Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Health

'Food and Food Systems in the 21st Century' at UCLA's Fowler Museum

Food collage NEW

On Aug. 11, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., TedxLA Miracle Mile presents "Food and Food Systems in the 21st Century" at UCLA's Fowler Museum.

Spawned from the nonprofit organization TED, TEDx is a program of independently organized events that bring together people from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design (hence the name TED) to engage in the sharing and spreading of ideas. Next month's TEDx gathering at the Fowler will examine food and food production on a local and globalized scale. Speakers will address what is obsolete and what is up to par -- politically, socially, economically and culturally -- in the context of today's rapidly growing human population.

The event will be a merging of minds with guest speakers such as Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno of Future Cities Lab and Jonathan Todd of John Todd Ecological Design. Also joining in on the discussion of food will be Tara Kolla of Silver Lake Farms, Ken and Kathy Lindner of Lindner Bison, Laura Avery of Santa Monica Farmers Market and "Righteous Porkchop" author Nicolette Hahn Niman, among others.

The daylong event includes a pre-event mixer with access to the museum, a catered box lunch by Auntie Em's Kitchen and a post-event wine and cheese reception. Tickets are $60 for general admission or $48 for students, seniors and Fowler Museum members.

308 Charles E. Young Drive North, L.A., (310) 825-4361, fowler.ucla.edu.


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Photos: From left, Tara Kolla, Ken and Kathy Lindner, Laura Avery.

Credit: Tedxaltavistala.com

MotherBees.com: Food delivery for new moms

Soup_ChickenSomething clicked with Heng Ou a couple of years ago. Ou had invited a friend with a newborn baby over for a big pot of chicken soup. "It just felt so good to make knowing that I was making it not just for the mom but also for the baby, and [my friend] would go home a lot more content," Ou says. "It was such a huge pleasure. It was a moment of postpartum care that I never had."

So she decided to start a business, called MotherBees, a food delivery service for pregnant women and new mothers. A couple of months ago, she launched the company's website. 

Ou, a certified nutritionist who studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York, offers a menu of soups, salads and teas. The chicken soup is based on her grandmother's recipe, made with local, organic chicken, barley, red dates, goji berries, carrot, garlic, onion and ginger. Seaweed soup is mushroom broth with seaweed, ginger, garlic, onion, shiitake and sesame oil. Other soups: seasonal greens; chicken congee; and lentil, chickpea and quinoa. "I went back to the basics of what I really know," Ou says. "I basically grew up drinking soups every day when my grandmothers cooked." 

Salads include: kale with fennel, spelt berries, farro, parsley and cranberries; lotus roots and sweet potatoes with green onions, sesame seeds, maple syrup and olive oil; and spelt with brown rice, edamame and parsley. Soups cost $10 to $12 for 32 ounces, and salads are $8 to $10 for two servings. Teas, smoothies and almond-sesame milk also are available. Delivery is $8 with a $35 minimum order. 

For more information, go to www.motherbees.com or email info@motherbees.com. 


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Photo: MotherBees chicken soup with dates and goji berries. Credit: MotherBees.

Mokichi Okada Assn. Wellness Center in West L.A.

MOAThe Mokichi Okada Assn., also known as MOA, was established in 1980 to continue the work and founding principles of Mokichi Okada. In the 1930s, Okada developed a healthcare system based on new medicine with the intention of nourishing the body, mind and spirit by creating a healthy civilization in harmony with nature.

Through the fields of medicine, agriculture and the arts, MOA aims to prevent illness and promote wellness. The organization also includes the Okada Health and Wellness Program, structured to incorporate the practices of the three major enterprises of MOA -- the Okada Purifying Therapy, Nature Farming and Arts and Culture Therapy -- into everyday life. Activities such as the Japanese tea ceremony and flower arranging are believed to act as therapies fostering physical and spiritual health. 

The organization, which has centers scattered throughout Japan, has branched out to international locations in Hawaii and, more recently, California. In 1999, retired farmers Tadashi and Yoko Mori donated five acres in Fresno to MOA. The farm promotes Okada's philosophy to respect the soil and not resort to artificial chemicals such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, in order to produce natural, chemical-free foods rich in vital energy and flavor for the community. The now 10-acre farm and orchard, called the Oasis Garden, offers certification programs, seasonal classes and CSA produce boxes, also available at the center in West L.A.

The MOA Wellness Center in Mar Vista opened in March 2010. Walk in and you've entered a quiet haven, a definite gem in the midst of the bustling city. In addition to offering Angelenos produce from the farm in Fresno, the center holds workshops on home gardening and raw food. On any visit, the tea ceremony is a must.

4533 S. Centinela Ave., L.A., (310) 574-9900, moawellness.org.

MOA 3 600


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Photos: The Oasis Farm in Fresno. Credit: Moa-fresno.org

Are you taking the October Unprocessed challenge?

Unprocessed_2011 If it's October, then it's time to put down the processed food for the 30 days.

Los Angeles food blogger Andrew Wilder is hosting the Unprocessed October challenge for the second year in a row, encouraging the online food community to spend the month scrutinizing everything they eat -- and shunning anything processed.

Last year, about 200 people started the challenge at Wilder's site, Eating Rules. This year, 1,600 people have already signed the pledge to spend the month being more aware of what they eat.

"I wasn't sure I was going to do it again, it takes a lot of work," said Wilder, an Internet consultant who also does tech support for food bloggers at BlogTutor.com. "But this has clearly struck a chord, it has struck a nerve. There are more people who are interested in this, where their food is coming from and what the story is behind that food -- and is it a legitimate story, or a PR story?"

Continue reading »

Weighing in on the Triple Double Oreo


The Booster Shots blog takes a close look at the Triple Double Oreo: 

Arriving in stores as we speak is the new Triple Double Oreo cookie. That's right, we said Triple Double, as in three layers of cookie, one layer of original creme and one layer of chocolate creme.

The calorie count on this Big Mac of sugary treats? About 100 per cookie with 1.5 grams of saturated fat. 

Your thoughts on the Triple Double? Click here and leave a comment.


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Dining out the smarter way

Today's Health section focuses on restaurants. Counting calories? Chefs are asked to help out.  

What if chefs lowered the fat and calories in their favorite dishes by as much as 25% while preserving the deliciousness? That's the experiment we did with chefs at three high-end restaurants in L.A.: Josiah Citrin of Mélisse, Street's Susan Feniger and Daniel Mattern of Ammo. Each made a dish on their menu two ways: the usual way and then with calories, fat and sodium content trimmed to an extent they thought customers wouldn't notice. Diners did a side-by-side blind tasting.

See what happens by clicking here. 


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Photo: Copper river wild king salmon prepared at Mélisse restaurant. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

More musings on deep-fried butter

DeepfriedA writer from the Health section -- yes, Health -- goes to the Orange County Fair for more than funnel cakes: 

Let's face it -- going to a county fair is like getting a free pass to junk food land. All bets are off, and no one gives you the admonishing finger if you follow a platter-size funnel cake with a deep-fried Oreo chaser. In fact, while carrying around the deep-fried butter I was bestowed admiring glances from other fair-goers. You have to love a place that offers something called a "Coronary Combo" of deep-fried butter and chocolate covered bacon.

Of course, eating the artery-clogging treat (and the rest of the stuff I'll tell you about in a minute) was all done in the name of journalistic investigation. Or something. I was here to find out if fair foods are all they're cracked up to be. Are they really worth the calories and the extra hit of Metformin, even if it's a once-a-year thing?

Click here for more. 

See next Monday's Health section focusing on dining out. What if chefs could trim up to 25% of the calories from their dishes without sacrificing taste?  The L.A. Times asked chefs from local restaurants Ammo,  Melisse and Street to see if they could trim up to 25% of the calories from their dishes without sacrificing taste. Also: restaurant letter health grades deconstructed and a look at a new healthy fast-food restaurant chain created by former McDonald’s executives.     

Photo: Deep-fried butter with whipped cream. Credit: Jeannine Stein/Los Angeles Times.

Can you salt 'experts' please make up your minds?

Salt Wait a second. Now I'm supposed to eat more salt?

I had to do a double-take when I saw this recent headline from my colleague Thomas H. Maugh II in The Times' Health section (the emphasis is mine):

"Low levels of salt consumption are associated with a higher rate of cardiovascular disease and deaths, European researchers reported Tuesday...."

Maugh goes on to report that U.S. experts promptly criticized the study, which contradicts the prevailing dietary wisdom, and quotes one expert as saying -- and you know someone had to say it -- "this study might need to be taken with a grain of salt." You can read Maugh's story here, which goes into great detail about the finding.

Personally, I think someone needs to do some research on whether all this research ultimately does more harm than good. What do you think?


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Anne Willan is at the head of the class

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Gross! Widespread meat contamination detected

Sorry to ruin your appetite this morning, but we'd be remiss if we did not bring Friday's breaking news to your attention. Will this news change your eating habits? Are you ready to go vegetarian? Do you already have a source for meat that is outside the mainstream chain? (If so, please share.)

Let's hear your thoughts on Friday's news:

Meat in the U.S. may be widely contaminated with strains of drug-resistant bacteria, researchers reported Friday.

Nearly half of all meat and poultry sampled in a new study contained drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, the type of bacteria that most commonly causes staph infections. Such infections can take many forms, from a minor rash to pneumonia or sepsis. But the findings are less about direct threats to humans than they are about the risks of using antibiotics in agriculture. Read more -- if you can stomach it -- over at our Health blog:


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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Brendan Smialowski / Bloomberg

Not just rice cakes any longer for those who eat gluten-free


Wandering around the Natural Products Expo West this weekend in Anaheim was a little like walking through a supersize Whole Foods market where everything was available for sampling. That is to say, it was crowded and overwhelming.

Among the trends was one that’s good news for people who avoid gluten. There was a time when such people mostly turned to rice cakes. No longer. Manufacturers are using a variety of grains –- flax, millet and quinoa among them –- to make products without gluten.

The exposition had more than 3,500 exhibits of food, healthcare products and other items at the Anaheim Convention Center over three days last week. Among the gluten-free choices were Van’s gluten-free frozen waffles; Glutino bread; Kinnikinnick Foods baking mixes; and Mina’s all-purpose mix in plain and chocolate. There were also breads, burritos, cereals, crackers and other products without gluten.

The company Jovial was sampling a not-too-sweet fig-filled gluten-free cookie, shown above with the cream-filled version too. The company also makes a pasta from brown rice and one from rice, potatoes and soy. Americans prefer the rice-only version, company representative Kelly Wood said.

Heather Collins has celiac disease and so avoids gluten. She said much of her life she felt bloated after eating and couldn’t figure out why. She tried avoiding meat, but her cardiologist father told her he didn’t think that meat was the problem.

Eventually, she hit on gluten intolerance, and subsequently became the communications and marketing manager for Udi’s Gluten Free Foods in Denver. Her company was giving out samples of its new hot dog and hamburger buns that have tapioca, brown rice and potato flour among their ingredients.

Collins said one reason there are so many new gluten-free products is that “people were fed up” with products that tasted more like cardboard than baked goods.

 -- Mary MacVean

Photo: Gluten-free cookies; credit: Clay McLachlan / Jovial Foods


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.