Date Night

With our newborn around, our outings have been limited to the local Target for occasional diaper runs. But today, my husband and I paid a visit to the Erewhon Market in Venice.

Squishy’s Godmother took me to the market a few weekends ago and I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it was. You know one of those stores that persuade you into buying things that you don’t even need and simultaneously make you think, “Thank God I don’t live around here…?” Well, that’s Erewhon – and just FYI, bring cash and leave your credit cards at home. Trust me. Erewhon is a west coast version of Dean and Deluca, but with a health-conscious message.

They carry an array of house-made products (packaged soups, nut butter) as well as artisanal, small-batch products including Zen Bunni chocolates (a personal favorite of mine), Moon Juice pantry goods, and the infamous $25 Coconut Cult non-dairy yogurt. The store isn’t exclusively vegan, but many of the products are tailored for those who are celiac and/or raw vegan. I also love the strategic placement of items like finding $9 containers of pre-cut fruit sitting next to twenty-dollar tubs of yogurt (as shown above) [Below] Bounty of local organic produce, beautifully curated.

Erewhon has a wide selection of prepared sandwiches, salads that you can quickly grab and go… or for an elevated fast-casual dining experience, try one of their entree plates, which come with a main and two sides. My personal favorites include the Rad Thai and Buffalo Cauliflower. Not surprisingly, Erewhon is one of the few non-vegan markets where 75% of the prepared food is vegan.

To give you an idea of why it’s difficult to resist the urge to buy everything, just look at these chic jars of INNA jams. Don’t you just want to collect them all?

If it weren’t for the restrictive 30-minute parking policy, I would lounge for a few hours to relax, check emails, and people-watch. You’re only a hop, skip away from Abbott-Kinney where you’ll find a plethora of shopping and entertainment: Alternative, James Perse, Sabah, and the famous Blue Star Doughnuts. This adorable baby husky was patiently waiting for his owner – and naturally, like everything else, he was too perfect – he even matched the rug. Was that intentional? Perhaps. Erewhon Market in Venice (..soon coming to Santa Monica).

Farmer’s Market

Our town hosts a small farmer’s market every Saturday. While its modest appearance certainly doesn’t stand out as grand or impressive compared to some of the larger markets throughout LA (my personal favorite being Santa Monica), the intimate size of this one makes shopping more accessible.

Most of the vendors travel down from the mountainous regions of Southern California including Ojai and Ventura County. I especially love the large selection of greens and locally harvested herbs, which are plucked from the ground earlier that day. The products that we see in contemporary supermarkets have been sitting in storage containers for at least a few days before they hit the shelves. Last week, I purchased a bag of triple-washed mesclun greens from the farmer’s market and the mix lasted for an entire 2 weeks before it started wilting and turning brown… Amazing. Definitely one of the things I’ll miss about California if we ever left.

The farmers are super generous with their samples: you’ll find large chunks of peaches, plums, strawberries to try and questions are encouraged. Not to mention, products are ultra-competitively priced. Flowers go for the ultra-cheap. The ‘Cactus Man’ (not pictured here) is my favorite vendor – his knowledge and passion for Cactus always inspire me.

There’s a large number of Asian-operated, independent farms throughout California (Mr. Ha, pictured above, brings his snow mountain apples to the market every week) where you’ll find the less common varieties of Asian produce including specialty bok choy, yu-choy, foraged wild mushrooms, and Japanese eggplants. And did I mention… BALUT? Ok, so balut is not for everyone, but if you’re a fan, you’ll certainly find plenty here. Cerritos Farmer’s Market, Inside The Town’s Business Plaza, Every Saturday 8AM-12PM. 

Orgain for Kids

My sister-in-law, who works as the quality administrator at Orgain, occasionally comes home bearing delicious samples from work. But yesterday was a special treat as we visited her at work.

The story behind Orgain is a remarkable one. The company was founded by cancer-survivor and doctor, Andrew Abraham, MD. Unsatisfied with the mass meal supplements on the market, he was determined to create a drink that had less sugar, fewer ‘junky’ ingredients (ie. corn syrup and genetically modified soy), and something organic. 

I loved the modern office interior with its fresh splash of colors  – two ping-pong tables and a kitchen pantry stocked with nutritional snack bars and maple waters for added healthy vibes. As a mom, my eyes went straight to the children’s smoothies, which contains 13g of sugar (much less than the standard 22g of sugar in traditional organic chocolate milk or the 28g of sugar in conventional chocolate milk). The Orgain Kids Protein Smoothie is not vegan, but it is made with grass-fed milk, which makes it better from a health perspective – although as a vegan mom, I do look forward to an exclusively plant-based option. The smoothie contains an organic veggie & fruit blend, which consists of kale, beet, blueberry, and acai. The smoothie is suitable for kids ages 2+ years.

Regarding other key nutritional facts, the smoothie is 200 calories, contains 3g of dietary fiber, and 8g of protein. I actually prefer the Kid’s Protein Smoothie better to the adult version because it doesn’t contain any stevia or sugar alcohol. The shakes come in three delicious flavors: strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla. The smoothie contains an organic veggie & fruit blend, which consists of kale, beet, blueberry, and acai and is suitable for picky-eaters that are 2+ years in age. They definitely won’t be making the “I’m allergic to vegetables” argument for this one.

The Shop-Up

Babyccino Kids held their 2nd annual SHOP-UP this past weekend at The Springs in DTLA. There were plenty of free kids activities in store so that shopping for adults can be stress-free and enjoyable.

The vendor that immediately caught my eye was Lil’ Bellies, an outdoor-centric lifestyle brand that encourages the inner-explorer of every child. We briefly chat with the owner of Lil’ Bellies, Claudia DiDomenico, a mother of 3 on her brand as she generously offered kid-friendly trail recommendations in the Los Angeles area.

Another one of my favorite vendors included Colorhouse Paint – a company that creates non-toxic, eco-friendly interior paint. They set up a small area where kids can create one of a kind spin art. Definitely, check out their lovely array of pastel colors for children. My favorite is the dove grey, which is so classic and pretty.

The next SHOP-UP events will be in London and New York City. All the events are free admission and there’s even stroller parking to accommodate easier travel. Head over to the Babyccino Kids website to learn more.

Palm Springs

After weeks of planning for our big move across the country, my husband and I deserved a break. We booked a 3-day getaway to Palm Springs and it was a super relaxing way to unwind before the baby’s arrival (guess you could call it a babymoon). A two-hour car ride (fairly short by LA standards), we found ourselves nestled in a bath of sunshine, dry 90-degree weather with one-too-many date shakes consumed.