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5 Healthy Ingredients You Haven't Used Yet

The cure for kale fatigue? The newest trends cropping up on the L.A. food scene.

People looking to eat well in Los Angeles have a distinct advantage over the rest of us; fresh year-round produce, a forward-thinking culinary scene, and a seemingly never-ending parade of de rigueur ingredients. So we asked some of the city's top chefs to share what inventive items they’re cooking with right now. Then Marissa Lippert, R.D. and founder of NYC's Nourish Kitchen + Table, weighed in on how said ingredients can boost the immune system, rev metabolism and otherwise improve our health. 


Jordan Toft, Chef, LA Chef, Los Angeles, California, LA, chef, Eveleigh, restaurant, Avocado toast, espelette pepper, boiled egg gribiche, food, eating, healthy, cooking
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Espelette pepper

The chef: Jordan Toft, Chef at Eveleigh 

The dish: Avocado toast with espelette pepper, boiled egg gribiche

The culinary approach: "Espelette is a pepper from the Basque region of France and in late summer large strands can be seen drying in the warm temperatures. It's then ground to produce a rich red powder that has a beautiful flavor and naturally balances between fruitiness, light smoke, heat and a finish that is almost creamy. Added to crushed avocado, it's a step up from your standard chili or hot sauce accompaniment."

The nutritionist's take: "Esplette peppers give incredible flavor, heat and antioxidants to any dish," explains Lippert. "The chili pepper will kick up the body's metabolism via capsicum."

Matt Poley, Co-Owner, chef, Heirloom LA, LA, Los Angeles, California, Short Rib, cipollini onion, lasagna Cupcake, food, eating, healthy, cooking, restaurant
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Cipollini onion

The chef: Matt Poley, Co-Owner of Heirloom LA  
The dish: Short Rib and cipollini onion Lasagna Cupcake

The culinary approach: "Traditionally Italian 'brasatos' or braises are accompanied by something sweet and sour to break down the rich, velvety braising liquids generated from the red wine and fortified stock. Hand-peeling the Cipolinni onions keeps the lovely vibrant white onion milk more prevalent than it would have been by keeping them refrigerated or soaking in water prior to peeling. The sugar level in the Cipollini onion is highest in that milk, and while it cooks the natural sugars caramelize from within."

The nutritionist's take: "Cipollini onions are excellent in stews and hearty, warming dishes," explains Lippert. "They're high in antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory, meaning that they'll help decrease disease risk and may aid in keeping cholesterol in check."

Ken Addington, Chef, Five Leaves, Los Angeles, California, LA, Homemade, ricotta, figs, thyme, honey comb, food, healthy, cooking, eating, meal
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Honeycomb

The chef: Ken Addington, Chef at Five Leaves and L.A. Chapter  

The dish: Homemade ricotta, figs, thyme and honey comb

The culinary approach: "To finish this dish, we place a healthy wedge of dripping honeycomb on top, which is the bit that seems to get the most 'oohs' and 'ahhs'; there is something primal about the look of it that gets people very excited. Aside from the visual, the honeycomb adds great texture and sweetness. We also like to think that by using this ancient food, with its numerous health benefits, it eases the guilt of eating a large, delicious bowl of cheese with bread."

The nutritionist's take: In Lippert's words: "Honeycomb may boost immune function and help ward off winter cold season. It's a quick source of natural sugar for a small energy boost."

Kris Yenbamroong, Chef, Night + Market, Los Angeles, California, LA, restaurant, Hang Lay Gaeng, Burmese-style, pork belly, curry, food, healthy, cooking, eating, meal
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Tamarind

The chef: Kris Yenbamroong, Chef at Night + Market 

The dish: Hang Lay Gaeng, Burmese-style pork belly curry

The culinary approach: "Tamarind is one ingredient used to achieve the sour and tart flavor in Thai cooking. It gives dishes a round and nuanced flavor, which in Thai, we call 'hom.' This dish, which is pork belly simmered with Burmese-style spices, ginger, pickled garlic, palm sugar, and tamarind, is decadent and has several layers of flavor. It's a dark and stew-like dish, but the tamarind brightens it up. By adding the tamarind last, I am able to achieve that brightness."

The nutritionist's take: "Tamarind is rich with a variety of vitamins. It's anti-inflammatory, helping lower risk of cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. It may also aid in digestion and in augmenting energy levels slightly," says Lippert.

Jason Neroni, Chef, LA Chef, Los Angeles, California, LA, restaurant, Superba Snack Bar, Hamachi, persimmon mustard, charred scallion oil, sorrel, chilli, food, eating, healthy, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, fiber
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Persimmon

The chef: Jason Neroni, Chef at Superba Snack Bar  

The dish: Hamachi, persimmon mustard, charred scallion oil, sorrel and chili

The culinary approach: "We pick persimmons up at the market at least one week before needing them, so they can ripen properly in the kitchen. We then lightly pickle them in a honey and yuzu pickle. Following that, we puree the persimmons in a Vitamix Vita Prep, to which we add Dijon mustard, Calabrian chili oil, sugar and olive oil."

The nutritionist's take: "Persimmons are currently in season so their nutrient value and flavor are greater. They're stacked with disease-fighting and anti-aging antioxidants, and are a great source of vitamin A/beta carotene, vitamin C and fiber," says Lippert.