Dr J’s Vibrant Cafe

By Tsz on July 16, 2013

Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe
Gastrophoria is an organic, veggie-ful meal from Dr. J’s Vibrant Cafe.

A project of love from a mother-son duo, Dr. J’s is a rare find in that it serves macrobiotic, gluten-free, organic and vegan (that’s a mouthful) fare that is also delicious. Or as I like to say, food that you can stuff yourself silly and still feel like a million bucks afterwards.

How can I make this claim? Because I did.

Being an open-minded omnivore, I previewed Dr. J’s with a fellow food explorer where we proceeded to “sample” (devour) a copious variety of vegan-friendly dishes. Brown rice medley with peas, onions, carrots, baked tofu and curried potatoes? Check. Massaged kale toss with kidney beans, carrots and toasted walnuts? Got seconds. The quinoa spring salad with apples, radishes and Persian cucumbers? Yup. Rice noodle wok-fried with mixed veggies? Way ahead of you.

Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe

The most swooned-after dish of the night was their spring wrap. Although they are not lookers, they have the power to end friendships as my dining partner and I couldn’t stop ourselves from fighting over the last one. Crisp carrots and celery match sticks, marinated-tofu and ground almond come together in little rice wrapper packets that are so good that you don’t even miss its traditional, meat-filled version.

Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe
Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe

For dessert, we had the Supersnack and carob brownies—both of which were made without sugar, flour and eggs. How do they do that?! I’ll never know. What I do know is that they satisfied my sweet tooth just as the real deal, without the sugar crash afterwards.

Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe

Though we were both stuffed after the meal, we felt energized instead of comatose. The next morning was even better—without going into details. Thanks Dr. J’s!

Dr. J’s Vibrant Cafe
334 S Main St.
Los Angeles, California 90013

Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe
Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe


Bacon Wrapped Figs Recipe & Giveaway

By Tsz on June 24, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Figs
Gastrophoria is bacon wrapped figs on top of fresh greens for a quick summer lunch.

As much as I enjoy cooking, I tend to stay away from the kitchen on hot summer days because anything that requires more than a quick saute turns my home into a food-scented sauna. Instead, I defer to my oven and simple-to-make dishes for my culinary needs.

One such recipe is bacon wrapped figs. Needing only two ingredients and an oven, this allows me to be in-and-out of the kitchen in minutes yet be rewarded with a restaurant-worthy dish.

Because this only uses bacon and dried figs, the bacon takes center stage. So, take this as the perfect opportunity to bust out your favorite specimens. I used Farmer John’s newest creation, Mild Jalapeño Bacon, because it’s thick cut and has a subtle spice kick at the end. Meaty, salty, sweet and spicy, these bacon wrapped figs make for the most hearty croutons for a quick salad.

Want to win home some bacon?

I have Five (5) $4 Farmer John (available through Amazon.com and local retailers in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii) coupons to spread the bacon love!

To enter, simply:

1. Follow Gastrophoria on Facebook and Twitter more tasty goodness!
2. Visit the Farmer John site and check out their bacon recipes.
3. Leave a comment below with your favorite bacon dish. That’s it!

Five (5) winners will be chosen on Monday, July 1st. Open to all readers—good luck!

Farmer John Bacon

Bacon Wrapped Figs
Serves 4

16 dried figs
8 strips Farmer John’s Mild Jalapeño Bacon (or your favorite thick cut bacon)
16 toothpicks

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut the bacon strips in half, width wise. Take a fig and wrap with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Repeat for all.
Bacon Wrapped Fig
3. Placed the bacon wrapped figs on a cookie sheet lined with foil (easier clean up!) and bake until crisp and golden brown, around 20 minutes.
Bacon Wrapped Figs
4. Remove the toothpicks and serve either on its own or on top of greens for a quick summer lunch. Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Figs


Recipe : Ginger Carrot Soup

By Tsz on June 6, 2013

Gastrophoria is a big bowl of homemade ginger carrot soup.

A few months back, I had the most amazing bowl of ginger carrot soup at the Padre Hotel for a carrot themed weekend hosted by Grimmway Farms. It was one of the dishes that just lingers in your mind. So velvety, so rich and with just enough heat to keep it all interesting.

I rarely get excited about soup, especially one without meat! So, I reached out and asked the good people of the Padre Hotel to see if they would so inclined as to share with me their recipe. To my surprise, they agreed! The most unbelievable part of this is how simple the recipe is—all that’s required are basically are baby carrots and aromatics. Yet, the end product tastes exactly like the real deal.

Thought I’d pay it forward and share with you all, enjoy!

Ginger Carrot Soup
Recipe courtesy of Padre Hotel

Restaurant portions

40 chopped Grimmway Farms baby carrots
1/2 cup fresh ginger, minced
1 whole yellow onion, chopped
6-10 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2-3 tablespoons ginger powder
4-6 quarts of vegetable stock depending on how thick you like your soup
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon oil
Splash of honey to sweeten (if needed)

Or, reduced for home
(Serves 4)

6 cups Grimmway Farms baby carrots
1 tablespoon fresh, ginger minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
8 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon oil

1. Heat a stock pot over medium high heat and pour in oil.
2. Add in carrots, onions, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly until they sweat (but not brown).
3. Add in the spices and pour in the vegetable stock.
4. Increase the heat to high until the mixture comes to a boil. Then turn the heat down so it is at a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes until carrots are soft.
5. Turn off the heat and blend the mixture in either a blender or food processor till smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat if necessary.
6. Garnish with cream if you desired and enjoy! Also great chilled.


Wonka Inventing Room

By Tsz on June 1, 2013

Gastrophoria is a chocolate truffle from Wonka Inventing Room.

When I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the one with Gene Wilder) back in elementary school, I was transfixed. The thought of a chocolate river? Or lickable wall paper? Or fizzy sodas that has the ability to make you float? Stuff sweet dreams are made of.

Since then, I came to the sad realization that such a place doesn’t exist (yet). However, there is the next best thing, which are concoctions from Wonka Inventing Room. Got myself a box as a treat and enjoyed every part of it. From the packaging, the toy-like appearance of each piece of chocolate and of course, the taste. From goji berry to roasted s’mores, the kid in me resurfaced with a vengeance upon the first taste.

What foods take you on a walk down memory lane?


Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream & Gladiator Rock’n Run Giveaway!

By Tsz on May 1, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
Gastrophoria is homemade banana peanut butter ice cream.

For the past month, I’ve been making several life changes—such as the sabbatical, healthier eating and the newly acquired three-times-a-week gym habit. As someone who is not a fan of sweating, this is a BIG deal!

What was the catalyst? I’d like to say it was due to a lifestyle resolution. Alas, I am not that self-disciplined. This change was induced by a surprise present by the Gentleman Weightlifter—a ticket to the Gladiator Rock’n Run.

There are normal 5K runs, and there is the Gladiator Run. Created by Dan Clark (better known as Nitro from the original American Gladiators), this run features 17 obstacles and a rock concert in addition to the standard run. Holy cannoli.

While I can barely run a mile, I’m also not one to step back from a challenge. Thus my foray into the gym and a revised eating plan in preparation for the big day happening on June 8th!

One of my weaknesses is my sweet tooth, so I’ve been on a mission to create healthy desserts that doesn’t include the usual loads of unhealthy (albeit delicious) sugar and fats. Imagine my surprise that it was possible to make a luxuriously creamy ice cream with just bananas. Yep, that’s right—no eggs, cream nor sugar needed and one of my favorite ways to reward myself after a workout!

For added protein and flavor, I like to add a big dollop of peanut butter in the mix. My co-worker recently introduced me to Peanut Butter & Co’s unique PB concoctions and it’s now my obsession. I used Cinnamon Raisin Swirl (tastes like Cinnabon) and Dark Chocolate Dreams (like Nutella, but with peanuts) this time around but any PB will do the trick so feel free to experiment!

Peanut Butter and Co

Looking for a fitness challenge for yourself?

I’ve partnered with the generous people from the Gladiator Rock’n Run to give away a pair of tickets to the upcoming Gladiator Rock’n Run ($160 value) held in Irvine, California on June 8th for one lucky reader!

To enter, simply:

1. Follow Gastrophoria on Facebook and Twitter more tasty goodness!
2. Follow Gladiator Rock’n Run on Facebook and Twitter for updates on their upcoming events.
3. Visit the Gladiator Rockn’ Run website to get a preview of the event and leave a comment below on which obstacle course you plan on dominating and also your favorite guilt free dessert!

The contest ends on May 10th and the creator, Dan himself will be choosing two winners from the entries. The first place winner with get a pair of tickets to the upcoming Gladiator Rock’n Run ($160 value) held in Great Park in Irvine and the runner up will get 50% off a pair of tickets ($80 value).

Good luck and hope to see you at the run!


Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream

Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
Serves 2

2 Bananas
4 tablespoons of your favorite peanut butter

1. Cut the bananas into medallions and freeze till solid in the freezer, around 2 hours.
2. Put the frozen bananas in a food processor and let blend till creamy, around 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed.
3. Add the peanut butter and blend till evenly mixed.
4. Serve immediately as a soft serve or freeze for an hour to get the traditional consistency of ice cream.

Happy eating!