Deborah Madison Shares From Her Own Cozy Kitchen


When searching for answers to life’s questions we like to defer to the masters, and Deborah Madison certainly falls into that category. She was cooking from an enlightened perspective long before it was fashionable or even acceptable in many circles. From the San Francisco Zen Center to Chez Panisse, Madison has taken every opportunity to engage in the deepest examination of vegetarian cuisine.  And now a lifetime of expertise has been condensed into her latest book, In My Kitchen, a collection of favorite vegetarian recipes she serves at home.

We must start by highlighting the mouthwatering Romanesco sauce inspired by a trip to Spain. This deep, complex, sunny blend is oh so satisfying. We added a big dollop to soup, but honestly we want to slather this winner on everything in the kitchen including the roasted cauliflower recipe she pairs it with in the book.

A crisp, sweet, spicy citrus and avocado salad with lime-cumin vinaigrette atop shredded greens is the definition of invigoration and the ideal accompaniment to heavier dishes of beans or animal protein. Deborah is not interested in pushing lifestyle choices down anyones throat and is thrilled that in this day and age one can choose to be vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore on any night of the week it calls to them.

That is not to say that vegetarian and vegan dishes can’t be supremely satisfying.  Their hardiness is clearly demonstrated in her potato and chickpea stew with sautéed spinach. It’s a memorable bowl sure to warm the hearts of all who dive in.

Deborah’s rubarb-rasberry compote couldn’t be easier and the tangy, tart, mildly sweet flavor is a winner served with cookies, over ice cream or as a side dish, transforming any weeknight dinner into a special occasion. It is beyond scrumptious and all we had to do was throw a few easy ingredients together, 3 to be exact. We made a triple batch and enjoyed it for a full week before finally scraping the bowl clean.

Worried Deborah’s healthy style will deny you sweet treats? No need, her walnut nugget cookies pair surprisingly well with the rhubarb and raspberry compote.

While encouraging readers to nourish themselves in the fashion that best suits their mood, Deborah makes the process surprisingly easy and we greatly appreciate that. Those ready to dive into a healthy dose of mother natures best would be wise to pick up Deborah Madison’s, In My Kitchen and transform their cooking with instruction straight from the cozy kitchen of one of the shining stars of the culinary world. Bon Appetit.

 

Turkish Treasure

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The hard to find cuisine of Turkey has a new roving venue in Kuzine Foods Co., brought to us by Los Angeles and Orange County caterers extraordinaire, Eda Akarsu Smith and Hülya Nigar Aksu.

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The authentic flavors and dishes of their homeland are tastefully presented, allowing those planning parties to set a beautifully hospitable Turkish table.

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The exceptional baking skills of the Kuzine chefs is evident with each mouthwatering bite of the freshly baked traditional Turkish breads.

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Açma sometimes referred to as Turkish bagels, come plain or stuffed with Nutella, an inspired melding of sweet and savory.  Poğaça, often sold by street vendors, are stuffed with cheese, olive or potato as well as served plain wth tea at breakfast or as a snack. Catal, are a slightly sweet and savory pretzel shaped pastry that is also great for breakfast or snacks with tea.

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The Borek of Kuzine is loaded with tender spinach and tangy feta that simply melts in your mouth.  It is our dream snack and honestly we have been having a hard time finding versions this tasty anywhere in Los Angeles.

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Tabouli from Kuzine Foods is a well balanced mix of greens, onion, tomato, dressing and a sprinkling of bulgur, making for a most refreshing salad we could eat all day long.

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Cemen, a spicy red spread, explodes with the famous Turkish red pepper paste, tomato paste, ground walnuts, olive oil, garlic, cumin and bread crumbs.  This famous dish is not to be missed for its traditional taste of Turkey.

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Refreshing salads and starters abound on the vast meze table presented by these talented kitchen enchantresses.

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After salads and appetizers, the Turkish table is famous for its kebab and meatballs.

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Formed patties and skewered meats are available in a variety of styles based on what the host feels will be best for each particular event Kuzine will be catering.

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And of course no meal is complete without a sweet and what better way to finish off a meal than with flakey, butter layers of walnut baklava.

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For a new spin on a dinner party or event, the traditional preparations of the mesmerizing cuisine of Turkey is presented with grace and exceptional skill by the highly recommend Kuzine Foods Co., www.kuzinefoods.com    818-484-0757

 

 

 

Mango Season Is Upon Us

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Mango season is here and Keitt Mangos are sweet, juicy, silky and ready to be used in a myriad of ways.

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The challenges of peeling mangos are minimized when cut into slices or in half and then run over the edge of a glass.  We put our glass inside a bowl to catch any  juice that may run down the sides during the process.  The skin can be scraped over the lip numerous times to make sure we get every last morsel.

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We eat the slices straight, add them to salads and blend them into smoothies.

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We love Karoun Yogurt from Jon’s Market for its thick richness which makes super creamy smoothies and mango lassi.

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Our recipe calls for one large mango, 1 cup yogurt and 8 ice cubes blended until smooth.  The result is approximately 3 ice cold, large glasses of mildly sweet, tart refreshment. Many recipes call for sugar but we don’t find it necessary.  A little fresh squeezed lime and some cardamom are exciting additions although we usually drink it straight.

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For fiber free mangos and the best smoothies and lassi, we strongly recommend Keitt mangos which are ripe and ready to go when they are soft, with a little give and very fragrant.

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To order Melissa’s Green Keitt Mangoes, go to http://www.melissas.com/Keitt-Mango-p/713.htm and use the coupon code KEITT15 to take 15% off Melissa’s Green Keitt Mangoes only. Coupon Expires Sept 18th 2016.

Cooking Classes Celebrate Culture and Cuisine

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We find cooking classes to be one of the most enjoyable and interactive ways to learn about a new country, city or cuisine. Where else can we get insider information on local dishes, ingredients, customs, family life, manners and setting a traditional table?

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In Istanbul we were eager to expand our understanding of Turkish food and signed up for Turkish Flavors, Sephardic cooking class which delves into founder, Selin Rozanes’ family recipes. After an introduction to Turkish seasonings at the spice market, we were ferried across the Bosphorus where a car shuttled us to her handsome home with its well designed teaching kitchen.

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We went right to work with Selin’s expert guidance on techniques, spice mixes, variances in Turkish red pepper pastes and advice on how to procure the freshest local ingredients.

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There was plenty of chopping, rolling, forming, mixing, sautéing, baking and boiling. But with the work spread between our team of participants, and Selin’s lovely housekeeper taking care of all the washing up, it felt effortless, playful and productive.  A little white wine soothed any discomfort we may have felt during the rainy, cold and exceptionally windy day, which turned out to be perfect weather for a cooking class.

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We progressed at breakneck speed and at the end of an hour and a half, had an expansive feast laid before us.

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Turkish dedication to hospitality, beautiful presentation, as well as delicious food was evident and we spent the afternoon leisurely savoring and discussing Turkish food and culture.

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Our main dish, Split Belly Eggplant (Karniyarik), combined ground beef, onions, herbs and spices, which are stuffed into eggplant halves before being drenched in tomato sauce and decorated for aesthetic and flavor optimization.

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Selin is more than happy to adjust the menu to accommodate dietary restrictions and the vegetarians in the group were easily taken care of without depriving the omnivores.

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Carrots in garlicky yogurt and tahini dressing, one of the stars of the class, is an inspired melange of freshly grated carrot sweetness playing off tangy dairy and smooth, rich, sesame paste.

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After savoring a tableful of family recipes, we were rewarded with dried apricots boiled in wine and cloves, stuffed with clotted cream and rolled in pistachios. A most civilized end to a day delving into the Turkish culinary arts. We left with full bellies, open hearts and a recipe book filled with Selin’s top secret recipes.

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Turkish Flavors offers walking tours of Istanbul, cultural and culinary tours in a variety of locations and her famous cooking classes, all designed to make you feel like a native. Bon Appetite.

The Power Of The Pomegranate

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Street vendors all over Istanbul soothe parched pedestrians with freshly squeezed orange and pomegranate juice. The orange is delightful, but it’s the red, juicy, ancient (dating back to 4000 BC) nar (Turkish for pomegranate) nectar that has us dropping Turkish lire all over the city.

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We are told that autum is prime season for the power packed fruit, but we have found the most vibrant, ruby red seeds are still exploding with the sweetest juice in early March.  Even the sweet, slightly tart cups we encounter have us singing the praises of this enchantress.

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It takes just moments for our juice barista to halve and squeeze two or three globes, place them in the sturdy manual juicer and extract the liquid ambrosia.

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Small servings set us back about .50 cents with larger cups ranging from a dollar to two depending on size and vendor location. At this price we indulge daily, taking advantage of the benefits of this Turkish delight.

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Celebrated for its high antioxidant content and inflammation reducing properties, we find it one of the most restorative beverages we’ve encountered. Ordering large glasses after long days exploring the vast treasures of Istanbul we feel instantly revitalized and up for more adventures.

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Fresh pomegranite kiosks and stands are located throughout Istanbul.  Every pedestrian and tourist area we have explored offers abundant opportunities to experience these glasses of pure refreshment. Don’t miss this charming tradition.

 

Indian And Californian Blending Well

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Indian Kitchen in West Hollywood seems to us the perfect marriage of Indian and California culture and cuisine. The menu is Northern Indian all the way, but the dishes have been altered to suit a Los Angeles clientele. Beef, an option not usually found on Indian menus, shows up as a protein choice and sauces are lightened with coconut milk replacing 75% of the heavy cream normally found.

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They also embrace vegan and vegetarian options, happily supporting those whose lifestyles require few or no animal products.

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We noticed some unique drinks and ordered the ginger iced and ginger hot tea. Both have a serious ginger bite and come unsweetened. Sugar packets on the table can be added for those prefering a sweet and spicy ginger experience. Iced chai and spiced iced tea are also available for warm Southern California days.

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We like to start with papadum, lentil and garbanzo flour, folded, flat, crisp breads that go well with chutney.

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Mint chutney, spiced with green chili and cilantro is an herb based, savory dipping sauce while the tamarind chutney is a well balanced sweet and sour contrasting encounter. Either can be spooned onto appetizers or salads for enhanced oomph.

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The mixed vegetable pakora appetizer starts with freshly shredded vegetables and dips them into a garbanzo batter laden with spices before frying them up. They remind us of the Jewish flavors of both falafel and potato pancakes, as if they were unified in one dish.

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A chana chat salad takes Indian street food and transforms it into a refreshing starter of garbanzo beans, spiced potato, cucumber, tomato and raw onion, mellowed by yogurt and chutney for a tongue teasing melange of flavors.

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We were informed that the secret to Indian cooking is the fresh whole and ground spices imported from India. Nutmeg, mace, turmeric, curry powder mixes, cumin, coriander and garam masala (a combination of Indian bay leaves, cloves and cardamom) are some of the spices responsible for the flavor profile.

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Most dishes can be ordered with guests choice of chicken, lamb, beef, fish, shrimp or tofu.

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Ginger chicken, presented on a sizzling platter, has a sharp snap of the fragrant root which permeates the tender, white meat poultry in addition to the infusion of smokey flavor from the tandoor oven.

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The chicken and lamb shish kabob are an interesting mix that are beautifully enhanced by the sweet grilled onions abounding on the hot skillet.

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Each biryani we taste is a new adventure and we were particularly taken with Indian Kitchen’s lamb biryani. A dry, non-greasy, yet exceptionally moist, well spiced and saturated bed of rice and peas conceals soft chunks of roasted lamb topped with crunchy fried onions. Each bite is a journey along the spice trail and we were seduced by the savory cinnamon accents.

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Our chicken pasanda was a fragrant green curry, combining pistachio nuts, herbs and a special spice blend that retains a nut crunch and texture in the creamy, tangy, lemon kissed dish.

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A coconut cream, lightened version of chicken korma carries the full savoriness of the rich sauce and is topped with raisins and cashew nuts. We are thankful that it doesn’t weight us down with gobs of heavy cream.

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The classic chicken tikka masala also gets a reinvigoration of coconut cream in place of most of the heavy whipping cream, resulting in a delightful Indian spiced tomato sauce.

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Those looking for healthy alternatives have a lot to choose from including the jalfrezi or zalfraze. This light dish, no matter how you spell it, is a tumble of vegetable chunks and the protein of customers choice resulting in a dry, stir fry, cauliflower, bell pepper, tomato and onion melange.

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We like it hot and if you do too, check out the volcano, one of the chef’s secret recipes. We managed to pry out that it is based in hot red chili powder, crushed red chili flakes and ghost peppers. Our lamb volcano also incorporates a blend of turmeric, curry powder, bay leaf, curry leaves, coriander, paprika, nutmeg and black pepper. We requested ours medium which left a nice tingle trail over the tongue and down the throat.

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The staff at Indian Kitchen are well aware of the dietary restrictions that abound in our fair city and are happy to accommodate guests.

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From the vegetable menu, fresh okra is sautéed along with onions, tomatoes and herbs in the bhendi masala. The chefs definitely know their way around okra and its optimal preparation.

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Tofu makhiani is a tomato based cream curry with roasted garlic and ghee resulting in a buttery, tomato sauce often referred to on menus as butter chicken (when served on chicken not tofu of course).

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And the tofu yellow curry is an onion based sauce tinged with turmeric for a sweet and spicy treat.

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Lunch specials are affordable and available Monday through Fridays.

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And finally don’t forget to check out the dessert menu where we found some of the best rasmalai we have had locally. Milk based patties in a creamy sauce are scented with rose water and this version brings together the soft textures, full boded smoothness and crunch of pistachio in a perfect blending with nothing overpowering the delicate balance.

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For a creative Indian dining experience, with nods to America’s love of beef and California’s desire for stellar health, The Indian Kitchen satisfies everyone in exactly the form that works best for them.

The Indian Kitchen, 8165 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90046
Phone – 323-656-9000           web site – indiankitchenla.com

Southern Indian Enchantment

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Mayura brings the flavor of Southern India, Kerala to be exact, to Culver City.

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Their lunch buffet, lunch and dinner specials are reasonably priced and offer the curious a chance to indulge.

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The extensive buffet lines the western wall of the restaurant and comes with a drink and made to order dosa (rice and lentil flour crepes), on request.

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Our favorite dishes on the buffet were the goat curry and fish curry, both deep, complex, rich sauces concealing well prepared meat and fish.

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Mayura is one of the few places locally where we find appam , light, spongy, rice, lentil and yeast pancakes that absorb the curries served alongside.

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The buffet includes appetizers and soups,

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and of course traditional naan bread.

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South Indian cooking crafts amazing vegetable dishes to appeal to the vegetarian population. We benefit from this dedication in the form of mixed vegetable curries and a savory, dry string bean recipe on the day of our visit.

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An entire buffet island is dedicated to condiments, salads, pickles and raita.

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The condiments and potato curry from the buffet are savory and sometimes spicy dips for the dosa which come in a variety of shapes including the cone dosa below.

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Mayura prides itself on setting out the best dishes from Kerala and providing stellar customer service. They follow the philosophy of Gandhi and have his definition of customer on the wall, assuring a splendid afternoon or evening meal.

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Mayura Restaurant, 10406 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232
Phone – 310-559-9644           web site – mayuraLA.com

Diving Deep Into The Vegan Pool

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We strongly recommend finding experts to guide the way when exploring new cuisines. We took our own advice and enlisted the expertise of Zel and Reuben Allen, the masterminds behind Vegetarians in Paradise.

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They eased the way through the menu at the new Vegetarian and Vegan restaurant, Vegetable, in Studio City.

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We were first struck by the official stamp proclaiming all organic produce, with a seasonal and local standard to boot. We jumped right in and were oh so pleasantly surprised by the intensely flavored meal that was delivered one small plate at a time.

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Floored is the best way to describe our reaction to the savory, salty, sweet, spicy mix of flavors and textures incorporated into the butternut squash toast. Roasted garlic and butternut squash “butter” top grilled sourdough. And if that isn’t exciting enough, baby tomato, fried leek, crushed red chili pepper, flake sea salt, fresh oregano and a balsamic reduction sent us into states of ecstasy some of us did not know vegan food could conjure.

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Moving deeper down the rabbit hole, a crisp edged saffron infused savory corn cake turned out to be a beautiful assemblage atop spicy chickpea sweet onion stew and a salty garlic lacinato kale. A kiwi and serrano pepper pico de gallo adds a bit of heat as does the smokey Sriracha aioli. While the drizzling of balsamic reduction incorporates just the right amount of sweet tang to the mix.

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The meaty sautéed baby portobello mushrooms in a balsamic vinegar with sweet onion and chives are beyond addicting and we could make an entire meal of these with a loaf of grainy bread.

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For comfort food, not much beats mac and cheese, which at Vegetable is made with Andean Dream gluten-free quinoa pasta shells, savory garlic cashew cheese sauce, baby tomatoes, and a garlic walnut crumble topping.  All we know is that it’s rich, creamy and satisfying. No cheese?  Really?

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We finished off with a crisp edged, gluten free blondie loaded with shredded coconut and a vegan peanut butter ice cream that simply must be tried to be believed. No dairy?  Tasted like the real deal to us.

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Thank you Zel and Reuben for the palate and mind-blowing introduction to Vegetable and the delights of a vegan diet. We’re on board with team vegan and are excited to make vegan and vegetarian cuisine a part of our health diet.

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Vegetable, 3711 Cahuenga Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604
Phone – 818-754-1149         web site – vegetablela.com

Vegan and Vegetarian “Meats” Galore

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In our search for healthful living and eating we are exploring the options and found quite the unique market in Vege USA.  The cafe that used to provide meals closed down a year ago, but sales of frozen and dry vegan and vegetarian products are still going strong at this animal free alternative shop.

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Signage on the wall specifies what is vegan or vegetarian, and which products contain eggs or milk. We greatly appreciate clear labeling so customers can be assured that their purchases conform to whatever lifestyle choices they have made.

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Products are from Taiwan and there is a definitely Asian feel to what is offered.

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Seafood soy product are heavily represented and of course vegetables are also a part of the mix.

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The frozen food section carries “meats” that only need to be heated and added to your favorite dishes.

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Large frozen packages make pulling dinner together a snap.

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There is also a dry goods section hosting such exotic offerings as vegetarian shark fin,

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and the famous XO sauce found on many Asian menus.

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For the holidays, vegan turkeys and ham are on offer for those wanting to keep tradition in appearance, if not in actual meats.

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For those looking to explore vegan and vegetarian diets or already dedicated to the path, Vege USA is a shop committed to an animal free recreating of meat, chicken and fish and a great place to dive deep into the philosophy.

Vege USA, 1425 South Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia, CA 91016
Phone – 626-386-0800          web site – vegetarian-plus.com

Rainbow Acres Brings Health And Wellness Home

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Always on the lookout for exciting options, we find Rainbow Acres, a local institution since 1981, to be a great education. They are a locally owned, full service food and lifestyle store offering healthy options for almost every area of life.

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The body care section is staffed with trained team members to assist in sorting through products, ensuring customers choose the best remedies for their needs.

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By purchasing from manufacturers and businesses dedicated to raw, vegan, gluten free, organic, healthy, wholesome and sustainable products, we are able to contribute not only to our own health but also the health of the planet.

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A certified organic produce section beams with colorful fruits and vegetables.

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Bulk items allow us to purchase just the amounts we need from canisters of grains, nuts, cereals, snacks, coffee, spices and more.

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We are also excited by the concept of cleaning products that are all natural and do their job without harming us, our family or the environment.

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A full service deli provides breakfast Monday through Friday plus a daily juice bar, salad bar, sandwich bar and hot food case. Everything is clearly labeled if gluten free, free range, etc, and lists ingredients so patrons can make informed choices.

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We love the juice bar which is always busy cranking out wheatgrass shots, fresh juices, smoothies, milkshakes and non dairy shakes.

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We couldn’t resist a kale, green apple, ginger and cucumber juice that radiated hot and spicy from the ginger and pure refreshment from the organic greens.

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For a serious immersion into the world of health and wellness for home and daily life, Rainbow Acres is a great spot to ask questions, try products, learn about healthy brands, eat fresh and nourishing cuisine and drink a shot of wellness in a cup. Not a bad way to spend an hour of our time.

Rainbow Acres Natural Foods, 13208 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Phone – 310-306-8330           web site – rainbowacresca.com