• Restaurant Review: Gracias Madre

    This is a restaurant that hasn’t been open that long here in Los Angeles,(maybe a couple of months) but I’m definitely late on getting this review and trying this spot out. This one is for the vegans! Gracias Madre is a plant based Mexican restaurant situated on the popular Melrose Ave in West Hollywood. I am torn on whether I love the food or the décor of this restaurant more. Great food and great atmosphere make for the perfect dining combination. Here’s my review of Gracias Madre!

     

    Gracias Madre

    8905 Melrose Ave.

    West Hollywood, CA 90069

    p. 323-978-2170

    Hours:

    M-Su 11am-11PM

    Weekend Brunch: 11am-3PM

    Weekday Lunch: 11am-4pm

    Weekday Happy Hour: 4pm-7pm

     

    www.GraciasMadreWeho.com

    (*They also have a location in San Francisco!)

    2211 Mission St

    San Francisco, CA 94110

    p. 415-683-1346

    www.GraciasMadre.com

    First Impression: The first time I dined at Gracias Madre was in the evening; I immediately loved the vibe of the restaurant. The atmospheres from daytime to nighttime are similar but also very different. I enjoyed both.

    Taste: For lunch I had “The Bowl” which has romaine lettuce, brown rice, black beans, guacamole, tempeh chorizo, pico de gallo and cashew cream, which is their vegan version of sour cream. I switched the tempeh for their coconut “bacon” (which is amazing and I recommend trying!) I also had their salsa trio (this comes with a mango salsa which is sweet, a pico de gallo that was spicy but not too hot and my favorite the pineapple salsa which has a kick to it!) To drink I had the green juice of the day which had kale, apple and cucumber. Everything had lots of flavor! It’s really great place to go with your friends that are vegan or vegetarian, whether you’re in a large group or a small group. I think everyone will enjoy the food!

    Décor: Beautiful, amazing, perfect! I think that’s my favorite part of the entire restaurant is the décor! I’m always drawn to a place where the interior is beautiful! Gracias Madre really nailed modern boho laid back vibes in the middle of the city. I love the tiles on the bar inside and all the different types of seating and colorful pillows. The restaurant is just so aesthetically pleasing. It’s really just a beautiful restaurant!

    Price: Very reasonable for locally grown organic food in a trendy restaurant and location in Los Angeles. The Bowl costs $13.00 their salsa trio is $10 and their juices and drinks (juices, coffee, teas) range from $4-$6. I don’t drink but I’ve heard great things about their cocktails too! Those run a little more! $ ;)

    Service: Great! They are really fast with getting the food out even when they are busy!

     

    Ambiance: Lovely! Again, it’s just such a beautiful restaurant. I love the indoor seating area as well as the outdoor seating. Lots of options! Great for a business lunch, dinner date or even a group of friends!

    Overall Experience: Great! I really love Gracias Madre. It’s a great option for vegans and friends of vegans! A lovely dining experience for sure!

    Credits:

    Written, Reviewed and Photographed by: Kristen Tola Hettich

  • Fall Magazines

    Here is a roundup of a few healthy eating magazines. To me there is something about actually holding a magazine, same goes for books. I don't know what it is but I prefer it. If you're looking for some healthy recipes for fall or just trying to get on the health bandwagon you should check out some of these magazines, if you have not already! I love Clean Eating magazine! They have some great recipes and they also simplify eating healthy for you. I also just ordered the print edition of Chickpea Magazine for Fall. Their magazine is quarterly and also available to buy for online viewing. (You can order their magazine here!) Some other health food magazines are Gluten-Free Living and VegNews. These are mostly vegetarian and vegan friendly magazines but there still is a lot of great information in them about eating healthy in general too! 

  • Local Business: Alona Dadiani + Vivi Rama of NoMoo Wise Cream

    Happy Friday friends!

    Here’s a product for all my vegans and friends that follow soy, dairy and/or gluten free diets! NoMoo wise cream is a delicious “ice cream” handmade here in Southern California! I had the chance to meet with the lovely owners, Alona and Vivi, in their shared kitchen space while they showed me how they make their wise cream from scratch! These ladies sure know how to make incredible tasting frozen wise cream! I highly suggest trying out their product, and for those of you who don’t follow any dietary restrictions I think you too would even love NoMoo! Check out my interview with Alona and Vivi! :) 

    Having both come from backgrounds that are not associated with food, what was the draw to start a food product and become involved in this industry? Was there always an underlying love for cooking?

    “Love of cooking-check! I (Alona) am originally from Israel. My birth mom was a Moroccan chef and vividly imparted to me a love of marrying different whole foods, spices and simple ingredients to make both unique and complex dishes. My father was also a merchant marine captain, so I spent significant stretches of the first 7 years of my life traveling the world, exposed to various cuisines.

    Vivi, originally born in Buenas Aires to Spanish parents (both originally from Galicia in Northern Spain) also had exposure to foreign indigenous staples and learned to appreciate great cuisine from early on in her life. Also, as a professional bass player who traveled internationally, world cuisine was an important influence. In short, even though our backgrounds and initial vocations (Alona is also a certified personal trainer in the private sector as well as a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School with a BFA in acting), food was always an integral bind in each of our lives.”

     

    Why did you decide to create a dairy, soy and gluten free as you cleverly call it, “wise cream”? What was the importance to you both in creating this specific product?

    “In truth, with the exception of wanting to make a dairy free “ice cream”, we never set out to create a “soy & gluten free” product. What started out for us as a love of the idea to create something that was sorely lacking in the market, in terms of purity (i.e., not using particular stabilizers and emulsifiers), morphed into a deeper understanding of making an even healthier, nourishing yet still delectable alternative. Now creativity in terms of flavors with our two distinct bases is the only limit!”

     

    Do you both follow dairy, soy and gluten free diets?

    “We are both practicing vegans. When we started making this “wise cream,” we were actually still both consuming dairy but shortly after learning more about the dairy industry, we opted to eliminate dairy from our diets. We also learned more about soy/its GMO prevalence and some potentially detrimental side effects, so we mostly consume fermented soy and, occasionally, other forms of it. This all propelled us to focus wholly on developing the best alternatives to suit our distinctive diet. And we wanted to extend the gamut to many who have either been long practicing vegans or are shifting their perceptions, dietary needs and lifestyles to reflect what we believe is a growing evolution in our relationships with food and its sources.  Lastly, no, we’re not gluten free. Just try and come between Vivi and her bread! But we still happily cater to our costumers who are.”

      

    Were there any adjustments to working with food that you had to make?

    “Our opting to make a “dairy, soy & gluten free” product got our creative juices going! We were first looking for the best way to achieve a creamy, delectable and stable base that we could use as a canvas to achieve what everybody loves about great ice cream…its reliable awesomeness! In terms of adjustments, the main one came in our Coconut base that we ended up sweetening with dates-this now offered an option to those who are avoiding any form of added cane sugar, are following the Paleo diet or have other such dietary needs.”

    I loved your ChocoLoco flavor! What are both of your favorite NoMoo flavors?

    “Thanks, Kristen! For Vivi, it’s hands down the Carajillo! This is how the Spaniards sometimes enjoy their shot of Espresso…with a kiss of cognac or brandy. It also reminds her of her afternoon “postre” (or dessert) following a family lunch. Distilling that into a NoMoo “wise cream” flavor was a proud moment! Alona is also very partial to the Carajillo-moslty because she’s a coffee fiend. But another top favorite is the classic Peanut Butter & Fudge. Although there are those allergic or critical of the legume, it’s a flavor that is so decadent and full, it’s hard to resist. The Fudge has become sought after member and even requested on its own-we’re now packaging it separately as a topping to any of our other unique flavors (like the Peppermint Candy Bliss and Coconut Vanilla Date-Full-made with whole Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla bean pods) …or as a spread!”

    What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business and creating a product you love?

    Although, we’ve both run our own businesses up until now and still (Vivi as a bass player and Alona as an actor and personal trainer), without a doubt, the most gratifying aspect of our unbridled dedication to our company is the positive reaction we get from new and now established NoMoo fans. Also, when someone is truly seeking a product like ours that they can have because of legitimate, sometimes medically necessary dietary restrictions, and they actually love what they’re tasting…there’s nothing that matches the satisfaction we get when they feel like they’ve found that indulgence in NoMoo. Lastly, whenever someone says “I can’t believe this has no dairy!”

     

    Where can we purchase your delicious NoMoo Wise Cream?!

    “Sundays at The Hollywood Farmers’ Market, from 8AM-1PM (on Cosmo Street). On GoodEggsLA.com and at Viva La Vegan, in Santa Monica and Rancho Cucamonga.”

    Credits:

    Written, Interviewed and Photographed by: Kristen Tola Hettich

  • Local Business: Angelica Xavier of GOODBITES

    Happy Thursday friends!

    Today I’m sharing an interview with an Angeleno who turned her health ailment into a new career path. Angelica Xavier created GOODBITES while getting back her health. She came across raw foodism and found this to be the key to getting herself healthy again. While on this diet she perfected different recipes and snacks to fit her new diet, one of those snacks being her GOODBITES product. (Word on the street is that Angelica also makes delicious smoothies! I’ll have to try one of those next time! ;)) Check out my interview with Angelica and find out what exactly is a “GOODBITE”!

    What are GOODBITES?

    “GOODBITES are a raw superfood truffle. They are raw organic gluten-free and non-GMO. They are low glycemic tree that is packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.”


    For those who aren’t familiar with what raw and superfood mean, could you please explain.

    “Raw foods are not heated above 117° this preserves the enzymes in the food. This makes them more nutrient dense than cooked foods.

    Superfoods are nutrient rich foods that are considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.”

    How did you discover raw food diet?

    “In an effort to heal myself and find a solution for a medical situation that could not be sufficiently addressed to Western medicine I literally stumbled upon raw foodism. Researching the results that other people addressing illnesses had found through raw food, resonated with me as a viable solution.” 

     

    How was the transition from your old diet to eating a high raw diet? 

    “I jumped right in. And 30 days into a total raw diet I was back feeling and looking as healthy as I had been before I was diagnosed.”

     

    Are you still currently eating a raw diet? If so, what’s your favorite raw meal to make and/or enjoy?

    “I do eat a raw diet. About twice a week I have non-raw meals. This doesn't seem to affect my energy and it makes it easy to be out with friends and family for meals.

    I'm not sure if I have a favorite raw meal but I do love raw wraps. It's a cross between a salad and a sandwich and is very satisfying and yummy.”

     

    What did you notice most when switching from your old diet to this super healthy and organic raw diet? (As far as energy levels, skin, etc.)

    “I was not in a good physical condition when I started the raw diet so immediately I felt more energy happier and back to feeling like my old self. The raw diet is good for appearance is well. Lots of people who embark on a raw diet notice that their skin glows.”

     

    I think it’s great how you’ve turned what some might consider a negative situation (being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s) into a positive. 

    What inspired you most to pursue creating GOODBITES through your experience with this health ailment?

    “After my son went to college last year I decided to focus my energies on making some of the tasty, healthy snacks I created. GOODBITES is the first of those snacks.

    Our food industry today is in need of a complete overhaul, and while people are constantly becoming more aware of the hazardous affects of GMO’s and processed foods, many areas of our diet are still dominated by these products. GOODBITES represents a shift in thinking about packaged foods, moving away from sugar and towards nutrients, and an emphasis on sustainability and health.” 

     

    Do you have any plans to create other raw superfood products?

    “GOODBITES are the cornerstone of our complete superfood line.” 

     Where can we buy your GOODBITES?

    GOODBITES are available on our website www.goodbites.co and at the locations below.

      

    Health and Specialty Stores

             • Erewhon

             • Co-opportunity

             • PC Greens

             • Artisian House

             • Urban Radish

             • The Oaks Gourmet

             • Artisian House

             • One Life Grocery

             • Lassens-Thousand Oaks

             • Lassens-Los Feliz

             • The Detox Market

             • Aura Shop

             • Farmacy

             • Simon's Market

     

    Juice Bars

             • earthbar West Hollywood

             • earthbar Sunset

             • earthbar Santa Monica

             • Sunlife Organics

             • Sunlife Organics Thousand Oaks

             • Naturewell

             • Naturewell Long Beach

             • Real Raw Live

             • Hot 8 Yoga

             • Open Source Organics

             • Om Nom

             • Local 1205 Venice

             • Real Raw Live

     

    Coffeebars and Cafes

              • Intelligentsia Venice

             • Intelligentsia Silverlake

             • Intelligentsia Pasadena

             • Kafe K

             • Bellissimo

    Credits:

    Written, Interviewed and Styled by: Kristen Tola Hettich

    Photographed by: Bethany Nauert

  • Restaurant Review: M.A.K.E. Santa Monica | Matthew Kenney Cuisine

    Happy Thursday everyone!

    Last week I had the opportunity to dine at the Matthew Kenney restaurant, M.A.K.E. in Santa Monica. M.A.K.E. is located in the new mall area, Santa Monica Place, at the end of the 3rd Street Promenade on the top level in The Market. Matthew Kenney has written 11 books on raw recipes. Raw is any food that is cooked below 118 degrees Fahrenheit, usually at 105 degrees, depending who you talk to! ;) As someone who has tried a raw vegan diet, I can honestly say how great such a diet made feel mentally and physically. Although, I no longer follow this type of diet I still can appreciate and enjoy it! And that’s exactly what I did while dining at M.A.K.E. in Santa Monica!

    M.A.K.E. 

    396 Santa Monica Place

    Santa Monica, CA 90401

    310-394-7046

    www.MatthewKenneyCuisine.com/Restaurants

    First Impression:

    Immediately when I saw M.A.K.E. I was impressed with the design aesthetic. It had it’s very own unique vibe to it, it definitely stood out from the other restaurants in The Market.

    Taste:

    I first have to say I was overly impressed not only with the taste of every single thing I tried but also by the presentation! So beautiful! It was almost too pretty to eat! (But I’m glad I did because it was all extremely delicious!) I think it’s safe for me to say that even if you are not a raw vegan, you would really enjoy the food here and probably not even be able to tell it was raw and/or vegan! That’s how good it was!

    The first thing I tried was an amuse-bouche. This hors d’oeuvre was made up of a walnuts and apples wrapped in a nasturtium leaf. So delicious! Thank you chef! :)

    To drink Bethany had the Sweet Green Juice, which is made up of Green Apple, Kale, Cucumber, Celery, Lemon and Lime. She said it was very tasty and would definitely order again! I tried the Tropical Green smoothie, which had Pineapple, Kale, Ginger, Coconut Butter and Almond Milk. This smoothie was one of the best ones I’ve had in a while! Very good! I too would definitely order this again!

    Our second course was two items from their share plates, the Tree Nut Cheeses with Pears and Pickled Cauliflower, Sweet & Spicy Mustard seeds and Fennel Crisps and Mushroom Pate with celeriac (which is a root vegetable) served with Herb Mustard Crackers. Both dishes were very good! I have to say out of the two I really enjoyed the Tree Nut cheese dish the most, as I am not a huge mushroom person. Bethany and I were really impressed at how the “cheeses” tasted exactly like cheese but were obviously not!

    Next, we had the Kimchi Dumplings with Ginger foam and Coriander. I absolutely loved this dish! So tasty!

    For the main course we had two of their most popular dishes, the Black Pepper Kelp Noodles made with Mushroom Snap Peas, olive crumb and pea vine. The other dish was their Market Tomato Lasagna made with Zucchini, Macadamia, Santa Barbara Pistachio and Basil. One word….AMAZING! So impressed with the presentation and the taste of both of these dishes! I would come back just to have either of these! If I were to pick one over the other though, it would be a hard choice, but I’d have to say I liked the Black Pepper Kelp Noodles the best!

    For dessert we had their Chocolate Cake and their Peppermint Ice Cream. Again, two amazing dishes and as someone who LOVES sweets I really enjoyed both of these! It made me wonder why anyone would want to eat “regular” cake or store bought, unhealthy ice cream when you can have sweets like this that are way better for you and leave you with little to no guilt!

    Décor:

    M.A.K.E. has a modern yet rustic vibe, which I think is definitely cohesive with the focus of their menu being raw vegan. It feels earthy but also clean and has feel of being a little upscale. Not the stuffy, uptight upscale but not your typical vegan restaurant either. There is a lot of wood in the restaurant, dark accents and succulents on each table and on the wall by the kitchen. Each table is also made of wood but to add that sense of modernism to the restaurant they have iron chairs and bar stools and a marble countertop at the bar.

     

    Price:

    I think for the quality of food you get along with the vibe of an upper scale vegan restaurant, I think it’s very reasonable! You can expect your main course to run you about $15-$18.

    Service:

    Great service! Everyone at M.A.K.E. is very friendly and polite!

    Ambiance:

    Very quiet and relaxing. I was also dining here during rush hour in LA, so that might have had something to do with that! ;) I do think though that M.A.K.E. is probably pretty low key as it’s located in The Market area away from the other food court, so you most likely will experience that type of ambiance while dining here. Not super noisy or pretentious. It feels cozy in there because of the wood, which also makes it feel darker in there but with all the windows it keeps it pretty well lit!

     

    Overall Experience:

    Amazing! I was really impressed with how good the food was and the presentation of it! It is definitely worth taking a visit to try! Or you can always grab a smoothie, juice or dessert from, M.A.K.E. OUT, their stand alone shop adjacent to M.A.K.E.!

    Credits:

    Written & Reviewed by: Kristen Tola Hettich

    Photographed by: Bethany Nauert

  • Product Shout Out: Perfect Fit Protein Powder

    Happy Thursday friends!

     Today I’m shouting out a product that I absolutely LOVE, Perfect Fit Protein Powder! Created by the two lovely girls at ToneItUp.com, Karena + Katrina. Their protein powder is one of my top favorites because it has pretty much everything that (I think) is important for not only a protein powder to possess but also any food product!

    Perfect Fit Protein is a raw organic powder made from brown rice protein. Being a plant based protein powder makes this product vegan. Their protein powder is also free of Genetically Modified Organisms(GMOs), gluten free certified by the GFCO, USDA certified organic and kosher.

    Each serving is only 70 calories, 15g of protein, 30mg of sodium,3g of carbs and 0g of sugar! Not to mention Perfect Fit only has 5 ingredients! This is very rare to find in a product let alone a protein powder. Brown rice protein reads as the first ingredient, as it should. This is generally not the case with other protein powders and there are tons of words you can't pronounce and have never even heard of.  

    Protein powder is so easy to incorporate into your diet. I mostly use it in smoothies, such as this one - but you can always use it other ways! You can add it to baking recipes (cookies, brownies, etc.) or into pancake mix. 

    When Karena and Katrina first started Perfect Fit they only had Vanilla flavor protein and now they are offering chocolate and they recently started making organic protein bars! You can order their products directly from their website, www.PerfectFitProtein.com . While there you can also view the full amino acid profile of the protein powder.

    Credits:

    Written by: Kristen Tola Hettich

    Photography by: Bethany Nauert