Top Trends at Natural Products Expo West 2018

Exploring Natural Products Expo West 2018

Top Trends at Natural Products Expo West 2018 via It's Jou Life blog -

Made it to the Natural Products Expo West 2018 – the world’s largest natural, organic, and healthy products event (aka the mecca of whole foods and healthy lifestyle products)

Last month, we had the delightful opportunity to attend the 38th Annual Natural Products Expo West, the world’s largest natural, organic, and healthy products event. As always, we excitedly countdown the days to this mecca of whole foods and healthy lifestyle products. We were among the record-breaking 85,000 attendees perusing 3,521 exhibitors, including more than 600 first-time exhibitors. We sure logged in some serious miles during this multi-day event packed with tasting delectable foods, getting our learn on with educational seminars, and meeting innovative brands and their founders during March 7th-11th at the Anaheim Convention Center.

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recipe // walnut and date cocoa energy balls


Healthy Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls  //

Lately I find myself getting hungry between meals at work, rushing to workout classes and running errands. These healthy walnut and date cocoa balls have been a staple in my every day. It not only provides protein and energy to get me through my long days, but also hits my sweet tooth cravings–guilt-free. Best of all, it’s so easy to make.

Walnut and Date Cocoa Energy Balls

Prep: 15 minutes

Yields: Approx. 19, depending on size


1 cup raw walnuts (or ½ cup raw walnuts and ½ cup raw almonds)

1 cup firmly packed pitted dates (slightly softened)

2 T goji berries (optional)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Optional: dash of ground cinnamon, raw honey


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor, and process until extremely fine. Tip: If the dates were in the fridge, let it soften in room-temperature for about 15 min. Not required though. I just find it blends and have a more favorable texture if slightly softened.
  2. Taste mixture. Tip: If the mixture isn’t sweet or on the dry/crumbly side, add a few drizzles of raw honey. Process again.
  3. Shape into 1” balls. Tip: I like to use a mini ice cream scooper and then roll between my palms.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Good for about a week.

Healthy Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life

{ jou eats } the honor bar

The Honor Bar review via it's jou life blog Honor Bar review via it's jou life blog Honor Bar review via it's jou life blog

Three dishes that will win you over: Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Honor Burger, side of Hand-Cut French Fries.

The Honor Bar is the epitome of upscale casual dining. The environment is warm & inviting, drinks are old-fashioned & classy, service is sweet & friendly and the food is delicious & ohhhh-so-comforting. The menu is a modern take on classic American cuisine.

Their Hand-Cut French Fries ($3) are a must order. Some have a control item that is ordered to compare businesses. Mine is fries for classic American restaurants and this is a winner. Delivered fresh, warm and crispy, these hand-cut Kennebec potatoes are beautifully wrapped in paper and served with ketchup and aioli. Once you start, you can’t stop. Keep these to yourself or be generous and share with others. Heck, just order two for the table.

I’m always torn between ordering the Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich ($12) and the Honor Burger ($12). It’s one of those things when you think you know which one you want, but you quickly change it to the other once it’s your turn to order. I, on the other hand quickly draft a pro & con list of each (in my head) and decide. Solution: come with a good friend, order both and SHARE. The chicken sandwich is truly a crispy chicken sandwich fully decked with premium ingredients–sliced tomato, swiss cheese and dressed kale. It’s certainly a beauty. The Honor Burger is equally delicious and packed thick–ground chuck, cheddar & tomato, topped with coleslaw. I had to unhinge my jaw to eat this tall guy. Always satisfied.

The Honor Bar is a top choice for a catch-up with old friends, a casual (but certainly to impress) date or grabbing drinks with coworkers. However, it’s not for large groups or birthday parties. There’s just no room for that. No reservations. No dessert menu. Come early and leave happy.

The Honor Bar // 122 S Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212 // (310) 550-0292

{ jou eats } lukshon in culver city

chicken pops via it's jou life - eggplant via it's jou life - dan noodles via it's jou life - pork ribs via it's jou life -

Lukshon reinvents the dining cuisine “Asian Fusion.” Lukshon delicately and tastefully infuses the tastes I love from Southeast Asian cuisine with modern American dishes.

Wayne and I were first hooked when we came for dinner during dineLA. Heart it so much that another time I dined both lunch and dinner in the same day! Over the years we’ve seen Lukshon on the dineLA list and–it certainly fed to impress!

Lukshon plates are a mixture of small and large plates and served family style.

We’ve come for lunch and dinner–here are some of our favorites:
– Tea Leaf Salad – loved the flavor, texture and ingredients in this salad! Slivers of crisp cabbage, the crunch of toasted marcona almonds, peanuts and chana dal peas–I couldn’t put my chopsticks down! I shoved it into my mouth.
– Crispy Soft Shell Crab – I’m happiest eating fried foods, crispy soft shell crab especially. It was served with some sambal kecang (peanut sauce) and corn.
– Spicy Chicken Pops – what’s more fun than eating food on a stick? These chicken pops were beautiful. The meat was sliced and peeled back from the bone to create a lollipop-like look. These drumettes were tastefully covered in garlic, kecap manis (Indonesia sweet soy sauce) and spicy sichuan salt.
– Chinese Eggplant – thick cuts of eggplant “fries” paired with fennel raita and tomato sambal. It’s creamy and flavorful.
– Dan Dan Noodles – a spicy dry noodles dish! Perfectly cooked noodles topped with a mixture of ground kurobuta pork, sesame, preserved mustard greens, Sichuan peppercorns and peanuts. Mix this baby together and it’s a guarantee flavor fest of spicy goodness.
– Steamed Black Cod – a hearty cod fillet in a spicy citrus broth.
– Kurobuta pork ribs – Finger-licking good status. Pork ribs flavored with spicy chicory coffee bbq sauce.

Service was attentive and professional. My eyes lit up when she said a dessert trio was included with our meal. Dessert to my ears!

The restaurant space is unique–the outdoor, fire-lit patio to the slanted doors to the Asian-inspired bathroom.

Lukshon (3239 Helms Ave., Culver City, CA 90232 | (310) 202-6808). Located in Culver City along Helms Ave. btwn Venice and Washington Blvd.

{ bargain } free veggie grill meal


In honor of Earth Week (4/17 – 4/24) grab a free meal on Veggie Grill! Be green and ride in and veg out. Ride in and show them your bike and/or bike helmet and get one Free Entree card redeemable on your next visit with purchase of any Entree.*

*Entrees include Soup + Salad Combos, Entree Salads, Homestyle Plates, Burgers, Hot Sandwiches, Wraps. Earth Week only (4/17-24). No valid with other offers. No cash value. Free Entree Cards redeemed during Earth Week do not qualify for Free Entree Gift.

{ bargain } free panda express samurai surf & turf dish

Panda Express Surf & Turf

If you don’t have lunch or dinner plans today, the Panda has the answer. Only today (Wed., 4/17) you can feast on a single serving of their new item, the Samurai Surf & Turf for free!

You can print this coupon or show it on your mobile device. Single Serving, no purchase necessary. Valid at participating locations.

Recipe: Chocolate Banana Soy Protein Smoothie

On days I workout in the morning, I like to fuel my post-workout body with a Chocolate Banana Soy Protein Smoothie. Aside from the fact that I love chocolate, there are studies that show chocolate milk is an optimal post-exercise recovery aid. Each ingredient in this smoothie plays a beneficial role for replenishing my body. Benefits of this smoothie: Chocolate milk boosts the carbohydrates supplied to the muscle, replenishes necessary vitamins and a good protein source for muscle repair. The coconut water rehydrate the fluids and electrolytes. Coconut oil is said to increase metabolism, energy and endurance. Bananas are high in potassium to prevent muscle cramps

Ingredients for Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via

Chocolate Banana Soy Protein Smoothie

This smoothie makes about 5 cups. (Wayne and I drink this all. We’re heavy (smoothie) drinkers)


1 scoop – Whole Foods Soy Protein Powder

1 t – Coconut Oil

2 Frozen bananas (sliced)

1 carton – Silk Chocolate Soymilk (8 fl oz)

1 1/2 c – Vanilla soymilk

1 c – Coconut water


1. The night before, take two bananas and peel them. Slice them and wrap them in plastic wrap and place in freezer, overnight.

2. Next day, place all ingredients, in order, into the blender.

3. Hit pulse a few times to quickly blend the frozen bananas and mix the soy protein powder and coconut oil.

4. Blend it for about 30-40 seconds, until smooth consistency.

5. Pour it into a mug. Enjoy!

Note: I use a high-powered commercial blender called the Blendtec. It’s very similar to the ones you find at your local smoothie store. A normal functioning blender will do with this smoothie recipe. Just make sure that the frozen bananas are blended thoroughly.

Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via

The night before, peel two bananas

Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via

Slice the bananas

Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via

Wrap the slice bananas and place in the freezer

Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via

take 1 spoonful of soy protein powder

Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via

1 tsp of coconut oil (in its solid state)

Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via

all ingredients are ready to blend !

Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via

pulse for a few seconds, then hit “smooothie” blend for 40 seconds. (we’ve used the Blentec 324 times!)

Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via

done. make sure it’s a smooth consistency. don’t want chunks.

Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via


Soy Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie via

makes about 5 cups.

Recipe: Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade

We love crab cakes, but seldom order it in restaurants because they’re so pricey (and fattening). So a favorite recipe of ours is easy to make and healthy (and I get to use Panko!)

Cooking Light’s recipe is a fresh take on the crab cake. This crab cake recipe is low in sodium, calories and saturated fat. We lightly season sweet, premium crab and use just enough mayonnaise, low-sodium panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), and egg to bind it all together. We don’t add any salt to the mixture, to keep sodium in check. The cakes are cooked in a slick of oil instead of deep-fried. We bought the premium crab meat from Costco (also can be found at Trader Joes), herbs, panko crumbs, organic mayo, organic lemons from Trader Joes. The recipe calls for making a remoulade sauce, but we didn’t make it. The best thing about this is it’s just packed with crab, not much fillers!

Premium Crab Meat

Premium Crab Meat

Trader Joes' Panko

Trader Joes’ Panko



Crab Cakes with Spicy Rémoulade

We keep fillers to a minimum with this fresh take on crab cakes. This lower-sodium, streamlined rémoulade (there are no gherkins, anchovies, or green olives) is best made one day ahead to allow flavors to marry.

Crab cakes:

2 T – finely chopped fresh chives

1 T – chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 1/2 T – mayonnaise

1/2 t – grated lemon rind

1 T – fresh lemon juice

1/4 t – freshly ground black pepper

1/8 t – ground red pepper

1 large egg

1/3 C – Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1 lb – lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed

1 T – olive oil, divided


1/4 C – mayonnaise

1 T – chopped shallots

1 ½ T – capers, drained and chopped

2 t – Creole mustard

1 t – fresh lemon juice

1/4 t – ground red pepper

1/8 t – kosher salt


1. To prepare crab cakes, combine first 8 ingredients. Add panko and crab, tossing gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

2. Fill a 1/3-cup dry measuring cup with crab mixture. Invert onto work surface; gently pat into a 3/4-inch-thick patty. Repeat procedure with remaining crab mixture, forming 8 cakes.

3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 crab cakes to pan; cook 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden. Carefully turn cakes; cook 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden and crab cakes are thoroughly heated. Remove cakes from pan; keep warm. Wipe pan dry with paper towels. Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 4 crab cakes.

4. To prepare rémoulade, combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Serve with crab cakes.

Step 1: Combine first 8 ingredients.

Step 1: Combine first 8 ingredients.

Add Panko & Crab, tossing gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 min.

Add Panko & Crab, tossing gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 min.

Form the patties

Step 2: Form the patties

Skillet it until they're golden brown

Step 3: Skillet it until they’re golden brown

Recipe: Pan-fried Panko Tilapia – jennifer

panko + pan-fried

panko + pan-fried

Last night I was craving some kind of breaded fish dish. (What I really wanted was tempura at SushiStop, but oh well) I thought about going healthy and baking a Panko-crusted Tilapia, but knew it’d be much more satisfying if I pan-fried it!

Pan-fried Panko Tilapia


3 T flour

2 t Trader Joes’ 21 Seasoning Salute (Use an ingredient substitute if you don’t have this. See below for ingredients)

1 t garlic seasoning

1 t salt

1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

1 egg

24 oz Tilapia fillets ( 4 fillets, 6 oz each)

4 T Vegetable oil


1.  On plate, place the flour.

2.  On second plate, place Panko and the mixed seasonings.

3.  In bowl, beat egg with fork.

4.  Cut fillets into 1”-1.5” width diagonal strips.

5.  Coat fish with flour, dip into egg and coat well with bread crumbs.

6.  In a skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Wait until oil is hot.

7.  Add fish fillets and cook 2-3 minutes. Carefully turn fish over with tongs. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 2-3 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with fork.

8.  Repeat for remaining fillets.

9.  Tip: To keep the pan-fried fish fillets from getting soggy, place on a wire rack. Below the wire rack, place a towel on a plate. This way, it’ll absorb the residual oil drippings.

A favorite all-in-one seasoning of mine — Trader Joes’ 21 Seasoning Salute Ingredients: blend of onion, black pepper, celery seed, cayenne pepper, parsley, basil, marjoram, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, savory, rosemary, cumin, mustard, coriander, garlic, carrot, orange peel, tomato, lemon juice and lemon oil.

A Happy Hippo Tuesday

Happy happy Hippo

Happy happy Hippo

I’m not sure which came first, the Kinder Egg or Kinder Happy Hippo. Either way, I’m a super fan.

Kinder Happy Hippo is life changing to those who covet crispy wafers and hazelnut. The hippopotamus outer shell (isn’t it cute!?) is a wafer biscuit filled with two types of icing: milk-flavored & hazelnut creme. Think Ferror Rocher dipped in creme. The frosting/meringue-dipped bottom is crunchy and makes it look like its foaming at the mouth.

I first was introduced to Happy Hippos by my coworker. We get our daily/weekly fix from the gourmet gas station that carries these delights, among other Kinder goods.