Sunday, January 12, 2014

Eating Well in L.A.

Whether we think about it too much or think about it too little, food has a huge impact on our lives.  Since I’m a Valley girl and I was born and raised in California, I decided to write a little post inspired by our local fare.  And since I’m growing evermore health-conscious as I age, I decided to make this the healthy edition.  Without further ado, here are four of my Lalaland resources for food-related goodness.

Shop Well - The California Federation of Certified Farmers’ Markets Website
I don’t have many spare moments to research things extensively, but I would like to devote more time to expanding my knowledge on local and seasonal eating.  Luckily, visiting a farmers’ market can not only help people acquire information on both of these concepts, but also apply these concepts to produce selection with minimal effort on the part of the consumer.  Not to mention, there’s something really exciting about mingling with the people that nurture the things that nourish us.  There is a lot of great information on this site, including - but not limited to - the answer to the question, “What the heck is a certified farmers’ market?!”  The site also has shopping tips which are essential to a successful farmers’ market experience and it can aid you in finding your local Certified California Farmer’s Market via this link.  I was only looking for a list of local markets when I found this site and got far more than I bargained for - in a very wonderful way!

Dine Well - Follow Your Heart Market and Cafe
One sustenance-related subject that is near and dear to me is vegetarianism.  Don't worry - I’m not the protesty, preachy type.  In fact, I am the only vegetarian I know and I’m just fine with that.  I promise the only weird-getarian (as my boss would say) stuff in this post is my referral to this restaurant/market which is a great spot even if you’re not one of me.  I can’t say enough good things about this place.  As a vegetarian, I’m in heaven here because I know there are no off-limit foods within the walls of this establishment.  That said, I have many meat-eating friends and family members who enjoy this eatery as well.  My recommendations include their meatless meatball sandwich (even J likes this and he’s a meat-and-potatoes guy through and through), the greek salad (I get it with Cesar dressing - blasphemous, I know!) and the strawberry shake which is available in both dairy and non-dairy versions (both are equally delicious).

Grow Well - SproutRobot
I was lucky enough to grow up in an edible Eden as a child thanks to my dad who cultivated tomatoes, collard greens, chili peppers, lemons, oranges, tangerines, peaches, grapes, bell peppers and even strawberries in our backyard.  I think it’s safe to say that’s where my love of fresh produce comes from.  It was that love and my pursuit of healthiness that lead me to start my very own vegetable garden last year.  It failed miserably however and I’m currently sifting through its rubble in hopes to rebuild.  Moving on!  Now, admittedly, SproutRobot is not a “local” resource, but, magically very technically and electronically, if you enter your zip code - tada! - you get gardening advice based on your geographical location.  SproutRobot tells you exactly when to plant what depending on where you intend to set up farm.  It also sends you (at your request, of course) emailed reminders so you won’t forget to get sowing and provides basic planting information via cartoony visuals.  I will be using the site as I attempt to resurrect my garden this year.  Stay tuned for a post on that very topic in the near future.

Learn Well - KCRW’s Good Food Podcast
Unfortunately, I don’t think I have a very good palette.  I’ve never been very picky about food nor have I been one who can easily identify subtle hints of flavors in my meals.  I know what’s good from what’s crap, but I couldn’t tell you what’s absolutely top-of-the-shelf amazing and I certainly wouldn’t label myself a foodie.  Because of this, I like listening to people who can speak food far better than I can.  The Good Food podcast airs local restaurant reviews, announcements of upcoming food-related events in the L.A. area and in-depth interviews with food critics, cookbook authors, chefs and countless other food experts.  In addition to all those audible bites, each podcast episode includes their “Market Report”, during which interviews are conducted with farmers and patrons at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market.  See how that kinda came full circle with the farmers’ market thing and the localness?  Hehe.

If you reside and/or dine in the Los Angeles area and you’d like to add to my little local food resource list, please leave me a comment with your recommendations.  Thanks guys!

<3 n

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