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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Life Changing Loaf Of Bread…Definitely A Creative Spin On An Old Staple

Calling this bread “life changing” is rather drastic, but that was the name it was given by people who created it before I attempted to copy them. Initially, when I saw this recipe appear for the second time on the Internet, I grazed over it and decided to skip it, because, quite frankly, I just thought it had too many expensive ingredients and would take too long to put together. However, I had a girlfriend post it to my Facebook page and tell me she tried it and how amazing it was, so then I got curious and decided to give it a shot.

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There are a few pros and cons to this bread. One of the cons is if you are on a budget, all the nuts that are required can add up at the grocery store check out line. However, on the pro side, you are probably not going to eat more than one slice of this bread at a time because it is so dense and rich with nutrients…so I say, splurge, the taste and variety of ingredients is worth it, at least once. You probably won’t eat more than once piece for another reason…all the nuts and seeds make this “bread” super high in fat. Yes, it is good fat, but it will add up, so be careful!

I also learned you can exchange different nuts and add dried fruits and other things to vary up the taste or consistency. I added dried mission figs to my bread because I was forewarned by my friend who told me about the recipe that otherwise, the bread is just wayyyyy too nutty.

You might wonder how this bread stays together with no flour, as I did, and it happens to be because of the psyllium husk powder. Psyllium husk powder (or seeds, depending on what you use) is super high in soluble and insoluble fiber and binds together all these lovely ingredients without flour. It is also great for your digestive system, so people who have a hard time…going…this bread will get you going instead of clogging you up. Good to know, right?

This bread can be made right in the pan. I will admit I did not have the flexible silicone loaf pan, so mine was a little more difficult to get out once it was done cooking, either invest in the pan, or I suggest using some sort of cooking spray on your loaf pan before adding the ingredients. Another thing you could try (and I may next time around) which would change the texture and look of the bread entirely, is to blend the ALL ingredients in a food processor before putting them in the loaf pan so it is more doughy. I am not positive how that would turn out, but I do feel it may come out of the loaf pan more clean than mine initially did.

Another great thing about this bread is you can substitute ingredients you don’t have. Some people use almonds instead of hazelnuts, mixed oats instead of rolled, dried fruits, chocolate chips, etc. You can pretty much do whatever you want. The best thing about this bread is it doesn’t have any questionable ingredients, no chemicals or additives. It is high in fiber and protein and is gluten free and vegan. Because you are supposed to let the ingredients sit for 2 hours or more in the water and coconut oil mixture, every ingredient is soaked for optimal nutrition and digestion. This bread makes a great snack or can be used in a meal. You can also store it in a container for up to five days or freeze it.

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

1 cup sunflower seeds

½ cup flax seeds

½ cup hazelnuts or almonds

1 ½ cups rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped dried mission figs ( you can omit the fruit, but I like the added sweetness)

2 Tbsp. chia seeds

4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)

1 tsp. fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)

1 Tbsp. maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)

3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil ( I used Kelapo, but any unrefined brand is okay)

1 ½ cups water

Directions:
1. In a loaf pan (flexible silicon recommended, which I did not have!) combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. I let mine sit about 3 hours. To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it it.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.
3. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important).
4. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!

Thoughts On The Natural Products Expo East 2013 In Baltimore

Last March, when I heard the Natural Products Expo West was going to be in Anaheim, I jumped at an opportunity to work for a media company doing trend spotting. Trend spotting is essentially going around to different booths at the expo and finding out about their newest product, where it will be sold, when it debuted, etc. It is a lot of fun, and in the meantime, not only do I get to see a lot of cool new nutrition products, I also get to do a little networking of my own. Image 3

When I left Expo West, I told the woman who had hired me to keep me posted on future events. I wasn’t sure when I would hear from the company again, but they kept me in mind when this years Expo East hit Maryland, and asked me if they could fly me to Baltimore to work as a trend spotter for the September venue.

This venue was held at the Baltimore Convention Center, which is smaller than the Anaheim Convention Center, but also had a lot less vendors than Expo West. I was lucky enough to score the Organics and Supplements section. So what this meant was I got to sample all the cool new organic foods and products on the market and see what is “hot” in supplements.

I was able to get through about 80 vendors in the two eight hour days I was there. This is also given the fact that I took breaks to rest (believe me, there is a lot of walking to and from different booths…some are at completely opposite sides of the expo!) and also check out booths that were not on my list that I wanted to get samples from anyhow.Image

So people want to know, what are some of the hot new products for the upcoming year? Well, some of them take something old and put a new spin on it. For example, coconut is in. EVERYTHING COCONUT. Coconut oil, coconut chips, coconut dipped in chocolate, coconut ice cream, coconut milk, flavored coconut milk. One of the coconut products I really liked was Earth Balance has a new peanut butter that has coconut butter mixed in it. It is a really good balance of the two, and I can see it being a real hit. I also really dug the new flavors of ice cream from Coconut Bliss. IMG_2666The flavor shown here is chocolate peanut butter, but I thought they did a really good job with their salted caramel and brownie ice cream. The coconut milk flavor doesn’t overpower the taste. They were handing out little scoop size samples at the show, and that was also a big hit for those looking for a reprieve from all the chocolates and gluten free-pizzas and bread items.

Another hot new trend is red palm oil. Red palm oil is taken from the fruit of the oil palm tree. It comes from the same part of the palm tree as regular palm oil, but it is less processed and retains the red color from its high concentration of carotenes. It’s rich in vitamins A and E.images-8Apparently, the process of creating regular palm oil strips out the carotenes along with other nutrients. I cannot say for sure that this oil is the end-all be-all in weight loss or nutrition supplement, but the booths that were showcasing it sure made it out to be. I might consider trying it to see how it works for me. No guarantees.

Another big trend in the nutrition world, and it may be to stay, is digestive enzymes. When I spent day two of my trend spotting in the supplement section, I saw lots of new fish oil supplements, collagen boosters and green juices, but the number one item that was getting attention was companies who were selling digestive enzymes. I actually had a doctor chat with me for about 20 minutes on the American diet and how our bodies no longer can break down enzymes in food the way they used to. I won’t bore you with too much of the science, but in some ways he is right. Although with the right diet, a diet high in more raw, plant based foods, these foods should have the enzymes to make digestion easy. DRB-00047-1But considering most people do not eat a highly raw, plant-based diet these enzymes have become (or are considered) necessary for proper digestion. I was given many samples of them, so I cannot say which are the best. I know that Bio-K was one of the booths I spent some time at, and they are a well-known probiotic that can be found in the refrigerator section at Sprouts. They came out with a travel enzyme packet that is good for people traveling for long periods of time or to other countries for extended periods of time. This is a great idea, as I see many people going on long trips and coming back ill ( or even worse, getting ill during their trips!)

Some of the other popular items for Expo East were raw chocolate, spicy raw chocolate, hemp seeds, hemp protein powder, vegan desserts, raw nut butters, maca and items with maca in them, flavored coconut oils, paleo-based foods, flavored fish oils and as always, anything with kale. One of the booths I fell in love with, Brad’s Raw Foods, had the winning bag of the expo in my book. One side had the company name and the other side said, “Kale is Kool.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I left the expo this morning still full from a variety of random samplings and a smile on my face from all the bliss based supplements I ingested. This is such a cool event to attend. It is fun to be in the know on nutrition products. Even if all of them are not perfect, it is nice to know people are still attempting to get nutritious and healthy things to be “kool.”