Lip-smacking snacking Dodge the snack-time doldrums with Goodbites

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When it comes to snacking, we’re pretty high maintenance. We want something sweet but naturally so. Quick but nutrient dense. Tasty but free of gluten, dairy and other dietary irritants.

Luckily, Goodbites—a raw, vegan, organic, gluten-free, non-GMO snack food company based in Venice—lets us have our cake and eat it, too. Well, maybe not cake, … but how about truffles, macaroons and cookies?

Angelica Xavier started Goodbites after she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and discovered that a raw vegan diet helped her feel better. While she found it easy to stick to the diet at mealtimes, snacking proved more difficult, so she set out to create treats that wouldn’t derail her clean-eating efforts.

Goodbites’ addictive snacks are made using a short list of wholesome, raw and nutritious ingredients.

Et voilà: Goodbites’ goodies pack in superfood nutrition and are lightly sweetened only with raw honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar. The addictive truffles ($4 per two-pack) are made with raw cacao, spirulina, goji berries and Himalayan pink salt and rolled in hemp seeds.

Goodbites also makes luscious coconut macaroons, coconut brownie bites, date cookies and cacao nib cookies ($2.50 per three-pack) by dehydrating them at 117°. While they get crisp on the outside, coconut oil keeps these treats moist on the inside.

For more savory snackers, Goodbites additionally offers curry-cayenne cashews ($2.50) and crackers flavored with oregano, rosemary and thyme ($2.50). So, whether sweet or salty cravings roll around, you’ll be fully covered.

Just think of it as a snack hack.

Steam dream Shake up your lunch routine with steamed fare from Bombo

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In the fast-healthy-fresh lunch department, things have gotten a little repetitive lately. Sure, we love build-your-own salad and rice bowl joints, but sometimes we crave a little more culinary creativity in our midday munch-down.

Mark Peel has come to our rescue.

The former white-tablecloth chef (he was Spago’s opening chef and founder of Campanile) has cooked up a concept that allows him to bring his gourmet chops to the quick-service lunch model.

His new seafood-focused stall in Downtown’s Grand Central Market is called Bombo, and the six steel steam kettles that line the front of the space are the foot soldiers of the operation. The high-pressure steam that passes through the kettle pipes allows Peel to cook broth-based seafood dishes fresh to order in less than four minutes. The healthful steaming process and rich, complex broths render juicy, flavor-packed meals with no cooking fat.

Bombo’s Curried shrimp in Indonesian-style ginger-lemongrass broth.

Peel sources his seafood only from sustainable purveyors and chooses local species when possible. Seasonal choices range from steamed yellowtail in vegan mushroom broth ($12) to Seattle fish stew in lobster broth ($14) and curried shrimp in Indonesian-style ginger-lemongrass broth ($12). There are tasty non-seafood choices, too, including braised short rib on egg pappardelle ($13) and a fresh arugula salad with braised chicken, eggplant and kabocha squash ($9). Meats are antibiotic- and hormone-free.

All dishes are under $15. “I’ve wanted for decades to apply really good cooking techniques and quality to less expensive food,” he says. This week he’s also opening an onsite fish market selling fresh, sustainable fish to cook at home.

To Bombo, then, we say: Bingo!

Bombo
Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway St., Stall D3, Los Angeles
bombofoods.com

Liquid assets Get your daily dose of adaptogens with Kor Shots

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As L.A.’s juice trend (cold) presses ahead, we’ve been keeping our ear to the ground to discover new directions in liquid wellness. The latest development? Root juices.

That’s right: turmeric is trending and ginger is hot. These “adaptogen” herbs have such a wealth of benefits—from digestive health to anti-inflammatory properties—that we’re keen on making them a part of our daily wellness routine.

But juicing the gnarled roots at home can be messy and time consuming, and most fruit juice blends that incorporate them do so in such small amounts (and with such high sugar content) that the benefits are negligible.

Jordan Retmar, founder of Kor shots.

Kor Shots, produced locally in Malibu, offers an easy way to get straight to the roots. The Wellness shot is a zingy mix of cold-pressed ginger and lemon juices with coconut water and cayenne pepper, while the tart Vitality shot contains cold-pressed turmeric and lemon juice with coconut water. All of the ingredients are 100 percent organic and each shot contains only 1.5 grams of sugar.

High-pressure processing is used to preserve the raw juices, extending the shelf life while leaving the nutrient and enzymatic properties intact. You can find the shots in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods, Erewhon and other local natural markets. From May 7 to May 16, Clean Plates readers can receive a 20 percent discount when purchasing from the Kor Shots website (use coupon code “clean20″).

How to enjoy them? Pour a shot into a bottle of water and savor it throughout the day. Empty a shot into a mug of hot water and you’ve got a tasty ginger or turmeric tea.

Or just go bottoms up!

Locate Kor Shots near you!

Clean habits: Akasha Richmond A yoga-loving restaurateur's healthy go-tos

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Akasha Richmond has been a personal chef to the stars and a celebrated restaurateur with her eponymous Akasha in Culver City. But when she first came to L.A., it was to study yoga, not food preparation. She stumbled into cooking for a yogi-owned vegetarian restaurant and found her passion.

Richmond’s cooking is still intertwined with wellness. She crafts seasonal, veggie-driven New American dishes at Akasha, and her upcoming Sāmbār (opening May in Culver City) will offer a fresh California take on Indian cuisine, inspired by her travels to the region. Read on to find out how this multitasking globetrotter eats clean and goes green.

What are your healthy eating go-to’s?
I have a cold-pressed green juice daily (from Akasha) and eat a big salad at lunch.

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry? 
I am really careful about what I eat at work. I don’t eat cookies or a lot of pastry. I prefer a piece of dark chocolate … but can’t resist a really good pie.

Akasha in Culver City offers veggie-driven New American dishes.  (Photo courtesy of Akasha)

How do you incorporate sustainability into your life at home and in the restaurants? 
At the restaurants, all ingredients are chosen based on their sustainability: organic grains, antibiotic- and hormone-free animal proteins, clean fish and no GMOs. We shop the local farmers markets for organic and unsprayed produce. We use green paper products. Personally, I use only green makeup, soaps and shampoos.

How has your healthy lifestyle rubbed off on the menu at Akasha or the upcoming Sāmbār?
At Akasha, we have lots of healthy options, like salads and quinoa. We also have burgers and macaroni and cheese, but we use good ingredients in these dishes. I have been cooking Indian food ever since I started studying yoga and fell in love with sambar, the soupy dal made from split pigeon peas. I also love Indian masalas.

How do you stay fit?
I do some kind of exercise 5 to 6 days a week. Right now it’s a lot of walking and not as much yoga as I used to do. Sāmbār is my main meditation right now!

Akasha
9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City
310-845-1700
www.akasharestaurant.com

DO! delivery Get your weekly produce delivered by Daily Organics

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We have a new favorite food truck. You can’t chase it on Twitter, and it isn’t hawking fusion tacos or avant-garde ice cream. It’s just one woman in a 1962 Corvair Rampside pick-up on a mission to deliver fresh, organic produce to underserved areas of the city.

Behind the wheel of that vintage truck is Renee Gunter, a South LA native who founded Daily Organics as a way to address the lack of healthy food options in her neighborhood and other food deserts in the city. For the past two years, she’s set up her pop-up produce stand on street corners in South LA and Mid-City where fresh fruits and veggies are hard to come by. Her seasonal spread has included sustainably sourced and thoughtfully curated varietals like Pinkerton avocados, Austrian crescent potatoes and globe eggplants alongside homemade jams, Smart Simple Gourmet soups and her locally roasted DO! brand coffee beans.

Renee Gunter and rosco (her truck). (Photo credit: Stephen Zeigler)

Now, Gunter has decided to transition from mobile pop-up (a tricky business model to sustain) to a weekly home delivery service. To start, she’ll deliver within a five-mile radius of her pop-up locations, with plans to expand beyond that in the future. Subscribers can customize their selections on a weekly basis ($25 to $45 per week for produce; no delivery fee); extras like soups and coffee can be added for an additional fee.

Gunter’s motivation to work toward solutions to food deserts sets Daily Organics apart from other produce delivery services. She’s as passionate about advocating for change as she is about selecting her produce. “It’s not just me stocking my truck full of food and selling it out of a box,” says Gunter. “I share ideas. I share conversation. It’s a sense of community, and it’s centered around food.”

Think of it as the street corner—on wheels.

Daily Organics
dailyorganicsla.com

Cold rush Scratch your dessert itch (healthfully) with Pressed Juicery's Freezes

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Our mom always told us that if we ate our veggies, we could have dessert. But what if we told you that if you ate dessert, you could have your veggies?

Pressed Juicery has totally flipped the script on dessert logic with the introduction of their new Freezes ($5 to $8). Made exclusively of vegetables, fruits and nuts, the Freezes are based on the Juicery’s cold-pressed juice creations, so start wrapping your mind around soft serve that sounds like it’s a seasonal vegetable plate. The Greens Freeze is made with kale, spinach and romaine, while the Roots Freeze has beets, carrots and ginger.

There’s nothing bitter about the veggie-laden Freezes. Their subtle sweetness comes from the dates and coconut meat also in the mix; they contain no refined sugar. And even though there’s not a drop of dairy, the Freezes have a smooth, creamy consistency that suggests otherwise; think fro-yo, minus the “yo.”

Get your juice with a twist at Pressed Juicery’s fro-yo style freeze bar.

If you’re looking for more classic dessert flavors, they also offer naturally sweetened twists on favorites like Vanilla (almonds, dates, sea salt, vanilla) and Chocolate (same deal but with cacao), as well as fruit-forward flavors like Citrus (orange, apple, pineapple).

The Freezes’ nutritional profiles are similar to the juices. For example, you’ll get 45 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamins A and C from an 8-ounce Greens Freeze. Toppings like chia and hemp seeds, cinnamon and fresh berries pack a nutritional punch, too. And all the offerings are non-GMO and gluten-free.

Brain freeze time!

Pressed Juicery
6201 Hollywood Blvd. #128, Los Angeles
323-960-3350
889 Americana Way, Glendale
818-247-2034
www.pressedjuicery.com

Tempting terroir Relish lofty fare with earthy ingredients at Aestus

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Right about now, we’re having serious Aestus envy. We’re jealous of the residents of Santa Monica’s Arezzo building, who can simply slip downstairs to dine at this new restaurant, where the produce-driven plates and mid-century modern dining room are equally stunning.

Location is everything, especially in this kitchen. Owner-sommelier Kevin O’Connor and chef Alex Ageneau have grounded the New American menu in the concept of terroir, which (aside from the wine focus) means that the kitchen’s emphasis is on produce hailing from Southern California soil.

Food with a sense of place is something quite familiar to Ageneau, who grew up on a farm in the Vendée region of France, where his grandparents tended orchards and vineyards and made everything served at the table from scratch.

Aestus’ mid-century modern dining room and open kitchen.

Ageneau is carrying on that tradition at Aestus, where he crafts his own charcuterie, pickles, and pasta—pretty much everything except the bread—in house. His French training is apparent in his dishes, but the California context means that he’s favoring olive oil and citrus over cream and butter.

The simple preparations let the high-quality ingredients—sourced from sustainable family farms whenever possible—speak for themselves. Selections will rotate seasonally, but expect dishes like snap peas with mint pesto and pistachios ($8), roasted carrots with kumquats, goat cheese and argan oil ($13) and branzino paired with celery root, grapefruit segments and hazelnuts ($38). There’s a wood-burning grill for meats like the superb grass-fed flat iron served with sunchokes, spinach and mushrooms ($32).

Our advice? Order a bunch of dishes to share. Otherwise you might have plate envy.

Aestus
507 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
424-268-4433
www.aestusrestaurant.com

Forget the freezer Enjoy a fresh new take on Vietnamese fare

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How fresh is the Vietnamese cuisine at The District by Hannah An? Let’s put it this way: the restaurant doesn’t have a walk-in freezer.

Sure, there’s a small freezer for ice cream, but everything else—from the sustainably sourced fish to the grass-fed beef to the locally sourced vegetables—is used in its freshest state and cooked to order.

You might recognize An’s name from her family dynasty. She learned to cook from her mother and grandmother, who established the legendary French-Vietnamese restaurant Crustacean in Beverly Hills. But at The District, An is breaking away from that fine-dining focus. Though the two-level space—with an industrial-chic vibe downstairs and colonial-era Vietnamese manor setting upstairs—is on the upscale side of casual, she’s serving up dishes you could eat every day.

… the upscale side of casual dining

Instead of heavy oils or the butter and cream that can weigh down French preparations of Vietnamese dishes, An is using broths, fish sauces, citrus, herbs and spices to lend flavor. Following the Vietnamese principle of balance, each dish is at once subtly spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet.

We would drive across town for the divine turmeric-crusted Chilean sea bass ($35) and the crispy chicken rice paper rolls ($12) served with garlic-lime dipping sauce. And we love how An is presenting familiar vegetables through a novel lens, from the curry-spiced, wok-fried brussels sprouts ($9) to the charred heirloom cauliflower served atop mushrooms, edamame and cashew puree and accented with beet juice and hazelnuts ($17).

Given the supreme tastiness, you probably won’t have any leftovers, which is just as well. Food this fresh should be enjoyed as intended: on the spot.

The District by Hannah An
8722 W. Third St., Los Angeles
310-278-2345
www.thedistrictbyha.com

Salads go glam Have a healthy night on the town at Greenleaf

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As build-your-own salad places go, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop (with locations in Beverly Hills and Century City) is consistently one of our favorites. The local and sustainably farmed produce, the clean, flame-grilled proteins and the epicurean preparations make us wish there was a Greenleaf on every corner of the city.

With the opening of their new Hollywood location, we’re on our way to wish fulfillment—and then some. Not only does the new outpost make their stellar salads more accessible to Eastsiders, but it also elevates the Greenleaf concept to night-on-the-town dining.

Whereas their Westside locations offer only breakfast and lunch service, the Hollywood location—located next to the Pantages Theatre—is positioned for nightlife. Open daily until midnight, the restaurant offers full dinner service, an indoor/outdoor bar serving craft cocktails made with organic juices and a buzzy patio decked out with market lights and a fire pit.

Ahi & farro salad at Greenleaf gourmet chopshop.

That means you can enjoy some festive pre-theater dining, grab pre-game drinks before hitting the clubs or sidestep the boulevard’s greasy pizza joints for a healthy late-night snack. Creating your own salad is always fun, but we’re also partial to the specialty salads ($8 to $16) like the Antioxidant Orchard (bursting with vitamin-packed berries and nuts) and Zorra The Great (an updated Greek salad). Sandwiches, burgers, thin-crust pizzas and hot entrée plates round out the menu.

And with the new brunch service (Friday through Sunday from 8:00am to 3:00pm) featuring egg dishes and smoothies, you can follow your nightlife with a healthy morning after.

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
6201 Hollywood Blvd., Ste. 120
323-380-5127
www.greenleafchopshop.com

Vegan cheese, please Indulge guiltlessly with these artisanal nut-milk cheeses

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Five years ago, chef Youssef Fakhouri decided to sequester himself in his West Hollywood home kitchen with a singular goal: to find the secret to making nut-milk cheese taste like the “real” thing.

Around the same time, chef Tal Ronnen began searching for a way to successfully apply traditional European cheese-making techniques to nut milk and even enlisted the help of a Stanford biochemist.

Clearly, the race to find a non-dairy cheese that doesn’t taste like sawdust has been an impassioned one. The result? L.A. is having a delicious artisanal vegan cheese moment, with Fakhouri’s new WeHo cheese shop Vromage and Ronnen’s Kite Hill line of cheeses.

Tal Ronnen and Youssef Fakhouri, L.A.’s premier vegan cheesemongers

Fakhouri won’t reveal the secret technique he stumbled upon to give his nut- and seed-milk cheeses a flavor to rival old-school fromage. But let’s just say that in a blind taste test, we’d be hard-pressed to distinguish his pepper jack from the real deal. So far he’s created 17 cheeses that mimic the flavors and textures of their dairy counterparts, ranging from soft manchego to hard asiago. The cheeses slice and melt just like the real deal; Vromage serves them in caprese salads, sandwiches and pizza.

Kite Hill’s lineup, crafted from their proprietary almond milk, includes a soft-ripened cheese with a fluffy rind reminiscent of brie or camembert, as well as creamy ricotta and spreadable fresh cheeses. And the new cream cheeses (plain and chive) are a dead ringer for their dairy counterparts. Ronnen serves the cheeses at his plant-based restaurant Crossroads; you can try the cream cheeses on a bagel with his smoked heirloom carrot “lox” and taste the ricotta, which cooks just like the real stuff, in pasta dishes. Kite Hill’s products are also the first vegan cheeses to be sold in the Whole Foods gourmet cheese section.

So long, sawdust.

Vromage
7988 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood
323-745-0157
www.vromage.com

Crossroads
8284 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles
323-782-9245
www.crossroadskitchen.com