicious. Make sure you keep your eye on what you are cooking and if it appears to be drying out, add more broth!

photo 1

One other method I almost forgot to mention and is one of my favorites for clients who are trying to stop eating a lot of fried foods, crispy fried food mouth feel, is baking or broiling vegetables. I love nothing more than to cut up a bunch of Brussels sprouts and/or cauliflower, dip each piece is a little olive or coconut oil and sprinkle sea salt and pepper on them, put them on a tray in the oven (20 minutes for Brussels sprouts, 30 for cauliflower) and enjoy. That intense cooking tends to “fry” the vegetable and give that savory fried food mouth feel that many people crave. Here is an awesome recipe along those lines for you all to try.

Baked Curried Cauliflower

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon, juice squeezed

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

1 head cauliflower, leaves and core removed, florets cut into 1/4-in.-thick slices

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, curry powder, salt, and cayenne if you like.

Add cauliflower slices and toss to coat. Spread cauliflower in a single layer in a large baking pan.

Bake until cauliflower is tender, chewy, and brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

ENJOY!