Winging It Better-for-you wings and fries at Love Baked Wings


They’re eaten at bars and Super Bowl parties by the dozen. They’re often paired with beer and blue cheese sauce. And their finger-licking goodness usually comes courtesy of the deep-fryer.

Yes, we’re talking about chicken wings—the quintessential “bro” food. But thanks to recent Melrose arrival Love Baked Wings, this bar snack is getting a healthy lift.

Chef Michael Shand (who’s cooked for the likes of Adele and Beyoncé) knows his way around a bird: He grew up on a poultry farm in New Zealand. At Love Baked Wings, he’s sourcing hormone- and antibiotic-free Mary’s chicken wings and baking them in special ovens with a high fan speed that render the wings crisp and juicy with absolutely no cooking oil ($11 per pound).

Hearty sandwiches are also on the menu at Love Baked Wings.

Boost the wings’ flavor with your choice of made-in-house seasoning, ranging from garlic, parmesan and rosemary (mild) to sesame ginger (medium) and burning jerk (hot). Not a meat eater? Try the novel and tasty chickpea “wings” ($9 per pound), which are vegan wing-shaped bites made from chickpea paste.

Pair your wings with another healthy take on bar food: carrot “fries” ($5). Shand rolls carrot wedges in gluten-free flour and bakes them until soft on the inside and crisp on the outside—just like their potato-based counterparts but with a whole lot more vitamin A and no frying.

Organic, locally sourced salads ($8) put some green in this bar-snack scene. If you can’t resist a soda, try a fountain drink sweetened with organic agave. But sorry, bros…no beer.

Love Baked Wings
7350 Melrose Ave. #A

In The Zone Green Zone brings organic Chinese to Pasadena


The San Gabriel Valley rules for authentic Chinese food. But finding healthy options can be like searching for a chopstick in a haystack. Many places use MSG, and ingredient-sourcing is often way less than transparent—especially if you don’t speak Mandarin.

Green Zone, an organic Asian restaurant with Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese influences, has been a rare bastion of clean dining in San Gabriel since 2006. Now with their new location in Pasadena’s Old Town, you can enjoy their fresh fare without heading so deep into the Valley.

Green Zone puts the spotlight on super-fresh organic produce.

Though the neighborhood is tonier and the contemporary décor is sleeker, the food at the Pasadena location maintains its real-deal integrity. Hainan chicken rice ($10) is the house specialty, and it’s a super-clean version with organic chicken breast flavored with fresh ginger scallion paste and garlic chile sauce and served over lemongrass rice or wild rice.

To us, though, the stars of this show are the abundant vegetarian dishes that let the restaurant’s organic produce shine. Grilled organic vegetables ($10) is a bright assortment of eggplant, zucchini and squash served with yakitori sauce, while vegetarian sukiyaki combines mushrooms, cabbage, broccoli and more in a sizzling Japanese-style hot pot ($14).

The generously sized salads are brimming with crisp produce; standouts include wild-caught sea bass over organic greens with flaxseed and dried berries ($16). Wash it all down with a wide selection of organic teas ($4 to $6).

And it almost goes without saying: This is a MSG-free zone.

Green Zone
34 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

Club Med Healthy, fast-casual Yalla Mediterranean docks in Burbank


Pop quiz: What makes the Mediterranean diet such an awesome blueprint for healthy eating? Is it the oodles of olive oil? The focus on fresh produce? The emphasis on lean proteins? The liberal use of herbs and spices?

If this were a real exam, we’d want to study for it at Yalla Mediterranean, a new Chipotle-style restaurant where the food encompasses all of the above. The growing chain’s first L.A. outpost just opened in Burbank and is serving cuisine that cruises from Greece to Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and beyond while incorporating local, sustainable ingredients.

Choose sides: Plates at Yalla come with three pick-your-own salads.

Start this build-your-own journey with your skewer of choice; selections run the gamut from vegan, gluten-free falafel ($8) to hormone- and antibiotic-free steak ($9) and wild-caught salmon ($9). Proteins are quickly cooked on the Turkish-style grill that spins them over hot lava rocks so they arrive on your (compostable) plate sizzling.

Have your skewer as a pita wrap, over a chopped salad or as a plate ($2 extra) with basmati rice and a choice of grilled vegetables or spiced lentils. Whatever format you choose, you also get to select three bright side salads, such as Moroccan carrot salad, Turkish red cabbage slaw or kale salad with grape tomatoes, cucumbers and non-GMO garbanzo beans. Top it all off with sauces like tahini, tzatziki or harissa.

Olive oil, spices, citrus and herbs (from the restaurant’s live lemon tree and herb wall) guide the preparations, so just think of Yalla as your Mediterranean diet cheat sheet.

Yalla Mediterranean
1781 N Victory Pl., Burbank

Made In-House Replicate Gjelina's exquisite dishes with this new cookbook


When Venice restaurant Gjelina opened in 2008, it drew comparisons to power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: exceptionally good-looking and ardently invested in the global good. (Bran-Gjelina, anyone?)

Seven years later, chef Travis Lett’s brand of well sourced, artfully prepared California fare has only grown in appeal, especially with this year’s arrival of deli-bakery Gjusta and, now, a cookbook.

Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California is a collection of gorgeous recipes inspired by the restaurant’s menu and a meditation on the chef’s investment in the sustainable food revolution he has helped nurture. “These recipes are a reflection of the changing dialogue about what we eat,” writes Lett. They promote the use of ingredients that make a minimal impact on the environment and a maximum impact on health.

Pan-Roasted romanesco with golden raisins, tahini and sumac (recipe below).

Seasonal vegetables are the centerpiece of the Gjelina menu and, fittingly, the “vegetable” chapter is the cookbook’s largest. While at the restaurant vegetables are often prepared in the wood-burning oven, here Lett adapts his rustic recipes—such as romanesco with golden raisins, tahini and sumac (recipe below)—for the home cook. The creative “salad” chapter encourages the use of greens with personality, such as little gems with Fuyu persimmon and pomegranate.

Lett treats meat as a delicious “accessory” to the veggies, and his whole-animal philosophy is reflected in recipes like pan-seared calf livers with leeks and red wine. There are also recipes for enduring Gjelina favorites, including ocean trout rillettes and thin-crust pizzas.

Overall this is food that, as Lett describes it, is “relaxed, not too showy”…unlike a certain power couple we know.

Romanesco with Golden Raisins, Tahini and Sumac
Excerpted from Gjelina by Travis Lett

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
¼ cup tahini
Juice of 2 lemons
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium heads romanesco, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch florets
¼ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon ground sumac
Flaky sea salt
Best-quality olive oil for drizzling

1. In a small bowl, combine the tahini with the lemon juice, garlic, and cold water.

2. Whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil. The sauce should be thin enough to drizzle with a spoon. (If it is too thick, add in more cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Season with kosher salt and pepper.

3. Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and warm until hot but not smoking.

4. Add the romanesco, cut-side down, and cook until deep golden brown in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir with tongs or a wooden spoon and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer.

5. Turn the heat to medium and add the raisins. Season with kosher salt and cook, stirring, until the raisins soften, 1 to 2 minutes.

6. Add the stock and allow the ingredients to steam briefly. Taste a piece of romanesco for seasoning and doneness; it should be tender.

7. Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle the tahini sauce on top, sprinkle with sumac, and garnish with sea salt and a drizzle of best-quality olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Excerpted from Gjelina by Travis Lett, photographs by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott (Chronicle Books, 2015)

A Little Bit Country Say howdy to Texas import Hopdoddy Burger Bar


We tend to think that the best burgers come from the happiest and healthiest cattle. So it’s totally on-point that one of the tastiest burgers we’ve had in quite awhile comes from a restaurant that prides itself on sourcing beef (and other proteins) from animals that have lived a good life.

The casual, quick-service Hopdoddy Burger Bar—a Texas transplant that recently opened locations in El Segundo and Playa Vista—works exclusively with farmers known for treating animals humanely and raising them without hormones or antibiotics. Most of the beef for the L.A. locations is sourced locally from California.

The Greek lamb burger with Feta, Pickled Red Onions and Tzatziki.

Burger-wise, you can choose from Angus, Akaushi (a Japanese Wagyu breed of cattle that’s high in heart-healthy oleic acid) or grass-fed patties. Not a beef eater? There are also chicken, turkey, lamb and wild-caught ahi tuna burgers, along with a vegan black bean-corn patty that can be subbed out in any of the burger creations.

You’ll taste the Texas influence in choices like the Goodnight/Good Cause burger ($9.25, $1 of which is devoted to a local charity) topped with caramelized onions, jalapeños and Austin-style BBQ sauce. But there are local touches to the menu, too, like the K-Town belly burger ($13) with pork belly, kimchi and house-made gochujang.

Gluten-free? Opt for the baked-in-house, no-gluten bun or add a patty to one of the salads incorporating organic greens and local produce, like the superb baby kale salad with watermelon and avocado ($9.50).

Portions are generous, so bring a “pardner” for this rodeo.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
830 S. Sepulveda Blvd. #116, El Segundo
12746 Jefferson Blvd. #1120, Playa Vista

Good To Grow Manhattan House's hyperlocal produce is ready for its close-up


When you park your car at Manhattan House, the new Manhattan Beach pub, you might walk past the greenery in the parking islands without a second glance. But take a closer look and you’ll see an edible garden whose herbs, flowers and fruits will later make an appearance on your plate.

It’s the first clue that Manhattan House’s sourcing practices are deeply rooted in its neighborhood community. In addition to the onsite kitchen garden, the restaurant also grows organic produce at Pacific Elementary School down the street (via a partnership Growing Great) and microgreens at Deep Roots Garden Center around the corner. The goal is for the restaurant to ultimately be 30 to 40 percent self-sustaining from produce raised within walking distance.

A neighborhood pub with a passion for artisanal food and drinks.

Chef Diana Stavaridis’s New American menu, which she describes as “hardcore seasonal,” emphasizes dishes driven by the local spoils. Vegan black-eyed pea fritters with yellow curry ($18) incorporate savory grown onsite, while the wild mushroom toast ($16) has an array of mushrooms sourced from Hermosa Beach. The swoon-worthy “carratology” ($14) is an ode to carrots (grown at the school) with 11 different preparations of the vegetable from pureed to pickled.

Proteins are sourced with equal care: all meats are antibiotic- and hormone-free, beef is grass-fed and fish is wild-caught almost exclusively from the Pacific. Standout meat dishes include lamb meatballs laced with Turkish spices ($15) and a juicy Cook’s Pig Ranch pork chop served with lollipop kale ($41).

Too bad The House isn’t our home.

Manhattan House
1019 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach

Locals Only Sustainable sourcing drives the menu at newcomer Dudley Market


Eating clean on the Venice Beach Boardwalk can be a tall order—and we don’t mean because you’ve got sand between your toes.

If you’re craving something more organic than the greasy pizza stands and beer-soaked grills catering to the tourist throngs, then your task is to find Dudley Market, chef Jesse Barber’s new Boardwalk-adjacent restaurant and marketplace. Hidden at the intersection of a dead-end street and a one-way alley, the eclectic American restaurant is a chic respite for locals looking for sustainably sourced, artfully prepared food.

Still hungry? Grab some provisions to go.

Barber is just as interested in serving local ingredients as he is in attracting local patrons. Apricot Lane Farms, a biodynamic farm in Moorpark, supplies a good deal of Dudley Market’s produce, pastured lamb and more. Barber sources organic, grass-fed beef from local supplier Premier Meats, and the restaurant’s seafood is either organically farmed or wild-caught from the Pacific Ocean.

From morning through midday, there are comforting dishes like the French omelet with soft shell crab ($18) and eggplant pate on baguette ($12). At dinner, dishes skew more “fine dining” with starters like the carrot snack (carrot puree topped with roasted and fried carrots; $4) and mains like lamb rib chops with polenta ($41) and risotto-style black rice with wild mushrooms ($33). Save room for naturally sweetened desserts like crepes with ice cream, made in-house with omega 3-loaded duck eggs ($9).

Shop the marketplace shelves for healthy provisions such as Solstice Canyon nut butters and Little Branch granola, many of which are—what else?— locally made.

Dudley Market
9 Dudley Ave., Venice

Bliss Out The Sweetness Of Being elevates your chocolate experience


So you know that sense of euphoria you get from eating really good dark chocolate?

Sarah Engelhart, the chocolatier behind Venice-based The Sweetness of Being, is upping your chocolate buzz ante.

First off, you can feel great about the quality of ingredients you’re consuming. The base of her handmade chocolate disks is organic, fair-trade, stone-ground cacao that’s sweetened naturally with raw, organic honey from a local solar-powered honey farm.

Engelhart raises the feel-good bar even further with the addition of mucuna pruriens, a tropical legume that naturally contains L-dopa. This amino acid is a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine—the same chemical that imparts soaring feelings of pleasure (like when you’re falling in love or listening to your favorite music).

wait for An experience of the heart.

The flavors in The Sweetness of Being's lineup will also make you feel pretty ecstatic. Engelhart has created unique, superfood-driven taste combinations like rose-goji, spicy pepita and maca-quinoa crisp. There's also a bar loaded with 11 tonic herbs from organic herbal emporium Sun Potion. The blend of anandamide ("bliss") herbs—including Ayurvedic powerhouses such as turmeric and ashwaghanda—is meant to help support whole-body wellbeing.

Each bar is imprinted with ornate graphics that reflect the ancient origins of cacao in history and folklore, such as the Aztec sunstone, a symbol of human transformation. This is in keeping with Engelhart's motivation to offer people "an experience of the heart" while consuming her chocolate, she says.

The Sweetness of Being chocolates ($4.50 each; $17 for box of five) can be ordered online or found at Café Gratitude, Erewhon and other select retailers.

Consume at your own risk: you may fall in love.

The Sweetness of Being

Cupcake Hack Swole Cakes cracks the healthy cupcake code


If there’s one thing that can sabotage our clean-eating routine, it’s cupcakes. Those cute, single-serving indulgences call up comfort and nostalgia even while they get our insulin dangerously a-flowin’.

That’s why we’re sweet on Swole Cakes, the healthier-for-you cupcake company that bakes up just-as-delicious vegan, gluten-free and naturally sweetened versions of the treat with mostly organic ingredients.

Your post-workout snack just got sweeter.

Coconut and oat flours, almond milk and coconut oil serve as the basis of the cupcake batter while the frosting incorporates vegan cream cheese sweetened with xylitol, a low-glycemic natural sweetener. The icing on the cake: Each Swole Cake contains 15 grams of brown rice protein, which helps keep blood sugar in check and build muscle (hence the reference to getting “swole”). These cupcakes make as much sense for breakfast or a post-workout snack as they do for dessert.

Co-founders (and fitness enthusiasts) Michael Kaufman and Patrick Gillham cleverly named each cupcake flavor with this muscle-building theme in mind. Basic flavors ($3 each) include strawberry, vanilla and chocolate; specialty flavors ($3.50 each) include red velvet, coconut and seasonal-for-fall pumpkin spice.

You can find Swole Cakes at the Calabasas Farmers Market on Saturdays, the Brentwood Farmers Market on Sundays and at select retailers including Naturewell, Full O’ Life and Got Muscle. Orders can also be placed through the Swole Cakes website (delivery fee varies based on location).

They’ve got your cupcake cravings fully covered.

Swole Cakes

Emerald City L.A.'s first matcha bar has arrived


If you’re anything like us, your daily eating routine involves a lot of green: a green juice at breakfast, a green salad at lunch and maybe some sautéed greens with dinner.

So why is your favorite pick-me-up drink still brown?

Matcha Box, L.A.’s new (and first) matcha bar, is now serving up hot and iced emerald-hued matcha drinks that make refreshing and nutritious alternatives to their coffee-based counterparts.

Zen out in Matcha Box’s soothing, minimalist space.

The cafe’s matcha is made from Japanese green tea leaves ground into a fine powder and whisked with water (as opposed to conventional green tea that’s steeped). It has less caffeine than coffee yet boosts mood and promotes a state of relaxed alertness (so long, coffee jitters) thanks to the amino acid L-theanine. Matcha is more concentrated than steeped green tea, so you’ll reap more benefits, ranging from UV skin protection to decreased risk of dementia and cancer.

Matcha Box’s minimalist, Zen-like space is an ideal setting to sip on this grassy-tasting (in a good way) wonder drink. Make like a Buddhist monk and order The Ceremony ($5), a hot ceremonial-grade matcha whisked up in front of you. Or chill out with a cold-brewed matcha with lemon and muddled mint ($4) or iced matcha latte ($6). No dairy or refined sugar is used in the drinks; almond milk and raw, organic honey are used instead.

The cafe also offers small bites like toasted Lodge Bread slathered with either cashew butter or grass-fed organic butter infused with matcha and sea salt ($3). You can also pick up matcha supplies including powders, spoons and whisks to make your own at home.

Sometimes the grass really is greener.

Matcha Box
8036 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles