Gluten-Free Las Angeles Spa Meal

Las Angeles gave me a chance to see a fascinating alternate reality that felt straight out of an optimistic parody of Children of Men. That’s right – I spent a few days in a gated 55+ retirement community.

Honestly – this place was amazing. It wasn’t assisted living. Everyone owned their own house or condo, mostly 2 bedroom bungalos. Everything was in comfortable walking distance with half a dozen community centers, all of which were bright and bustling with activities. I saw everything from archery lessons to Korean harpers to horseback riding to sci-fi writers.

My host explained that a lot of the folks who move into her community spent their life working to afford a retirement like this at the expense of taking the time to make friends and stay close to their family, so moving in to a place so full of community was like being a teenager again – all the fun high school classes and extra curriculars with no parents breathing down your neck.

I left feeling incredibly hopeful and optimistic. Once you’re out of school, making new friends as an adult is hard, but a lot of folks there said they met their best friends after retirement. It’s never too late.

My host had celiac disease. She asked for something light but high in fiber, made from local ingredients, and preferably not too hard to recreate – the sort of food she’d get in a spa.

As an added bonus, I also showed her how to make an easy, gluten free, vegan side dish she could bring to her weekly book club meeting – something that looked fancy but took 10 minutes or less.

California Chicken and Cabbage Slaw Ingredients

  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ green cabbage, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 6 scallions, both white and green chopped
  • 1 mango
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 avocado


  • Mix garam masalsa, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
  • Smear the spice mix on both sides of your chicken breasts, coating as thoroughly as possible.
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Brown chicken until cooked through, about 7 minutes per side.
  • While the chicken is cooking, chop the cabbage, peel and julienne the carrot, and chop both the white and green portions of the scallions. Toss your veggies together, then drizzle in ½ cup of Carrot-Miso-Ginger Dressing and toss lightly. Set the bowl aside.
  • Peel and cube the mango. Core and seed the bell pepper and cut it into pieces matching the mango cubes. Mix both of them together in a small bowl with 1 tsp honey and a pinch of salt.
  • Divide your cabbage slaw between four plates
  • When the chicken is completely cooked and has rested for 4-5 minutes, slice it against the grain and gently lay each breast atop a mound of cabbage slaw.
  • Pile ¼ of the mango-bell pepper mix on top of the chicken.
  • Core and slice an avocado and divide the slices between the plates, arranging them neatly atop the chicken.
  • The end result is a bright, colorful plate that is visually piled high with nutritious food with the added bonus of being low calorie, high fiber, high protein, and gluten free.

Beets and Oranges with Ginger-Miso Dressing Ingredients

  • 3 clementine oranges, peeled
  • 3-4 small pre-cooked Love Beets (or home made roast beets)
  • ⅓ cup Trader Joe’s Carrot-Miso-Ginger Dressing


  • Peel the clementine oranges. Turn them on their sides and cut against the grain so you get ¼ inch rounds of orange.
  • Cut your cooked baby beets into ¼ inch slices.
  • Carefully make a circle of veggies around the perimeter of a pretty plate, alternating orange, beet, orange until you run out of slices.
  • Add  ¼ – ⅓ cup of orange-miso-ginger dressing to the middle of the plate as a dipping sauce.
  • A beet and orange salad runs around $15 as an appetizer. By making it yourself, you get twice as much for half the price. This is an easy way to impress folks with a dish that looks way fancier than the required effort – and as an added bonus it’s gluten free, vegan, and healthy.