Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Eating out to lower your cholesterol

It is best to eat food from home that you can prepare yourself, but life doesn’t always work out that way. The key to eating out and sticking with your meal plan is to be prepared. Most restaurants have menus online so you can check them out before you go. Salads are generally a good choice, just watch out for added croutons, tortilla strips, fried chicken, etc. A good salad should have at least 5 different vegetables and some protein. Use olive oil and vinegar instead of ranch or blue cheese as your dressing.

Here are Some Options When Eating Out:

  • Panera: Classic hand-tossed salad + chicken
  • Chipotle: burrito bowl or salad. No rice, no beans, add veggies of choice (salsa, fajita veggies, lettuce), double meat, guacamole.
  • California Fish Grill: grilled fish (no fries, rice, coleslaw or bread), add side salad
  • KFC: Chicken without breading, corn, green beans
  • In-and-out: Protein-style double-double.
  • Quiznos: Chicken Taco salad (no tortilla strips) or Classic Cobb Salad (no croutons)
  • Subway: Salad with all veggies, chicken, and avocado. Mexican food: Fajitas (any protein is ok), no tortillas, no rice, no beans, double vegetables.
  • Japanese food: Teppan yaki, eliminate the rice. Sashimi or hand rolls without rice. Soy sauce contains gluten (gluten free soy sauce is available at specialty grocery stores).
  • Italian food: Avoid pasta or rice. Choose grilled fish or chicken with a side of vegetables and lots of salad to start.

I have prevailed!

So, Mr ZM and I decided to get away for the weekend and spend it up in Idyllwild, a little mountain town about an hour from the OC where my parents have a cabin. We had gone there for New Year’s Eve and really enjoyed our time up there so we wanted to hang out a little bit more.

We headed up on Friday and spent all day Saturday walking around and then did some work at the local coffee shop, as I had an article to write. At about 4pm, we decided to start happy hour so we headed over to the Idyll-a-while Wine Shop for some wine tasting and conversation. Of course, we had to get a cheese plate as I rarely pass one up (I have been so good on my diet, I figured one would be ok this weekend).

The cheese plate had some veggies with it on the side, one of which was asparagus….and Mr ZM had said he would NEVER eat asparagus. Well, maybe people change because here is PHOTOGRAPHIC PROOF of Mr. ZM munching on a spear of asparagus! I guess pigs do fly. And now back to reality and back to the re-commitment to health…but at least we can have asparagus now.

The Amazon Jungle with a French Twist

Last night I had an opportunity to go to a new restaurant with one of my new friends that I made at the yoga retreat. She wanted to grab a cocktail and have a chat, which I always up for. We ended up heading over to the Lagoa (Lagoon) which is located in the middle of the southern part of Rio and has a beautiful view at sunset. There is this restaurant there called Palaphita Kitch that serves Amazonian food with a TWIST. It was the PERFECT place to spend a Thursday evening having some girl talk and enjoying a few cocktails.

The restaurant includes foods like “Mujica de Tambaqui” (amazon fish soup), several drinks made with mangarataia (Amazonian ginger), and cupuaçú (an

Amazonian super fruit that rivals acai). What surprised me the most about the restaurant was that their entrees were all FONDUE. Yes, like the Swiss/French melted cheese or chocolate dish. FONDUE. In the AMAZON? I thought that fondue was only served when it was cold in the Swiss alps with an enormous amount of French Bordeaux. I would NOT want to drink a French Bordeaux in 96 degree weather as it has been here in Rio. Globalization is so interesting!  Another neat item on the menu was an appetizers of camembert cheese (French) stuffed with Amazonian fish and fried bananas.  Totally nuts!

My girlfriend and I ended up sharing an eggplant bruscheta and we each had a caipirinha (Brazil’s national drink) made with Absolute Vodka, tangerines,

Amazoinan ginger and sugar. DELICIOUS! I would like to go back to try their other tropical fruit cocktails, as those caipirinhas really sneak up on you and you have to kind of space them out.  If you ever check this place out if you make it to Rio, just be aware of the GIGANTIC ants everywhere, and lizards that may try to get in on your fondue. Its a jungle out there after all.

Slow Food Orange County: Luncheon in the Garden

In a world full of fast food and wide-spread impatience, there is one group in Orange County trying to slow things down, at least when it comes to food. Slow Food Orange County is a non-profit, community organization whose mission is to ensure equity, sustainability, and pleasure in the food we eat. They focus on ensuring that the community has access and knowledge about good (healthy), clean (free of pesticides and harmful chemicals), and fair (available to all) food.

Slow Food Orange County sponsored a luncheon this weekend at Il Garage, an extension of Park Ave restaurant in Stanton. Il Garage restaurant serves up locally grown Italian fare. To this restaurant, local does not just mean purchased from local farmers, but actually grown in their large garden located on the property itself. The chef David Slay allows the garden to inspire and create his dishes for the day. The majority of the meals feature fruits, vegetables, and herbs picked from the garden that day.

This past Sunday, Slow Food Orange County, hosted a lunch at Il Garage. Guests were greeted by a glass of champagne paired with a tomato tart, eggplant bruschetta, and baked clams. These delicious appetizers were enjoyed during a tour of the garden where guests were given a detailed explanation of the organic gardening practices the restaurant employs. In order to reduce the amount of pesticides used, specific flowers are planted at the end of each bed to help attract beneficial insects and minimize the harmful ones. Bees and lady bugs are especially important to keep the garden pollinated and aphid free.

The lunch was served family style at long tables. Guests could choose a white or red wine to pair with their meal, both selected by the chef to compliment the food. The lunch included: mixed salumi ravioli, garden herb gnocchi, pork loin with caper sauce, and fresh clipped greens straight from the garden. The meal was finished off by an amazing vanilla bean panna cotta with candied citrus. All of the food was fresh, delicious and served in generous portions.

Chef David Slay was greeted by applause at the end of the meal, it was so fantastic! What a great way to spend a sunday afternoon, slowing things down and eating delicious food.