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.

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken…Mexican Style!

It was really cold in Los Angeles yesterday (hey, it was in the low 50s and raining…we don’t get that a lot here!) and I was in the mood for some comfort food, as I often am when its grey out, and decided it was time to pull out the crock pot. I love the crock pot because it makes whatever I cook in it (chicken, usually) very tender and flavorful and the whole apartment smells like whatever I am cooking. I tend to use the same go-to crock pot chicken recipe. I buy a kosher organic whole roaster chicken, rub it in some spices, put a few garlic cloves in it and stick it in the crock pot with some chicken broth and some sliced up sweet potatoes, carrots and onions. While this comes out great, I really wanted to try something different.

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When I was home visiting my parents in Novato this past month, my dad and I went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch in Healdsburg. This was a very innovative, haute cuisine type place called Mateo’s Cocina Latina. One of the menu items my dad ordered as an appetizer was called sikil p’ak. At first I was a little miffed because I was hoping for the traditional and beloved chips and guacamole, but out came this creamy rich dip made of ground raw pumpkin seeds, tomatoes and spices and I was hooked.

You are probably wondering why I am bringing up that moment at lunch with my dad…well, I decided to try to re-create this “pumpkin seed salsa” as a dressing for my crock pot chicken. It turned out pretty great. I don’t recommend making this dip unless you have a food processor or a really great blender, because it is best that those pumpkin seeds are finely ground for the sauce, or else it will be too clumpy.

FUN FACT- Pumpkin seeds. They are super high in fiber (if you eat them whole, of course), protein (9 grams per ounce), iron and are also a great source of magnesium, which is a key player in energy metabolism and goes hand in hand with our friend calcium. 1/2 a cup of pumpkin seeds will provide you with around 48% of your daily magnesium needs.

Once your dish is cooked you can add anything you like to top it off. I used a cilantro based salsa and slivered green onions. You could also do pico de gallo or sliced avocado, but I like the tang the salsa gives in contrast with the more rich, nutty pumpkin seed flavor.

One other thing is that I made a fairly large batch of this recipe, because I will eat the chicken for lunch all week with either black beans or red quinoa (I also made a large batch of that and stored it in tupperware). Feel free to halve it if its just for you, or just for two people for one meal.

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken, Mexican Style!

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seasoning
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Juice of two freshly squeezed lemons
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
6 boneless skinless organic chicken breasts
Finely chopped green onion, for garnish
Salsa, optional

Directions

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds until they are popping. Transfer to a mortar or spice grinder and grind. Add the cumin seasoning and set aside.

This is what ground up pumpkin seeds and cumin looks like.

This is what ground up pumpkin seeds and cumin looks like.

In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, peppercorns, oregano, salt, cinnamon, and cilantro. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer contents of the pan to a food processor or high powered blender. Add the lemon zest and juice, chicken stock, and reserved pumpkin and cumin mixture. Process until smooth.

The sauce before going through the blender! Fresh ingredients are beautiful, aren’t they?

Arrange the chicken evenly over the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours, until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork. When ready to serve, garnish with any extra cilantro, green onion, lemon zest, and salsa, if you wish.

ENJOY!

Goji Cranberry Green Smoothie…A Festive Cleansing Drink :)

I was visiting my parents all last week for Thanksgiving in the San Francisco area. As a family, we tend to eat fairly moderately, so I didn’t feel like I overindulged so much on turkey and pie. What I did indulge on was BREAD. That San Francisco sourdough will be the death of me, I tell you!

At any rate, I am back home and cooking in my own kitchen again. I came up with this little recipe after I went to the grocery store yesterday. As I was re-filling my refrigerator and putting some things in the freezer, I realized I had taken a bag of fresh cranberries I had opened before I left town and put them in the freezer so they wouldn’t be rotten when I returned. I thought about them before I went to bed last night and decided they would be added to a green smoothie I intended to make in the morning.

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Now I am not always a green juice or smoothie drinker, but ever since I purchased a Vitamix about a year ago, I have really enjoyed creating my own and bringing them places with me in mason jars. I prefer the smoothie version of green juices, because I like to get all the fibers, vitamins and minerals that are found in the skin of most of my favorite fruits and veggies. This smoothie may or may not be a filling breakfast for some. I do add a scoop of my friend Sophie’s raw vegan protein powder called Green Dream and a tablespoon of flaxseed oil, since the healthy fat helps our bodies absorb the vitamins from the fruits and vegetables more readily.

Using cranberries in a smoothie is also a seasonal thing. It will make your smoothie taste more tart, but on the plus side, cranberries are known for fighting cancers and contain proanthocyanidins, which help block urinary tract infections.

Goji berries are something I also do not normal add to smoothies. They can be pricey, but I ran a turkey trot race when I was home for Thanksgiving and they gave us sample bags in our race gift bags, so I figured this would be a clever way to use them. Goji berries, like other berries, are known for their antioxidant properties and are said to help with mood, sleep and energy levels. If you are interested in purchasing some, I recommend this site for some of the best prices.

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GOJI CRANBERRY GREEN SMOOTHIE

1 cup water

1 head of romaine*

1 cup kale or spinach*

2 celery stalks*

1 piece of raw ginger

1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (fresh preferred)*

2 tbsp. goji berries

1/2 banana

1 tbsp. flaxseed oil

1 tbsp. Philosophie Green Dream (optional)

Blend and enjoy!

*I do recommend using organic produce wherever possible 🙂

Persimmons are FINALLY back in season!!

Yesterday I went for my weekly (when I am free on a Tuesday, which lately has not been often!) walk over to the Culver City Farmers Market. I am not an avid farmers market shopper. I enjoy some of the more random findings that a farmer’s market can offer from time to time, like cotton candy pluots and cactus based tortillas, but more often than not I just go to Trader Joe’s or Sprouts, because the quality is usually fine there and a lot cheaper. However this time of the year I am on a mission, and lucky for me the season started the week I decided to show up. persimmons

PERSIMMONS! Ok, you are probably thinking, what is the big deal. I just love them. They are my favorite fall fruit and their season is pretty short, from about October until February. The fuyu and the hachiya are the most common varieties found in the United States.Fuyus represent almost 80 percent of the persimmon market in the United States and are most commonly eaten raw. They are characterized by flat bottoms, a squatty shape and a slightly crisp texture. Fuyus should be yellow-orange in color and are at their best when they are slightly soft. This is the variety I prefer. Hachiya persimmons are very astringent unless they are perfectly ripe, in which case, they have a unique velvety flesh. Differing from the fuyu variety, they have an elongated, acorn shape and are slightly larger than the fuyu.

Persimmons are high in vitamin A and zea-xanthin, good for skin and eye-sight respectively. They are also high in beta-carotene and lutein, good for fighting cancers and oxygen-derived free radicals. Persimmons are also great source of vitamin C, folic acid, B-6 and thiamin, which helps with circulation and carbohydrate metabolism.

Ok, so enough on the background. I bought myself a bag an brought them home. I washed one off and ate it, and then I decided I wanted to try to make something with persimmon. Instead of looking up recipes, I made up my mind pretty quickly. After eying the popsicle molds in my cupboard (as it has been unseasonably hot for October!) I decided I wanted to try to make a popsicle with persimmon in it, so this is what happened. This came out pretty good, except I would probably skip using the greek yogurt and just use coconut milk because the yogurt made the popsicles taste a little sour. Otherwise, a healthy treat and very easy to make.photo 1

PERSIMMON COCONUT POPSICLES

1 persimmon, chopped

1 single serving of Greek 0% yogurt (optional)

2 tbsp shredded coconut

1 cup almond or coconut milk

2 tbsp. honey

Blend in high powered blender until desired texture is reached.

Pour into popsicle molds and freeze over night.

Enjoy!