She SAID: Find Dining

Terri Kennerson

Anyone who eats beyond the usual suspects knows the best restaurants are typically the places no one knows about. Some of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted were at restaurants that were barely held together with flour and water. In Southern California, a new  restaurant opens its doors to celebrity crowds and rave reviews every five minutes. But some of the best finds in dining might never warrant more than a yelp review from one of its loyal patrons.

North Hollywood: Hayat’s Kitchen

find dining 2This Lebanese Restaurant is tucked away so securely, that  you have to actually get out of your car to find it. Nestled in the back of a sometimes questionable strip mall on Vineland and Burbank, this restaurant is a regular hot spot for connoisseurs of Lebanese and general Mediterranean Cuisine. The food is fresh, light, and spiced perfectly. Each dish is prepared by a competent team who often yell at each other in several languages. Sometimes you can detect a bit of English, and occasionally they’ll make eye contact and smile at you as you wait for your food. The portion sizes are huge, and include meat, rice, salad and baklava. If you’re a fan, your biggest challenge will be not eating here every single day. Must Try: Shish Tawok with Rice

 

North Hollywood: Rustic Spoon

Drive too fast past Rustic Spoon, blink, and you might miss it. This cozy little restaurant makes some of the best Pho you’ve ever tasted. The broth is clear (a very good sign) and savory, and sets the perfect base for fresh veggies and your meat of choice. The staff is warm and friendly, and you’ll never find yourself waiting too long for your meal whether you dine in or take out. Must Try: Pho Ga

Larchmont: Village Pizzeria

find dining 1

If you’re not actually in New York, finding an authentic New York slice is like the quest for the Holy Grail. Amateurs often mistake a good pie for the amount of cheese or a thicker crust. But the sauce sets the base for the perfect harmony of crust and cheese. Without the perfect sauce, it’s all dough and goo, and no amount of ‘toppings’ is going to change that. Well, the owners of Larchmont Pizzeria are from Brooklyn (their other location is there) and they know what pizza is supposed to taste like. From the first bite, you know you’re enjoying the real deal. The crust is thin and holds just enough sauce to support the perfect amount of cheese. If you’re a rookie, you’ll go for the toppings (and there are plenty), and that’s fine. But when you’re ready to enjoy a proper New York slice, just ask for the plain, take a bite, and enjoy. Must Try: Cheese Pizza

Hollywood: Cafe Gratitude

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Being a vegan is not a rare thing in Los Angeles. Enjoying a truly delicious vegan meal can be. Cafe Gratitude took note, and designed an organic plant-based menu with actual ‘taste’ in mind. When you can’t tell the difference between traditional Indian Curry and Gratitude’s Vegan offering, you know you’ve struck gold. The staff is patient and educated about the menu, which can be overwhelming for a novice. It’s also fun to order, since each dish features a buzzword like ‘serene’ or ‘humble.’ And although the portion sizes trend small, many dishes are deceptively filling. It’s easy to whittle away the day at this cafe, tasting unusual combinations and enjoying the ambiance. Must Try: Humble

Beverly Hills: Sayuri

find dining

Think you know sushi? Think sushi has to be an expensive excursion to truly enjoy the freshest catch? Sayuri humbly asks you to think again. The tiny restaurant is often packed, so prepare to wait for seating in one of the unsteady chairs and tables. But when you get your meal, you’ll understand why a little discomfort really pays off. The fish is fresh, and each dish is made and served to keep your chopsticks moving. The staff works hard to make sure there isn’t a lull between dishes. The most notable thing about Sayuri is the simplicity. Some restaurants will complicate sashimi so much that you feel like you’re eating a stew. But Sayuri understands that less is more, and it’s evident in every single bite. Must Try: Yellowtail Jalepeno

She SAID: Fresh Diet… Delivered

Terri Kennerson

A quick internet search will net you any given number of diet remedies and so-called perfect solutions to help you lose weight and reveal your best self. The thing that most of these deals have in common is the notion of a quick fix or a short term solution. Any freshdiet2amount of common sense dictates that 1) there’s no such thing as a quick fix, and 2) the key to losing weight and keeping it off comes with a shift in lifestyle food and exercise choices.

The Fresh Diet is out to convince more people to play the long game in the battle of the bulge. With daily deliveries of 3 meals (and two snacks) based on a Mediterraean Diet, Fresh Diet Fairies (their words, not mine) arrange fresh selections based on your dietary likes and dislikes. The food is actually fresh… never frozen or freeze dried. You can choose meal plans to suit your needs (and wallet) over the  period of a week or month.

The Fresh Diet delivers to 12 states (including 44 metro areas and nearly 600 cities) in the continental United States.

While The Fresh Diet doesn’t make any outrageous dietary claims, they do keep daily deliveries to a specififreshdiet3c number of calories, based on gender. The idea is that with a steady diet of fresh ingredients and balanced meals, your body will have no choice but to shed excess weight.

Prepare to pay for the privilege of having your meals delivered daily. A month-long program runs more than $1,000. If you don’t spend nearly that much on food regularly, such a price tag may cause you to pause. If you’re not sure how much you actually spend on food weekly/monthly… it might be time to revisit the ol’ budget. It is absolutely possible to plan, prepare, and enjoy the same kinds of meals on your own, likely for much less. But because the plan is specifically designed for busy people with no time for such trivialities, the question becomes… why would you want to?

She SAID: Kombucha Crave

Shahada Karim

I’m an admitted Kombucha addict. This is an interesting fact, considering that once upon a not-so-long-ago, I shunned the idea of any additional ‘boosts’ (read: caffeine) and abhorred the addictive nature of many coffee addicts. Since I neither like the taste or smell of coffee, it was easy to take such a righteous stance. If one could not get through one’s day without a jolt, then perhaps one should evaluate one’s life choices. Right? Wrong.

I happened upon Kombucha with affiliation of some controversy: the oft legally challenged Lindsay Lohan had been arrested for some thing or another, and blamed Kombucha for her problems. The miniscule amount of fermentation in this yeast-based drink allegedly possessed just enough intoxicant to inform her system that she ought to act as if there was something much stronger coursing through her veins (and let’s be honest, there probably was). Anyway, curiosity led to investigation, and eventually a taste of this drink that in fact does NOT contain enough fermentation to produce an alcoholic result.

It was love at first sip.

I started slow, with something easy and pedestrian like Reeds. The mild blend goes down beautifullykombucha1 and tastes a lot like flat soda. Goji Ginger was my favorite, and set me up to get a little more involved in the benefits of enjoying this fermented drink. I started to buy Reeds by the case, unable to have just one per day. They became my preferred drink, whether alone or accompanied with a meal.

I eventually graduated to Kejiwa, but at nearly $5 per 6-ounce bottle, that habit got to be really expensive, really quick. Plus, supplies were scarce. There’s some story about the makers blessing each bottle yada yada yada, and the result was that more often than not, those little bottles of exotic carbonated goodness simply weren’t available for purchase. If I were pressed, I’d have to admit that Kejiwa makes some of the best tasting kombucha… anywhere. But between long lulls between kombuchadeliveries, there was just no way to get a taste without jumping through a few rings of fire. Who has time for that?

Yoga teacher training happened sometime in 2014, and that’s when I came face to face with Health Ade. One of my teachers was a rep, and often carted the old-fashioned tonic bottles around with her. My first experience wasn’t the best. Since Health Ade is stronger than both Reeds and Kejiwa, the highly carbonated mix made its way directly to my sinus cavity and sent me into a sneezing fit.. The smell (like beer) wasn’t so pleasant either. But once I learned to sip it, my love for the blend grew. I went from the very pedestrian Pink Lady Apple (and now California Grape) to the much stronger Ginger/Lemon and Cayenne Cleanse (my favorite). It’s been about a year since I started drinking Health Ade consistently, and I show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

kombucha2Kombucha drinkers claim a myriad of health benefits, from introducing healthy bacteria into the gut, to providing mental clarity and flushing toxins from the body. You can take or leave any of these claims. But I’ll tell you what I know for sure: I’ve never felt better. Kombucha energizes me (it’s the caffeine. Shut up), keeps my system moving and relatively clean, probably keeps my skin clear, and honestly just tastes good. I’ve tried a few generic brands from my local Farmer’s Market, but found that even those home-grown recipes don’t hold a candle to Health Ade. It’s still an expensive habit ($5 a bottle seems to be the going rate), but the bottles are bigger (16 ounces) and I’ve learned to pace myself.

I still roll my eyes a bit at the hordes of coffee addicts lined up at any given café-du-jour, anxiously awaiting their bitter fix. But I smile inside with a bit of empathy as a clutch my hefty bottle of Health Ade, because I get it. We all have our little… habits. And let’s face it, like many an entertainer who found themselves in handcuffs and facing the possibility of rehab or worse, we could all be strung out on something a lot stronger.

*All health claims are the sole opinion of the author, and do not reflect any formal or independent study on considerations, potential positive/negative effects, or benefits of consuming Kombucha.

She SAID: Post-Party Detox

Terri Kennerson

Who declared the 4th of July Holiday an indisputable cheat day?

*raises hand

If you did not declare that on America’s Independence Day you would eat and drink all that was before you (and then some) you’re probably alone. Millions of people gorged themselves on just about everything they could get their hands on in the spirit of independence (I declare thee free from… diets!), and those millions are likely paying for it today in the form of bloating, lethargy, constipation and general yuckiness. If ever there was a time to detox, it’s now.

EAT THIS:

No matter how you slice it, you really can’t go wrong with any dark green leafy vegetable.cheatdaydetox Broccoli, Spinach, Lettuce, Kale… all are fantastic sources of low-fat, high-fiber goodness. Besides nourishing the body with everything from folic acid to vitamin c, they’ll help push out all the madness consumed within the last 24 (48… okay 72) hours. Eat them raw, steam them, bake (yes, bake) them, or sauté them. Just don’t smother them in butter or cheese and you should be good to go (and by ‘go’, we mean don’t make any plans too far away from a clean, isolated bathroom).

DRINK THIS:

cheatdaydetox1Many of you will reach for a glass (or a gallon) of water. Consider reaching for coconut water as well. It’s low in calories, super hydrating and has more potassium than four bananas. Celebrity and athletic hype aside, coconut water is a natural diuretic, and might help move some of that Independence Day madness through your intestines and out of your body. Plus it’s a heck of a remedy for hangover.  Not that we’d know anything about that.

ENJOY THIS:

If you haven’t already, dig into a slice of watermelon. The sweet fruit is in season, and you’ve got the perfect excuse to enjoy it. One cup of watermelon will provide 17% of cheatdaydetox3vitamin A, 21% of vitamin C, 2% of iron and 1% of calcium needs for the day. It’s also full of healthy goodness like b-6, potassium, and zinc, and it contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable. Despite all of that, watermelon is still more than 90% water. And just like water (and coconut water) it’ll go a long way to clean out your insides. Plus, it just tastes good. Win/Win.

POP THIS:

If you’re like us, some of the food you consumed came from sources that couldn’t exactly be cheatdaydetox2confirmed. Prepackaged or processed meals often contain some kind of preservative to keep it fresher, longer. And let’s not even get into anything that your relative/friend/neighbor brought to the party. There’s no telling what they actually put in their famous 4th of July potato salad to make it so irresistible. Absorb some of the bad stuff with an activated charcoal tablet or two. Activated charcoal is typically used to absorb chemicals and toxins in the body.

Now that the fireworks, fanfare, and food are over we’re ready to get on the road to recovery.

Until next year… 😉

She SAID: A Tasty Drink… to Your Health

Terri Kennerson

By now, the idea of a juice cleanse is about as common as a gym membership. The industry is truly survival of the fittest (we will ever mourn the passing of The Real Juice), with pressed juice outfits opening and closing faster than you can say organic protein smoothie. The novelty of a juice cleanse is often met with the reality of what it means to actually ingest and keep down any number of blends for longer than an hour or two. At the end of the day, it all comes down to taste.

PRESSED JUICERYjuicing

Pressed might be winning the taste war against even the most established juice joints. Their blends contain all the right ingredients, but they’ve seemed to manage the balance between sweet and savory better than the competition. Two of the best examples lie in the Yuzu Jalepeno juice (yes, they use real jalepenos) and the Charcoal Coconut Water (what?). All of the blends go down easy with minimal fear of a gag reflex. Proof that what’s good for you can also be good to you, and that it’s never a good idea to judge a … bottle… by its cover.

BLUEPRINT

A lonjuicing1g established cult favorite (we’re still trying to figure out what ritual sacrifice put this company so far ahead) and celebrity-endorsed health choice, Blueprint is an easy find both in national grocery chains and online. Despite the relatively cheap cost of most ingredients, you can still expect to pay a pretty penny for a bottle of Blueprint’s juiced goodness. Much like Pressed Juicery, the blends go down easy.  The difference here is that the ingredients are easy to sort in terms of taste, so there’s less of a fear factor. That’s good news if you’re new to the juicing game, or just don’t want to take the chance that something might be as gross inside the bottle as it looks on the outside.

SUJA

Like Blueprint, SUJA is making its way into the national consciousness, one bottle at a time. Unlike Blueprint, the blends lean more toward an experienced juicer than a juicing2novice. As much as we understand the benefits of celery, making it a primary part of most juices is just not that appealing. On the up side, some of the green blends are heavily masked with fruit and feel more like a smoothie than a juice. We’re also huge fans of how they sneak in just enough ginger to enhance (not heat) the blend. With an ever growing selection popping up on store shelves, and a choice of sizes (and prices), SUJA is easily on the way to becoming a household name.

Like anything, the way these juices are used pretty much determine their effectiveness. If you’re taking them with a meal instead of as a meal replacement, you might look down one day and see a little extra love around those handles. Users may primarily down these babies to drop a pound or two (or clear up some gastric thing or another), but with an increasing number of tasty blends, more people might just pick one up because it tastes good…

And it’s good for you.

Imagine that.

She SAID: How Sweet It Is

Terri Kennerson

Healthy food isn’t exactly rare in a place like Los Angeles. Healthy food that’s fast and relatively inexpensive isn’t so rare either. Healthy food that’s organic, exciting, tasty, fast, and inexpensive…

Now you have my attention.sweetgreen4Sweetgreen has come to Los Angeles and Santa Monica, and with a little luck and a lot of work, there will be even more locations in the near future. Challenging the hipster staple Tender Greens, the small restaurant offers an interesting selection of salads and grains that would pique the interests of  even the most sophisticated palettes. The staff mix all manner of greens, nuts, grains and dressings sweetgreen1together for a result that is truly harmonious. No more digging into a salad and wondering if someone… ANYONE actually tasted the combination before declaring it worthy of a menu.

Sweetgreen was born in 2007, with a plan to source local and organic ingredients from area farmers, and forward a mission to make for a better planet. Their biggest hub is in Washington DC (the healthiest place in the country), and mostly along the East Coast. Southern California in particular is naturally attractive for a restaurant like Sweetgreen, and with good reason. We’re stereotypically known for trying just about anything once; and the healthier it appears to be, the more likely we are to line up for it… with a smile.

sweetgreen2But competition in a place like Los Angeles is nothing to smile about. There are no shortage of organic pit stops that feature everything from cold-pressed vegetable juices to (actually tasty) gluten-free desserts. And with Tender Greens easily at the front of the class for salad destinations, the folks at Sweetgreen have their work cut out for them. If the menu is any indication, they may not need to be worried.

Of note are the Rad Thai (organic arugula + organic mesclun, sprouts, carrots, shredded cabbage, spicy sunflower seeds, cucumbers, basil, citrus shrimp, spicy cashew dressing) and Hummus Tahina (shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, pita chips, local feta, housemade husweetgreen8mmus, baked falafel, cucumber tahini yogurt) salads. In fact, the latter might just convince a carnivore or two that vegetarians don’t actually sacrifice taste when they cut out the meat. Not only are the salads good; they keep. I kept the Hummus salad for 4 days (don’t you dare judge) and the greens were still crisp when I finally got around to digging into them.

And in true LA fashion, there’s even an online ordering function. Those of you who don’t want to be … seen … by the local paps making a dash for the salad spot, this app’s for you. And for the rest of us who are too lazy to battle LA traffic to satisfy a Rad Thai craving, just dial in and order up. Organic, Healthy, Interesting Fast Food is just a click away.