• Restaurant Review: SweetSalt Food Shop

    Happy Thursday everyone!

    I recently stumbled across a hidden gem of a restaurant near my neighborhood that was really tasty! SweetSalt Food Shop is a café and bakery that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have a large variety on their menu, catering towards vegetarians and meat lovers! There really is something for everyone here! Don’t forget to try some of there homemade pastries!

     

    SweetSalt Food Shop

    10218 Riverside Drive

    Toluca Lake, CA 91602

     

    818-509-7790

    www.SweetSaltFood.com

     

    First Impression

    As soon as you walk up to SweetSalt you get this neighborhood friendly vibe. The location is so cute! It’s nestled in between other stores along Riverside Drive in a busy area or “main drag” of Toluca Lake. This area is popular for lunchtime with all the studios nearby. Once I went in I got another vibe that this was somewhere some come to have lunch everyday with friends and co-workers.

    Taste

    So good! I was really impressed with all the items on the menu and especially with my meal! I had the Kale and Brussel Sprouts Tacos. The flavors in these tacos were amazing! Also, being mostly vegetarian I appreciated their twist on the taco! They do offer the option to add Chicken or Salmon to these!

     

    Décor

    The décor was really simple inside SweetSalt but it had style. There are mainly hues of gray, black and brown in the restaurant. There is almost a vintage vibe, with lots of wooden chairs, wooden floors, and black crow decor found throughout the restaurant.

     

    Price

    I thought it was pretty reasonable and standard for lunch in LA.

    Service

    Great! Everyone working there was very friendly!

     

    Ambiance

    Relaxing. Although they were busy it did not feel uncomfortable or overwhelming. There were a couple of people who were just working on their computers. If you can work from a restaurant it must be relaxing in some way! ;)

     

    Overall Experience

    I really liked this restaurant! Great food (I would definitely go back for those tacos!) and pleasant atmosphere! I recommend giving this spot a try!

    Credits:

    Written, Reviewed and Photographed by: Kristen Tola Hettich

  • Recipe: Strawberry Pineapple Smoothie

    Happy Tuesday friends!

    I have another great smoothie recipe for you all today! Super easy to make, with only three ingredients!

    Strawberry Pineapple Smoothie

    Ingredients

    • 2-3 Frozen Strawberries
    • 4 Large Pieces of Frozen Pineapple
    • 1 1/2 Cups of Orange Juice

    Directions

    • Add all three ingredients into the blender.
    • Blend well + Enjoy! :)

     

    Written, Styled and Photographed by: Kristen Tola Hettich

    Recipe by: Scott Diorio

  • Local Business: Annie Miler of Clementine Century City + Beverly Hills

    Happy Thursday friends!

    I’m sharing with you today and interview with Annie Miler, the founder and chef of Clementine in Century City and Beverly Hills. Upon meeting Annie I immediately felt her warmth and hospitality when visiting her at Clementine. She mentioned hospitality a couple of times throughout her interview which brought me back to my first memory of meeting her and she definitely stands by that and shows it! The food at her restaurant is amazing, local and seasonal. I was not only impressed with her food but also how welcoming it was coming into her restaurant. It’s very obvious she has not lost touch with her Mid West roots or family values, as she learned to cook from her mother and grandmother. You’ll find that there are some items on the menu that she grew up making and learned from them. I highly recommend stopping by this lovely neighborhood restaurant! You will feel like you’ve left LA and are having an awesome home cooked meal!

     

    You’ve been in the restaurant industry a long time. Has opening a restaurant always been one of your goals?

    “I don’t think so. I’ve cooked since I was a little girl. I was a history major in college. I wrote my honors thesis as close to food as I could get. I was trying to figure out how to be involved with food. After college, I was working a part time job in a kitchen and just really liked that and quit my day job. I then went to the Cordon Bleu in London studying basic pastry. I never set out to open a restaurant but now that I’ve done it, it seems I wouldn’t have done anything else.”

     

    You’ve been cooking for a long time, what is it about cooking that you love?

    “The hospitality aspect, caring for people. Doing something to bring happiness to somebody else is very satisfying!”

     

    You use seasonal and local produce from farmers markets, which markets do you usually go to?

    “I personally go to the Beverly Hills farmers market on Sunday or the Santa Monica market on Wednesday. We use a lot of produce at the café so we usually order ahead.”

     

    What is the most popular dish on the menu right now for Fall/Winter 2013-2014?

    “At the Beverly Hills location it’s the Three Salad Combo (premade salads from the case.) The salads are especially good! The Clementine Chicken Salad Sandwich is another popular one.”

    Why did you choose Century City and Beverly Hills as your two locations for Clementine?

    “A space became available in Century City (the location we are at now.) It had been a pastry business before and was successful so I knew it would be a great lunch place. It had some character, it’s a 1930s building, and it was also on the edge of a residential area and close to all the office buildings. For our Beverly Hills location, we had an opportunity to be a part of a redevelopment. This was a chance to bring something more unique to that area which was not only a great opportunity for us but that a lunch place could have seasonal food in that type of setting.”

     

    What was the most important element to you when opening Clementine? What did your restaurant definitely have to have? (As far as décor, menu, atmosphere, etc.)

    “When planning it, I really thought it would be more of a store/market/bakery than a café. Very quickly it became apparent that the neighborhood wanted a café. The first thing people would ask was, “why don’t you serve breakfast?” It quickly became a community place. It ended up happening organically that way. When I think back to that, to think that it would be something other than what it is,is funny!”

     

    You are hosting a dinner party at your own home, what are you cooking?

    “I started to collaborate with Produce Project as a weekly pick up spot for their baskets. I subscribe to it also so I get a basket every week. I find since someone else is picking it out it has more of a variety than what I would pick. It’s fun to get a surprise every week. It would be driven by whatever is in there, and maybe grill some fish. It would be pretty simple though. Get some dips or something from work and maybe bring a dessert home. Although they enjoy it, I always feel guilty bringing home food from the restaurant." 

     

    What was something that you learned from your mother and/or grandmother that you still do today when cooking?

    “There are a number of things I learned from them. Meatloaf! It was one of the first things I learned to make. My mom would pay me $1 to make dinner twice a week and there had to be three things on the plate. There’s also the Mrs. Miller cookie! Mrs. Miller was a woman who lived down the street from my grandmother when she was little. I grew up calling them “Mrs.Miller cookies” so there was no other name to really call them.”

     

    What sets Clementine apart from other local restaurants?

    “I think the fact that we change our menu, not completely but every few months. That was very unusual and customers would get mad but now they like the change. We are a neighborhood place but also have a lunch crowd and some people come twice a day. I like to think we try to give people something more than coffee and show our hospitality.”

     

    Are there future plans to expand? If so, where to?

    “Not really, never say never, but I’m super happy and challenged by what we have now. Not trying to have an empire. But I have a lot of my plate with both of these restaurants right now, but in the best way! It keeps it interesting!”

    (Pictured: Century City location.)

    Credits:

    Interviewed and Written by: Kristen Tola Hettich

    Photographed by: Bethany Nauert

  • How to Eat Healthy While Flying

    Happy Wednesday friends!

    Week before last I was doing a lot of traveling, between flying out of the country, flying within the states and doing lots of driving. While preparing for my trip I stocked up on lots of snacks and such for while I was on the move. I then had an idea for a post about how to eat healthy while flying. I didn’t always used to pack and bring food with me and just figured out what I would eat once I was in the terminal. With the options in airports being sometimes very limited (unless you’re at a major airport where it’s similar to that of a mall food court) it can feel difficult finding any healthy food. And now with all of the TSA regulations it feels even more restricted than ever of what you can bring with you on the plane. Originally being from the East Coast, I often travel back and forth to visit home. I’ve learned what you can and cannot bring with you on the plane. Some people don’t even realize that you can bring food through security! During my last trip I brought tons of food in my carry on, one of the items being a jar of peanut butter. This item was quickly confiscated; I now know that I cannot bring peanut butter with me on the plane! ;) They told me no butters, hummus, jellies, pastes, etc. – all of these fall under the “liquid” category. You can however bring these items if they are in containers that are 3.4 ounces (100ml) or smaller. Here are a list of healthy foods and meal ideas you can bring with you on the plane…

    • Bananas
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Snap Peas
    • Apples
    • Grapes
    • Avocado (I like to spread the avocado onto a slice of bread, top with some salt and pepper, which the flight attendant should also have or you can grab some at a store before you board. I’ve brought plastic knives with me on the plane but sometimes they get taken away but you can also grab one from a restaurant or shop before you board as well!)

    • Slices of Bread
    • Pretzels
    • Health/Protein Bars (such as Cliff Bars, Kind bars, Two Moms in the Raw, etc.)
    • Oatmeal packets (You can ask for a cup of hot water and add the oatmeal to the cup or make it in a separate cup either way the flight attendant should provide you with this, you should also pack your own spoon just in case they don’t have any on your flight! You can also pack little containers with some brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts, dried fruit, etc. to top your oatmeal with. I personally like to put cinnamon and bananas in mine!)

    • Granola (This you could also bring to put on top of your oatmeal!)
    • Dried Fruit (Pictured are Mango + Pineapple)
    • Trail Mixes
    • Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, etc.)
    • Dates

    • Citrus fruits (Oranges, Clementines, Grapefruits, etc. These types of fruit are able to stay fresh without the need of refrigeration.)

    • Rice Cakes (You can spread some of the almond or peanut butter on top if you bring a little with you!)
    • Pita or Pita Chips
    • Homemade wraps or sandwiches Just be sure it is something that will still taste good in a couple hours from when you’re leaving your house. You can make a pita with hummus, cucumbers, etc. (These are premade Garden Veggie Wraps from Whole Foods. If I don't have time to make something at home before I fly out, I like to stop by the grocery store and pick some of these up on my way.)

    • Cereal (You can bag up some from home and when you’re on the plane again ask for a cup and some milk.)
    • Hard-boiled eggs (This is if you’re really preparing in advance but a great option and source of protein on the go!)

    NOTE*:  If you really want to plan ahead, you can bring a lunch box with you. A soft sided one is best as it’s easier and less clunky to travel with. You can pack a salad, sandwich, even a smoothie in your lunchbox and keep it cool this way with ice packs. Some may not want to go to these lengths to plan out their meals but if you’re like me and want to make sure you have something healthy and that you enjoy while traveling, it’s a great option to take advantage of.

    Credits:

    Written, Styled & Photographed by: Kristen Tola Hettich

  • Happy Valentine's Day

    Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!

    I may have or may have not had a bite of this cute little cupcake! ;)  I believe in indulging every once and while and if you’re going to do it I think special holidays and occasions are a time to allow yourself to enjoy some goodies! Oh, and here are some cute little heart straws! 

  • 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

  • Product Shout Out: bkr Glass Bottles

    Happy Tuesday everyone!

    Looking for a way to save money on plastic water bottles, or even just bottled drinks in general? Here is a company that will help you do that in style!

    Bkr water bottles are made of glass and silicone. They are phthalate-free and BPA-free! Unlike plastic bottles, glass does not seep chemicals, such as BPA (Bisphenol A), into your water or other liquids. This chemical is known to cause various health conditions/disorders.  Their silicone sleeve is great too because it is recyclable and non-toxic!

    Along with being a great product with a consideration for the health conscious, bkr water bottles are super stylish! I love the sleek look and also that they come in so many color variations. Be sure you grab the color you love when you see it though, because all of their colors are limited edition! (With the exception of some colors they bring back occasionally!) Buy your bkr water bottle here! :)

    Credits:

    Written by: Kristen Tola Hettich

    Photographed by: Bethany Nauert + Kristen Tola Hettich

  • 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

  • Recipe: Brown Rice + Lentil Salad with Mint

    Happy Thursday everyone!

    A couple of weeks ago my friend Lauren Pieri brought a really delicious dish to Bethany’s house for dinner. I loved the recipe so much I asked her if I could share it with you all on the blog. So thank you Lauren for sharing this recipe with me and now everyone else!

     

    Brown Rice + Lentil Salad with Mint

    Ingredients:

    • ½ Cup of Brown Rice
    • ½ Cup of Dried Brown Lentils
    • ½ Cup of White Onion (Chopped)
    • 1 Medium Cucumber
    • 1 Red Bell Pepper
    • ½ Cup of Fresh Mint
    • 2 Cloves of Garlic
    • Juice of 2 Lemons
    • ½ Cup of Medjool Dates (About 6-8)
    • Ground Black Pepper (for taste)

     




    Directions:

    • First, Rinse and drain your lentils. Cook according to instructions on the package. If you are purchasing loose lentils you will need to bring 2 cups of water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and pour in the lentils and let cook for 30-40 minutes (or until there at a desired softness.) You may add salt after or at the last 15 minutes of cooking, but just a pinch!


    • Next, do the same steps with when cooking your brown rice.


    • When both the lentils and brown rice are done drain and put both into a large mixing bowl.


    • Now, chop your onion, cucumber, red bell pepper, dates and mint into small cubes.


    • Mince your two cloves of garlic.

     

    • Now add all your chopped ingredients (onion, cucumber, bell pepper, mint and garlic) into the mixing bowl with the brown rice and lentils. Mix well.

     

    • Pour the lemon juice over the salad and then stir to mix it in well

     

    • Enjoy! :)

    Credits:

    Written, Styled and Photographed by: Kristen Tola Hettich

    Recipe by: Lauren Pieri

  • Recipe: Mediterranean Mixed Veggie Pita

    Happy Tuesday everyone!

    Last Tuesday I posted about “Hosting a Healthy Potluck.” Friends brought their homemade dishes and I brought one of my personal favorites to Bethany’s party. This dish is very simple to make and a great option if you are in a hurry but want something filling and healthy.

    Mixed Veggie Mediterranean Pita

    Ingredients

    • 1 Eggplant
    • 2-3 Tomatoes
    • 1-2 Zucchini
    • 1-2 Yellow Squash
    • Shredded Cabbage (To speed up the cooking process or for when you don’t have time to chop up the cabbage you can purchase pre shredded cabbage.)
    • Whole Wheat Pitas
    • Hummus
    • Tabbouleh
    • Tzatziki
    • Tahini
    • EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
    • Sea Salt & Pepper (to taste!)

    *NOTE: Serves about 2-6, depending on how many “seconds” you have! ;)

    *If you are only cooking for yourself though, you will definitely want to cut the recipe in half. You can also save the rest of later in the week! I recommend only using 1 zucchini, squash and tomato and half of an eggplant though! :)

    Directions

    • First, wash all your veggies well.
    • Next, chop all the veggies into small pieces.
    • Put all your chopped veggies in a bowl or container and put some EVOO (about 1-3 Tablespoons) and a dash of salt and pepper. Either stir or shake them to cover them well with the oil and the salt and pepper.
    • Put a pan on medium heat, once it is warm you can pour your veggies into the pan.
    • Cook them for about 7-10 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through and are soft.
    • Now, cut your pita in half. Open it up and spread the hummus and/or tahini on the inside of the pita, like a sandwich. Then put in your shredded cabbage in the pita, leaving enough room for the cooked veggies!
    • Put the veggies in the pita and top with tabbouleh or tzatziki if you’d like or even more hummus and tahini.
    • Enjoy! :)


    Credits:

    Recipe, Styled, Written and Photographed by: Kristen Tola Hettich