Salvaging Pot Stickers

BurnedPotstickersSo do you ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong, including the dinner that you’ve made perfectly 100 times before? This happened to my roommate last night. She was in the mood for one of her quick go-tos, Trader Joe’s vegetable pot stickers. So, she prepared them how she always prepares them and for some reason, this time, they got scorched. And I mean like, open the window the smoke alarm is going off scorched. Bummer (and kind of hilarious). Even though she was laughing, the roommate was not quite in the mood for me to turn this into a blogging opportunity (which, clearly I have). So, we collectively came up with a list of things that could be done with these scorched pot stickers. After all, the starving artist is nothing if not resourceful.

Solutions for scorched pot stickers. By Dave and Anna.

1. Go f*** yourself.

2. Take a knife and attempt to scrape off the burned edges. After the third pot sticker falls apart into a messy, charred pile, dissolve into tears while realizing just how alone you are.

3. Scoop out the filling from each of the stickers and discard any burned portions of the shell. Mush all of them into a patty. Fry both sides (this time without burning) and eat with the sticker sauce. Or, instead of a patty, just simply toss with shredded cabbage, lettuce, green onion, and the sauce, and enjoy a light lovely meal.

4. After realizing the stickers are scorched, calmly turn off the heat and leave the stickers in the pan. Go to Chipotle.

The End.

Happy Friday, everyone!!

Clean Eating at Lifefood

Lifefood Organic Raw Vegan Gluten Free FalafelWhen you’re trying your best to eat healthy, some days you just need an ace-in-the-hole; a place you can go where you know that every single thing on the menu will be a good decision. For me that place is Lifefood Organic on Cahuenga and Sunset. Nestled in a bustling neighborhood that is fast becoming one of my favorite in Hollywood, Lifefood Organic is a health market, a restaurant, and a spa all rolled into one. Stop in to get lunch, stock up on supplements and raw snacks, get your B12 shot, and continue on with your day – it’s no joke. I only ever come here for the food (big surprise), but if I had lots of money to spend I could totally see myself trying all their natural snacks and supplements.

What I love about their menu is that literally everything is vegan, gluten-free, and raw. So if I’m in need of a sandwich fix, but I’m not in a place where I can go all out for a traditional sub, or if I just need to eat some food that I know will make me feel fantastic, this is where I go. Pictured here is my go-to, their falafel wrap, which again is entirely vegan and gluten free and comes with some sort of heavenly green dipping sauce (no idea what it is, all I know is that it’s delicious and I eat all of it). I have also had their pad thai – my friend Brett swears by it. You get all the textures and flavors you expect from Pad thai without ever missing the meat or egg. It’s like vegan magic. They also are a full juice and smoothie bar and even serve vegan ice cream – mmm!

Now I can’t lie, with food this good and this natural, you know it isn’t going to be cheap. This wrap is $13 – worth it both for the flavor and the mental satisfaction, but it is by no means starving artist friendly. And I actually went home after this and ate a salad – lol! Still, it’s a fantastic treat when you’re in the mood to eat out but not in the mood for temptation, conflict, or self-loathing. If clean eating is your thing, then you won’t be disappointed by Lifefood Organic.

Lifefood Organic
1507 Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
www.lifefoodorganic.com

Click here to read my review on YELP

No-More-Flaming Stir Fry

No More Flaming Stir FrySo you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been putting up a lot of recipe posts these days. And you’re probably getting sick of hearing about weight loss and bootcamp and self-discovery and health trends and blah blah – where’s the FOOD? The truth is that being in such a goal-focused state, I’m eating a lot of the same things on a daily basis. You’ve read about my juice, you’ve seen my purple smoothie, and you’ve hopefully by now tried my curried roasted veggie and coconut soup. For me, routine is a way of keeping me on track: I find good things that I love to eat and I stick with them. It works for me. Once I reach my goals and summer arrives, no doubt things here at the starving artist will shift. But for now, we’re sticking with good clean eats.

Today, finally, I have a new recipe for you. This stir fry was inspired my new quest to fight inflammation. You heard me mention this yesterday, but some of you may be wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Chronic inflammation is a condition that has been identified as the root of many serious medical problems including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. It is also directly linked to smaller ailments like, oh I don’t know, POOR DIGESTION, asthma, and can even be the source of persistant sinus infections – all of which I suffer from. What causes inflammation? Poor diet. GASP!! Shocking? No. Specifically: wheat, gluten, dairy products, meat, white sugar, processed/packaged/prepared foods, and alcohol to name a few. It’s serious business, kids.

Click the link below for the recipe:

No More Flaming Stir Fry (Recipe PDF)

And here are the main things to notice:

  • Soy Sauce Replacement. We all love putting soy sauce in stir fry. I have a gallon jug of Kikkoman in my fridge. But guess what? Soy sauce is not gluten free. It’s true! Look at the bottle. There are gluten free and raw brands you can find at Whole Foods, but personally I love Bragg’s Liquid Aminos – it’s pure, packed with protein, not fermented, not heated, gluten free, alcohol free, and preservative free. Give it a try. You’ll love it.
  • Turmeric. Did you know turmeric is a superfood? Neither did I, until I started researching and came across this fantastic article. A member of the ginger family, not only is turmeric widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties, it is now being discovered that its chief active nutrient, curcumin, can actually fight cancer, not to mention dozens of everyday ailments. The point: use it!!
  • Brown Rice. I know many people are not fans of brown rice, but that’s usually because they are not buying the right kind, nor are they cooking it properly. Go for short grain brown rice (find it in bulk at Whole Foods) and bake it, don’t cook it on the stovetop. For more detail and the recipe, check out this blog post of mine. Brown rice is gluten free and definitely on the anti-inflammatory list. Just be sure to use modest quantities. Notice there is just a sprinkling in the picture.
  • Coconut Oil. I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy this at Trader Joe’s for a while now. Not only does it have great flavor, it is heart-healthy and has many health benefits. You should avoid vegetable oil at all costs and stick to cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or other organic unrefined nut oils like coconut, walnut, and even avocado (though they are all really expensive).  TJ’s has very affordable cold pressed olive oil.
  • Garlic, ginger, shitake mushrooms, broccoli, onion, Sriracha (chili peppers). All are super anti-inflammatory foods! Yes!
  • Eggs are yummy, but beware you should only eat them 2 times per week, lest they could become a source of inflammation. Pay attention to your body and how you feel when you eat them. I really wanted egg in my stir fry, so that’s what happened. :-)

Hope you enjoy as much as I do. What do you think about all this anti-flammatory talk? Share your thoughts. And let me know how you like the recipe!!

Here are more resources to check out:

Seven Spices/Foods that Could Save Your Life
Anti-Inflammatory Pyramid and Diet
Know Your Cruciferous Vegetables!

Chipping Away and Fighting Inflammation

Anti Inflammatory Food PyramidIt’s Monday, and since I didn’t give you one last week, I do believe it’s time for a weight loss post. I have to confess to all of you: I came very close to falling off the wagon entirely last week. Like, fall off, tumble down a hill, and smack my face on a tree trunk. Why? Well, let’s see. A few weekends ago when I went on retreat, I pretty much resigned to the fact that I would abandon my healthy ways for a few days. And abandon it, I did. The problem with me (and maybe some of you can relate to this) is that when I start on a course of bad eating, it tends to snowball and gets very difficult for me to regain perspective. In the case of eating not so great foods, I get into the mentality of “well, I already ate this, so you might as well just go ahead and eat that,” which is a very dangerous mind set, but one I’ve never been able to help. My parents will tell you that even as a kid I never knew when to stop. It’s like I was born with a switch missing. Though I have gotten better over the years, it is still a very real battle for me. And this is partly because bad foods are addicting – they are easy, comforting, filling… who doesn’t want to eat them all the time?

After getting back from retreat I dove immediately back into bootcamp but the whole week I continued to struggle with my food choices. I think the real reason for the difficulty was because I lost sight of my goal. I was getting so comfortable with my slimmer body and all the wonderful comments from people that I began to lose sight of the bigger goal I had set for myself. It was just too easy to indulge in all those crappy foods and convince myself that I am content where I am, which is absolutely not true.

But, luckily, by the end of last week I was able to pull myself out of it. If you follow me on facebook, you may have seen my post on anti-inflammatory foods. Last week I was discussing my diet with my colon hydrotherapist and she was telling me that my breathing, my being prone to sinus infections, and my poor digestion are likely all connected. The culprit? Inflammation.  She pointed me in the direction of Dr. Andrew Weil’s webpage where I found the pyramid above. Some of the information I found unsurprising. For example, many of the foods that cause inflammation are also ones that cause digestive problems, i.e. white sugar, white flour, wheat, gluten, dairy products, meat. And then there were other things that totally blew my mind – apparently one should never eat raw mushrooms. Only cooked, and only Japanese – who knew!? If you click on the picture above it will bring you to the website where you can explore the pyramid in more detail, which I highly recommend. It was this new angle that helped bring me back on the right track. If this can help me feel better AND help me lose weight, why wouldn’t I want to give it my all? And that is what I’ll do. Besides, how will I really feel when I reach my 30th birthday and not be where I want to be? Not an option!

For numbers, I’m currently stuck at 207, but I am confident I’ll be seeing some serious progress this week. Tune in tomorrow for an anti-inflammatory stir fry that will make you excited to be healthy. Happy Monday and see you tomorrow!

Healthy Goodness in Eagle Rock

Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup Four CafeBeyond the 5 freeway towards Pasadena lies a mystical land called Eagle Rock. Charming, hipster, and increasingly trendy, it’s a fun little place filled with lots of unique little boutiques and restaurants that I always remember I’m dying to try when I drive through. This past week I got to one of them – Four Cafe on Colorado Blvd, a fully organic restaurant boasting seasonal dishes made from exclusively local-bought ingredients. Structured like many restaurants are in Los Angeles these days,  you order at the counter, pay, then take a number and your food is brought to you. I’m not sure how I feel about this apparent fad in restaurant dining, but I guess I don’t have much choice. Besides, I’m a big fan of the earth-toned decor in this place. Rustic wooden tables, earthy wall treatments, plenty of outdoor seating, and an absurdly friendly girl behind the counter who had thorough knowledge of everything she was selling and was more than happy to chat us up about it – big points there. Nothing more attractive than a place that is proud about what they serve.

Now when one hears that a restaurant is fully organic and local, it can often lead to thoughts of boredom and salad and… vegans. But such is not the case at Four Cafe. Yes, there is plenty to choose from if you’re a vegan or gluten free, but they also have items like the short rib grilled cheese made with braised short ribs, gruyere, onion, and horseradish, served on foccacia. My friend Kevin got this and was not at all disappointed. A quick peruse of yelp and you can find huge praise for their fish burger, house-made with fresh mahi mahi served on a brioche bun. My mouth waters just typing this. But on the day I visited I was not super hungry, so I opted for a bowl of soup. For those of you trying to watch your weight, soup is always a good go-to in restaurants, particularly when they are house made and vegan like they are here. Supremely earthy and satisfying with just enough wild rice to add a pop of texture. It warms you up and makes you feel good about yourself for making such a good decision. In fact I felt so good that I opted for one of their vegan gingersnap cookies. Moist, spicy, and absolutely delicious. I deserved it. On my list of things to try are the fish burger (of course) and the roasted veggie root salad, which comes with a chili mint dressing. Also – brown butter apple pop tarts!!! Mmmm.  I have to say, I love when a restaurant like this isn’t afraid to have some indulgent food along side all their vegan local wholesome creations. It shows they aren’t pretentious – they really want to attract everyone, which is really important for a starving artist. Sometimes I want vegan soup, and sometimes I want an apple pop tart.

I think what gets me about these “take-a-number” kind of places is that at the end of the day I don’t feel like I’m saving any money by not having to tip a waiter. My bowl of soup and cookie came to $10.36. Worth it, yes, but I know if I had gotten a full salad or sandwich I would have been well over $15, which is not really a starving artist friendly kind of lunch. But in this case I’m ok with it because for one I know the ingredients are of the highest quality, and for another I am getting a meal that I can feel really good about eating. Let’s face it, eating out healthy is not cheap, but a place like Four Cafe is your best bet for getting a good healthy bang for your buck.

So, if you find yourself in Eagle Rock in the mood for a meal you can feel really good about (or a short rib grilled cheese!!), then definitely give Four Cafe a try.

Four Cafe
2122 1/2 Colorado Blvd.
Eagle Rock, CA 90041
www.fourcafe.net

Click here to read my review on YELP