More than ever, LA has become a total food destination with an overwhelming number of chef-driven restaurants to check out. When it comes to health and wellness, well, don't even get us started. It seems that no matter where you turn there's a new smoothie/elixir/tonic bar to try (LifeHouse Tonic anyone?), or an exercise class like no other.

One of the females leading the way in the health and wellness world is Top Chef Alum Dakota Weiss of both Sweetfin Poke and Estrella on Sunset. We chatted with her about some of her favorite ingredients, then got her to share one of her favorite poke recipes, so you can try this uber-trendy dish at home. Here's what she had to say:

When you use citrus, use the entire fruit.

I love the added kick that citrus can add to a lot of dishes—the range of bitter to sweet can really round out a dish as well. When it comes to citrus, use the entire fruit. You can zest the skins into a bowl of salt to make a nice flavorful citrus salt, or you can peel the skins of the fruit, boil them in three different pots of water (rinsing after each boil, this get all the extra bitterness out) then simmer the skins in a simple syrup till they take on a translucent color. then you can toss them in sugar for a yummy little snack when you have a sweet craving.

Winter squash, in my opinion, blows summer squash out of the water.

I always have preferred them. There is such a huge variety and they are all so beautiful! Ranging from dark green to bright red and pale yellow with freckles on the skin and the insides from a pale yellow to a deep almost burnt orange color. I always gravitate to the delicata squash. I love this one because it has that sweetness you would expect from winter squash but it's not overly sweet. It lends itself to so many different ways to cook it—not to mention the skin is very delicate and very tasty (a lot of the winter squashes have edible skins!). For a yummy side dish or snack, cut the squash into French fry-like shapes, toss them in a seasoned rice flour or a tempura batter, and pan fry them. They actually cook pretty quickly if cut thin enough. Make a sauce with soy, mirin, and vinegar to dip them in.

Add heartier, more interesting greens to meals.

Hearty leafy greens like the chicorys and the mustard greens are really great. They add a wonderful bitterness and a nice peppery bite to any dish. I love to marinate chicory with a roasted garlic-infused olive oil and then grill it. These leafy greens lend themselves really well to warm vinaigrettes. I like to chop up the lettuce and toss with a warm whole-grain mustard vinaigrette, add some chopped bacon and avocado, and that's a tasty salad right there.

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Dakota Weiss' Honey Chamomile Poke Bowl

Makes 2 servings

Sauce Ingredients

  • ½ cup white shoyu
  • ⅛ cup yuzu juice
  • ⅛ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup black buckwheat honey
  • 2 ounces dried chamomile blossoms or tea
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ⅛ cup mirin
  • ½ cup hot water
  • ⅓ cup sesame oil

Sauce Method

  1. Steep the chamomile blossoms in the water and let it sit for 7 minutes, strain, and set aside.
  2. Whisk together all remaining ingredients and set aside.

Poke Bowl Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh albacore tuna, small diced
  • 1 tablespoon mixed black and white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoon scallions, chopped
  • ⅛ cup preserved Meyer lemon rind, minced (although you can make your own and preserve your own lemons...it does take a lot time to do so. An easier idea is to purchase them already preserved from a specialty food store. Call ahead and make sure wherever you want to go has them in stock—most Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are a good bet.)
  • ½ cup Persian cucumber, sliced thin
  • ⅛ cup daikon radish, sliced thin
  • ½ cup edamame beans
  • ¼ teaspoon habanero, blackened on the stove, seeds removed and minced fine (You can also add more habanero if you like your poke spicy.)

Poke Bowl Method

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Add about ¼ cup of the ponzu (this, again, is a matter of taste...if you like your poke saucy then add more sauce).
  2. Serve the poke on a bed of steamed rice of a healthy chopped kale mixture. Garnish the bowl with tempura flakes (as much as you like) and some chopped Red Shiso.

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