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FOODIE ON A DIET :( ... Need Healthy Restaurants

Hello Chowhounds!

Too much Fooding in L.A. so im eating healthy again,

What are your top choices for yummy yet healthy (and pref. lowfat) foods/restaurants in Los Angeles, Orange County areas?



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  1. I really enjoyed True Food Kitchen when I feel like I need a good healthy meal. There is a location in Santa Monica and Newport Beach (Fashion Island) as well. I particularly like the fresh juices and the salad dressings there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: A5 KOBE

      thanks Kobe!
      newport is very convenient as my sister lives there! I'll check it out!

      if you think of any more, please do tell!



      1. re: yesilovestotravel

        I second True Food Kitchen. Really nice ambiance, great-looking people (guys), and very healthy yet relatively tasty food.

      1. Cabbage Patch/Food52 (which is also coming to West LA), and +1 True Food Kitchen -- surprisingly tasty).

        But really, beyond fatty-fat places like Oinkster/Animal/Umamicatessen, it's not about the restaurant, it's about self-control, blah blah blah.

        1. Vinh Loi Tofu in Reseda, CA, if you're a fan of vietnamese food.

          1. Junk carbs are much worse for you (or anybody) than fat. I recommend any good Indian restaurant and just skip the naan and the white rice.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Dogbite Williams

              when someone requests low fat food, indian food is not what comes to mind.
              the amount of ghee that is used in each dish is hard to discern.
              each dish can become a sort of wild card in terms of calories and saturated-fat.

              that said, (not for OP because of location), samosa house in culver city usually has a couple of offerings that are made with oil instead of ghee to accomodate their vegetarian customers.

            2. you've gotten some good suggestions. i'll toss a bunch out there:
              - Fresh Corn Grill
              - Sauce on Hampton
              - Lemonade
              - Basix Cafe
              - Coral Tree
              - A Votre Sante
              - Tender Greens
              - Literati Cafe
              - The Spot
              - Inaka
              - Newsroom
              - Leaf Organics
              - Seasons52
              - Interim Cafe
              - M Cafe de Chaya
              - Gaby's Mediterranean
              - Veggie Grill

              honestly, people make "healthy" (in your case, low-fat) restaurant dining more complicated than it needs to be - you just have to order wisely. grilled fish and salad or steamed vegetables at Italian or Cal-American places; broiled fish/meat, salads, etc at Persian or Greek places; ceviche, salads, grilled fish tacos, grilled or broiled meats/fish at Mexican restaurants; tandoori dishes if you're out for Indian; salads, clear soups and stir-fried dishes if it's Thai...

              and if you feel like shelling out the big bucks, there's always sushi/sashimi, the grilled vegetable salad at The Ivy, a seafood tower or broiled lobster (sans butter!) at a good steakhouse, or the steamed fish at Spago ;)

              4 Replies
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Wow! Thank you all for the advise and list of places... I'm really thankful to have my CH foodies help me out! I will loose the weight in no time ...hopefully :) and not feel deprived!

                Thanks a million!


                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  agree with goodhealthgourmet's list with only 2 caveats:

                  1) the problem with Lemonade is that their salads come pre-dressed, so you can't specify "dressing on the side, please."
                  for salads, the easiest way to control the fat is to control the amount of dressing.

                  2) the grilled vegetable salad at the Ivy contains much more fat than you would think (can't divulge my source on this, but the person is trustworthy)

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    thanks for the catch on the Ivy salad - i should have specified to ask for *light* oil on the veggies, dressing on the side, and light on the avocado!

                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    also, for a wide variety of entree salads that can be ordered "dressing on the side" (i also usually order lemon wedges which allow me to be happy using less dressing), don't forget 26 beach.
                    i'd be the first to admit that they aren't as consistently perfect as they were years ago, but they still win the "entree salad" category imho.
                    (one caveat, don't get the ceviche salad, it's not as good as all the other entree salads)

                  3. not a direct answer to your question, but here are a couple of suggestions:

                    1)ceviche is a good choice at any good seafood restaurant.
                    2) most raw bar choices at any good seafood restaurant will be low calorie/low fat and high protein.
                    3) avoid most soupy/stewy dishes at restaurants because it is practically impossible to gauge how much fat they use and what type of fat they use.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Agreed on all fronts, except that clear broth soups are almost always a good choice for the calorie-conscious.

                      A very important thing is to realize that you only get calories from 4 things: Fat (9 Cals/gram), Protein (4C/g), Carbs (4C/g) and Alcohol (SEVEN C/g), and if you're trying to lose weight you should avoid alcohol entirely. Notice that alcohol has the second most calories after fat, and they're totally empty. They won't make you feel full (in fact, drinking usually makes you want to eat more.)

                      So what that means is that a meal that has most of its calories in the form of proteins or carbs will be a greater amount of food for the same amount of cals as a meal that has more fat.

                      However, that doesn't mean you should eliminate fat from your diet. You need fat. The key is to realize that you can't eat as much of a fatty food, and if you're on a cal-restricted diet (which is the best kind for weight-loss) you'll be hungrier at the end of the day if you eat fatty foods. That's not a bad thing, but it's not as comfortable. That's why when I'm cutting weight I go for egg whites and chicken breasts, because if I tried to consume the same number of cals per day in burritos and cheeseburgers I'd be starving all the time.

                    2. Folks, just a quick request that you focus on food at LA restaurants, rather than general diet advice. If there's a local restaurant serving a great, Chowhound-worthy, low-cal dish you know and love, please recommend it.

                      1. I just ate at Lemonade in Venice the other day and loved it; so many choices and it all tasted good. I'd also like to throw Mendocino Farms into the mix along with Urth Cafe (I love Urth's Nori wrap). Like many have pointed out just pick your dishes wisely.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: gmk1322

                          Santa Monica Seafood is one restaurant which comes to mind. I sat at the bar the other day and had a great bowl of Manhattan Clam Chowder. I declined the bread which was offered. The man siting next to me was eating a piece of simply grilled salmon. I have also had steamed clams there, which were excellent.

                        2. Greenleaf Gourmet Chop Chop on Wilshire in BH has fantastic salads and an array of other healthy tasty menu items. Really good.

                          1. Real Food Daily. Some rather bland items, some really good items. I eat here about once a week and am almost always happy afterward.
                            Cru. Creative raw cuisine. Can be inspiring.
                            Lemonade. Wide variety of pre-made salads. Terrific for what it is.
                            Gjelina. Lot of delicious vegetable dishes here, most without much animal fat. The entire menu tends to be pretty healthy I think.
                            Renu Nakorn. The Isaan style dishes here (e.g., larb catfish and papaya salad) are very healthy I think, even with the sticky rice.

                            High-end dish I recently had: nicoise salad at Water Grill. Really, really good and hard to beat for healthiness-tastiness product.

                            1. A guy I know went on an all-sushi (no rolls) diet. Mercury issue aside, it's healthier. He also figured the cost of sushi is guaranteed portion control. The redundancy of the diet and 20-piece chickenMcNuggets for $4.99 crushed his plans. If I had to design a realistic regimen, I'd mix it up with places like Yojie Shabu Shabu DTLA, M-Cafe, and La Cevicheria.

                              1. i'd just offer a note of caution that the offerings at vegan & raw restaurants are often quite high in fat due to the use of nuts & avocado in many dishes. (i personally think you're better off eating fat and avoiding starch & sugars, but since you requested low-fat suggestions...)

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  There are several Chinese vegan restaurants in SGV (catering to the large Buddist population) that advsertize themselves as being healthier. However, many of the dishes are drenched in oil and worse than non-vegan meals.

                                  1. re: MonsieurKnowItAll

                                    True. The vegetarian restaurants in the SGV tend to be quite bad. It's sad, because Buddhist Chinese food can be tasty and healthy.

                                    1. re: AlkieGourmand

                                      Having eaten Buddhist vegetarian Chinese food in Mainland China and Taiwan, I wouldn't say that the quality (or style) of Buddhist vegetarian places is so different here. Yes, there are Chinese Buddhist vegetarian places in China and elsewhere in Asia which are better and / or cheaper than those here, but much of the time, not as much better as you might think. (Good shojin ryori is another matter, however, the good shojin places in Japan are generally very, very expensive). There are some inherent limitations, especially when you're cooking without the "5 pungent spices".

                                      That said, even if the meals seem to be a bit oily, in many cases, they can still be pretty healthy, and certainly adding extra fat can help when making vegetarian food, since the basic raw ingredients aren't super high in fat. I don't find that the food at the vegetarian places is necessarily much greasier than the same kinds of dishes at non-vegetarian places. Even if the dishes seem a bit greasy or contain a lot of fried food, I think it may be a bit of an overstatement to say that they're "worse than non-vegan meals" (depending on what your non-vegetarian meals consist of). Also depends somewhat on the dish you order - many of the dishes are not super oily. The over-reliance on processed fake meat foods, and lack of really interesting or innovative vegetable dishes does bother me, but this is the case at a lot of places in Asia as well.

                                      I did go to one high-end vegetarian place in Hong Kong (in North Point area, I think) which did some really interesting things with the food and presentation. Though the meal was a bit heavy on dairy (which I don't eat, and which, while generally not prohibited, isn't that common in Asian vegetarian cooking, except in small amount in processed foods), but this kind of place tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Veggie Grill's burgers are also offered on a bed of steamed kale, which probably cuts the calorie count by a couple of hundred kcals or so.

                                    When I go to Buddhist CHinese places, I generally ask for sauteed dishes to be "low oil" or "little oil". I noticed Happy Family does the best job of attempting to comply with this somewhat unusual request.

                                    Vegan Vietnamese food can load you up on greens. My overall favorite is now Bo De Tinh Tam Chay, just off the 405 (Beach exit). People get upset that they charge 50 cents for a cup of ice water, but I try to focus on the great food. I'm working through the entire menu, and there are only one or two dishes I haven't been very happy with. The service is great too at least for me. The waiters try to suggest dishes that I would like. I really love this place. And Whole Foods is just across the freeway, in the Bella Terra mall.

                                    Some raw dishes are high in fat, but I just had these raw crackers made with flax seed and they weren't terribly fatty and were actually not bad at all. Pizza flavor.

                                  3. Well don't go to a chain restaurant.
                                    http://www.rand.org/blog/2012/05/what... This article says that 96% of Main entrees fail to meet basic nutrition guidelines.

                                    1. Try Cafe Verona at 201 S. La Brea & get the minestrone & the Ocean Salad. The latter is dressed but lightly.