hclf

Healthy Fast food: Backyard Bowls

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       There is plenty of healthy plant based food in LA so I knew it would be a satisfying discovery for each meal coming here, but I was also sure that I'd go back to Backyard Bowls. I discovered it 2 years ago when I was staying for the first time in LA, and I would walk more than 1h back and forth just to go to their place in WeHo!! Haha, yes I like to walk, but I also love their food. Is it an extraordinary culinary experience? Probably not. But it is exactly the way I conceive food: healthy, abundant, plant based and simple but still with lots of flavors.

They have several locations and the pictures in this article are from their Santa Monica location which is the area I am staying.

 

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       The Menu

       Is simple: smoothie bowls (acai, pitaya, green bowls), smoothies, porridge bowls, toasts and grain bowls. That's it. The bases of a plant-based diet. I told you I like to eat a "high carb low fat" kinda diet and I feel like that's what I can easily get without thinking about it too much at Backyard Bowls because the carbs are in the center of everything (and carbs are definitely life). And you have quantity on your plate (actually in your bowl) which is also one of my criteria when I go to a restaurant: how much food will I have on my plate?

The other thing I like is that when you eat in, you get a proper bowl, a proper spoon: no plastic and no waste. It's something I was missing when I tried to have acai bowls in New York. Maybe the next improvement would be to also give a proper cup for the water fountain but I know it's not always easy to organize it.

Finally, it's fast food: you order at the counter and wait for your food that you can eat in or take away. It's really nice to know that you have healthy and yummy options when you are in a hurry.

 

       What Do I personally order?

       I generally go for a large (yes large, and the portion is huge! but we know as plant-based eaters that we tend to eat a lot more in quantities, especially on HCLF) Island bowl, which is my favorite of their smoothie bowls: there is mango in it, which is one of my favorite fruits, and coconut milk! It's a simple tropical bowl and I love how they aren't cheap on the granola compared to other places! It's very hot in LA so I love how a smoothie bowl cools me from the inside.

I was also very curious to test their grain bowls because macro bowls are really my favourite way to eat, and I am always more attracted to savory meals than sweets. So I built my own: green rice, hummus, hot sauce, cauliflower + chickpeas, sweet potato puree, shaved carrot, avocado, shallots and pickled beets, sprouts, micro greens and toasted almonds. And it was delicious! Like, really delicious! I really felt like I am going to make efforts to cook the same way at home because it is accessible and it is a way to eat that I would like to share.

 

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Santa Monica Neighborhood

Santa Monica Neighborhood

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Backyard Bowls

Website. They have many locations so check if there's one close to you!

 

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The Best Acai Bowl in Miami

 

One of my favorite food to have when it's hot is acaï bowl, but I sometimes get disappointed if it's not good enough compared to the few great ones I had traveling. So as I came to Miami for a few days, I wanted to check out the best Acai Bowl places in town and make my own review so I know where to come back next time. Overall I didn't have a bad experience in any of the places, but some were really standing out for my taste.

 

4. Lilikoi organic living

 

This place is a mix between modern and cute with loads of white and pop colors mixed with old-looking wood. They have a lot of indoor and outdoor seating which is nice when you want to eat there as in some places you can't find a seat once your food is ready. I love the fact that they choose local and organic ingredients for their menu and that they don't add unnecessary ingredients like sugar. The food isn't tasting extraordinary but it's nice, healthy and they have many choices and vegan and gluten free options. The downside is that it's a little pricey.

About the acai bowl: it was good, healthy and satisfying. All what you expect from an acai bowl, with refreshing fruits on top. I liked that the granola was homemade and had mainly toasted oats which makes it lighter on the stomach.

 

LILIKOI ORGANIC LIVING

500 South Pointe Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 

3. DIRT

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Dirt has a very modern atmosphere, a bit like an LA juice bar. They have a nice breakfast and lunch menu and they focus on the quality of the ingredients, the farm-to-counter and "clean eating" so they have a lot of simple but tasty dishes, and they have plenty of vegan, paleo and also gluten free options depending what you eat like. Their bread is pretty good (and it's a french saying that!)

About the acai bowl: a bit sweeter than the other places as they mix it with mango and 1/2 a bulletproof ball, and they add less fresh fruits on top so it felt more like a yummy dessert than a breakfast. Their granola was the best because it had chunks of chocolate which added to the dessert-like side. if you have a sweet tooth but you want to make the healthy choice, this is your place!

 

DIRT

232 5th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 

2. Pura Vida

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To be honest, when going to Pura Vida I was expecting something that would be good but not amazing, thinking it would be just "another juice bar" with a few simple OK meals. I was happily surprised by the quality of the food (I tested two other things on the menu with my acai bowl) as their hummus is homemade, the food is fresh and tasty, and I also liked their portion sizes that are big enough to satisfy you. Not everything is vegan in the menu, but there are plenty of options, such as salads, grain bowls and wraps.

About the acai bowl: I loved the taste that wasn't too sweet so it felt refreshing, especially good when the weather is hot. It has more fresh fruits on top than the other places and also mangoes instead of just strawberries and bananas, which I like for the same reason: I feel it more refreshing to have more fresh fruits than sugary granola (even if I LOVE granola!). The granola is simple and nice, and they also have nice coconut shaving. It was overall very very satisfying and refreshing.

 

PURA VIDA

110 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 

1. Under The Mango tree

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This place is my favorite! It feels like a hidden gem as it's a very small shop, with a small sign and you don't expect to find what is behind the door: a very cute place, decorated more simply and less modern than all the other places. It feels more authentic. They are acai/smoothies/juices oriented but have a few other things on their menu. But I would come here only for the delicious juices (I had a mango juice that was so refreshing I though they mixed some melon in it, but nope) and the bowls, because sometimes it's all you need.

About the acai bowl: of course it's my favorite one out of the 4 places I tested. I went 2 times and tested the classic acai bowl and the superfood acai bowl. The acai tastes more like cold acai puree than "ice cream" and you feel that it was made with very riped bananas, which I found so comforting as I love this satisfying texture. It's the perfect guilt free treat to me, naturally sugary and comforting but healthy. The granola wasn't my favorite one but I liked it and the bananas are ripe like I like them! I loved the superfood one because the few goji berries felt sticky under the tooth, like a candy. It's not 100% plant based as there is honey but you can ask without it if you want.

 

UNDER THE MANGO TREE

714 6th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 

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Pear and Banana Pancakes

 

Would you believe me if I told you I never made pancakes before ? It's not one of my new year's resolutions, but I decided to cook more during 2017, because there are so many plant based recipes to explore and it's far from being complicated. I was craving for pancakes this weekend and wanted to find a healthy vegan version of it. I crossed different recipes and adjusted with my favorite ingredients so I was afraid of the result, but I have to admit I am pretty proud of my first attempt !

 

 

Preparation time : 5mn. Cooking time : 10-15mn.

For the raspberry chia compote

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoon maple syrup

For the pancakes

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup plant based milk
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 pear
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional : a pinch of cinnamon and ginger

Mix the oats and and put them in a large bowl with the baking powder and the spices. Mix the milk, pear and banana together, add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and mix again. Add slowly the liquid preparation to the dry ingredients and stir well. Put the raspberries and the water in a saucepan and let it cook. When it's hot, take it off the stove and add the maple syrup and the chia seeds. Let it cool down while you cook your pancakes with a non sticky pan. Eat while still warm and tender !

 

Macro bowls

One of my favorite healthy restaurants in NYC is Souen East Village, and if I don't order one of their soups, I always take their macro plate. At first I wasn't really thinking about what "macro" meant except that it was healthy, and that I loved it. But after seeing so many beautiful pictures of "macro bowls" on Instagram I wanted to know more about it.

So, what's a macro bowl ? It's simply the name that you put on a perfect balanced meal : a combination of grains, different vegetables (cooked and/or raw), a protein source (that can be tofu, beans, ...), a small source of healthy fats and often you'll add a fermented food to your plate for the health or your digestion. So why do you call it a "macro" bowl ? Simply because with this healthy combination you will get all the macronutrients that your body needs (carbohydrates, proteins and fats).

I put together 2 different examples of macro bowls.

Smoked tofu noodle bowl

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Preparation time : less than 5mn. Cooking time : 20mn.

For the dressing :

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbspoon lemon juice

For the bowl :

  • 100g (weighted raw) buckwheat noodles
  • 3 carrots
  • 6 green asparagus
  • Green beans (added after the picture)
  • A small amount of sauerkraut
  • `1/2 sheet of seaweed
  • 100g smoked tofu

I steamed the vegetables, boiled the noodles and grilled the tofu in a non stick pan with no added oil. Then I simply put all the ingredients together in a bowl and added the tahini dressing. Very very very simple. I used to say I was a bad cook because I was too lazy to prepare healthy food, and I associated healthy eating with boring or hard to prepare meals. I realize now that it is so much more easy, simple and yummy than I thought !

Here you have the grains from the noodles, the proteins from the tofu (I don't really eat tofu often to be honest, but I love the smoked taste of this one once in a while), and the healthy fats from the dressing. I was wondering if the sauerkraut (which is the fermented ingredient) would taste weird in association with the rest of the bowl, since I always associated it with the super heavy sausage meal, but it goes really well with the smoked tofu !

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Curried lentil bowl

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Preparation time : 10mn. Cooking time : 45mn.

Ingredients :

  • 50g (weighted raw) quinoa
  • 50g (weighted raw) your choice of rice
  • About 50g uncooked lentils
  • A medium piece of pumpkin
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2-3 florets of broccoli (added after the picture)
  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 1 tea spoon of oil
  • 1 shallot (or garlic if you prefer)
  • 1cm of freshly chopped ginger
  • 1 pinch of paprika
  • 1 pinch of cumin
  • 1 pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 pinch of chili (optional)
  • Fresh coriander (as much as you want !!)

I pre-heat the oven at 200°C (390°F). Then I start with the lentil curry because it needs to cook a little while : I put the oil, the ginger and the shallot in a pan and cook it for about 1-2mn. I add all the spices and stir, after that I add the tomatoes. After I stir again a little bit more, I add about 1 cup of water, the broccoli florets and the lentils. I lower the heat and let it cook for a little bit, stiring from time to time. I cook the pumpkin in the oven for about 35-40mn (it's important to check the texture often because the cooking time depends on how thick it is). I sometimes microwave for 3-5mn the pumpkins/sweet potatoes before putting them in the oven to reduce the cooking time by half. I also cook the quinoa and the rice and simply put everything in my bowl, adding the spinach and the avocado. Et voilà ! I also added loads or coriander after the picture !

 

This is my idea of a perfect dinner simply because it makes me satisfied while nourishing my body with only good things. Some diets recommend to lower your intake of carbohydrates, or even remove them all together, while it's recommended to have your carbohydrates giving you the largest amount of your energy. I believe that instead of cutting out your carbs or any category of food, it's healthier to learn how to eat a balanced diet made from mostly unprocessed foods.