Mammoth Eating

Mammoth Lakes

This weekend I’m blogging from Mammoth Lakes, CA, a popular destination for skiing. Those of you who know me are probably thinking “you? Skiing?”. Hahah – no. My dear friend David has a stunningly beautiful family home up here with a view unlike any I’ve ever seen. He is gracious enough to invite a small group of us up here a few times a year for camaraderie and merriment. Though I may not be into skiing, I am into sitting by a fire with a book, flirting with questionable men in local establishments, and of course, I wouldn’t be the starving artist if i wasn’t going to be cooking for all my friends.

Today I’m headed out on my own to sample a local haunt for my favorite meal – brunch. Then it’s back here to get cooking for when the skiers come home. And perhaps a little lounging in between. ;-)

Be sure you’re following me on Instagram, @starvingartistf, for all my culinary exploits and general shenanigans. Facebook too!

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!!

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

Hanging with Neptune

Neptune's NetSo I mentioned last week I was going on retreat with GMCLA in Malibu. Did you really think the starving artist would make a hike up the PCH into Malibu without indulging in some great seafood? No no. On Sunday morning two of my chorus friends and I were determined to get some beach time in before we headed back to real life, so we wandered out the camp ground, across the highway, and spent a bit of time basking in the glory of the alarmingly windy Malibu coast. Glorious. As we turned back we saw Neptune’s Net, a precious little beachside fish restaurant, staring at us from across the way. I had seen it on the way in (impossible to miss) and of course had been intrigued. We decided that even though the food at the campground had been quite good, it was worth at least a stop in to see what was going on.

Like any good beach-side seafood joint, Neptune’s Net is more of a shack than anything else. Plastic chairs and picnic tables outdoors, no-frills booths with self service on the inside, no shirts required, lots of motorcycles, colorful clientele, and real fresh-caught fish…. we must be on the beach. And we were. As if the atmosphere wasn’t enough, I looked at the menu and saw fish and chips for $9.95 – hesitation? no. Any quality seafood one can find for less than $10 is a treasure, but when I saw these fish and chips come out I was giddy. Why? The traditional/English way of doing fish and chips uses a thick batter, often made with beer, that coats the fish and creates a solid, crispy, cocoon-like shell around the fish. Where I’m from (Boston, baby!) we do the fish with a flour coating. It gives it a thin and crispy exterior – much lighter than a beer batter. Neptune’s Net makes it light and crispy. Not sure exactly what their breading is (not just simply flour), but whatever it was I looooovvvved it. Fresh fish, amazing crust. Took me home. Though I have to confess, their fries were a bit under cooked – gotta make ‘em crunchy, Neptune! I also tried the clam chowder, which was unfortunately way too thick to be taken seriously. My friend David went for shrimp tacos, which were excellent and served with a yogurt sauce reminiscent of Tzatziki: very fresh and very california. Malibu Coast Neptune's Net

Honestly, eating seafood at the beach on a day like this one? There’s just no way I wouldn’t be happy. But it definitely helps that Neptune’s Net is totally affordable, totally fresh, and totally rad. I can’t wait to come back up here with a car full of friends when I’m in need of a beach-and-seafood fix. Starving artist heaven!

Neptune’s Net
42505 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
www.neptunesnet.com

Click here to read my review on YELP