Guess what everyone? It’s officially T-3 weeks until bikini season!! (For me anyway…). Cathy and I leave for Thailand right after Memorial Day Weekend, so it’s crunch time for getting that summer bod ready. And believe me, it’s been tough. NYC is FINALLY beautiful out which means everyone wants to get rooftop drinks…all the time! That’s sure not helping anything. I’m really trying to be good before I leave on my 2+ month summer world tour, just so that I don’t feel guilty about eating all of the pad thai, baguettes + fromage, and kebabs I want on my travels through Southeast Asia and Europe! The good news is that I’ve been testing out a bunch of easy, healthy recipes to keep me fueled throughout the day.
This is one of my new favorite go-to lunches. It’s extremely nutritious, surprisingly filling, and vegan-friendly. It’s also a very quick meal to prepare, and I have portioned out the ingredients to be perfect for a single-serving salad. The dressing takes inspiration from my time studying abroad in France, where my good friend adopted the recipe from her “host mom” who pretty much used it on everything. (One interesting tidbit: I became obsessed with French dijon mustard while in France, and the only brand I’ve found to be close to what they served in France is the Trader Joe’s brand! So clearly that’s what I used for this dressing).
I hope you enjoy this French-inspired healthy salad, and good luck to everyone trying to shed that winter layer!
Simple Kale Avocado Salad
1 Cup chopped Kale
1 Cup shaved brussels sprouts
1/4 Cup Toasted Almond Slices
1/2 Avocado, sliced
5-7 Baby Carrots, chopped
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
Pinch of Salt
Assemble all of the salad ingredients onto a plate. In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Drizzle the dressing onto the salad to your liking.
I’m not sure about you, but emerging from winter this year is going to be tough. I’m starting to get nervous about removing all of my layers and showing my hot new NYC bod…a body built from the accumulation of all of the wonderful treats NYC has to offer. In other words, I’m not exactly at my best right now.
As I’ve mentioned before, this was my first real winter. Never before have I had this problem, since in LA you can be in shorts all year round. But the sun is coming out, and now is the time to get in shape. (Sidenote- this is partially why I haven’t been posting as much on this blog, but it can also be attributed to laziness!). I will be quitting my job in the next 6 weeks and embarking on a 2 month summer trip before enrolling in a full-time MBA program in August. This means swimsuits—lots of swimsuits! From the Full Moon Party in Koh Samui to Santorini to Ultra Europe in Croatia, the pressure is on.
I will begin my journey with Cathy and some other college friends in Thailand. We will be leaving for Thailand on May 27th, and that is the timeline I’ve set for myself to eat super healthy and keep up my gym kick. This means the recipes I will post until then will be much more on the healthy side. My goal is to eliminate (but realistically minimize) carbs and refined sugar for at least the next month! Wish me luck…
This recipe was inspired by a smoothie I often get at Equinox after a workout. I love it because it has coffee and sort of reminds me of a frappaccino, but way healthier and without refined sugar. It makes the perfect breakfast after an early morning workout. Chocolate and cherry also happens to be one of my favorite combinations, so I hope you enjoy!
Chocolate Cherry Espresso Smoothie
3/4 Cup Chilled Coffee
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 Frozen Banana
1/2 Cup Frozen Cherries
1 Tbsp Peanut or Almond Butter
1 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
3-4 Ice Cubes
Optional: 1 Tsp Honey
A few weeks ago I attended a “Dinner for 12 Strangers,” a UCLA alumni tradition. It’s exactly what it sounds like; alum in various cities host a dinner at their house for 12 strangers, all of whom share UCLA as their alma mater. It’s always an amazing experience and a way to meet and network with highly motivated and interesting individuals. This was a special one for me because it was my first on the East Coast, and the group very much enjoyed reminiscing about Westwood and discussing how much we miss SoCal weather and Korean Barbeque. Turns out I am not alone in my #eastcoaststruggles.
Our Dinner for 12 Strangers was potluck-style, and I volunteered to bring a dessert (of course). I wanted to make something seasonal, but I find winter a little hard for seasonal desserts since fruit is fairly limited. I settled on Meyer lemons as my main ingredient and went with a classic lemon bar. One of my main deciding factors was that I needed something easily transportable taking public transportation all the way to the UWS; these worked out well in that regard.
I had actually never made lemon bars before, but I pretty much love everything lemon-flavored so there’s no going wrong here. They turned out fabulous and I received quite a few compliments at my D-12 dinner.
Meyer Lemon Bars (recipe from Treats)
1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup powdered sugar, plus more to sprinkle on the finished bars
A pinch of salt
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, still cool and cut into 8 pieces
7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 Cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
2/3 Cup meyer lemon juice (from about 4-5 medium lemons)
Finely grated zest from the lemons
1/2 Tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut in to 4 pieces
In my book, Otto wins best pizza in NYC. (Gosh, it may even be my favorite overall restaurant in NYC!) I’ve tried some of the more esteemed spots, like Keste in the West Village, but somehow I can’t let go of Otto. Otto is one of Mario Bartoli’s more casual (and cheaper) restaurants, but he certainly does not skimp on taste or quality. I first fell in love with Otto after a taste of their signature truffle honey, which comes with any cheese selection. Oozey honey with generous speckled black dots of truffle, I could not think of a better accent to a decadent cheese selection. (Side-note: the triple cream is my personal favorite in the cheese selection).
Once you get past the cheese, we come to the pizza. The crust is perfectly thin, with just the right proportions of cheese and sauce. The prosciutto arugula is one of my favorites, with deliciously thin slices of high-quality Italian meat that you see being sliced as you enter the restaurant. The white pizza is also one to try- I’m not usually a huge fan of white pizza, but man it’s good here. The monster of all Otto pizzas is the truffle pizza, which I have now found twice on the specials menu. It’s much pricier than others on the menu, but SO SO worth it. After all, I did say it was the best pizza in New York; for that I’m willing to dish out. Hefty shavings of white truffle dot the pizza, and you will find an egg cracked in the middle. The only time I’ve eaten something with this much truffle was a black truffle risotto at Melisse in Los Angeles. And on a pizza? Yes please.
Otto also has pretty good pastas, and the sides are great to even out your meal with some greens. The carbonara pasta is particularly good, but I wouldn’t make a trip to Otto just for the pasta. I’m a pretty big fan of the brussels sprouts as well, but be warned these are served room temperature (the waiters will “warn” you of this- I guess customers have complained in the past?). I’m still at the point where I try not to repeat restaurants too much, but this is one of my few staples, it’s just too good. One last warning: You may experience a “truffle hangover” the next day, that’s how decadent this place is. But absolutely worth it.
1 5th Ave. New York, NY 10003
What to Order: Selection of Cheese with the truffle honey, truffle pizza, brussel sprouts, caprese salad
Wow Jean-Georges, you’ve done it again. One of my favorite restaurants in NYC, ABC Cocina, has now been matched by ABC Kitchen. The Kitchen features the same fresh, top-notch ingredients, with a completely different menu. While Cocina has a small-plates/tapas-style menu with Latin flair, the Kitchen showcases a more traditional American-style dish using seasonal ingredients, all with their own twist.
I’m kind of a sucker for any “Farm-to-Table” restaurant that builds relationships with local producers. The first page of ABC Kitchen’s menu details all of the farms that the restaurant works with, which I find magnificent to learn where your food is actually coming from. Such restaurants strive to support the local ecosystems and small-time farmers in the region, which is very important in our globalized world in terms of both eating fresher ingredients and reducing overall carbon footprint.
Despite its sustainable, eco-friendly nature, ABC Kitchen is super trendy. The bar was poppin’ at 9pm on a Monday night, and the cocktail menu is fantastic albeit pricey. It also happens to be a hot celebrity-spotting site. Does anyone watch “The Big Bang Theory?” I don’t, but I recognized one of the main characters at the table next to us. After a quick IMDB search, turns out his name is Sheldon on the show.
Ok shall we talk about the food? I took my Dad here while he was in town for business, and we started off sharing two appetizers; the crab toast and the roast carrot & avocado salad. The hearty chunks of crab mixed with lemon aioli on a hearty slice of country bread was incredible. I also hear great things about their roasted kabocha squash toast, which I will be sure to try next time. As for the salad, I’m not sure what kind of marinade they used on the carrots, but my Dad and I both agreed they were some of the best we’ve ever had. Mixed with my favorite food in the entire world, avocado, I was in heaven with this salad. I went on to order the black bass as a main, and convinced my Dad to order ABC Kitchen’s signature fried chicken so I could have a bite. The bass was perfectly silky, light and flavorful, atop a wonderful cooked spinach mixture. The bite of the fried chicken I had was even more incredible, so moist and crispy, unlike any I’ve had.
ABC Kitchen $$$$
35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003
What to Order:
Drinks: Big Apple, Concord Grape Mimosa
Food: Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad, Crab Toast, Kabocha Squash Toast, Black Sea Bass, Fried Chicken, Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese Sauce, Popcorn Crunch Sundae