LA Hot Spots | Eating Out and Eating Clean

Often times is hard to eat out and eat healthy.  Between birthdays, graduation celebrations, date nights, and more, eating out has become a very frequent part of our social lives.  The great part about it is that here in Los Angeles you don’t always have to sacrifice healthy options to enjoy a night out.  Today, I’m going to share with you my favorite places to go when it comes to eating out in a healthy and fitful way!

1.  Urth Caffe

Urth Caffe in Santa Monica is hands down one of my favorite places to eat here in LA.  Although you may recognize it as a frequent hangout spot for the stars in the hit tv series Entourage, most people know it for its organic coffee, fine teas, and delicious food.  They offer organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options to fit almost anyone’s preferences.  I usually order the Green Tea Boba and spinach and egg white panini.  They also have a tomato soup that is to die for.  Check out the menu to see what you would choose!

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 5.12.50 PM

2.  True Food Kitchen

You don’t have to be a die-hard Yogi to dine at True Food Kitchen. You need only a desire to give your body nutrients, and your palate something memorable. They strive to take popular trends in cuisine and pair them with healthy living.  One of my favorite dishes they serve is the Spaghetti Squash with tomato, mozzarella, and zucchini.  To learn more about True Foods Mission and mouth-watering menu click here!



3.  Cafe Gratitude

Cafe Gratitude is a collection of 100% organic vegan restaurants specializing in gourmet vegan cuisines.  They strive to create a menu and environment that supports health and sustainability for both the community and the planet.  See what vegan, Jordan Younger has to say about Cafe Gratitude and her other favorite spots to eat in LA in her blog, The Blonde Vegan!  Also, check out Cafe Gratitude’s site to learn more about their mission and delicious food options.

So, if you find yourself in Los Angles and have a passion for healthy living, I would highly recommend these few places to grab a bite to eat. Bon Appetite!




Crazy for Quinoa

The popularity of Quinoa (kinwa) has been on the rise for the past couple years.  It’s no surprise that today you can find it stocked on many of the shelves of your local grocery stores.  Quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain and can be prepared like a whole grain, but it is actually a seed.  It’s native to Chile, Bolivia, and Peru where they have been eating this highly nutritious food for over 5,000 years! This tiny grain is packed with quality protein and is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc than wheat, barley, or corn.  Not only do I love it for its nutritious benefits, but it is also extremely versatile when it comes to cooking.  You can make anything from breakfast to savory lunch and dinners to desserts! Here are a few of my favorite quinoa recipes:

Image1.  Microwave Cinnamon Maple Breakfast Quinoa 

This recipe is the perfect way to start of your morning! With this technique, it lessons the amount of time it takes to cook quinoa by cooking it in the microwave instead.  It’s consistency makes it feel like you’re eating a bowl of oatmeal, but with twice the protein and fiber.  Add bananas, milk, cinnamon, maple syrup, fruit, or whatever it is that you like to top it off! To learn more about this recipe click here.

2.  Summer Barbecue Quinoa Salad

This salad is perfect for those upcoming hot summer afternoons.  Although it takes a bit of time to create, it is definitely worth the effort.  The recipe includes chicken, beans, corn, roasted red peppers, and so much more to add to its delicious flavor.  It tastes great by itself cold or if you’re feeling creative, stuff it into a tortilla and eat it as a BBQ quinoa salad taco.  To read the recipe click here.

Image3.  Chipotle Quinoa Sweet Potato Tacos

This next recipe makes my mouth water just reading it.  Quinoa serves as a great alternative to rice, which is high in carbs and low in protein.  The sweet potato is great for vegetarians, but can also be substituted for meat.  This recipe also includes a list of ingredients to make a delicious roasted cranberry pomegranate salsa.  Click here to take a look!

If you’re looking for more ways to eat quinoa, here’s a link that lists out 50 Quinoa recipes to choose from.



Green is the New Black

Green Smoothies are a great way to pack in daily fruits and vegetables your body needs to function at its best.  They are a great way to boost your energy, lose weight effortlessly, and make healthy eating a lifestyle—not a diet.  I love to experiment with different combinations of smoothies.  Theres so many different ingredients and combinations that you can put into a blender so I thought why not share some of my favorites!


1.  Banana, Chia, and Spinach Smoothie

This smoothie is awesome mostly because it packs two servings offruits and a serving of veggies into a particularly tasty smoothie package. The chia seeds also help keep you full.  For a reminder of all the health benefits of chia seeds refer down to my previous blog Let’s Chat Chia!

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 handful fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp chia seeds

IMG_1789edit2.  Strawberry, Banana, Blueberry Green Smoothie

This smoothie from Simple Green Smoothies is full of iron, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants.  They suggest adding olive leaf extract, echinacea, and elderberry extract which help to boost the immune system and fight off infection.

  • 2 cups spinach, fresh
  • 3⁄4 cup water
  • 3⁄4 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 bananas

3.  Peanut Butter Banana and Oat

This smoothie is great if you want a protein packed start to your day or even a post workout snack.  It’s filling and oh so tasty.

  • 2 cups cold almond milk (soy or regular milk would also be delicious)
  • 1 banana, cut into chunks (frozen is ideal)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 heaping tsp honey (I prefer agave nectar)
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds, ground into meal
  • 2 tsp old-fashioned oats, ground fine
  • Garnish with blueberries

Anti-aging-Strawberry-Energy-Smoothie-0294.  Strawberry Cucumber Smoothie

Now this combination might seem a little weird at first, but trust me when I say it is so delicious and so refreshing! Cucumbers are great for thickening the smoothie and adding lots of hydration and potassium.

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup cold almond milk
  • Half an English (hothouse) cucumber, deseeded and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 to 2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
  • A squeeze of lemon

To ease your smoothie making process, here is Real Simple’s article on techniques to make a kiler smoothie along with some additional recipes.  Enjoy!





What to Eat Before and After a Workout

ea778edebd69040c5914c4abe4289796When working out, it is important to fuel your body right.  What you eat before and after a workout can affect the way you burn at the gym and the way your body recovers afterward.  Although there is no one size that fits all, these are my recommendations for a healthy eating plan when working out.

Before a Workout:

It’s important to give your body some time to digest before a workout.  Usually people say they feel best when leaving thirty minutes to an hour before going to the gym.  How much you eat also varies by person and by workout.  Most people do well with smaller pre-workout meals or snacks. If you are doing lower intensity activity (walking, light bike riding, etc), you probably won’t need a pre-workout meal at all. On the flip side, the longer and harder your workout, the more you will probably want to eat.  Web MD suggests focusing on foods that are low in fat, moderate in carbs and protein, low fiber, includes fluids, and easy to digest.  One of my favorite pre-workout snacks is whole wheat toast with almond butter, sliced banana, and cinnamon.  Fitness Magazine has some similar great recommendations!

ImageAfter a Workout:

After a long workout of muscle building and cardio burning, it is important to fuel your body with protein! Some of my favorite things to eat after a workout are eggs, greek yogurt, and quinoa because they are low in calorie and high in protein. FitSugar recommends 4 protein-packed post-wrokout meals to try, all under 500 calories.  My favorite is the Sweet Potato Quinoa patty.  Bananas are also great in helping to restore damaged or sore muscles after an intense workout and blueberries replenish your antioxidants! Lastly, is drink water! You’re body becomes dehydrated after a long workout and needs water to replenish. Make sure to drink 2-3 cups of water for every pound you lose during a workout.  However, most important is that you just eat something! If you wait too long after a workout your muscles and your body won’t be able to recover properly.  So don’t let all that hard work go to waste.  Eat smart and feel good!




Vitamins: What’s Right For You?

470_2742495We all know vitamins are good for you, but what exactly do they do?  I used to take just any multivitamin, but the truth is every person’s body needs something different.  Vitamins and nutrients that your body needs depends on age, gender, and so much more.  Web MD says that there are 40 plus nutrients you need each day in your diet! While I try to eat balanced meals, sometimes that just isn’t enough. Vitamins fill in the missing gaps that are essential for our bodies to feel healthy and whole.  Here are a few vitamins that I find essential to my well being as a young woman.

1. A Multi Vitamin: As a woman, I look toward Lauren Conrad’s blog, “The Smart Girl’s Guide to Vitamins” for some excellent advice on what type of vitamins I should be taking.  She suggests to start with a good Woman’s Multivitamin.  I like to take Woman’s 1 A Day, but when choosing your multivitamin, make sure it has folate or folic acid, which is very important for young women. A good multi-vitamin will give you a daily dose of all the things you should be eating in your diet and more!

2.  Fish Oils: Fish oil supplements are rich in the essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are fundamental to being healthy. They help prevent chronic diseases and inflammation. They boost your immune system; help your cardiovascular, joint and vision health; strengthen skin, hair, and nails; and enhance nutrient absorption, metabolic function as well as attention, mood and memory skills.

3.  Probiotics: Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that live in your gut and play a huge role in your overall wellness. When you’re healthy, your intestinal tract houses over 100 trillion “good” bacteria, which aide in digestion, boosting your immune system and consuming bad bacteria.

Image4.  Vitamin C: I cannot stress this one enough. Web MD suggests that Vitamin C can be used to prevent sickness, infection, and even depression and high cholesterol. Vegetables and fruits, especially citrus, area also great sources of Vitamin C.  A few months ago I started taking Emergen-C regularly and haven’t been sick once!

4.  Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 helps the body absorb calcium, which forms and maintains strong bones. Vitamin D may also protect against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer, and other diseases.

So next time you’re shopping through the vitamin aisle, think about giving your body the right extra boost it craves to feel healthy and whole again!



Let’s Chat Chia

ImageThe benefits of eating Chia seeds are endless, but here are just a few reasons why you should pick up this amazing super food packed with tons of nutrients the next time your at the market!  These tiny black or white seeds are an ancient Aztec secret to strength and endurance.  I love them because they are perfect to use in just about any recipe including baked goods, smoothies, sprinkled on top of yogurt, cereal, fruit and salads. And unlike flax seeds, there’s no need to grind them first. Enjoy them just as they are. Easy as that!

Here are a few reasons why I love chia seeds so much: 1) Chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that give you the necessary nutrients foImager gorgeous hair, healthy nails, and smooth, glowing skin.  2) These seeds are one of the highest plant-based sources of protein you can find. Protein is an essential for almost every function in your body. It helps with weight loss and is a must for building lean muscle. 3) They’re a great source of fiber. This keeps you feeling full, controls hunger, and balances your appetite. 4) The coolest thing about chia seeds? They have the ability to absorb 10 times their weight in liquid, creating a unique gel that is incredibly hydrating and satisfying.

As a breakfast lover, I find ways to sneak chia seeds into my morning meals to start off the day feeling satisfied and energized.  I’m a fan of adding chia seeds to my green smoothies.  You can also throw a handful into your morning yogurt.  Check out this chia yogurt power bowl recipe to see just how to do that! Still, my favorite recipe to add chia seeds to is SELF magazine’s oat pancake recipe.  These are just a few of my favorite ways to add chia seeds to my diet. How can you get creative in the ways you chia-fy your meals?



Fight Back With Food

food-by-thy-medicineFor some of us holidays and weekends are a time to distress, relax, and recharge.  However, for others like myself, it seems that every time I let my body slow down I end up getting sick with flu or cold like symptoms.  Web MD refers to this as “leisure sickness.”  When you stop working, Professor of organisational psychology, Cary Cooper, says: “It’s like a fuse, with your brain telling your body it can switch off, so you get a cold or a headache.”  However, I recently learned a way to fight back against these illnesses, and even allergies, too.  My secret…Food.  Did you know that that what we eat can greatly affect our physical and even mental well-being.  I’ve compiled 5 super foods that can help prevent everything from sickness to allergies and beyond.

1. Clear Allergy Fog: Berries, Apples, Onions

These foods can sometimes be considered like an allergy pill. It’s thanks to a compound called quercetin, which has shown promise in test-tube studies done at Tufts University for preventing immune cells from releasing the histamines that cause those familiar symptoms.

2. Clear Allergy Fog: Nuts And Seeds

Almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds are full of vitamin E, which may help reduce the allergic response, explains Today show nutrition expert Joy Bauer, RD. It’s as easy as 2 ounces of sunflower seeds that provide the 15 mg RDA required for adults.

Image3. Survive Cold Season: Tuna, Halibut, Turkey

Selenium, found in tuna, halibut, and turkey, helps build up white blood cells, particularly those responsible for killing bacteria and viruses.  Just one serving of halibut gives you more than 60 percent of your RDA and provides you with mood-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Survive Cold Season: Fermented Foods

Foods like yogurt, miso, and tempeh (made from fermented soybeans) all contain a beneficial bacteria, aka probiotics.  These probiotics help to keep your immune system strong.  A Swedish study found that having a daily probiotic drink cut workplace sick days by 55 percent.

5. Survive Cold Season: Kale, Spinach, Yams, Pumpkin, Carrots

Vitamin A, prominent in kale, spinach, yams, pumpkins, and carrots, help keep mucous membranes moist and healthy so germs can’t get past them.

The thought that diet enhances mood and wellness may be age-old, but the scientific proof is brand-new. So, turn your grocery list into an Rx for what ails you, using this latest research as your guide.



It’s Easy As 1..2..3

Eat better. Exercise more. Both things that are easier said than done.  Sure, these are great ways to take care of yourself physically, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle is more than just that.  It’s about taking care of yourself as a whole.  I’ve come up with 5 easy ways to take better care of your body that are easy to follow on a daily basis no matter who you are or how busy your schedule is.

Image1.  Drink More Water

Drinking water is absolutely essential for your health.  The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) and for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of water a day.  So just take it with you! My Filtered Camelback water bottle is practically attached to my hip.  Before I leave the house I just fill up, throw it in my car, my bag, or my backpack.  I found that when my Camelback is with me, it is a constant reminder to hydrate my body, even when I don’t realize that I’m thirsty.

2.  Take Deep Breaths

Breath in. Breath out.  Feeling better already, huh? That’s because breathing in oxygen works as a stress reliever and helps to calm you down. So the next time you’re running late, sitting in traffic, overwhelmed by your to do list, or whatever it is that is causing you to have a stressful day, just remember, breath!

3.  Take a Multivitamin

blogVitamins help us to feel healthy and whole.  When the food on your plate falls short and doesn’t include essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, some of the nutrients many Americans don’t get enough of, a supplement can help take up the nutritional slack.

4.  Remember That Food is Not Love

Pay attention to when your body is full.  Experts from WedMD provide tips to follow that will help you to stop eating when you are comfortable. A few include eating slower, being aware and undistracted while you eat, and choosing more satisfying foods.

5.  Get Enough Sleep

Sleeping impacts mood, metabolism, ability to function, and so much more.  Give yourself a bedtime or set aside time to rest on the weekends. Whatever it is, make sure you are getting enough rest! Figure out what works for you, then do it. Your body will thank you for it later.



Just a Bit of Fit

ImageMotivating myself to workout can sometimes be a huge deal.  Especially after a busy week, getting back into that workout routine is no easy task.  The truth is, physical activity is extremely important for your health. The Mayo Clinic staff states in their article, “7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity” that exercising regularly controls weight, boosts energy, and combats health conditions and diseases.  Exercise makes you all around healthier and look good too!

So let’s face it, if spring break in two weeks isn’t enough motivation to hit the gym and stay fit, then I have something else that will.  Have you heard the most recent buzz about Fitbit?  FitBit designs products and experiences that track everyday health and fitness, empowering and inspiring people to lead healthier, more active lives.  Fitbit is especially successful because it creates a social dimension to staying fit by sharing your progress with your friends and encouraging other friends to keep up the good work.  In my opinion, exercise is so much more fun when you can share it with someone you know, and we all know that working out in groups can be a huge motivator. How many times have you gone to the gym solo, wishing you had someone there with you to push you to the next level? Or how often are you too busy to make your regular yoga or spin class, only to fall victim to an evening treadmill run? It’s frustrating. I know.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 7.08.58 PMThis is why this past week I invested in the Fitbit Flex, to help make fitness less than just an evening activity and more of a lifestyle.  The Fitbit Flex is a small wristband that tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. At night, it tracks my sleep quality and wakes me silently in the morning. If I want to know how I’m doing against my personal goal (10,000 steps a day), I just check out the lights on the band that show my progress. It gives me the awareness and motivation we all want to get out and be more active.  So what are you waiting for? There’s no better time to  join the Fitbit frenzy than now.



How Sweet It Is

15adbd3457d40d6ac78e80c232d4d235With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s easy to get caught up with the sweetness in the air and on your plate.  Unfortunately, the facts about sugar aren’t as sweet as one would hope.  According to an article in the Huffington Post, sugar in excess is a toxin, unrelated to its calories.  In fact, the consumption of sugar holds a direct correlation with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.  Not only that, but too much sugar can slow you down and actually make you gain weight.  To put it in perspective Dr. Oz recommends in his article, “Sugar’s Sour Side Effects,” only 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women and only 9 teaspoons for men.  So the question becomes, how do I enjoy this upcoming Valentine’s Day without finding myself on a sugar overload?  I’ve compiled three of my favorite recipes that can satisfy your sweet tooth while also keeping your sugar consumption to a minimum.

Image1. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Soft Serve

Since I love ice cream, this recipe gives me that same tasty fix with a lot less added fat and sugar.  The name can be a mouthful (pun intended), but the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Soft Serve is a delicious gluten free, dairy free, and vegan friendly dessert! Find out more by clicking on this article by Fit Foodie Finds.

2. Chocolate Chip (Paleo) Cookies

Who doesn’t love a warm chocolate chip cookie?  I’m not paleo, but trying out these Chocolate Chip (paleo) Cookies happened to be a great decision.  These cookies are 100% grain free and dairy free. No refined sugars either.  To experience the great taste for yourself, click here.


3.  Peanut Butter Protein Balls

Lastly, one of my favorite healthy desserts is the Peanut Butter Protein Balls.  These peanut butter protein balls taste like chocolate chip cookie dough, but offer the ideal blend of protein and carbs your body needs, especially after a workout or a long day.  To get the full recipe click here.

Remember, that in the end it’s all about moderation and listening to what your body is feeling.  This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to be friendly to your body and give your taste buds the same great taste without all the detrimental side effects of too much sugar.

Wishing you a Healthy and Happy Valentine’s Day!