Clean Eating at Lifefood

Lifefood Organic Raw Vegan Gluten Free FalafelWhen you’re trying your best to eat healthy, some days you just need an ace-in-the-hole; a place you can go where you know that every single thing on the menu will be a good decision. For me that place is Lifefood Organic on Cahuenga and Sunset. Nestled in a bustling neighborhood that is fast becoming one of my favorite in Hollywood, Lifefood Organic is a health market, a restaurant, and a spa all rolled into one. Stop in to get lunch, stock up on supplements and raw snacks, get your B12 shot, and continue on with your day – it’s no joke. I only ever come here for the food (big surprise), but if I had lots of money to spend I could totally see myself trying all their natural snacks and supplements.

What I love about their menu is that literally everything is vegan, gluten-free, and raw. So if I’m in need of a sandwich fix, but I’m not in a place where I can go all out for a traditional sub, or if I just need to eat some food that I know will make me feel fantastic, this is where I go. Pictured here is my go-to, their falafel wrap, which again is entirely vegan and gluten free and comes with some sort of heavenly green dipping sauce (no idea what it is, all I know is that it’s delicious and I eat all of it). I have also had their pad thai – my friend Brett swears by it. You get all the textures and flavors you expect from Pad thai without ever missing the meat or egg. It’s like vegan magic. They also are a full juice and smoothie bar and even serve vegan ice cream – mmm!

Now I can’t lie, with food this good and this natural, you know it isn’t going to be cheap. This wrap is $13 – worth it both for the flavor and the mental satisfaction, but it is by no means starving artist friendly. And I actually went home after this and ate a salad – lol! Still, it’s a fantastic treat when you’re in the mood to eat out but not in the mood for temptation, conflict, or self-loathing. If clean eating is your thing, then you won’t be disappointed by Lifefood Organic.

Lifefood Organic
1507 Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
www.lifefoodorganic.com

Click here to read my review on YELP

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

The Starving Artist Does the Oscars

GMCLA Performs at the Oscars

Click here to see me and the chorus performing at the OSCARS!!!

Happy Monday, readers! So I’m taking a small detour from food today, but for a very good reason. If you happened to catch the Oscars last night, you might have noticed someone singing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) who looked suspiciously like yours truly. Well guess what? It was totally me! I couldn’t post anything in advance because we were sworn to secrecy, but now that the cat is out of the bag I can tell you that is was absolutely the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. The idea to have us in this number about boobs was all Seth’s and of course we love him for it. Only 24 out of the 220 members of the chorus were chosen for this event. Needless to say I am both proud and honored to represent this deserving organization on such a global stage. This was the first time an LGBT group has performed and been acknowledge at the Oscars. How crazy exciting to be a part of such history.

But here’s the really fun story.

We recorded the number at Capitol Records on Sunday Feb 17th. Seth MacFarlane was at the session and made it a point to come in, say hi, and encourage us to be completely over-the-top with our diction, vibrato, and facial expressions so as to heighten the comedy (and let’s not kid ourselves, boobs are not a topic any of us are familiar with). After we finished, Seth stood in the doorway to thank us and shake our hands while the producers stood by. I was the last one out of the room and of course, I couldn’t let such an opportunity pass without throwing something into the mix. So, in my normal tone of voice (loud and obnoxious) I said to Seth, “I’ve never been more excited about boobs in my entire life.” Laughter ensued from both him and the producers, reminding me just how lucky I am and how much I love my life.

Tune in tomorrow when we get back to food posts, including the fish and chips I found while “camping” in Malibu and my progress with bootcamp and weight loss. Hooray!

Musical Interlude | Body Politic

This week’s Musical Interlude is the main title for a web series I worked on called Body Politic. Director Steve Rousseau, who is also my neighbor, created this very compelling political drama set in Los Angeles. Musically, it called for a palette that embodies mystery with an urban flavor – sort of a modern take on a film noir score. The series honestly didn’t need a whole lot of music, mostly just key moments and transitions. Two scenes required a full bevy of music, one being the opening title sequence, the other a montage. The track I’m sharing today is the opening titles, which you’ll hear has quite a lot of energy. Unlike some main titles, this one actually had story development/dialogue throughout. So, my job was to keep the energy but stay out of the way – let the picture do the talking. I fused together the atmospheric colors with a fully fleshed out theme. You’ll also hear a live saxophone, played by my friend Brooks. It’s always important to me to have at least one live element in a score. The sax I thought would be a perfect color to identify the series. Luckily Steve agreed. You’ll also hear live shaker and guitar played by my friend Adam. Hope you enjoy!