Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An LA-Kind-of-Week…and a word about Gluten

Looking upwards toward the balcony full of celebrities, McKenzie said, “My life feels surreal right now.” 

Not because we were attending the Tuesday night elimination show of Dancing with the Stars—although that certainly could have done it—but because of how far we have come in the past year. 

Nourish is growing.  And we’re thriving.  And it’s so incredibly exciting.  Which is what brought the two of us together in sunny Los Angeles—to give a presentation on positive body image for the Domestic Violence Awareness series at College of the Canyons.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Back to Dancing with the Stars. 

We have a new friend and mentor, Murray, who has taken us under his wing, helping us grow our business and gently nudging us forward toward our bigger dreams.  He also happens to work with Dancing with the Stars, which is how we ended up sitting a few rows back from Kris Jenner, watching a breathtaking guest performance of the Michael Jackson tribute by Cirque du Soleil.

We had barely made it to our seats on time, first fighting LA traffic from Venice Beach Hollywood and then tottering from the parking garage to circle the blocks surrounding CBS Studios in our five-inch heels, looking for the right entrance.  We made a video of ourselves laughing, but we probably think its way funnier than you would, so we won’t torture you with it.    

No matter what your opinions on reality shows, celebrities or Hollywood—going to a performance of a live television show is exciting.  After the show taped, Murray gave us a back-stage view of the studio, walking us past the press interviews of the celebrities and dancers to the production studios where the sound, graphics and video are controlled.

Here are us in the Red Room. 

Our night at Dancing with the Stars launched a great week for us, and one that seemed oh-so-LA. 

For starters, we left our Venice Beach hotel each morning to grab our ubiquitous Americanos and begin our day with a walk in the sun.  We strolled down the boardwalk and by Muscle Beach, stopping to play on the adult monkey bars, to end on Abbot Kinney Boulevard for a nibble of breakfast at Gjelina’s take-out stand.  Our first morning there, we ended up having a conversation with Tim Robbins about vegetarian, vegan and raw foods and restaurants.

No big deal.

Every time we give a presentation together, we confirm to ourselves we’re doing the right thing.  We love speaking to groups, and we usually get at least one person who says, “Your presentation made a difference to me today.” 

College of the Canyons was no different.  Our presentation, Nourishing Yourself Body and Soul:  Learning to Love Yourself from the Inside Out, carries a special message to young and old alike—we’re all unique and talented as individuals, and we need to learn to love and appreciate ourselves for our exceptional gifts without comparing ourselves to others or to society’s supposed ideal.    

This message seems especially important in the shadow of Hollywood.

What better way to end our week in Los Angeles than with a business meeting—at a yoga studio?  Our last morning in LA together, we donned yoga pants and headed to Santa Monica to practice yoga and talk business strategy with another entrepreneur.  Not at the same time of course.    

Like we said, it was an LA-kind-of-week.      

And we haven’t even talked about the food yet.  Los Angeles is a food-lover’s dream.  Restaurants with sustainable food philosophies abound, and we sampled many of them. 

To our delight, LA restaurants don’t seem to be catering to the gluten-free fad, as we enjoyed some of the best bread ever And pizza.  Did you really think we wouldn’t search for the perfect pizza?  And we found it, along with a bounty of other delicious bites.

At Gjelina

Almost every dish at Gjelina was spot-on perfect, from the beet and burrata salad to the roasted brussels sprouts to the savory lamb meatballs.  But the pizza was the real winner.  Crisp-tender, charred and lovely, with a variety of distinctive toppings, like lamb sausage and squash blossoms.  We were happy, happy girls.  As were our friends, who enjoyed the multi-course feast with us.  It’s a great place to share food, albeit a bit loud.  But the atmosphere is cool, with exposed lighting fixtures and an expansive, multi-level live edge wood bar.

And Sotto.

Registered Dietitian disclaimer inserted here:  We are Registered Dietitians, and we don’t promote overeating or excess.  We encourage eating real food.  Food you recognize.  Food you love.  In moderation.

So we’re not above eating lard.    

Sotto serves thick-sliced, crusty and chewy artisan bread, smeared with a delicious, savory and slightly-salty layer of lardo pestato, or pureed lard.  It was an oh-my-heavens moment. 

Other than the bread, the highlight of the night was a special—the server described it as a southern Italian-style chilaquiles, made with flatbread instead of tortillas.  Topped with a fried egg and layered with a luscious sugo, it was, in one word—luscious. 

Top it off with Sotto’s excellent sourcing of ingredients, and it climbs toward the top of our LA dining list.

We met a friend at Mozza for a late lunch.  Owned by partners Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, Mozza has been on our must-try list for a while now.  It doesn’t disappoint.    

Burrata seems to be omnipresent on Los Angeles menus, so we caved in to the burrata with garlic-toasted bread and charred tomatoes to start.  So, so good.

As was the pizza, topped with sliced Yukon gold potatoes, bacon and a glorious orange-yolked egg.

We stumbled on The Tasting Kitchen by accident, and were oh-so-happy we did.  Starting with the crusty, tender-crumbed La Brea Bakery bread (from the original bakery in Los Angeles) served piled high on a rustic wood board with butter and olive oil, followed by a deeply rich Bolognese sauce clinging to housemade lasagnetti, and a whole grilled branzino on a bed of chanterelles.

Real food, eaten with people we love.

Life is very, very good.

We know we talk a lot about our love affair with great bread and pizza.  Nothing is as satisfying as a crusty (Lisa), tender (McKenzie) piece of still hot from the over bread dipped in olive oil or smeared with a thin layer of butter…or lard.  You must be wondering?  Isn’t bread bad for me?  What about gluten? 

Well….here’s our answer.

Gluten Is Not the Enemy

Bread. Gluten. Pizza. Gluten. Pasta. Gluten. More bread. Gluten.

As you may have guessed, we eat a lot of gluten. And we feel bad for the poor little protein these days. It’s been getting a bad reputation, and we don’t think it’s completely fair. So here we are, coming to the rescue – hoping to save it.

What exactly is gluten? Why should some people choose to avoid it? And why should others choose to stick with it? What’s all the hype about? Let’s break it down for you.
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats responsible for giving baked goods their elasticity, volume and texture. For example, chewy, dense breads have more gluten development (a fun little elastic network that develops during baking) than light, flakey pastries.
Many people now understand the common foods containing gluten, such as:
breads, crackers, cereals, pancakes, pasta, pizza, granola bars, and other baked goods such as cakes & cookies. 

But, be careful!
Gluten can also be found in:
marinades, sauces  & gravies, salad dressings, processed deli meats, candy (including some chocolate), ice cream, cream soups (and some broths), nutritional and herbal supplements, and even some drugs  & over-the-counter medications.
Because gluten is often used as a filler, stabilizer, or thickener in food products.

So why should some people choose to avoid gluten? Well, some people are allergic.

There are different levels of gluten sensitivity, including gluten intolerance and celiac disease: 

Celiac disease is a digestive disease. When individuals with celiac disease eat foods with gluten in them, they experience an immune response. This response results in damage to the small intestine and causes food and nutrients to pass through the digestive system without being absorbed. The result is not a pretty picture.

Unlike Celiac disease, gluten intolerance is not triggered by an immune response and does not result in permanent damage to your intestines. For people with gluten intolerance, gluten is poorly digested and causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, extreme bloating, and the other symptoms mentioned in Pepto Bismol commercials.

And why should some people stick with gluten?

While it’s possible to meet your nutritional needs when following a gluten-free diet, it does make it more difficult. Many gluten-free products on the market are made with refined flours and have been stripped of their important nutrients during the refining process. Not to mention, gluten free products can take a toll on your wallet and often on your taste buds.

Our suggestion?

While staying away from gluten is recommended for people diagnosed with Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, there is no scientific reason for avoiding gluten if you do not have the disease or another related medical condition.

If you have been diagnosed with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, enjoy gluten-free grains such as rice, corn, quinoa, buckwheat and millet and other naturally gluten-free foods such as nuts, beans, lean meats, cheese, fruits, and veggies. Taking a multivitamin will also help fill in any nutrition gaps. 

For those of us without gluten allergies, focus on choosing whole grains naturally full of fiber and nutrition. And better yet, enjoy eating healthy, gluten containing foods guilt-free! The gluten-free diet is not beneficial for everyone and is not meant for people eager to jump on the next big fad-diet bandwagon.

See? Gluten really isn’t that scary after all. Bread anyone? We’re hungry…

1 comment:

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