Japanese Beef and Vegetable Rolls

Seven months have gone by since I last blogged- well, on here, anyway! I can’t believe I let something I once enjoyed so much slip away for so long. I guess a combination of blogging for clients at work, the instant gratification of sharing photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter plus my overall laziness in the kitchen (we had one helluva hot summer this year and I wasn’t going anywhere near the stove!) contributed to my blog abandonment. But hey- I’m back (again!)- and it feels good to be here. Fresh off a totally awe-inspiring, inspirational and eye-opening vacation to Italy (my sister wed the man of her dreams in a celebration that rivals even the best Pinterest wedding board!) and welcomed back to Los Angeles by much cooler weather, I’m feeling the urge to roll up my sleeves, get back in the kitchen and start documenting my food adventures in longer form once again.

Speaking of roll, these healthy ones made from paper thin slices of rib eye, green beans, carrots and gobo (burdock root in English, although I’m guessing you’re still scratching your head) are longtime favorites that too, hadn’t seen daylight in a few years. So I decided to whip up a batch for our first, post-Italy dinner at home and was very happy I did. Although they require some prep- blanching the vegetables to soften them a bit is the only major step- they do come together quite easily after that and make for a deliciously filling yet healthy dish. You’re probably wondering how the words “rib eye” and “healthy” can be uttered in the same conversation, but due to the utter thinness of the meat, you’re only consuming a couple of ounces while ingesting a large dose of high fiber vegetables. I’m all about using a little bit of a great ingredient to make a dish taste good rather than opting for large amounts of flavorless, low-calorie stuff that lacks any punch whatsoever. Trust me- the former will be exponentially more satisfying.

To compliment these beautiful beef and vegetable rolls, I made a batch of sprouted brown rice, a vinegared salad of cucumbers and bean sprouts; a green salad tossed with Japanese sesame dressing and hiyayakko- cold, silken tofu garnished with grated ginger, green onions and a touch of soy sauce.

This teishoku (set meal) style meal was missing the traditional addition of miso soup, but was otherwise a nice, veggie-heavy dinner to ease our post-vacation-weary-and-sad hearts into being back to reality….and back to blogging!

The recipe can be found in Japanese Cooking for Health and Fitness, available on Amazon.com.

Vegan Week: Quinoa Muffins, Spelt Bread and Veggies

Vegan, gluten-free quinoa corn muffins with cumin, chili powder, garlic, green onions and cilantro.

As readers of this blog know, J and I love our veggies. A meal just doesn’t feel complete without some sort of salad, and most of our meals have at least two, sometimes even three, vegetarian components. However, I’ve never really gone vegan- after all, what’s a girl without her cheese but a raging, freaking lunatic, right? Continue reading

The Best Lasagna Ever

I’m sure you’re shaking your head at the notion that any dish could be the “best ever” of its kind. But trust me. This is The Best Lasagna Ever. At least I personally think so, and judging by the “oooohs” and “aaahs” coming from my dinner guests’ (dad, J, mom) mouths as they ate, I’d say they agreed. Continue reading

San Francisco Pt. 2: Bar Crudo, Chez Panisse, La Boulange

Here’s the second and final part of our 10 year anniversary trip to San Francisco. We spent the better part of 3.5 days eating our way through the city (and beyond- yes, I know Chez Panisse is in Berkeley!) and had an absolute blast. I covered half of our San Francisco culinary adventures in the last post; here is the rest. Continue reading

Anniversary Trip: San Francisco, Pt. 1- Ferry Building, Farmer’s Market, Nopalito

The Post-Vacation Blues. Yup, that’s what I have right now, thanks to the most amazing, relaxing and all around wonderful trip that J and I took to San Francisco to celebrate our 10th (!) wedding anniversary. Every minute was so magical that I literally stopped several times during the trip to try and soak in as much as possible. Continue reading

Quick Bites: Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos

Wanted to share with you a really delicious, vegetarian taco that I made at home, inspired by ones I had at the uber-healthy-crunchy-granola restaurant, Cafe Gratitude. Although I like their food, I can’t say I’m a fan of the names of dishes. I mean, I feel kind of silly asking the waitress for one order of the “I Am Awesome” with a side of “I Am Gorgeous.” I mean, hello- I already know these things about myself and don’t feel the need to remind everyone. Just kidding. Seriously- it is kind of ridiculous when tacos are called “I Am Transformed.” And for the record, I don’t know how happy the food makes people- last time I was there I saw a very pissed off Jeremy Piven chuck a menu across the counter and storm off after learning Cafe Gratitude doesn’t serve decaf. Guess someone wasn’t feeling very grateful that day. Sheesh.

To be fair, I kind of was transformed after trying the, um, “I Am Transformed”- Two seasonal corn tacos with caramelized butternut squash, black beans, sliced avocado, salsa fresca and cashew nacho cheese. They were slightly sweet from the squash, spicy from the beans and salsa and nutty from the corn tortillas. Since I wanted to eat them again but didn’t feel like spouting off how transformed I was, I thought I’d make them at home.

The process was relatively simple but time consuming: I roasted one butternut squash, scooped out the flesh and whizzed in the food processor with garlic and a bit of cayenne pepper. Made pico de gallo (onions, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, salt). Opened a can of black beans, rinsed well, then tossed with some salsa verde (my touch!). Piled everything onto my new favorite Ezekiel sprouted corn tortilla, then topped with a bit of crumbled cojita cheese.

They tasted pretty much identical to the ones at Cafe Gratitude- sweet and spicy, creamy and fresh. I’m glad I was able to recreate these, but I have to admit I may still have to pop over to Cafe Gratitude in a pinch- roasting a butternut squash takes time. After all, I can’t be waiting forever to be transformed.


Healthy Twist: Quinoa Pasta Mac and Cheese

I’m always trying to find ways to make my favorite comfort foods healthier, and now- thanks to the wide variety of higher fiber, lower sugar and generally all around better-for-you alternatives to pasta, breads and other foods, it’s getting a lot easier.

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name: Z Sushi, Alhambra

Toro sushi

I’ve been going to Z Sushi in Alhambra for almost ten years now, and it dawned on me that I rarely blog about it. It’s safe to say J and I dine at Z Sushi more than any other restaurant, with the bar at Drago Centro coming in a close second. My parents go to Z at least once a month, my sister has it on her list of “must visit” places when she comes home from Ireland to visit, and we’ve taken countless friends there who have also fallen in love with Z. Continue reading

The Green Burrito: Falafel Collard Wrap

I’ve been meaning to make Andie’s baked falafel for awhile now, and finally got around to it last weekend. J and I loved them so much, I whipped up a double batch tonight, and took the opportunity to try another idea I’ve been toying with: to use collard greens as the wrap instead of pita or a tortilla. Hmm…

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Healthy Asian Plate: Salmon, Vegetables and Forbidden Rice

I suppose it seems strange that something so healthy contains something that is forbidden. Apparently, this black, whole-grain rice (it’s more purple in color, actually) was eaten exclusively by the Emperors of China back in the day (like, waaaay back in the day) so it was dubbed “forbidden” to lowly farmers or pretty much anyone ranked below royalty. Hm, maybe we can rename it “1 Percent Rice?” Wait, I guess that would lead people to think it contains only 1% rice. Ah well. Continue reading